3 Tips for Working with Non-Models on a Photo Shoot

In this photo shoot for Sephora, it was a pleasure working with three of my office mates. While all of them are sincerely beautiful, none of them are professional models – so here are three tips on what I did to create a successful shoot.

1. Be direct but encouraging.

Everyone is conscious of how they look (it seems especially so in New York!), so positive praise is welcome. When the person knows you find them beautiful, they are reminded of their beauty, and ultimately they relax and have fun. Honing in on their best features on camera is one thing, but also be vocal with the person about what makes them glow. Note: do not lie. There are a million features that make a person beautiful, so just find one and be sincere – fake praise is gross.

sephora_diptych_inline_kora2. Be specific with guidance.

With someone who is not familiar with being on set, there can be a lot to remember. Simple and straightforward directions are key: turn the product about an inch clockwise, not turn the product toward me; take a half step toward the light, not move a little to the left (my left? their left? be more specific). This saves a large amount of time when you’re not having to repeat or redirect.

sephora_diptych_inline_hum3. Create a place of warmth.

Beyond emotional warmth of a smile and welcoming them into the studio, add some upbeat music. I’m not talking about blasting music in the club, but some Cardi B and Sylvan Esso in the background definitely add liveliness to a silent studio. Also, when working on beauty shoots where a decent amount of skin is exposed, keep the climate mild. Chilly AC is great after a sweaty workout but not great for folks who are just standing in one spot and freezing with bare shoulders.


These three tips will save you time and also help your non-models feel at ease. What are other things you would recommend doing on set? ✨


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