The world of trade is alive and well with photographers. We trade our prized lenses to one another for a week or two. We exchange a camera body for time in another's studio. We trade images for a model's time. Yet, it is rare that photographers trade photos for photos. More uncommon is a photographer trading their camera for a pose.
Photographer Dylan Golby and I decided to go tit for tat trading couples' shoots a while back. Ironically, neither Dylan or I had experienced the feeling of having a camera pointed in our direction (with the exception of an outtake or a light test). Trading shoots with other photographers can yield some great images (which, in normal circumstances can cost a small fortune). But more, it gives photographers the chance to walk a mile in a client's shoes.
If photographers want to improve their directing skills, posing for the camera can be a valuable learning experience. Once you're hamming it up, you can actually feel why some clients cringe when they are asked to stand in certain ways. You smirk as you realize that you have asked clients to do things that look and feel ridiculous. By understanding how clients feel posing in front of your DSLR, you're closer to creating a connection with them. With that connection, your portraiture session is bound to be successful.
If you are a photographer, the next time you pack the gear to do a couple's or individual portrait shoot, make sure that your "client" is another photographer.