We asked talented photographer and member of our community sarahallegra to share 7 tips on how to take people photos. Enjoy sarahallegra's tips and get inspired!


1.  Spend time getting to know your subjects. 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!  This can be done through email, over coffee or even as you're heading to your location, but to get the best from your subject, you need to make them feel as comfortable as possible.



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 discomforts.  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 (such as the time my model Dedeker and I found a patch of stinging nettles by being stung by them!)  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.  Even small gestures, like Wet Wipes to help her clean up after her dunk in the pond, will be greatly appreciated!  Ask her periodically if she needs a rest, a drink, something to eat or a bathroom break.  Models will sometimes feel shy about asking for these things; you offering them will help make sure she really is comfortable and builds trust between you both.



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.  Have snacks and water on hand.  Modeling can be hard work and you never know when your model's blood sugar may crash - or yours might!  I never shoot without some easy-to-pack snacks, such as granola bars, and water for my model and myself.  If you're shooting outdoors, aim for snacks which don't require clean hands to eat!  It's also a good idea to inquire about any dietary restrictions your model may have.  She will really appreciate it if you get gluten-free granola bars instead of the regular kind!



6.  Maintain eye contact while your model is nude.  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.  If she seems unsure about it, just don't do it.  It's much better to skip over a concept than make your model feel threatened or uncomfortable, even if it's completely unintentional.



7.  Give every shoot your best.  Your model is giving you her heart, soul and body, often putting up with very cold and uncomfortable conditions; go into every shoot and give it 100%!  Be as prepared as you can be about what you'll be photographing and how, anticipate your model's comfort and needs and make the shooting experience enjoyable.  Not every concept will be a home run and life has a way of throwing you curveballs you couldn't have expected, but give the shoot your all and your model will do the same.  That's the formula for images which will rise above the rest!



Thank you so much for sharing these awesome tips! Make sure to follow sarahallegra to see more of her amazing images.