There is more to the modeling world than the media lets on. If you want to find out what it really takes and how to manage your modeling career, then you've come to the right place! This blog is dedicated to the aspiring and already established models who live to defy the standards and stereotypes in order to make a place for themselves in this crazy industry.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

How to Successfully Communicate with Photographers for Great Modeling Photos

(This post will be mainly beneficial to freelance models searching for photographers to either create or update their modeling portfolios.)

No model wants to shoot with a photographer for crappy images or pictures they can't (or don't want) to use in their portfolios. I've heard many unpleasant stories--and have a few of my own--as far as being super disappointed when working with a photographer and the end results that were generated.

However, such a process is one easily learned, since photoshoots are a huge part of a model's career and a task that is done over and over. What that means is while not all of your shoots are going to be amazing, the bad experiences are ones you must learn from. I don't know of any model that hasn't had at least one bad shoot. So don't get discouraged or allow one unpleasant experience to cause you to give up on modeling or feel that every photographer is a jerk, creeper, unprofessional, etc.

Hopefully the information below will help my fellow models (and aspiring) learn how to navigate the process of communicating with photographers and know exactly what each party is bringing to the table so that the pictures created are of a quality that everybody will be proud to show off.

Research Before Contacting

It goes without saying that before even thinking about calling or emailing a photographer to discuss possibly working together, doing research is a must! What does research involve? For starters, finding portfolios that show the photographer's work. These types of portfolios can be found on a photographer's official website (if they have one), social networking sites like Facebook and Model Mayhem, and photo sharing sites like Flickr and Instagram, among others.

References are good, too, if they're available. This means talking to models that have worked with the photographer you're considering and finding out what their experience was and if they'd recommend that you shoot with him/her.

Never work with a photographer whose work you haven't seen. Period. In addition to this just being common sense, it is important because you should only work with photographers that specialize in the type of modeling categories you plan on pursuing. Don't shoot with a high fashion photographer who only does that type of work when you're in need of commercial/print and vice-versa.

Many photographers shoot more than one type of modeling category and that's fine--just make sure they know how to shoot the type of modeling shots you need.

Have an Idea of What You Want/Need Beforehand

Want to know the most effective way of knocking out a photoshoot for your portfolio without hardly any snafus? Have a plan. Already having an idea/concept/theme of what types of photos you need is a great first impression to photographers and shows a model's professionalism. No one likes to have their time wasted and going back and forth asking each other what to shoot never makes for a productive creative process.

New models shouldn't use their "newbie" status as a crutch--you should have some inkling of what images you need from a photographer. Even telling him/her you're in need of headshots is something for them to work with. Then together through further discussion you'll be able to hash out the details.

A lot of photographers do provide a bit of guidance to new models and others willingly come up with ideas for model's photos but don't go into this business relationship expecting the photographer to come up with everything. It should be a collaboration.

Meet In Person Before Working Together

This is hugely important!!! One of the best ways to ensure that you'll be comfortable and confident in front of the camera at the shoot is when you've already established some sort of working relationship/interaction with the person holding the camera. Here is what I believe is the best way to conduct such a meeting, for those of you wondering how to avoid shady situations:

- Set up a meeting during the day. If evenings work better for either you and/or the photographer, that's fine but daytime meetings are usually the best. As long as the meeting is in a public place, that's what matters.

- Pick a public place: acceptable options include restaurants, cafes, a park, bookstore...anywhere that has people around. Options that are not acceptable: somebody's house (even if it's yours), the photographer's studio, the photographer's home studio.

- Escorts are mandatory for models under 18: underage models in the U.S. must have a parent/legal guardian present at all meetings and shoots with a photographer. Legit professionals know this and won't even try to set up a meeting with an underage model by themselves. Models of age can choose to bring an escort to the meeting if it makes them feel better but it's best if the escort isn't sitting at the table with you and the photographer--it's a distraction during a business meeting. Have your escort hang out close by until you're done. It's rare that anybody would try something in front of tons of people anyway--hence the emphasis on meeting in a public place.

- Bring any reference images or samples of the kinds of modeling photos you like and want to try shooting for (this can be printed out or displayed on your laptop, iPad, etc.). Photographers are visual people and seeing what you're going for is a direct way for them to understand what's being expected.

Ask What You'll Get in Return

All photographers have their own policies as to what models receive after a shoot. Before shooting with this type of professional, it helps to know what you'll be getting so ask for this info well in advance of working together.

In terms of portfolio updates, you want to make sure you'll be getting hi res files of the best images from the shoot. I say "hi res" because you might need to print them for your actual modeling portfolio/book. In most cases, the pictures will be used for display online but you also want to have hard copy versions handy to bring to castings when meeting clients.

Here are some general questions to ask a photographer on this subject:

1. How soon will I receive the final images?
2. Will I get to pick the ones I like best?
3. How many total images will I get?
4. How will I get the images? (email, mailed on a CD, link to an online gallery to download photos)
5. Will the final images be retouched?

Find Out What the Photographer's Shooting Style is Like

Some photographers shoot a million frames a second. Others take their time. It helps greatly to know what shooting style a photographer has because it lets you--as the model--know what to expect. For example, I personally do not like to shoot with photographers that shoot a ton of frames...I like to take a few seconds to make sure my pose in on point and for the photographer to provide feedback on whether or not I need to fix something. I also prefer to do quick previews of what has been shot in order to make sure we're getting something we both like.

Another trait I look for in photographers is if they talk and engage with me during the shoot to let me know if they like a pose, don't like it, suggest a change and so on. I cannot stand shooting with photographers that are silent the entire time. It makes me wonder if they like what I'm doing, as well as increases the pressure on me unnecessarily. I usually don't end up liking the photos that come from "silent" photographers because 9 times out of 10, they contain something that could have been fixed if the photographer had spoken up. It's like, "How could you not see that?!"

I have no problem with a photographer telling me, "Fix your hair," "Smooth that wrinkle on your shirt," "Look at the camera," "I don't like that pose, try something else." I will literally ask a photographer during a pre-shoot meeting, "Do you talk during shoots or will I be on my own?" Of course I say this in a lighthearted manner to get my point across, so as to not rub them the wrong way.

Because of my preferences, I make sure to look for photographers that embrace those shooting styles. It means both I and the photographer get to work together within our comfort zone. I'm not saying you should only look for photographers like the ones I've described. The bottom line is to ask what a photographer's shooting style is so that you don't go into the shoot unprepared. Over time and with more shoots under your belt, you'll eventually develop your own style and will be able to readily identify which photographers you'll know off the bat would be good to work with.


Anonymous said...

I'm slightly bow-legged. Most people do not notice but do you think I could still become a model? I'm 15 and 5'7".

Dania Denise said...

Hi, Anonymous! You'll find the answer to your questions in its own post, titled "Answering a Reader Question #501," which can be found on my new blog: "Modeling 101 - Answering Readers Questions."

Please visit this link: http://amodelsdiary-readerquestions.blogspot.com/ and you can view your post there. Thanks for reading!

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