I was talking with a photographer at one point and he asked why I bother with models. See, it is a huge time sink for me to find models to work with. My lightpaintings are often limited by exactly how long I can get a model to stay still, so sometimes I get back film from a shoot and find that the model is very blurry. And sometimes, I set up a shoot and the model never shows up at that appointed time and place which really wastes my time.
He suggested that I get a RealDoll or other such silicone fake-person and just use that. That way I wouldn't have to deal with all of the problems of a real model, plus I can do my exposures for as long as I want.
I tried to explain that there's a touchy-feely part to photographing people and that, even though the model just sits there and poses, that they still contribute more than mere presence to a picture.
Every time I shoot with a different model, I end up with a different sort of shoot. Some people come to me with an inner aggressiveness. Some people are frilly and feminine, others are very masculine, with very little connection to somebody's actual gender. Some people are secretly dancers, others are really dancers. Sometimes people are nervous and I worked with that instead of trying to get them to suppress it.
I notice that I take different shots as I get more familiar with a person. The first few shots are more tentative and as I get to know the model better I let them become more piercing.
I love the little bits of unconscious movements that people have. The way some people toss the little bits of hair that are getting in the way. Some people wrap their arm around both legs sitting on the floor, others just wrap their arm around one leg, and still others tend to just rest their hands on their leg. It takes me time to figure out these movements in people as I watch them, but I like to use a model's natural movements in their poses.
Really, anything other than a formal posed portrait is a collaboration between a model and a photographer. This is how a model can become a muse for an artist. This is why people still talk about the Mona Lisa and her mysterious smile. I can't see myself working with anything other than a real person.
My friends have been asking me how I find my models. It turns out that the best way to get a model to pose for you is to already have a body of work the model finds interesting and wants to be part of.
Clearly, this is a catch-22. Mostly, models have been willing to pose for me because I talked one of my friends who isn't a model into posing for my earliest work and therefore was able to already show an interesting body of work.
The one problem is that models and photographers are both essentially flakey people when viewed as a group. I generally make sure that I don't make too many expensive advance arrangements for a model shoot because sometimes the model doesn't show.