This wants to be a minimal guide on how to recruit girls/women who are not professional models, and that have very little to no previous experience in being photographed outside of selfie-stick bonanzas. I personally find it very rewarding to work with first timers, because it’s about unveiling and showing something about them that they’ve never seen before. When I succeed in doing it (it’s not guaranteed), I feel like I’ve really accomplished something important. Probably because photographing myself has had a huge therapeutic effect on me when I was a late-teen, and I sort of take it as a mission to spread the word about said therapeutic effects.
These are in my mind the basic rules for making the best of your creative intentions.
- Leave any sexual intent at the door, as this is not a strategy to get laid!
There’s nothing inherently wrong in wanting to seduce a girl, but to do it you have to somehow project sexual intent, even if subconsciously. And if you hide your sexual intent when asking a girl to be your model, you’re being dishonest, plain and simple. Because you’re explicitly asking her to say yes to something (the photo shooting) while you actually want to do something you’re NOT asking her consent for (sex). Any photographer aspiring to become a respected professional must keep the two things separated. Also, let’s not kid ourselves: unless she’s drunk or she fell in love with you at first sight, she’ll read your mind and reject your offer in the blink of an eye.
This doesn’t mean that a girl you photograph can never become your girlfriend. If it’s meant to happen, you’ll want to see each other again after the photo shooting, and what happens when two adults spend time together is nobody’s business. But wilfully using photography to deceive girls is damaging to them and to the reputation of serious professionals. So don’t do it!
- You’ve got to be in the right place. It’s not impossible to recruit an amateur model at the post office, but if you want to maximise your chances you need to be in a place where people are already in the mood for pictures. Beaches are a no brainer in this respect. When a girl goes to the beach she’s likely to be at the top of her physical form, and she probably wants to celebrate that. That’s why a tremendous percentage of girls at the beach is in the act of taking selfies, alone or with friends. Also people at the beach tend to have free time on their hands, and you don’t have to interrupt them while they’re doing errands.
At risk of stating the obvious, it’s even more of a no brainer if you’re interested in taking pictures which a lot of exposed skin (THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH IT AS LONG AS YOU’RE HONEST ABOUT IT!). You might like the challenge of convincing a girl you met at the previously mentioned post office to follow you somewhere and take most of her clothes off for your camera, and be my guest if that’s your thing. But since at the beach she’s likely to already be 90% undressed, chances are you’ll avoid a lot of awkwardness. And if you want to photograph her again somewhere else she’ll have much less resistance in showing her body.
- Look and behave like a professional photographer. And this means several things. A very obvious one is having a good camera in your hands. It doesn’t have to be a 50 megapixel Canon DSLR, but it shouldn’t be a cellphone. Not because you can’t take excellent pictures with a phone, but because a good camera shows some form of commitment to the creative endeavour called “photography”. If you walk to a girl with nothing but an iphone she’ll perceive you like someone who’s improvising, and you’ll have to do extra work to lift this prejudice from her. We want to take the path with the least resistance.
Looking like a professional photographer also means that you’re able to produce a minimum amount of examples of your work upon request. Let’s say five to ten good pictures of girls you photographed before. And not all of the same girl. How do I build this portfolio without having one already, I hear you saying. Start from friends, or friend of friends. Once you’ll be capable of proving that you’re not just “some dude” it’ll be much easier to persuade strangers.
And, last but not least, looking like a professional means having confidence. This is clearly the hardest part of the whole process, because by definition it cannot be faked. It means walking, talking and standing like someone who’s done this many times before, someone who is capable of approaching a stranger and make a calm statement about her attractiveness without betraying sexual intent. Someone who can move on with his life without looking like a wounded puppy when the answer is no. And, when the answer is yes, can handle the intimacy (even on a crowded beach a photographer and his model are having an intimate moment) of the photo shooting without crapping his pants.
And how do I learn to look like that without having the luxury of faking it, I hear you saying. You learn it by trial and error. Be prepared to have the door slammed in your face without getting discouraged. The first times you’ll probably shake like a leaf, and you’ll be rejected more often than not. It’ll get better though, if you keep trying, as you’ll just become desensitised to the pain than rejection creates.
And of course, again, start with safer “targets”, like your acquaintances. If they know you already they’ll be more likely to feel safe and say yes. But…if even they say no, ask yourself some questions 🙂