Archive for February, 2011

February 28, 2011

Relocated & Booking Soon!

Over the weekend, my husband, the dog, and I (and all our stuff) moved into a house in Hoffman Estates, IL. We’re still renting, but this was an opportunity we absolutely couldn’t pass up–more space, a garage, a month-to-month lease, helping friends out, and about as much money as we were spending on our 1 bedroom apartment.  All in all, a win-win situation!

Now that the move is over, we’ll need some time to unpack and organize our stuff, but that shouldn’t take too long.  In fact, I plan to bust my butt to get it done by the second weekend in March, to make things easier.

March 12 is the Old Fashioned M&G with the Chicago Model Photography Insiders group I run.  And I’m planning on heading to Davenport, IA to work/hang out with Laura Ann of Fleur De Lis Photography March 19-20.  So I’d really like to have things together by that second weekend in March so that I don’t have to worry about it after my road trip to Davenport.

I’ll post a few select pics of things once things get organized.  I’m excited, because since we have so much room, I’ve taken over one of the bedrooms and converted it into a closet/dressing room.  It’s a mess right now–completely unorganized–but once things get put away and organized, it’s going to be pretty awesome!  Great for organizing wardrobe, shoes and accessories for both everyday and shoots!

If you’d like to discuss booking, drop me a line! The best way to get a hold of me is either on Facebook or at rachel [at] modelracheljay [dot] com.

February 21, 2011

Get Your GWC Gear!

Model Insider has launched their apparel site, with a full line of great T-shirts and more (as well as even more coming soon)!  GWC Gear is home of the famous “I Look Better Naked” shirt :D

So, check them out at www.gwcgear.com!  You can also follow GWC Gear on Twitter and fan them on Facebook!

Oh, and hey, they have a 10% off special for their President’s Day launch!  Use the code “fbm10” for 10% off on your purchase of the first limited run of “I Look Better Naked” shirts, available in mens’ or fitted womens’ styles!  The offer’s only good until end of business day Monday the 21st (today!), so order now!

February 17, 2011

Dirty Show 12 Extended!

For the first time ever, The Dirty Show is on the verge of 2 sell-out weekends, and because of that, they’re extending the show a third weekend!

The Dirty Show will be extended one night only, and will have it’s final viewing one night only, on Saturday, Feburary 26.  The show will be a 21 and up show (and yes, ID is required at the door).

Tickets will be available at the door, and may be available at http://www.dirtyshow.org.

Oh, and by the way, check out this little article on the group of women I’m exhibiting with! :D Woo!

UPDATE: Here’s the info for the last day (Feb 27)! Including a link to purchase tix!

February 17, 2011

Episode 89 is up!

Check out my interview with Ron and Shawna of Photographer & Model!

http://www.photographerandmodel.com/blog/2011/02/17/ep-89-model-rachel-jay/

Shout out to Christin C, who I should have mentioned, but forgot because they threw me with “other models or photographers” :(  Sorry girl!  You know I love you (and not just because you got me hooked on dirty martinis LOL)!!

February 17, 2011

Interview!

Don’t forget, tonight my interview with Ron and Shawna from the Photographer & Model podcast goes up!  Look for Episode 89 here: http://www.photographerandmodel.com/podcast.php (I’ll post a permalink to my specific episode next week… I’ll be on the road this weekend.)

While you’re waiting to check out my episode, check out these other pretty darn useful blog posts and webcasts of theirs!

February 10, 2011

Gaga’s Mean Girl Moment

Because I like her… Gaga’s Mean Girl Moment.

February 9, 2011

Checking References

Often times, one of the first things a model is told when she asks “how do I know this guy is legit” or “how do I stay safe” is that she should check references.  While not foolproof or a 100% guarantee that the photographer won’t be a sleezebag and will get you images back, it’s a good starting point.  I check references on all photographers I’m working with for the first time.  Male or female.  Paid or trade.  Here’s how I go about doing it.

