How to Work the Camera for Your Next Photo Shoot

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Photo Source: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

From Nicki Minaj to the cast of “Succession” to Emma Stone, photographer David Needleman has had the majority of Hollywood's who's who in front of his camera at some point during his career. He offers his advice on how to get the most out of your next photo shoot.

1. Practice makes perfect.

“Instead of practicing in front of a mirror to find your best angles, use a camera and take photos of yourself to explore what works—a mirror could make you feel self-conscious. Put yourself in front of natural light, as it’s the most honest, the most revealing, and the most beautiful. Relax, think of a moment or emotion you want to convey, and start snapping pictures. Start simple and be honest with yourself.”

2. Each side tells a story. 

“All faces have asymmetry, so each side of your face is a unique vision of who you are. Embrace both sides and explore them to see who you want to be.” 

3. Let your eyes do the talking. 

“The eyes are everything and are the way to connect with the viewer. If there’s sincerity in your eyes, it will come through in the picture. Whatever the emotion you want to put out there, it has to come through the eyes.”

4. Strike a pose.

“A person’s body is unique, so there’s not one pose that is universally flattering. Instead, embrace what you are wearing and connect with that. Your wardrobe will inform your pose, your posture, and your attitude, whether it is a simple T-shirt and jeans or an elegant ball gown. Whatever the case may be, the fashion will dictate the pose and the positioning. Focus on what feels right, listen to what the photographer is saying, and let the clothing become an extension of your body. Whatever feels comfortable to you will reflect as comfortable in the photo.” 

5. Communication is key.

“One of the most important things on set is the willingness to let go and collaborate with the photographer. Discuss with your photographer what your goals and objectives are. Everything from hair, makeup, wardrobe, and location should be thought through and considered.”

6. Do your homework.

“Before a shoot, take some time to understand your photographer's approach, perspective, and sensibility. If your vision involves color photos by the beach, and your photographer is known for black-and-white studio portraits, there will be a disconnect. By doing your research and familiarizing yourself with your collaborator, you’ll be able to align expectations and get the most out of your photos.”

After graduating from the School of Visual Arts, David Needleman was mentored by famed fashion photographer Steven Meisel before branching out on his own. His work can be found in the New York Times, the Hollywood Reporter, Vanity Fair, and Out magazine, among others.

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