We asked a talented photographer and community member of our community sarahallegra to share some tips on how to have a smooth and efficient photo shoot session. Read below!

1. Spend time getting to know your model.

This is, in my experience, the single most important factor in getting great shots.  Whether you're taking a portrait to show off their personality or if they're going to be essentially portraying a character, as in most of my work, it's absolutely essential to form a relationship with your model.

2. Be clear in your direction. 

Your goal is going to vary depending on your style of photography, but make sure you communicate whatever it is you want to see from your model.  Often, I find it easiest to demonstrate the pose or expression I'm going for.  Sketches also work; even simple stick figures!  Models can't read minds, so be sure you're expressing your concept to them in a way they understand!  Never, ever laugh at them or make them feel what they're doing is stupid or wrong.  It may not be what you want, in which case you need to kindly redirect them.  A sentence starting with "Let's try this..." is a good place to start.

3. Try to minimize discomfort.

There are lots of things that can be uncomfortable for your model; early call times, freezing wind or hot lights, uncomfortable poses, and surprises in nature. Chances are, you can't iron out every uncomfortable element your model will encounter but try to minimize it. Get your settings straight and figure out your framing before you ask your model to wade into the ice-cold pond so that she'll be in there for the shortest time possible.  Then have some thick towels ready for her as soon as you're done!  Think about what you would want in the model's place (Thermos of hot coffee perhaps?) and do your best to provide that for her.  

4. Take the shoot seriously, but don't BE serious.

You don't have to try and be a stand-up comic; I'm pretty reserved and introverted, but you should always be pleasant and personable with your models.  If you can find some things to laugh about, everyone will have a much better time!  Be willing to laugh at yourself too!

5. Maintain eye contact.

Even the most seasoned models usually feel a little nervous right before stripping down, especially with a new photographer.  It goes without saying that you should conduct yourself in the most professional manner (though again, a few jokes can go a long way to helping everyone feel comfortable).  Keep the mood light yet professional.  In general, I recommend never touching a nude model at all, but if it's absolutely unavoidable, make sure you clearly ask for permission and explain what you need to do first.