10 Ways to Improve Your Model Photography pt2

December 21, 2016  •  2 Comments

10 Ways to Improve Your Model Photography Pt2

By Sveinn Kjartansson


I’ve been shooting models and portrait clients for 5 years now (2011). Through that time, I have really put a lot of energy into being the best photographer that I can be. Photography is so much more than just taking a photo; it’s the planning, the communication, and, well, just read below! Honestly, each number can be its own article, but for now, let’s just summarize! Look for future posts about each one in depth!

Part 2, Ice Breakers, More light is better, except when it’s not, Framing Composition, Angle and Height and Framing and Composition


6. Ice breakers

Many times I hear photographers that are just starting out, not knowing what to say or do with their clients at the shoot. This is why you need to get to know them, get their humor, understand what makes them comfortable and at ease. A good smile can go a long way, but a good joke or common interests go much further. Ask them why they wanted the shoot, or ask them what made them want to do it. Ask them if they have a favorite angle and make a selfie face- everyone has one! The easiest way to break the ice with people is to ask them questions and find a common ground to talk about similar hobbies and attitudes.

Ally Katt in Orlando, FloridaAlly Katt in Orlando, FloridaAlly Katt in Orlando, Florida

7. More light is better, except when it’s not

The better the quality of light, the less you have to edit. Getting to understand how light will take out shadows in some places and highlight others will greatly help your post editing! Knowing where to put shadow to emphasize features and how it will affect others is super important to get the look you are going for. There are a billion and 1 ways to light everything. I won’t go into how to light things here, that’s a discussion for another day. But I will talk about how light effects the skin and how not enough light will make the skin seem rough. Think of it this way: let’s say you have the light at 90 degrees to their face. Any pimple, scar, eyelash, or wrinkle will cast a micro shadow on the skin. If you try to keep the light pointed directly at the cheeks this should minimize post editing of skin. Sometimes just adding more light to the face will help! However, now we get to the ‘except when it’s not’ part. Providing more light also takes away character and moodiness. SO, it’s definitely a give and take there.

Rakel Osk in Gamla Bio, Reykjavik, IcelandRakel Osk in Gamla Bio, Reykjavik, IcelandPhotography: Sveinn Photography Model: Rakel Ósk Rakel Ósk Stylist: Jana Rut Magnúsdóttir MUA: Vigdís Hallgrímsdóttir Shoot Assistants: Gabríela Rún Sigurðardóttir and Stephanie Zakas www.sveinnphotography.com — with Rakel Ósk at Gamla Bíó Reykjavik, Iceland Lola Von Lita in Orlando, FloridaLola Von Lita in Orlando, FloridaLola Von Lita in Orlando, Florida

8. Art vs Portrait

When you start looking at taking your frame, the client is ready, assistants are ready, light is ready. What are you shooting? The eye contact and face direction has much to say about the feel of the photo. Direct eye contact with the camera is for sure more about the person as a portrait so that’s the feeling you will get. When the client looks away, turns their face, covers their face, it feels more artful (artsy) and more about the image itself. Consider how you want the person who’s looking at the photo to feel. Do you want them to make a personal connection with the person, or get a feeling of what the photo is?

Scarlette Saintclair in Las Vegas, NevadaScarlette Saintclair in Las Vegas, NevadaScarlette Saintclair in Las Vegas, Nevada during Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend Nate in Orlando, FloridaNate in Orlando, FloridaNate in Orlando, Florida

9. Angle and Height

Rule 1: Whatever is closest to the camera is the biggest. If you are above the client, their head will be bigger proportionately to their body. If you are lower, then the legs will be bigger. Keep that in mind when you move around the client, like getting low on one knee, will make their legs long and make them seem taller, which is great for both men and women because men will look taller and women will have longer legs! Win/Win! This is also accented with what lens you use-  the wider the angle the more dramatic this can be, especially with the warping towards the outer lens. Some people like it and some don’t. This is the art part, know your client and shoot your style!

Raven Amira in Orlando, FloridaRaven Amira in Orlando, FloridaRaven Amira in Orlando, Florida

10. Framing/Composition

Composition is one of the biggest debates. What is technical and what is art. While the ‘rule of thirds’ is a good guideline, that rule can be broken and bent. Keep items you want people to focus on within the guidelines of the ‘rule of thirds’. This usually makes a more eye pleasing photo, but keep in mind people love things that are different and unusual, so if it’s your style to break it then do it. Just give context and tell a story! As photographers we can pick apart any photo that doesn't follow the 'RULES' and give criticism all day long, but at the end of it all, if it makes people feel or conveys what you intended, IT'S A PHOTO! 

Mimosa from Sweater Girl Pinup workshopMimosa from Sweater Girl Pinup workshopMimosa from Sweater Girl Pinup workshop Makeup: Curly Girl Makeup Hair: Lexi Katt Styling: Scarlette Saintclair Millie Michelle in New Smyrna Beach, FloridaMillie Michelle in New Smyrna Beach, FloridaMillie Michelle in New Smyrna Beach, Florida

In summary, anyone can take a snapshot, it takes dedication, vision and passion to create a photograph. Get out there and create!



Sveinn Kjartansson Photographer
thanks Mark!
Mark Halek(non-registered)
Very well thought out and presented article. Definitely gives a confidence boost to anyone exploring their portrait photography style.
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