100 Do's and Don'ts for Photographers

models learn camera photographers model Simon Q. Walden, FilmPhotoAcademy.com, sqw, FilmPhoto, photography

I teach photographers at all levels, from beginner to experienced professionals. When you're teaching you learn such a lot.

I've tried to capture 100 suggestions that will help any photographer, especially those working with models.

These range from good technique tips, to how to work with models and how to make the most of your money.


  1. Do shoot around 100mm lens - it is the most flattering focal length for people
  2. Don't shoot with a 50mm lens - you will get perspective distortion
  3. Do use wide-angles when you are being creative - not by accident
  4. Do watch out for what's in the background
  5. Do learn more about composition than the rule of thirds
  6. Do learn how to a do a minimum of retouching and post-processing
  7. Don't spot colour - it is so old fashioned!
  8. Do make backups, make sure at least one backup is off-site
  9. Do have a shoot and packing checklist - use it!

  11. Do only show your best work
  12. Do build a following on flickr, 500px, Purpleport and the many other photography websites
  13. Do credit all the models, make-up artists, studios, designers etc with your images
  14. Don't mix all your photographic subjects, nudes, butterflies and steam engines is confusing
  15. Do try and show a variety of work within your specialist area
  16. Don't fret about people stealing your images
  17. Do photograph men from time to time
  18. Don't bother boasting about being "award winning" or "published" - it seems every photographer is at least one of these
  19. Do be specific about publications if you have them
  20. Don't bother telling models about your equipment, they don't care
  21. POSING

  22. Don't just be a "taker" of photographers - "make" them too
  23. Do explain what sort of image you want to create
  24. Do give models ideas, almost like short stories, this helps them pose and be creative
  25. Do show models images on the back of the camera, but not every shot
  26. Don't use gratuitous props - especially guitars
  27. Do learn the tricks of posing and the common posing styles
  28. Don't let hands turn into bunches of bananas
  29. Don't let knees or elbows point towards the camera
  30. Don't let the eyes turn further than the nose - you will get just the whites of the eyes
  31. Do learn about handling facial and body defects and how to shoot them
  32. Do tell the model how much of the pose is seen in camera - full length, waist up, head and shoulders
  33. Do use different camera heights to make the post of different poses and proximity to the model

  35. Do make sure you are learning all the time
  36. Do practice.
  37. Do go on workshops
  38. Do listen to camera club judges, discard what isn't useful to you
  39. Do get as many critiques of your images from professionals/experts as you can
  40. Do experiment
  41. Do emulate other photographs, but don't copy them
  42. Do look at a lot of images from many sources
  43. Do look at your failures and learn how not to repeat them
  44. Do mix it up: shoot indoors, outdoors, location, studio
  45. Do understand how to use natural light and studio light
  46. Don't bother pursuing letters after your name for the sake of it - only for the learning experience
  47. Don't get despondent when you think your images are not improving - we all plateua then improve
  48. Don't get flustered over the many camera settings you may have, you probably need less than 10 of them

    I also spoke to a lot of models to get their side of things too. What really surprised me was the number of suggestions relating to men being jerks.

    Really, starting with "Don't Touch!" to much more aggressive and sexualised activities. So, I make no apology for having to be so explicit on models behalf on telling photographers what not to do.

    Some photographers nailed it by summarising it as "Don't be a dick!" and thought it was obvious. All I can say is that models don't feel the same way and that instructions to guys need to be very carefully spelt out. So while I am no fan of the sentiment "all photographers are perverts" clearly some really don't know how to behave. So if you see a photographer over-stepping any of these marks - tell them.

  50. Don't Touch
  51. DO learn how to make your subject feel comfortable - especially at the start of a shoot
  52. Do talk, be chatty and have a good humour
  53. Don't flirt
  54. Do compliment
  55. Don't get bashful
  56. Do give constructive criticism (or advice)
  57. Don't mistake on-set chemistry for anything that might apply afterwards
  58. Do give feedback on poses and adjustments, I can't see how it looks from the camera
  59. Do show images during the shoot
  60. Do communicate through the shoot, tell me when I need to adjust the pose etc
  61. Do watch out for flaws, tell me when hair or clothes need fixing
  62. Don't try and fix those flaws yourself, tell me and I will fix them
  63. Don't push the boundaries
  64. Do stop if a model asks you to
  65. Don't try and turn a previously arranged clothed shoot into a nude one
  66. Don't just keep constantly clicking, give us a chance to move and pose
  67. Do let models have time to touch up make-up
  68. Do pay for good models, you get much better pictures for a small increase in money
  69. Do provide tea and cake breaks
  70. Do provide images from TF shoots in a reasonable time and a reasonable number

  72. Don't push levels
  73. Do be professional
  74. Do be respectful
  75. Do maintain a safe environment
  76. Don't make the model change in front of you
  77. Do make sure your model is warm
  78. Do provide a self contained and warm changing area
  79. Don't brag or say how "lucky" we are to shoot with you
  80. Don't compare to other models
  81. Don't forget, just because you are paying, models do not have to do everything you say
  82. Don't Touch!!!

  84. Don't talk about the boner you have during a nude shoot
  85. Don't say your wife doesn't know about this shoot
  86. Don't tell me about the sex troubles you are having with your wife
  87. Don't tell me you want to leave your wife for me
  88. Don't ask about boyfriends, partners etc
  89. Don't talk about your sex life - full stop.
  90. Don't ask for personal email addresses, postal addresses etc without a reason
  91. Don't make passes, ask for a date, or be suggestive
  92. Don't ask for a happy ending
  93. MONEY

  94. Don't expect to make money
  95. Do pay your model promptly
  96. Don't buy equipment assuming it will make you better
  97. Don't fall into the "Gear Acquisition Syndrome"
  98. Do buy the best lenses you can, they are worth more than your camera
  99. Do ask for photo credits when published, don't be surprised if you don't get them
  100. Don't do commercial work for free
  101. Don't do commercial work "for the exposure"
  102. Don't expect to get published
  103. Don't just start shooting weddings - learn how first - find out if you can - weddings are very hard
  104. Do be honest with the tax man
  105. Do keep a record of all your expenses - they are tax deductible - even months later if you go professional
  106. Do keep a record of all your sales
  107. Do get insurance if you are taking money
models learn camera photographers model Simon Q. Walden, FilmPhotoAcademy.com, sqw, FilmPhoto, photography

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