How to shoot a model (with a camera) to promote your brand

If you’re one of the braves who has launched their own personal brand of T-shirts or personalised clothing then I salute you.

You’re a brave soul worthy of respect. That being said, if you start your own brand you’re bound to promote it sooner or later and one of the best ways to do that is through photos with easy-on-the-eyes models. Unlike a hanger, a model provides a taste to your audience of how the product will look like on a real person.

If the idea seems daunting, worry not, in this post we’ll cover the basics on how to organise a photoshoot with models.


I know you want to get to the camera, but in order to ensure the best results, it is important to sit down and plan out your strategy.

Think of your brand

What is your brand about? What is its mission, goals, values? And how would this translate to images? Having a clear concept in mind of what your brand is will help you make decisions like the type of model and concept for the photo shoot.

What types of photos are you creating?

Are these photos for your catalogue or online store? Are they going to be featured on your homepage or a magazine? Knowing before hand what the pictures will be used for will determine the types of shots you’ll take.

For example, photos for a catalogue or an online store are mostly shot against a white or neutral background in order not to distract from the clothing. But if you’re taking pictures for ads, then those usually tell a bit more of a story by featuring models performing activities in front of a recognisable background like a city or a beach.

What are the experts doing?

Look at the latest ad campaigns for famous fashion brands. What are they doing? What’s trending? Do you want to repeat them or go in a different direction? Research famous fashion photographers like Mario Testino and get acquainted with their work. The more research you do then the more resources you’ll have to produce your photo shoot.

Create a look-and-feel and/or mood board

how to photograph a model

Mood boards can be a very effective tool when it comes to visualising a project. They’re particularly helpful during the early stages when sometimes words are just not enough to flesh out what we have in our heads. Simply put, mood boards are a collection of images that represent a larger idea.

Left alone and they may not mean much, but when these pictures are put together under the same umbrella, a new concept comes forth. The great thing about mood boards (aside from being useful) is that they’re easy to put together. There is no “correct” way to do them, so whatever method you use to assemble everything is okay and the images can be taken from wherever you fancy.

You won’t sell it, so go ahead and use someone else’s work. If you want to go digital, Pinterest and gomoodboard are both great platforms. But if you’re more of a ‘hands-on’ type of person, a collage made with clips from magazines is totally fine too. The important thing is for you to feel comfortable and understand the end result.

Use the best model

The model you’re going to choose is the person who will ultimately become the face of your brand (for a season, at least) so the task of choosing her or him should not be taken lightly. In a dream world, everyone would have enough budget to hire Cara Delevigne or Marlon Teixeira, but alas, most of the time this is not the case so we must do with the resources we have. If you have little or no budget to hire a model here are a couple of ideas:

  • Use a friend/family member: The good ol’ trick. Chances are you have at least one friend/second cousin/former church chorus colleague who is good looking. Even if it’s just a friend of a friend, someone is bound to do you the favour and if they’re reluctant, you can always pander to their vanity. You may be surprised by how much people’s attitudes can change if you stroke their ego.
  • Go online: Online, you’ll find platforms like Model Mayhem which will allow you to hire amateur models for little or no money. You may not be able to give them a paycheck, but you could give them free merchandise or at least a discount for your online store in exchange.
  • Ask a stranger: This might be a bit weird, but have you ever been walking on the street and seen a person so gorgeous that you thought ‘Must be a model.’ Why don’t you go and ask them? This handsome lad was discovered at a McDonald’s, after all. Chances are they might say no, but you’ll never know.
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2) Production

You already know what to do, how to go about it and have hired a model. Now it’s time to shoot! – Pictures, I mean pictures (I never get tired of that joke).

clothing photography tips

Mind the light

Any photographer will tell you, it doesn’t matter if you have the best camera and the latest model to grace the cover of Vogue, bad lighting will kill any photo. Here are a couple of tidbits to keep in mind regarding light:

  • Don’t be afraid to use your camera’s flash. It’s there for a reason, it can help you soften shadows.
  • Try to avoid taking pictures of a model against the light. It takes a skilled photographer for the subject not to become a silhouette, which can look nice on certain occasions, but I think the goal here is to feature your clothes and an obscured mass just won’t cut it.
  • Avoid midday light. It might sound counterintuitive, but the light of midday is way too bright. It will only create harsh shadows and made your model squint. The best natural light comes at dawn, dusk and during cloudy days.

Mind the model

Regardless of if you’re working with a professional or someone who’s never seen a camera in their lives (I’ve heard cavemen make really cute models), you’ll need to take care of your talent. It doesn’t take a scientist to realise that the best pictures only come forth when the subject is happy and relaxed and to make that happen you’ll have to work.

  • Explain very well what you want. Before the camera starts shooting and flashing, talk with the model(s) and explain them very well what you expect. This will prevent misunderstandings during the shoot.
  • Give them something to do. Add an extra element like a ball, a balloon or maybe even a dog. This will not only relax the model but will also make for more dynamic shots. Just don’t let the new element overshadow the garments.
  • Play some music. Maybe you could even use the model’s iPod or Spotify account. Listening to familiar music is a good way to ease into a task.
  • Make them move. Dance, jump, run – whatever works best for the ‘feeling’ of your shoot. When moving, the model will be less self-conscious and you’ll get pictures that are more fun to look at than the standard ‘posey’ ones.
  • Give frequent feedback and directions. The photographer is the director in a photo shoot and when the director goes silent, things can get awkward. ‘Am I doing it well? Or is this wrong?’ Let the models know when they’re doing a good job, and if they’re not, be gentle.
  • “Show” don’t “tell”. ‘What do you want me to do with my arm, again?’ Just go up there and do the pose yourself. You may feel self-conscious, but it’ll be faster that way.

Mind yourself

As I stated before, the photographer is the director of a photo shoot. So it is your job to make sure everyone is alright and things are headed where they’re supposed to.

photographing a model

  • Keep track of your energy. Taking good looking pictures is not an easy job. Make sure you schedule the shoot for a day when you’ll be able to have a full sound sleep the night before or during a moment when there’s not much going on. It’s no fun to gather everyone around a second time because the first try didn’t produce a decent result.
  • Take frequent breaks. And also try to make the photo shoot as short as possible. Nobody likes a picture of a tired model… unless that’s what you’re going for.
  • Check the weather. Nothing will cancel a photo shoot faster than bad weather. Imagine weeks of planning ruined because of rain. Also, if you’re setting up a shoot in the middle of a 40-degree Celsius summer (you monster) make sure to provide shelter and water for those present.
  • Shoot candids. Sometimes the best pictures come out when people don’t know you’re shooting them.
  • Get acquainted with your camera. It’s not necessary to become a professional photographer overnight. Just read the manual! And if you use the “automatic” setting, we won’t judge you.  

3. Post-Production   

After a photo shoot what comes is a retouching process. It doesn’t matter how attractive the model might be, some retouching is always welcome even if it’s just a mild change in the light or filter. If you’re new to the process here’s a comprehensive tutorial that might be of help and also a list of free retouching programs that are an alternative to Photoshop. Just don’t overdo it.

Do you have any experience shooting models? If so, please leave us a comment below. You can also reach us via any of our social media outlets. For everything else awesome, keep reading the Printsome Blog for more content.

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