Fashion and commercial photographer, Nate Hoffman, recently joined us for a new episode of the Booked On Syngency podcast where we chatted about all things photography and life.
If you’ve ever posed for a photo…like, ever in your life; even for a family photo; you know how awkward it is to stand there waiting for the “flash”. Do I smile, or stay closed lipped? Which direction do I look? WHAT DO I DO WITH MY HANDS? Now, try doing that for a living. It’s much harder than you think, right?
So, I asked Nate Hoffman how he works with talent, especially new talent, to help get the best performance out of them and what he does to help set a good vibe and create comfort on set.
When you’re working with a newer talent and you’re on set, what kind of expertise do you bring to them, to like, direct them when you’re shooting?
Nate: *First off, I like to create a safe space. I really love talking with people, whether I’m taking pictures with them or not. I love talking and I love getting people comfortable, finding common ground, you know? When I work with new models it’s like, hey where are you from? How long have you been in LA or wherever. What’s your favorite song? Let’s put on a song that gets you pumped. You know? Let’s make you feel comfortable. And I feel like that’s so important. *
*I always tell people the most important piece of equipment I have in my camera case is my boombox. Because I always try to get good music going….If the model is super new…I’m like “what do you want to listen to? Taylor Swift? Alright let’s do it, man.” *
So, after you create a safe space and create a really good vibe and environment for everyone that’s on set. What do you do next?…Do you have to direct? Do you tell the talent where to stand, how to look, how to pose? Or do you just let them kind of do their thing?
Nate: So, it depends on what we’re going for. Like I said whether I’m shooting fashion or commercials, or whatever, it usually is pretty natural.
I like to approach it more like a Director, where we kind of give them motivation, because I’m less about pose…My biggest thing, and I feel like I say this to models and people when I take their pictures is, listen if this feels uncomfortable it’s probably going to look uncomfortable. So, let’s back up. Let’s unpack all of the things that you think make a good picture and let’s just get you feeling comfortable.
A lot of times with new models…I always give people something to do. You will never find a more awkward person, model or otherwise, that has to sit or stand against a plain background and just look pretty. Like, how do you do that!? What do you do?
So, I like to give them something to do. Like sit down, or do something with their hands. Or if there is someone else in the room, talk to that person or…Talk to me. It depends on what the shot dictates, but so much of that helps.
Yeah you just have to get those jitters out. What’s the funniest thing or wildest thing you’ve seen someone do to get warmed up and psyched in their mind for the shoot?
Nate: Oh man. I’ve seen people to push-ups, do backflips…
Do backflips? Oh dang!
Nate: Oh yeah man. There have been people that get super pumped up and do backflips…it’s like whatever, everyone’s got their own thing. We’ve also had some fricken wild music. I have been on set to where we’ve had really petite cute, you know, pretty girl models. And I’m like, alright you look a little nervous. What do you want to listen to? And they’ll be like “I know this sounds weird, but we gotta put some Slayer on.” And I’m like, alright let’s do it! Whatever it takes, whatever it takes let’s do it. (laughs)
Listen to the full Podcast this Wednesday 3/25/20 at http://anchor.fm/syngency , and anywhere else you listen to podcasts (Spotify, Apple, etc…)