Behind the Photo


By Stock Photographer, Marilyn Nieves

There are a few different ways I go about identifying models I’d like to photograph for stock photography. It may come as a surprise to some, but their “look” is not my main focus.

The first thing I notice is their energy.

A person’s vibe speaks volumes, and when you are photographing them, you are capturing their energy. That feeling you get when you see the photo—that’s what makes an image. The energy a person exudes will play a big role in the feeling and success of your photo.

Most of the time I find my models within my circle, or they are people I have met out and about. There are also online model databases that I sometimes search. Of course, getting a sense of their energy when you’ve never met them is a bit challenging, but pay attention to your interaction via email and phone as that can tell you a lot.

For example, I found this mother and daughter duo through a mutual friend. Like many of my models, they were not professional models when we first worked together.

But the vibe exchanged through our communication was energetic and I knew they’d be a pleasure to work with.

We did a “day in the life” styled shoot and captured authentic interactions between them.

If you set out to do this, share your ideas with your model and pay attention to the vibe in your overall interactions.

Even though you’re shooting a natural looking scene, you need to plan your shots ahead of time. In this particular scenario, I asked the mother to style her daughter’s hair and I photographed the process at a slight distance using a long lens (70-200mm) as they naturally went about their interaction.

You could do this with just about anyone, in any real-life situation. Just be sure to watch for logos or any copyrighted materials in the background. Notice that the photos on the wall in the background here are completely blurred out, so they’re not an issue for stock.

Also look for locations with good light or bring along a light source. In this case, the room had large windows with lots of light shining through but I still used a strobe to freeze the movement. That’s something to think about when working with kids. They typically break out in spontaneous energy.

Experiment, have fun, and then upload only the best images from the shoot.

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