Looking at Credited Models & Sending Messages
I go through the photographer’s portfolio and look at their recent photos.  Provided they’ve credited the models on their photos, I send a message to 3-5 models they’ve recently worked with (using the photo upload date as a gauge).  From there, I move to their profile and look at the credits section, and randomly choose an additional 3-5 models and message them (I have, lately, been making sure the models have been active within the last month, preferably the last week).  If there are any models I know personally, I will send them a note in addition to the other notes I’ve sent out, though I don’t send more than 4 of these out.  This means, I’m sending no less than 6 messages out, and sometimes as many as 12.

I send so many messages out because I find that often, models don’t get back on reference checks.  I’m not sure why, but that seems to be the case.  I like to have at least 3 models let me know how their experience was with a photographer, so the more messages I send out, the higher my chances of getting the feedback I need.

When There Are No Credits
In the event a photographer has zero credits listed, things get a little trickier.  Occasionally, I’ve matched up a model to her photo, but that’s rare.  I ask the photographer directly for a list of references to contact via whatever site I’m on, though I prefer not to leave it just at that.  I also spend some time looking through the photographer’s tags and see if there are any “great shoot” type tags.  If so, I’ll message those models.  I’ve even messaged a MUA I’ve worked with in the past, for her take on things.

Another thing I’ve done in the event of zero credits is drop a line to a few of the other experienced models in the area, asking if they know anything about the photographer or who he might have worked with.

There’s also been a rare case where I’ve used www.tfp.me to search for forum posts by that member.  I do this either to gauge attitude, or because I’ve felt that “hey, why do I feel like I’ve talked to this guy before” feeling.

The Actual Message
When I send my messages out, I make it clear what I’m looking for in the subject of my message.  Often, it’s something like, “Reference Check: [Photographer Name]“.  I make sure I use the name they list themselves as on whatever site I’m using, at least in the subject, so there’s less confusion.

In the body of the message, I keep it as brief as possible, just letting them know that [Photographer Name] is interested in working with me, and noting that I saw they had worked together.  I often give a link to the photographer’s profile on that site, again to help lessen confusion.   I politely ask them if they’d take a minute or two to answer a few quick questions, so that I can be sure I want to work with them.  I make sure to not disclose what arrangement the photographer has contacted me for (paid or TF*), or to color the waters with any initial impressions I may have.  I also make sure to thank them for their time.

The Questions
I have come up with a list of specific questions regarding what I want to know about a photographer prior to working with them.  I modify the list every so often, adding questions as situations arise (or as references come back) that make me think “huh, I would have liked to have known that in advance” or “well, knowing that would certainly have changed things”.  Here is my list of questions I ask models when I check a photographer’s references.

  • Was it your first time working with [Photographer Name]?
  • If not, how many times did you work together?
  • Did you work directly with [Photographer Name], or someone else?
  • Was there a MUA, assistant, or other industry-related person on set?
  • If so, were they there the whole time?
  • Was anyone present on set that you were not aware would be there?
  • Did you bring someone along with you that wasn’t related to the shoot?
  • Where did you shoot (i.e. location, studio, home)?
  • Was the photographer on time, and was he ready to shoot when you were?
  • Was the shoot paid or trade?
  • If the shoot was trade, did you receive portfolio-ready images in the time frame promised?
  • Was the photographer generally courteous and professional?
  • Did anything happen that would cause you to not shoot with the photographer again?

I duplicate some of these if I need to check a MUA’s reference, though I haven’t done that in awhile because I have found a few select MUAs I enjoy working with, and opt to work with them regularly instead of dealing with finding new people and risking them not showing up, being unsanitary, whatever.  In the rare case that I’m booking a model for something, I use many of the same questions as well.

