Many new models are often unsure what to bring to a shoot or how to prepare adequately in advance. These guidelines have been drawn up specifically to assist new models starting out on their careers particularly for that all-important first shoot.
The key is to be organised. You should start planning everything to do with your shoot at least two days ahead of the scheduled time.
Whether you are travelling on public transport or by private vehicle, it's important to have thoroughly researched your route. Most new cars today have a sat nav system installed as standard but these can be unreliable. Make sure you have an exact route map on how to get to your destination. When you leave home you should have your map or route details and a mobile and / or landline telephone number for your photographer. Ensure you also have a phone number for your destination if it is different than the photographer's number (studio, hotel, etc.)
Even if you have a chaperone, ensure that a copy of location details, phone numbers etc are left with someone you can contact at anytime in case of an emergency. Make sure you put a copy in your handbag or case the night before the shoot. It is too easy to leave this valuable information at home. Also make sure your mobile phone is fully charged and that you also carry a notebook and pen.
If using public transport it's always a good idea to check the schedules the night before or before you travel in case of delays or other interruptions in the service. Also check road traffic news if driving to your shoot. Nowadays this can be done quickly and easily on-line or via Ceefax.
Whether you are doing nude or clothed work, the condition of your skin is so important. We should all be drinking plenty of water, but try to increase your water intake at least 24-48 hours before a shoot. This will help flush your body of toxins and hydrate your skin. If you are going to use a fake tan product, it's best to do that at least two or three days prior to the shoot. It would then have had time to reach full intensity and so won't rub off on your clothing.
Lotion and exfoliating products are must haves (fake tan or not). Dead skin cells just don't compare to the lovely glow of freshly scrubbed and moisturised skin. There's a psychology here as well. When you walk out your door feeling like you've pampered yourself for a few days, you'll have more confidence. Make sure your nails are manicured and the polish is perfect. Toes and fingers should match. Moisturised skin is a must when doing nude work, so bring a bottle of lotion to the shoot and put on some extra the minute you get in the changing area.
Some photographers like to use glycerine or oil to accentuate the skin, so have some baby wipes or something to wipe your skin when the shoot is over. Sometimes your shoot includes a combination of nude and clothed work.
If you are not working with a make-up artist, then you should know what make-up works best for you. Make sure you've inspected your make-up and all your pencils are sharp (tuck that sharpener in your bag in case one breaks). Check that you have plenty of clean sponges and applicators. Some things to bring along that are often not in studios are these; a small makeup mirror that you can sit in front of you (often studios don't have mirrors, or if they do, they're not suitable for close up work), tissues, cotton buds, make-up remover or wipes, and lip gloss to go over your lipstick is very handy.
Eye drops are also a good thing to have along, or if you wear contacts, make sure you have all your gear. Take along some hairspray, hair ornaments, curling iron, or whatever you feel you'll need to fix your hair between changes. If you plan to wear a hat or a wig in any of your 'looks', make sure to do those towards the end of the shoot, since wigs and hats tend to flatten your hair.
Less is best. Jewellery can be very distracting in an image, so use it carefully. Watches are a no-no unless you are doing an advertisement for watches. Always polish or dip your jewellery (especially the silver) and make sure it is clean and bright. It's good to have a list of the jewellery you normally use and keep it all in a designated bag with the list. It's also prudent to leave very expensive rings at home.
Try on each outfit you are planning to wear for a shoot a day or two beforehand along with the accessories, shoes, etc. Pose in front of the mirror from all angles and see how they move and how they look, changing items until you get the look you desire. Many studios (especially location shoots) don't have an iron or board so pack everything carefully. Packing well is extremely important.
Here are some other handy hints: Scarves are almost impossible to pack without fold marks, try wrapping them around tubes such as empty foil or cling film rolls. They travel well and look freshly ironed for the shoot. Dresses and daintier items also travel well if they are wrapped in tissue or greaseproof kitchen paper as you fold them. For small items, buy a box of zip lock bags. It's best to have the type that you can write the contents on the bag. You will be much better organised at your shoot and can quickly and easily change looks, confident that each bag contains exactly what you need at that moment.
Music is an important source of relaxation, so bring along a few of your favourite CDs if there is a way to play them at the shoot. A few safety pins and a small sewing kit should be standard in your case as well, in case a seam splits or for any other little emergency.
Make sure you have a bottle of water during travel and during the shoot. Bring some change for toilets at the station or an emergency phone call if you are unable to use your mobile. You might want to pack a light snack, although photographers are usually very good about making sure their models have coffee / tea and a snack, but some don't, so be prepared if you think you'll need one.
Some photographers require proof of age, so make sure to have discussed this in advance and bring along a passport or other ID. Also discuss your limits concerning nudity and touch. Photographers are usually very cautious about touching models (to fine tune your outfit or a stray bit of hair), but if you simply cannot abide being touched by a stranger, tell them so. Also be aware that the phrase 'figure work' means nudity.
It is also important to discuss when your prints / CDs or payment will be forthcoming. Discuss with your photographer whether or not he / she will require a release. Little details like this can destroy the photographer / model relationship if they are not discussed and any differences or misconceptions ironed out well before the shoot.
Above all make sure you have fun and don't take it too seriously. Everyone wants to be professional, but we're all just like-minded individuals who are coming together to create perfect images.
Be punctual, don't cancel at the last minute, and have a great time! The more relaxed and confident you are, the better the shoot will go. A successful shoot requires much planning for all the parties involved. Don't be the weakest link!!