I've noticed a trend in people photography, namely, many of us tend to move from one model to the next one far too quickly, and far too often. At times, it appears that it doesn't really matter who the next subject is or what their personality is like, as long as there is a model shoot booked in. While for some it may provide a reason to boast about their newest portfolio addition, to others it's simply a routine that can be difficult to break out of. So, why should we focus on shooting the same person more than once?
There is no doubt that getting to know your model will enhance the rapport you both share while on a shoot. You don't necessarily need to get involved in their personal life, but getting to know someone on a more personal basis will help to put you both at ease. Learning about your model's body language, posing style, and expressions will help you achieve images that often are impossible to achieve with a complete stranger.
We only have limited time while shooting a model, therefore the more you get to know them, the quicker you both will get on the same wavelength when shooting your next session. It works both ways — the model will also become familiar with your way of shooting, directing, and post-processing.
The beauty of creating a good and lasting rapport is that you both will know exactly what to expect of each other and thus place trust in each other to deliver your best. Even if things aren't going as you previously planned, you'll be able to discuss the shortcomings and improve on it the next time you work together because you'll know that there is a "next time".
Usually, you begin to create a long-lasting working relationship because both of you have a common goal to share. It could be shooting for an exhibition you are putting together, a concept that may result in a digital or a print book, experimenting with certain styles, themes or techniques, or perhaps for both of you to create something that elevates your portfolios.
Being able to share a common goal in photography will keep you both "in check". You both are responsible for working towards your goal and as such you both are required to focus, share your vision, look for new ideas, and different ways of doing them.
It's very easy to lose motivation when you're working on a personal project all by yourself and do not have a deadline looming around the corner. Having that second person involved will help you hold each other accountable and get you progressing with your project.
I strongly believe that once you begin to work with someone on a long-term basis, you will feel the need to experiment with your work. If you were to shoot a new person every week, it's very likely that repetition will occur in some shape or form. Humans are creatures of habit, and it's unsurprising that we unintentionally repeat processes that are easy, comfortable, and familiar to us.
When you are faced with shooting the same person over a longer period of time, it is very unlikely you will end up shooting the same thing more than once. It's easy to shoot different faces, because they're all unique, even if you put them all on the same chair and in front of the same background. However, what about shooting the same face for months?
You will be forced to start thinking outside of the box. And, with the rapport that you have built over the time, you will feel comfortable enough to experiment with different ways of shooting, creating, and post processing.
Have you ever worked with someone long-term? How did it work out?