The Formula for making great photos is simple.
Regardless of Subject matter all Great Photographs follow one or more rules of composition:
The Rule of Thirds to properly center the main points of interest of the photo
Leading Lines to direct the eye into the photography and to its Center(s) of Interest
Geometric Shapes to provide Balance and form
Flowing curves to lead the eye on a pleasant journey
Important to remember is the eye enters a photography at the left side and reads from left to right, just like reading a book. The eye is attracted to the brightest and sharpest part of the photo, which should be your center of interest. In portraits or head shots this should be the eye. If a model is wearing white shoes and darker clothing the center of interest of the photo will be her shoes and the eye will naturally wander back to that bright spot! This can be controlled with lighting , use of vignettes, or post production retouching.
The background is extremely important because it leads the eye to the main subject and provides a three dimensional separation for the main subject. In addition it can aid composition by either providing a Geometric Pattern , reinforce a Geometric Pattern or provide Leading Lines to direct the viewers Eye to the Center of interest. Of course a pole or tree growing out of the head of your subject can be serious distraction and ruin an otherwise great photo!
Some of the most successful poses are the simplest and most professional portrait photographers get 80% of their sales from about a dozen standard poses. Both models and photographers should develop a clip file of pictures with pose they like. Novice photographers should establish a series of starting point poses, standing, sitting, reclining etc. so they can get a session started with confidence. These are poses that you are confident in and can easily direct the model. You then make variations from the basic starting pose. Beginning models should practice in front of a mirror emulating the poses from the photos in your clip file. For both models and photographers it is important to remember that the limb away from the camera ALWAYS BEARS THE MODELS WEIGHT, , i.e. the rear leg or arm .
In its most basic form light merely illuminates the subject. Properly use light not only illuminates the subject it adds color, form, depth, drama,or illusion. It can conceal or reveal. For photographers it is one of the most important and difficult of the many tasks to learn! Lighting is what makes most movies and TV shows have a lifelike appearance even though the outdoor scene is done in a studio!
Color in a photo can be a distraction or it can direct attention. It is an important element in both the models wardrobe and the composition of the photo. In the models wardrobe we want to make sure colors compliment the models coloring and environment. As a compositional element we want the colors of the photo to match the model,i.e. if the model is wearing a blue dress a blue background normally will be most pleasing you have any doubt about this use of color harmony between subjects wardrobe and background check the cover of any issue of Cosmo,they always use color harmony most common backgrounds used for model photography are White, Gray and Black. White is often the best for model photos because it is does not distract from the model and can be a unifying element in the portfolio and saves time as it goes with anything the model is wearing . In addition the photographer is not taking a lot of time changing backgrounds which adds to the cost of the shoot. With careful light controls and the use of filters these three backgrounds can become any color the photographer desires, any shade of blue or red etc. created by filters and exposure. Takes a bit of time to master and excellent light control. In order to work only light from the background light can hit the back
Model photography is a collaborative effort. Depending on the shoots budget you have the photographer, one or more models, a makeup artist, a hair stylist, a stylist,wardrobe consultant, one or more assistants, an art director and a client. In many shoots all those functions may be performed by the photographer and the model. Regardless of how many people are involved it is important that there be excellent communication between all involved so that all are working on the same page working for the common goal. Prior planning is essential so that all the right people and equipment are in place.