Why Changing A Shoot Up At The Last Minute Is Bad

This is actually something that happened to me.  It happened ages ago, and I’m totally comfortable with the way I handled it, and the end result.  I post about it now, because something reminded me about it recently.  I also think it’s interesting, and worth noting if you’re a photographer or model.

The Situation
As a model, you schedule a shoot with a photographer (whose references check out) 6 weeks in advance.  In addition to setting a date and time, you discuss terms, ideas, who will be there, and you come to an agreement.  Part of your agreement is that you’ll be doing your own makeup and that there will be no other models present.  You are not going to be bringing an escort, as you don’t feel it is necessary.  Shoot is TF* (let’s say TFCD).

A week before the shoot, you message the photographer to confirm the date, time and prior agreements.  He confirms, reminds you of his contact information, studio address (which is his house) and directions.  Everything seems to be set.

But then, 3 days before the shoot, the photographer shoots you a message informing you that he has invited 2, possibly 3 other photographers to the shoot, and asks if it’s ok.  He doesn’t provide names or MM numbers, and when asked, he informs you that they aren’t on any modeling sites, and won’t give you any way to check their references.  When you ask about other models or a MUA, he tells you that he doesn’t know any other models and has never worked with a MUA before, but that if you like, you can find a MUA and/or other models.

So, suddenly your shoot has turned into you, doing your own hair, makeup and wardrobe, and 3, possibly 4 photographers, the majority of whom you have nothing on–no names, no references, nothing. You’re rather uncomfortable with this arrangement, understandably.

Your Options Are
– Scramble to find other models and/or a MUA, with 3 days to go before the shoot
– Ask to go back to your original agreement
– Shoot with the new agreement, no matter that you’re not comfortable with it
– Cancel the shoot altogether

What Do You Do?
Well, I posted this question (months after the fact) in the MM forums.  The vast majority of the models who replied would have canceled.  Some would have asked to be paid.  Others still suggested that perhaps the photographer saw his working with an experienced model on a TF* basis as a chance to make some extra cash, and invited those others to a low-priced workshop. A few local models asked me to PM them his name, so they can avoid him.  The consensus amongst the photographers that replied was that it was completely unprofessional of him, as well as disrespectful, to pull what he did.

So What Did I Do?
After finding out things had changed, with only 3 days’ notice, I told the photographer I thought it was silly to have one model, 4+ photographers, no MUA, and just a studio.  Since he didn’t know any other models or MUAs, I told him I’d try to find someone, but that I doubted I could.  And sure enough, I couldn’t.  I messaged and tagged everyone I know and many I didn’t, posted bulletins, and even called a few models and MUAs whose numbers I had.  No one was available on such short notice (which I wasn’t too surprised about).

The day before the shoot I gave the photographer two options: tell the other photographers it wasn’t going to work, and shoot as we had originally planned (which I again outlined for him), or cancel the whole thing and reschedule with more models and a MUA, so that there was variety for all the photographers.

He opted to cancel the whole thing. He called me and left a voicemail (I missed his call, for some reason I can’t remember at this point), saying so.

When I called him after receiving his message, he didn’t answer, and never returned my voicemail.  I messaged him back within the hour with dates I was free for rescheduling.  I never heard back from him, even after sending a follow-up message.  He’s since removed me from his friends list and will no longer attend events I plan.

My Other Thoughts, Over a Year Later
I really don’t have any.  As I said, I’m confident that I handled things the right way.  I see the photographer’s name pop up every so often, in castings or in event threads (though never in any of my event thread).  But I really pay him no mind.  I have no reason to.  The bridge may have been burnt, but frankly, I don’t consider it my loss.

If anyone local wishes to know who this was, I’m more than happy to pass on the info, as always.

2 Responses to “Why Changing A Shoot Up At The Last Minute Is Bad”

  1. Gosh dang it, this makes me mad as a photographer! My experiences are actually if I schedule too early, they are most likely to flake. Give them at most one week notice… 🙂

    But man, I so want to shoot with you because I know it will not be a luck of a draw whether you will show or not. I just started this photography stuff and I am already tired of it.

    /rant (Thanks for giving me a venue to rant, lol)