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My First Professional Model Photo Shoot

I photographed my first professional model in 2017.  It was both exhilarating and nerve-wracking.  But, I had wanted to do it for a very long time.  While it didn’t go as planned, it was the perfect learning experience.

Blond-haired professional model headshot

I will tell you straight off the most challenging thing was finding a model.  That was it.  For several months, I had no idea how to get someone.  My wife didn’t want to do it.  No one I knew wanted would volunteer.  Even my dog didn’t want to do it.  And if the wife nor the dog would help out, things were terrible.  I couldn’t find one person to help.  Was it a sign that my photography wasn’t any good?  I don’t know, but it was a possibility.

American model in Tokyo

Finally, as I was on several social media platforms, I realized I should be using them.  You can call me slow; it’s ok.  I put a notice on Instagram, and I got an answer.  She reached out and said she’d do it.  Her name was Taylor, and she was living in Tokyo.  We set up a day and time.  In the end, it was simple to find someone.


Then I settled into a period of intense prep.  As it was my first shoot, I concentrated on making everything smooth.  I thought I’d skip a flash.  Natural light seemed the way to go.  And I watched many videos about how to pose models and anything to do with composition. 

American model against colorful wall
professional model at Yoyogi Park

Well, my plans went astray.  I was nervous as well as very excited, of course.  While I’d seen Taylor’s Instagram account, I had no idea who she was.  After a couple of minor delays, we met and thought I had lucked out for my first shoot.  She was tall, with long blonde hair and a killer smile.  It was easy to tell she had the experience.  

female model in singlet and shorts against wall

As we walked to Yoyogi Park, she explained that she had been a professional model for many years.  She had even brought two jackets to give three different looks (the last look being no jacket, her top).  I had met a complete professional, and that took a load off my mind.

American female model at Yoyogi Park

Even though I had watched many YouTube model videos, they hadn’t prepared me mentally.  How much should I pose or direct her?  Especially with a person I had never met before.  It was intimidating.  Yes, we moved through the park according to the plan I had worked out, but everything else flew out of my head.  

Was it stage fright?  I guess so, but at the same time, it was exhilarating.  I was doing something that I wanted to do.  Eventually, I’ll get used to it.  And that means I’ll keep doing it till it becomes second nature.  In the end, I got a lot of shots over 1300.  Some of them were okay, and I hope you agree.  

professional American model in Tokyo

The one thing I learned from the day was that the photographer needs to give some firm direction.  Without it, the model won’t know what to do.  It is like being on a football team with no captain.  Everyone will do their own thing and pray the game works out well.  Next time I’ll be telling my model what I want. 

In the end, if I had kept my cool, I might have accomplished what I set out to do.  But, for my first professional model photoshoot, it was a fantastic experience!  I did something I wanted, and I was pretty happy with the pictures I got.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

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  1. Pingback: A photography guide to Yoyogi Park - Tokyo in Pics

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