All models and photographers will have a “first-time shoot” before they can start their professional working relationship with each other, it’s unavoidable, whether either party is experienced or not. While some photographers and models instantly synergize on set, others struggle, so here’s some photography tips to help you get through your first-time photoshoot with a model.


Turn the music on, though let it be the model’s choice. Music helps relax people and can provide a segue to decode the mystery in each other’s unknown personality. Music can invigorate a photoshoot between a model and photographer too, especially when the song has more instrumental sounds than lyrics, as in Enigma’s song, The Principals of Lust. Ironically, the word enigma is Latin for riddle and at some point your first-time photoshoot with a model can feel like a brainteaser.

Your First-Time Photoshoot Model

This was the first time I captured a photo of Dani at our recent Orlando photo workshop, and like your first-time photoshoot with a model, you can start with a simple image of the face.

Enigma’s group leader, Michael Cretu states, “No words can explain music, music explains itself.” It’s the same for photography, the photos should speak for themselves even without captions. Great photos don’t need explanations, though often the story on how they were created is intriguing and can often involve first-time photoshoots with a model and the personalities of the photographer and the model either clash or work together.

Personalities vary and great photographers will adapt to various personalities in model photography and music is one way to save the day with a new, nervous model, plus it helps the photographer focus on the shoot and not a cryptic mystery journey.


Yes it’s true, most models watch their diets, but so should photographers — and I’m not talking about weight problems, more like foods that can help a first-time photoshoot with a model. While I’m sure it’s a safe bet to say there are more overweight photographers than models, let’s focus on food for thought.

Yes, food for the mind. For your models, have chocolate available. While dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate, and most models know this, make both available, preferably in wrapped individual pieces. It’s been documented that right after the first bite of dark chocolate, the brain releases serotonin and dopamine that gives the consumer a feeling of pleasure.

Model Photo Photography

This is from my first shoot with Madison at a previous Orlando photography workshop.

While dark chocolate may not create a dopamine addiction that comes from taking selfies, it does contain phenylethylamine, a compound often called the “love drug” because of it’s “brain buzz similar to being in love.” The higher the percentage of cacao in dark chocolate, the more of an increase in “those feel-good brain chemicals.” Chocolate also has flavanols, which besides it healthy benefits, they increase the “mood-boosting” effects to the brain.

Note to self, your first-time photoshoot with a model isn’t to create a love bug, it’s the ability to understand that a relaxed face is the most important part of a model’s photograph, as without the face, you have nothing but a mediocre photo — your goal is to capture at least one great photo whether it’s your first time working with your subject or your tenth time.

Now let’s turn the tables with something I learned from Nikon Ambassador and Awesome Bouncer Vincent Versace.  You’re the photographer and even though you booked your first-time photoshoot with a model months ago, you’ve had a bad week. As a professional you know it’s not cool to cancel the photoshoot, so you reach for an energy-drink to wake you up — STOP! Energy drinks ultimately jolt you up, but crash you down too, so here’s a better and healthier solution, eggs!

We’ve all heard the importance of breakfast, but truly, the secret is in the eggs. Eggs contain lysine, an essential amino acid that helps reduce anxiety and stress levels. The World Health Organization’s recommends “30 mg/kg of daily lysine” so for an average person, all it takes is one egg to provide 20-percent of that requirement.

Eggs actually contain nine essential amino acids that help the brain, so think of one egg as a “mind-booster shot” of the day that might help your first-time photoshoot with a model be an overall success. And if you’re an older photographer, there are two helpful antioxidants found in egg yolks — lutein and zeaxanthin, that will help protect your eyes and “reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.”

We all need our eyes to see, but for a model the eyes are key to produce what I call the “perfect facial expression,” when the corners of the eyes are in harmony with the corners of the mouth. Regardless, both eggs and dark chocolate can boost everyone’s mental awareness and help ensure your first-time photoshoot with a model will be nothing short of success.

Brain Stimulation

Now we’ve covered how music, chocolate, and eggs will help you and your model get through that first-time photoshoot together. The reason those three work well is because they all induce brain stimulation. I tell photographers all the time, “Depressing the shutter is only five-percent of the equation when it comes to photography.”

The other nine-five percent consists of everything from understanding life, the people around you, the fundamentals, concepts and principles of photography, the principles and qualities of light, plus that creativity is natural in some and learned in others, and the list goes on an on. But each step you take to improve on that long, long list of 95-percent will improve your photography and also make you a better person overall. In the end when it comes to that first-time photoshoot with a model, it’s all about understanding your “self” and the “self” of others. Note to self.

Rolando Gomez is a professional photographer and author of five photography books that has traveled to 45 countries for assignments. The former soldier and U.S. Army combat photographer has taught hundreds of photography workshops for almost two decades. A 2016, 2017 and 2018 Top Writer for Quora, his partial credits include Newsweek, Parade, Playboy, Rangefinder, Maxim, Rangefinder, New York Times, Stars & Stripes, and various other publications.
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