Getting Started with Model Photography

Beautiful, unique photography is one of the key elements in building a strong brand. While many brands start with stock photography of models, it's hard to create a consistent brand look and you always risk a competitor using the same image.

Frequently when brands are looking to upgrade their designs, they're also working on their first professional model shoots. While we aren’t photographers and will leave the aesthetics specifics to those who are experts, we work DO work with brand photography all the time. This is a brief overview of what types of model photography tends to works to work well from a design perspective and what will leave you frustrated or worse yet, reshooting in a few months. 


1. Shoot For Versatility

The most versatile model imagery for small brands is to have the models on a simple, solid color background like this example from Kevyn Aucoin. It looks elegant and modern and is also very easy to repurpose. 


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2. Think Results, Not Product

Avoid showing shots of the models using the products and focus on the results. It can be done well, like this example from Estee Lauder but often just looks a bit cheesy. Plus, if you ever want to change the products later, you’ll have to re-shoot or photoshop the model photography. 


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3. Consider the Cropping

Don’t crop the hair/head/body too closely. This allows for more versatility — for instance here, mobile vs desktop croppings from the BECCA site. Think about the wide variety of places your photography will appear (website, banner ads, magazine ads, in-store signage, billboards, etc). Larger brands often have unique images for portrait, landscape, widescreen and square applications but it's costly for smaller brands.

Often the photographer will give a recommended cropping but try to also get the model shot in full for times when you need more flexibility.


4. Keep Backgrounds Simple

If you do want to use backgrounds as part of your model shots, ensure they are not overly busy. Aesthetically, you don't want your background competing and distracting from your model. Practically, most likely you will have text overlays and you want them to be easy to read without a lot of photoshopping or work-arounds. Also, if the designer ever needs to extend the background this is much easier to achieve with a simple background.


5. But What About My Product?

You’ve spent all this time and effort developing the perfect product and packaging and want to show them off on your site. However, for smaller brands, tackle this a separate product photoshoot than creating the model photography around your products. These can always be collaged together later in Photoshop and allow you much more freedom.

Texture is also important for many beauty products and for this, you’ll need close-ups of the product. However this is also something best done separate from your model shoot. Simple swooshes of product are great to have on hand as you can repurpose them and collage together in visually interesting ways. Alternatively, give a hint of the texture of the product in the packaging itself.

How to Shoot Model Photography Your Designer Will Love Cheat-Sheet

Hope this helps get you started on product photography! If you some tips on product photography, please check out our guide to getting started with product photography.