Performing in Front of the Lens - Tips for Actors and Models

by Christian Lange

Photo of a camera lens

Make your next photo shoot the most stellar yet by developing some great habits.


Even the most experienced actors and models find it productive to revisit coaching advice from the shooter's perspective. As a photographer and videographer I've organized a list of suggestions to help make your next shoot the most stellar yet. And for those just getting started, here are some great habits to develop early.

Your performance before the camera will always be more creative if you are mentally prepared for the task. Rehearsing (prior to the rehearsal) and visualizing body movement and facial expressions puts you in a space where you can concentrate on direction and content (during the job) while the "mood" of your performance is on auto-pilot. With fashion and print shoots there is often no rehearsal at all and you become aware of the details the morning of the shoot. This is where you can really make a difference... most photographers would have absolutely no problem taking a call from a model a day or two before the shoot to get more information. And what a difference it makes when you've had some time to think about and visualize the looks you'll be doing. Photographers and directors may have a vision for the project but they love to see a model come up with their own creativity. And they'll appreciate your interest.

So be an idea factory. Spend some quality time with your mirror and work on new expressions, new body language. I find that good models are always looking at fashion magazines and catalogs as if they were at an art gallery – studying the work of other models and drawing inspiration from their moves. Practice how to project different emotions and looks much the same way athletes practice a "swing" or a "throw" until it becomes effortless and natural. This work really pays off and keeps you fresh and innovative.

One of the things you'll notice in great modeling is that symmetry is definitely out of the ballpark. Models shift weight, move their limbs asymmetrically and naturally, continuously changing the focal point of their eyes (and seldom looking at the camera directly) – but keep a good posture throughout. In other words back straight, shoulders up. Another trick is to keep your abdomen flexed to maintain a toned look.

Young actors and models should also develop (and keep) good organizational skills. Pack all the things you'll need for the assignment a couple of days before so if something is missing you have some reaction time. Have your powder even if a stylist is present. Always take headshots with resumes or compcards with you since you never know when you'll have an opportunity to make a great connection. Have your day planner with you. Have directions ready and printed out. This is one business where punctuality and organization is expected and appreciated.

Finally three reminders to look your best: 1) Get a good night's rest; 2) Drink eight glasses of water a day to keep your skin looking healthy, and 3) Avoid sun bathing in the days preceding your assignment.
Christian Lange is a fashion Photographer in Knoxville, TN. He also directs and shoots music videos. You can view his work at www.christianlange.com.

Copyright © Christian Lange. Used with permission of the author. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or distributed.
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