What models should bring to their shoots

Posted on August 28, 2011


As many models who work with me know, I bring a lot of things to the shoot that many photographers don’t bring including makeup, outfits, jewelry, and props. If I expect a model to bring something, the model knows well in advance of the shoot what to bring. But, what do you bring to a shoot for a typical photographer? Is there a kit of things that should be brought? This is written with the typical fashion or glamour model in mind.

Every model should spend time and find a good makeup that makes them look good and knowing hot to use each of the items they have for makeup. Important with this is making sure the makeup is camera ready or high definition. You may wonder why this is a requirement. The best way to demonstrate this is by having you put on mineral makeup, then either go outside and shoot some images or use a strong flash to photograph inside. Look at the images on your computer at full size. See those little white dots? That is your makeup. To eliminate those white dots from the images, we have to blur the image to a point that makes the image look like it is edited. No photographer wants this. I personally recommend Smashbox, Makeup Forever, and Anastasia. With testing Lorac, Urban Decay, and Sephora brands are also good. You should have a minimum of primer, foundation, concealer, a few shades of shadow, a liner, lip stain, and mascara. Polish off the kit with good makeup remover, fingernail polish remover, fake nail glue, fake eyelash glue, and other similar items. Depending on the way you put on makeup, this could include brushes. Something I need to note here is paying for a good brand lasts longer and usually covers better. Even so, there are some inexpensive exceptions. My $0.02 is that if you are making a decision between a cheap brand and a more expensive brand, the more expensive brand is typically well worth it. I am frequently asked if a model should bring fake nails done to the shoot – if you have to ask, you probably need them.

Even with makeup, you should keep an emergency kit with your makeup. This would include safety pins, fashion clips, binder clips, eye drops, sun tan lotion, insect repellent, hair ties, bobby pins, comb, brush, tampons, baby wipes, headache or pain reliever, and similar items. You never know if or when you will need them, but having them will save the day if you do. Also, if you have a curling iron, blow dryer, straightener, and a power inverter (you get them at an electronics store) to power them is also helpful.

Next in your kit is proper undergarments. You will want at least a flesh and black colored bra. If you can afford it, you will want a variety to include a few bras including strapless and a pushup bra in your collection. Also bring flesh and black panties. Key here is getting garments that fit you. There is nothing worse for a photographer or client than seeing their images of clothing with improperly fitting undergarments. Depending on the type of images you are creating, you may want to bring some other types of undergarments like a thong. Key here is talking to the people you are working and determine if you need such an undergarment. Also, if you don’t feel comfortable with everyone on the set seeing you in the undergarments you have brought, then you didn’t bring the right undergarments. When you work in front of a photographer and change posing, it isn’t unusual for your undergarments to show. Worse, when climbing to someplace or or getting down, your undergarments will show. Add to this that there are photographers who will push you to get down to your undergarments for sexier images (or less). If you ever feel like too much is showing, feel free to put on your bathing suit or a small pair of shorts that don’t show. Alternately, putting on tights or leggings might work, too. I have provided all of these to models when I sense a potential problem with too much showing during a shoot.

What about clothing? That is what we are covering next. You should always bring the clothes that the photographer said you should bring. If the photographer didn’t specify or you are going to a meet and greet, you probably don’t know what to bring. Instead of saying exactly what you should bring, I am going to recommend different looks or styles of clothes. The reason for this is that you will rarely use clothes more than two or three times when you shoot with it. The first style is something casual. This would be jeans, cutoffs, T-shirts, knit tops, button down golf shirts. Next is a business look. This would be more formal and something you would fine when you are working at a large company. Finally something glamourous – think along the lines of evening gowns and outfits you go out partying in. As always, bring a two piece bathing suit even if you don’t need it for what you will be shooting. Jackets are a way to produce other looks from the same clothing if you have them. If you wear anything sheer for outer garments, be sure to bring undergarments that match its dominate color. Frequently, I see these as tops that are intended to have a camisole or bra underneath. Always bring three to four outfits plus your bathing suit. If this is for a fashion shoot, you won’t need to bring clothes because they are often provided to you during the shoot.

In addition to these outfits, you will want to bring along jewelry and props that go with the outfits you brought. This means earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, scarves, shoes, and hats. For shoes, you will want a variety of dress, high heel, boots, and sandals. If you have a purse or other prop like umbrellas, canes, and the like, they will make for some added looks to the images you create. Keep in mind that the looks should be simple and clean. If you don’t, the images will look horrid by having too much or items that don’t match the looks.

If you are shooting “Maxim” style images or boudoir type images, always bring a variety of items to wear that you won’t be afraid to wear. Most photographers won’t provide this type of clothing due to cleanliness issues. Know that you may be wet or dampened, so always check those items if they show too much when wet. Excellent items in this catagory are bras, panties, garter belts, thigh highs, corsets, bathing suits, and the like. You will also want to bring a warm robe with you to wear between image sets, too.

The very last thing you need to know is how do you get these to the shoot. I would recommend a small suitcase with rollers. If you have a lot of clothes, maybe a bigger suitcase.

Two things you should also bring with you no matter what is a state issued ID card or driver’s license with your birth date and photo, and an escort. I have been told that I say this too much, so I will leave this at just this.

This should help you knowing what you need to have for a shoot and what you should bring with you. Always keep a variety of outfits. This doesn’t mean spending an arm and a leg on clothes to shoot. Instead, frequent places like Goodwill and other thrift shops. If you live in Indy, I don’t mind letting you a few of the places I frequent to stock my clothes for models that I use for my photo shoots. And, as always, if you have any comments or suggestions about this post, please send me an e-mail. Until next time…

Edit: One of the models who I have worked with in the past when in Chicago, Rachel Jay, indicated that she created this blog entry a long time ago. This will give you an idea of what a model feels is important who has modeled for a while. She is a professional and excellent model. You can find her blog here – what to bring from a model’s perspective

Edit: A few models have indicated that you should eat something, even if it is a piece of toast prior to the shoot, and something light to munch on through the shoot. I have to strongly agree with this, as I usually have at least one model per year who doesn’t eat anything, and we end up picking the model off the floor when they pass out. The models who indicated the above have also indicated to me that you always need to bring your own water – don’t count on the photographer to bring it for you. My $0.02 is to talk with the photographer, and anything you drink should be from a sealed container.

The infamous shameless plug at the end: If you are looking for a photographer for portraits, please take a look at XOIND Studios. More information can be found at XOIND Studios web page.

All information and images are ©2012 Don Krajewski on this post.

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