Making It Easy For Others
I have discovered that sometimes, photographers don’t credit models on photos, and sometimes type numbers into their lists correctly (I imagine this isn’t exclusive to photographers either, but I’m going by what I’ve found).  This makes it difficult to check references.  So, whenever possible, credit the people you’ve worked with, and make sure that if you’re keeping a list of people you’ve worked with by member number, that you correctly note that number.

More You Can Do
If a model wants to expand on checking references (or is using, say CraigsList to book and there’s no network or profile to help find people they’ve worked with), these 2 articles give some great pointers.

February 7, 2011

Why Taking a Break is Necessary

Back in December I announced that I was taking a break from modeling, and while I said I planned on coming back, at the earliest, sometime in March, I’m still a bit undecided to some degree.  When I announced my break, I got a lot of people questioning my reasons for the break from modeling, and I am still getting asked about it (especially with my new look and shoot with Laura Ann of Fleur de Lis Photography).

So, I’ve decided to expand on things a little bit.  Not necessarily to explain myself or share my reasoning (because, frankly, I shouldn’t have to), but because it might give some of you an insight into a hobbyist’s mind when it comes to hobby modeling, setting priorities, and life in general.

With modeling being a hobby, I model when I have time to. Because I enjoy modeling, I often make the time to model, and that means missing out on time spent with the family (even if that’s just my husband and our dog) and skipping events I might otherwise be interested in attending.  I’ve even missed family events, since, once I’ve scheduled a shoot, I opt not to cancel unless the situation is dire enough to warrant it, and that’s rare.

When I shoot, I try to book at least 4 hour blocks of time, if not more.  When you count the travel time, on average, I’ve invested about 6 hours (figure an hour there and back, since I live far away from pretty much anything) of my day into a 4 hour shoot.  Add hours onto the shoot and/or travel time, and suddenly I’m out for longer than I am during the average work day.

The time spent at a shoot isn’t the only time I spend on modeling though.  I spend hours saving wardrobe, lighting and pose ideas I find, and then spend hours going through saved ideas for specific shoots (and sometimes seek out more ideas when I don’t have something that fits my vision).  I also regularly practice posing and expressions, and spend a fair amount of time networking, searching and answering castings, and otherwise involving myself in the (internet) modeling world.  And then there’s the modeling-related writing I do too, of course, since I do a fair amount of that (though much of it is still in draft form).

Another thing that I had to consider was the return on investment. Not only does modeling take up a decent amount of my time, but I generally model at a loss.  Purchasing wardrobe, shoes and accessories for a shoot adds up.  I try to buy items I can wear regularly, or at least again for a shoot, but it can be tough.  Yea yea, I know photographers spend a lot of money on gear, lenses and all that crap, and that we make choices to spend the money on our hobbies.  Buying clothes, shoes and accessories I might not be able to wear normally has been a choice I’ve made, and I’m ok with that to some degree.  The more I do it though, the less ok I am with it.

The amount of photographers willing to hire me prior to my taking a break was slim.  I’m not sure if it was the economy, the fact that I don’t do nudes, the fact that some photographers don’t see a value in hiring a reliable, good model who knows how to pose and emote, some other reason I’m not thinking of, or a combination of the 4, but bottom line is, I have been getting fewer paying jobs than most people think.  That alone makes it hard, because this means that, like I said, I’m modeling at a loss.

And sure, there’s working trade, but there’s problems with that too. The problem is, I trade up, which means, I only trade with photographers whose work is better than what I have in my portfolio.  If a photographer cannot give me images that are as high of quality as I currently have in my book, then it’s not an even trade.  I’m already modeling at a loss when it comes to spending time on coming up with ideas and money on wardrobe… why would I shoot and get nothing usable for it?  I wouldn’t.

And then there are the photographers I work trade with who don’t give images back to me.  Essentially, it means I’ve worked uncompensated.  This has increasingly become a problem.  So much so, in fact, that I’ve virtually stopped attending TF* group events, and have rarely worked trade with anyone outside a select group of photographers I know are reliable when it comes to returning images in a timely fashion.  But that limits me and the work I get back.

