In a previous post, I wrote about how to get started with modeling work in Tokyo. Having photographed many different models, form beginners to experienced, both foreigners and Japanese, I would now like to share some tips and advice for aspiring to keep in mind when arranging and doing photoshoots, especially those for portfolio building purposes.
Wear a comfortable outfit! This will help you relax more and be yourself. Bring extra makeup or accessories that could be used during the shoot. Ladies, if your outfit involves wearing heels, be sure to bring a pair of comfortable shoes to walk around in. Depending on the shoot location, there could be quite a bit of walking.
Be on time. When I did test shoots in the past, I’ve had a handful of shoots where the model kept me waiting anywhere from 10 to over 30 minutes. Do not be that model. Check the location beforehand and calculate how long it will take to get there, with at least 5-10 minutes to spare in case you get lost. Especially when you are in Japan, the business etiquette is always to be exactly on time or slightly early. If you know you will be late and there’s no way to avoid it, be sure to contact the photographer/team as soon as possible and let them know approximately when you will arrive.
Don’t aim to do poses you’re not comfortable with, or you’ll come across looking too stiff and unnatural. However, you should try to vary your positions and movement. It’s much easier to do so if you’ve practice a bit beforehand. Don’t wait for the photographer to direct you on every little move (unless they happen to be that kind of photographer, or it’s a very controlled shoot for a certain look/concept). Express your own ideas and be proactive. I love it when the model thinks creatively and works collaboratively with me to create the best images possible.
Relax in front of the camera by consciously thinking about what feeling or image you want to express. Just allow yourself to be that feeling and carry it into the lens – don’t think too much about “posing”. Focus on your strengths instead of shortcomings. Even if you think you don’t have the greatest body shape, or you’re worried about your skin – put it all aside for the time being and channel your energy into showing off your beautiful eyes, your cheerful smile, your quirky personality, etc. If you start feeling nervous or catch yourself always standing in the same position, interact with a prop or the environment. Change things up, and the photos will turn out all the better.
Shine by bringing up your unique abilities and passions. If you’re a musician, why not bring along your instrument? If you have a favorite keepsake or item that holds special memories, bring it along and tell its story during the shoot. Your feelings will show on your face, transforming the moment into something very genuine. Or how about shooting at a favorite street or familiar park? You aren’t just a model, but a person too. Don’t be afraid to express who you are.
SixFocus on your eyes, face, and expressions. Sometimes, beginning models will tend to make the same expression over and over. See if you do the same, and consciously work on adding variety to your expressions. Give off emotions with your eyes, and think of times when you felt very sad or extremely happy. It’s important to let yourself sink into those moments. Don’t force it or overdo expressions that aren’t really yourself – you will look your best when you both feel and act natural.
I hope these tips have helped a little bit! I'm also continuing to learn as I experience each new photoshoot. If you are an aspiring model, actor, or artist in Japan (or hoping to come to Japan) and you have some questions that weren't covered in this post, feel free to write me here!