Sometimes the best thing a photographer can do when working with models is to just sit back and let things happen for a bit
While on a recent assignment in Europe I was working with a model couple and was tasked with getting "happy couple moments" that felt natural and unstaged.
Q. What's typically the first thing we do when we work with models on an assignment? A. Often, in the interest of nailing the shot for our client...we tell the models what we're trying to achieve, we may even show them a comp or an inspiration shot that will help them understand what we're looking for...
Sometimes this helps...sometimes it's necessary...but most often times I'm finding it becomes counter productive. Giving a model direction is one thing, showing them the shot you want is another. Models aim to please and they'll do whatever it takes to emulate what you have given them as a target. Often times at the expense of "real emotion" which comes through loud and clear in staged shots.
In this scenario, we had the couple for a very short period and told them just to hold hands and walk around. Let whatever happen - happen. Pretend like we're not here and we'll just shoot. Minimal input as to walking direction and body positions were given and look what happens!
I used this technique while on assignment in Italy the last few weeks and it has netted me some of the most raw and real lifestyle work I've done to date.
While we're not always able to work with this loose, "just roll with it", type of production scenarios...I've learned to sometimes just sit back and "let it be". Real moments are captured by allowing "real moments" to happen.