The other day I went for another photoshoot with another friend of mine. This time my friend was not really used to the camera, so when I took my huge 70-200mm lens and start pointing at her in public she felt a little awkward and uncomfortable. So in order for me to take good pictures of her I need to help her to relax. In this case was easy, she is my friend and I know her and how to make her forget about me, or even better to start collaborating with me in the creation of the photos. But I think the techniques I used are more o less the same for any person.
I think the most important tip is to be yourself and you to be comfortable as a photographer, the moment you start doubting about your work and what you are doing is when the model start feeling comfortable. I am learning to improve in this area, and I notice it in my models that they start respecting me different if I sure of what I am doing. Also if you are not comfortable and happy how the other person can be also, empathy plays a huge rol here, happiness and confidence spreads.
As you are now more confident try to direct your model, don´t be bossy and also allow them to create what they want, at the end these are they pictures. What I try to do is at the beginning of the photo shoot, when the model is a little bit tense, try to direct her more, and by the end I just follow her lead and correct some positioning and posing. When giving directions try to show them what to do with clear directions and try not to touch them, even if they are your friends its not good to go around manipulating people.
Also when shooting try to show your model the results of the best shots (never show the bad shots, at least in my experience it doesn’t help). Beside showing the shots try to encourage them on how good this is looking, not just keep those comments to yourself. Your model cannot see the back of your camera and doesn’t know how great pictures she is making.
In general if you feel that your model is uncomfortable, clueless or lost or even bored of what you are doing, try to talk to her, make her forget about what you are doing, make jokes, ask her questions. Usually I like to talk to her while taking pictures, I like to capture candid moments of her thinking about her boyfriend or laughing about some stupid thing I said. Another thing I like to do, its to do some playing around shots, something fun that she wants to do, even if its not posy
I think I still have to improve in a lot of this categories, but its something you only improve with practice. In every photo shoot that I do, giving directions will be more natural and I feel more comfortable with myself.
Here is a link that gives some tips (or more o less the same as I did) : 8 ways to make your model feel comfortable.
And here you can see all the great pictures I made from Nela.