Relaxing the subject
Whether using professional models or friends, taking head-and-shoulder portraits or full- figure nudes, your photographic session will be more successful if your model is at ease. If a sitter is not relaxed, this will usually show in the pictures.
Create the right ambience from the start by ensuring the studio is not too warm or cold, and by playing suitable background music. Make sure that camera gear, lighting, and backdrops are as ready as possible before the model comes on set, and that the model has somewhere private to change costumes, adjust make-up, and sit between shots. It is the photographer that is the key, though. If you keep talking to the model, praising him or her, and suggesting poses and actions, you will obtain more successful shots than if you hide quietly behind the camera.
The studio set-up can help the model to feel comfortable. By using a tripod, it is possible to maintain eye contact with the model while giving instructions, and using a standard lens allows close proximity so there is no need to shout.
The purpose of the prop in this shot is not just to provide visual interest and a strong diagonal line. It also provides something for the model to hold on to, helping to avoid awkward-looking poses.
Fine adjustments to the poses
When photographing people, even small changes in posture, or the way they turn their head or body, will have a major impact on the composition.
Often the poses that work best are exaggerated ones. To get an exaggerated pose while keeping the effect natural, ask the model to laugh or shout as you take the shot. Use lots of film to ensure you get the pose you want; this is not so necessary with digital cameras as you can review the actual facial expressions shot after each sequence.