I never have a great answer when a model asks "What do you want to shoot?". Ultimately, my aim is to create images which capture the essence / spirit / truth of the person I'm photographing. But how do you direct a model "be yourself" during a 2 hour shoot? Models pose ... if they're any good they have a repertoire perfected over the years - asking a model not to pose is like asking a basketball player to miss a free throw ... it's counterintuitive and uncomfortable.
So how do I get the result I'm after?
Motion - my shoots are a slow dance, I ask models to continuously move while making eye contact with the camera. Don't stop moving in anticipation of when I'm going to press the shutter. You do your thing and I'll do mine.
Warming up ... I don't give any direction at all for the first 1/2 hour or so. I try to let the model get comfortable in the space and with the process for a bit.
Lot's of shots ... In a typical 2 hour shoot I'll take 800 - 1200 pictures. My style is capture moments not create a scene - the setting, lighting wardrobe, personality of my subject creates the context for the shoot. Continuous shooting captures slight changes which make the difference between an awful and great image.
A fast wide lens ... for most studio shoots I use a 35MM 1.4L lens. Tight shots are captured only a few feet from my subject ... creating intimacy and tension.
What it looks like ... to illustrate my process I've created a couple videos using the unedited RAW files from 2 shoots - each video is about 1100 stills, representing about 90 minutes of shooting time. The 5 or so pictures below the video are the ones I've selected and edited to give you a feel of how I distill all that down.