A recent discussion with a musician friend of mine inspired me to write this column focusing on an aspect of modeling I am often asked about: how to deal with nerves. My friend and I were comparing notes on how nerves are a good sign that you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Whether the stage is big or small, or if the shoot is low-budget or the biggest campaign of your career, nerves are there to remind you of your passion for modeling.
I will admit that I do not get as nervous for shoots anymore. I feel it’s lessened with each completed project. I find myself feeling more excited than anything else. I think I found a way to turn nervousness into excitement because I genuinely enjoy modeling so much. It makes me happy! So those feelings become fuel for adrenaline. However, my friend’s question had me reminiscing to my very early days of modeling. I have a lot of experience working with both good and bad photographers, in comfortable and uncomfortable surroundings. But trust me, I do remember what it’s like to be thrust in front of the camera unsure of myself.
Confidence is a tricky thing. It’s built over time and experience. But it’s not knowing you’re the best (that’s cockiness!); it’s knowing you’re going to work your hardest to be the best. Confidence is something you HAVE to have a lot of to make it in modeling. It shows in every photo. I’m always concerned to see a shoot with a young girl who looks frightened or uncomfortable. I wish I could take her aside and explain a few things that will her help her overcome the nerves. Such as…
Force Yourself to Relax
Everyone has their way of relaxing in a stressful situation. It can be as simple as the few clichés we all know of: stepping outside for a moment to gather your thoughts, taking a few deep breaths, or listening to calming music before shooting. All of these I have done with great results! As silly as it sounds to literally close your eyes for a moment and inhale deeply through your nose and out through your mouth, it seriously works. Try it.
It’s perfectly okay to let your photographer know you’re nervous. A good photographer will make you as comfortable as possible. He may even share some tricks that will help you relax. But don’t be mistaken—it’s not the photographer’s job to concern himself with repairing your frayed nerves. I do believe, however, that being honest and admitting you’re nervous is therapeutic in itself. Once you’ve said it out loud, even to yourself, it’s out in the open. Now you can overcome it.
Get Into Character
People talk about retreating to a mental “happy place” when they need to relax. But the beauty of modeling is that you don’t have to be you! You may find it useful to completely shield yourself in a character for a particular shoot. Say you’re modeling lingerie—if you’re too nervous to be “you”…be someone else! Create your own character or envision yourself as a favorite movie heroine. Would Marvel’s Black Widow pose timidly in lingerie, or would she stand tall and kick ass? Become a character you love and associate with strength and power.
Sometimes all it may take to calm yourself down is a reminder of how small you are in the universe. Think about what you’re doing. This is JUST a photo shoot. You’re privileged to do this kind of work! You were chosen for this. You already have what it takes…or else you wouldn’t be there. Plus, at the end of the day, this isn’t brain surgery. There are millions of people who have been in your position before and managed to create beautiful images. So why can’t you? You’re good enough. Have fun with it!
If all else fails, here is a beautiful thought to remember when you’re nervous: it means you care. Modeling is about determination, being a perfectionist, and never settling for anything but your best. Your nerves mean you are fully committed to creating amazing works of art. So be still for a moment and be grateful. You heart is in the right place. Now all you have to do is convince the camera of that. Go for it!
culled from model mayhem