Our non-verbal communication exhibits far more about how we truly feel than we could possibly articulate through words. Verbal and non-verbal messages can contradict one other and it can be more obvious than you think, so you might have to improve on your non-verbal communication skills and learn to understand your own (and other people’s) body language to help your shoots to run smoothly and get the best out of your models and crew.
This can be challenging, as you might not concentrate regularly on what you do with your arms and legs when you talk to people. Body language is reflexive in nature, automatically matching up to what our minds are thinking at that time, but it is possible to train yourself to overcome any negative body habits.
Non-verbal communication can include body language such as posture (how you stand, sit, and hold yourself); gestures (hand movements, points, and nods); expressions (affirming smiles, disapproving glares, or tired, blank stares); eye contact (which can be hugely important); and, depending on the situation, appropriate touching (high fives, hugs, and pats on the back). You also communicate a tremendous amount about yourself by the way you dress, through your style and your hair—remember this is the fashion industry and people tend to judge!
The most important time on set can be first introductions. If necessary make the first move: be welcoming, sincere, and try to give off a positive attitude for the day ahead. It is important to appear relaxed, confident, and in control. Keep your shoulders back and own your space, sitting or standing with your legs slightly apart can portray self-assurance. Keep your head up, be approachable, and be
in the moment.
Positive non-verbal communication includes universally accepted signs such as smiles, nods, winks, ‘thumbs up,’ and the ‘OK’ finger position.
When interacting with others, give confirmation that you are listening. Laugh with people (even if a joke isn’t that funny, be polite) as you would appreciate the same in return. To show interest you may naturally lean toward someone, to appear relaxed you might lean back slightly, but watch out for appearing creepy or arrogant at the same time.
Behaviour you might think is natural may come across as negative to others. Try to refrain from crossing your arms and legs too much, it can make you appear guarded and harder to approach for models. Standing
too close to people can disturb them, so be aware of personal space, although most models are used to people invading theirs! Eye contact is positive and can create a connection, but it can be difficult for some people to maintain. Work on this, if you break it often it can make you seem insecure, distracted, and disinterested. But be careful not to stare longer than is socially acceptable.
If you touch your face mid conversation it can indicate nerves and is associated with deception, while stroking the chin can convey judgment. Fidgeting with your collar can also be unsettling to others, and if you scratch your head a client might think you are doubting yourself, or the shot. Try to keep track of your gestures and any nervous ticks you develop. You might shift your body weight repeatedly or unconsciously ‘finger drum’ when you’re tense.
If you can start to notice your body habits you can change them for the better.
With Shooting Models photographers and models alike will learn the key skills to help them advance in the business: top model Franki Falkow and pro photographer Adam Duckworth collaborate to cover all the bases, from booking models to lighting technique. Breaking the process down into logical stages means you won’t put a foot wrong: results will be stunning, and it will be an experience you’ll repeat time and again.
Shooting Models, by Franki Falkow and Adam Duckworth
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