Model Pro Tips #1: Choosing Photographers
Hey All! Models, photographers, casting directors, hair/mu artists, etc...
Welcome to my newest engagement- Model Pro Tips Monday!
EVERY MONDAY (Well, on the Monday’s when I’m not on set at a shoot) I’ll be chatting with you all about some of the keys to being a successful independent model! I’ll be going live on my instagram (@ash_lie.noelle) and then posting the print version of the talk on here on my blog.
If you tuned into tonight, you know that we talked a little about my process for choosing photographers for independent work, concept shoots, artsy fun things. This is a great read for any beginner model who is building their portfolio.
Alright. Here we go!
The three main things I consider when looking at booking with a photographer (or accepting a booking request):
Price of shoot/Other costs
A few things to consider here:
Quality of work
Communication is so, so important. From the first inquiry I am making assessments. Is the photographer responding in a timely manner? Are they respectful? Are they asking me questions? Are they answering mine? What is their tone? Their vibe? Am I picking up on anything weird? Do they have an ego? If they do… is there reason for this? Can I handle dealing with the ego during a shoot? Will it be worth it? These are a few of the questions I’m asking myself during the first few conversations. I am also listening for any weird sexual undertones. I believe that it is better to be safe than to be sorry, ALWAYS, so I always have my safety in mind. Communicating in a timely manner is so important, especially when setting up a last minute shoot. Sometimes it can be helpful to have a checklist of questions to ask (would this be helpful for you all to have, maybe?).
Quality of work is something that can be overlooked when you’re a new model. I’ve been there. Getting in front of the camera can be SO exciting sometimes! It’s natural to want to accept every TFP (trade for portfolio) shoot offer you get. HOWEVER… I will tell you this: Images are forever once they go on the Internet. If you take a bad picture and it’s out there, it’s out there. It’s one thing to get some practice- it’s another thing to work with someone who really doesn’t have a lot of experience and the images are horrible. PHOTOGRAPHERS- this goes for you as well. This is why it’s best to hire experienced models. Working with a model who isn’t serious won’t enhance your career. Sidenote: Before you post your work, ask yourself this…
Is this representative of my best work?
If it isn’t, maybe save that image for yourself and consider it a learning experience.
Also, another thing that people don’t talk about often: It is OKAY to NOT post a shoot that you did. Seriously. You are not required to post every set you do! You’ll thank me for this someday.
Okay, one more super important part of the Professionalism piece that I want to touch on in depth real quick: Consistency! This goes for everyone… Models, photogs, hair/mu…
Your work better be consistent. If it isn’t consistent, why is that? You should be putting 100% into every bit of work that you do. Always check out someone’s portfolio before working with them. Literally the entire thing. Are their images consistent, or are they “always trying new things?” Trying new things is cool and all, but claiming to be trying new things all the time can be bad news. It may mean that
a) They haven’t established a brand yet
b) They have no clue what they’re doing
c) They don’t put 100% into every gig or client
Time is extremely important. Time wasted at a shoot that ends up being a bust is time that could have been spent with a more professional photographer.
A few things to consider:
Non Model ‘clients’
You read reviews before you buy a product, visit a restaurant, and buy a car… why not read reviews of photographers before working with them? You can find reviews of photographers on FaceBook or their websites. This is where you may see reviews from non model clients. You can also reach out to models who have worked with them to hear what other people’s experiences have been. Sometimes people post reviews on sites like “Model Mayhem,” as ridiculous as that site may be sometimes. Models reach out to me all the time about photographers I have worked with. I give my most honest responses when speaking about my experiences with photographers. If I don’t know someone well enough to give a full review, I’ll mention that as well. For example, a beginner model contacted me about a photographer I worked with during a workshop some time ago. I hadn’t really talked to him during the shoot and we only shot briefly, so I let the model know that I couldn’t give her a “total picture” of what it’s like to work with that particular guy.
I would always speak to multiple models if you’re going to go this route.
Listen to what photographers have to say about each other as well. The scene can be sort of gossipy sometimes (Artist life can be catty sometimes, you know. Oh well. Sort through the sh*t) but pay attention to how everyone says about each other. I once heard a group of photographers talking about how someone else tried to assault them at a shoot. That’s a no no. I made sure to put the photographer they mentioned on my “Do Not Work With List.”
#3: PRICE/ OTHER OUTSIDE COSTS
A few things to consider:
Does price match the work quality?
Do you have to spend money on things like a wardrobe, hair/mu artist? Props?
Always check pricing and compare it to work quality! Make sure that if you are paying you are paying for something amazing. I’ve paid $550 + for photos that I really did not like before and MAN does this suck so so so much. I’ll be heading to LA this summer and will start scouting photographers for bright, white background theatrical headshots. I’ll be comparing price to quality extensively.
You should also think about if you will need to spend any money on things for the actual photo shoot as well. Do you have wardrobe? Can you do the makeup required, or do you need to hire a makeup artist? What about hair? Do you need props? Does the photographer have them? Price out all of this ahead of time!
A few tips outside of those big three, or sort of related but I forgot to mix them in there:
Judge first and foremost based on the first conversation. Feel the photographer out. The first conversation is a great indicator of how the shoot will go.
During the first conversation is the best time to set boundaries and limits. *This was the point in the live chat where I went on my nice tangent about NOT shooting nude if you did not initially agree to shoot that style. I cannot tell you how many times (not that many, BUT way too many) I have shown up to a boudoir shoot and the photographer wants me to get naked. Sorry… did I miss something? These days I work very hard to make sure that the lines are 100% clear about what we are shooting. I no longer shoot “fine art” and make it clear that implied work is done with bottoms on always. I also have a clause about this in my contract that photographers must sign when working with me. If you’re not supposed to be shooting nude, set that boundary during the first conversation.
Talk with other models. Do it. Models- don’t be catty when a beginner reaches out to you! Modeling can be scary and intimidating sometimes! Help each other out and answer questions about photographers.
On egos- Here’s the thing. There are a MILLION people out there who are JUST. LIKE. YOU. No- seriously. You are replaceable, whether your ego says so or not. This is what I tell myself every day:
If you are on your way up stay humble.
Everyone can be replaced… including you.
Photographers AND models: If you get a reputation for having a huge, unbearable ego,
it’s going to get around and your books will be empty. No one likes working with a diva!
Study the photographer’s portfolio. Make an assessment. Will you get their best work? Set the expectation early on that quality work will come out of the shoot. It really sucks to get sub par images back from a shoot that you were stoked to participate in!
Something else that I touched on briefly during the live chat tonight: There is this “culture” (struggling to find the right word so bear with me here) of photographers and models (and hair/mu) not showing up to shoots in the independent shoot scene. This is unacceptable. I don’t see this in the work that I do for a few reasons… which are basically that if one person doesn’t show up to the shoot, everyone is screwed (client, ad agency, photographer, model/actor…). It is so unacceptable that some people don’t take independent shoots seriously. Do your research to make sure that the photographer you’re going to work with will show up.
That’s all for this Monday! Please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have and tune in next Monday for another talk! I’ll be featuring interviews with some cool photographers some weeks. Watch my Instagram for the times I am going live! @ash_lie.noelle
Thanks so much, guys!