A recent (wonderful!) trade shoot for Anthropologie Ohio made me reevaluate how collaboration and leadership truly have to exist in balance. Although it’s important to welcome discussion during shoots from each part of the creative team, a photographer has to know when to focus in on the relationship between themselves, the model, and the camera in-between. 

When it comes to the actual capturing of images during a shoot, I’ve realized time and time again that it really has to be between myself and the subject in front of me. After styling, HMU, shot-lists, etc. are done, it’s up to me to obtain the right images for the client by working directly with my subject.

That said, the balance between this leadership and collaboration definitely comes into play ahead of time. Before the shoot, its crucial to listen to what the client wants; evaluate what is actually possible; and figure out who to get those results while still leaving time for those “magic moments” to happen on-set. No matter what, if the client asks for a certain idea, it will get done because I want to capture their vision first. Then, I like to leave room for magic to create a shot that they might never have envisioned!

Additionally, it can be tricky – but rewarding – to manage differing opinions on-set. There’s a definite balancing act between what members of the team may think will be a good idea versus what will truly work on camera as I’m shooting.

When it comes to my relationship with the models on-set, there are multiple ways to connect and capture spectacular images; but my number one priority is making sure that they’re comfortable. In general, I have somewhat of a “people-pleaser” mentality that comes in handy when trying to make people feel comfortable! So, it translates well in these scenarios.

Besides making sure that a model is comfortable in order to get the desired shot, I truly want to give them a wonderful experience too. It also makes my job so much easier when the model is able to tune out outside distraction, show off the product, take direction, bring a lot of personality to set, and bring it to life.

Overall, this is how I see the photographer-model-team relationship: it’s your responsibility to bring your A-game, and to respect each other’s opinions while shooting. As a photographer, it’s also my responsibility to evaluate which ideas will get us to the magic moments; and make sure that the model is ready and comfortable enough to catch them.