Enthusiasm, Expressiveness and Clear Boundaries

PSEUDOPODHow do I choose my models for book covers and art shoots and photography experiments?

I’ve often heard people talk about how they feel shy or insecure about posing for a photographer because they feel they aren’t attractive/thin/fit/whatever enough for photographs. I’m happy to say that those elements are nowhere in my primary criteria.

Every photographer has thoughts about the kind of people they most want to work with. For me, the primary criteria I look for are Enthusiasm, Expressiveness and Clear Boundaries. Specific needs might change from shoot to shoot, but these three things are always important to me, no matter what kind of shoot we’re doing.


Hag RideEnthusiasm: I want models who are excited about modeling. They don’t have to be the most confident people in the world, but being excited about being in my photographs is very important. I am happy to work with clients to help them feel comfortable in front of a camera, but when I have a a shoot where I’m working with a designer and a makeup artist and we need to get a shot done, I don’t want to feel like I’m coercing involvement.

Expressiveness: The ability of a model to express emotion on camera is one of the biggest things I look for, and why I’ve ended up calling actors to my shoots time and time again.

Mortal Coil: That Which RisesClear Boundaries: I like models that have clear boundaries and are willing to vocalize them, or respond honestly to my questions about boundaries. This can be as simple as answering questions like this honestly: “Can you stand for this long? Are you comfortable? Are you too hot? Too cold?”

These three things are what I look for first when thinking about who I’d like to model for me.

The last model I tried to recruit was a man I met while I was standing in line to get an autograph after a show. He was nearly seven feet tall and covered with tattoos. He had a giant red beard with streaks of white through it. He looked like a fairy tale giant. I tried to recruit him for a shoot, asking if he’d like to model for me. There was no enthusiasm, so I let it go.