Not that it really matters, in the long run, all this stuff.
Portfolio building, and all that just doesn’t matter… why?  I can’t quit my job and sign with a modeling agency because, largely, my stats aren’t those that modeling agencies are looking for.  I can’t even go sign with a talent agency, because while my work might be flexible enough, I’m a salaried employee with full benefits currently, and can’t risk losing that or my benefits changing.  My husband runs his own company and I’m the primary breadwinner and sole benefit recipient for the both of us, health insurance included.  If we lose my income and my benefits, it would be very bad.

Life & Choices
Anyway, my circumstances had become such that I had to make choice: take time out of my life for the hobby that continually drains my wallet and provides little ROI, or have time and money to take care of other (more important) things.  And while I really do love modeling, the choice wasn’t a tough one.  I simply need to shift my focus and priority, and sacrifices need to be made.  Whether or not it’s a temporary one (as I’m currently planning it to be) or a permanent change, depends on how I feel after everything that needs to get done, is done.

Please, if you’re going to comment here, comment on the content of the blog, and not the fact that I’m taking a break from modeling.  Leave those comments for my Facebook page, please.

February 3, 2011

Trade vs. Free vs. Paid

Trade.
There are many ways to arrange a TF* shoot, but to avoid over-complicating the situation, let’s just stick with Trade For Images/CD/Prints, because that’s the most common form of TF*.  Working trade, or TF*, means that the parties who agree to work on a trade basis are both going to benefit from the shoot.  It doesn’t necessarily mean they are benefiting from the same shots from the same set they shoot, but regardless, they are both getting work they can use for their portfolios.

In the case of working trade, the photos received after the shoot are viewed as fair and equal compensation.  They may not have specific monetary value (meaning you can’t pay your water bill with a photo you receive from a trade shoot), but they have value in the sense that they can be used to improve portfolios and (hopefully) further careers.  In theory, if you wanted to attach a dollar value to a trade shoot, you could say the model posed for $50/hour, and the photographer charged $50/hour for the studio session and retouching services combined, so the two values canceled each other out.

Trade agreements are often individual things, and vary per shoot, per person.  There are largely no rules when it comes to trade shoots.  That is, discuss all trade agreements in advance prior to working with someone, even if it’s someone you’ve worked with before, to ensure you are properly compensated for your time, and vice versa.

Free.
Typically, if one party cannot benefit from working with the other, it is such that they ask to be paid in order to be properly compensated for their time.  If, for whatever reason that person chooses, they opt to not have money exchange hands, they would then be working for free.  The party who will not benefit from the shoot, but is not asking for monetary compensation in exchange for their time, is donating their time and experience, knowing full well that they will not benefit from the shoot, nor will they receive fair compensation for their time.

Now, it’s possible that someone who works for free can benefit from the arrangement.  After all, it’s likely they will get a positive review from the person they worked with, and might therefore have others interested in hiring them.  But generally, those who work for free do not count on this happening.  Which is largely why many do not work for free, but instead opt to trade with parties that will benefit their books.

“Free” is not the same as donating time to a charitable cause.  That’s entirely different, and not something I’m discussing now.

Paid.
More often than not, when one party will not benefit from working with the other, the non-benefiting party will send rates.  By applying their rates to the shoot, the non-benefiting party is receiving fair compensation for their time, since they will not benefit from the images they receive from it.

If someone quotes you a rate, it’s not cute to quote them a higher rate back and say “ha, look at that, my rates are higher, so you pay me”.  Chances are, they sent you rates because don’t think you’re worth working trade with.  If working trade with you won’t benefit them, chances are, they’re not interested in paying you.

Note.
Let’s note that I haven’t once mentioned the amount of money any of the involved parties spent on gear, training, gym memberships, wardrobe, or any of that BS.  It’s not relevant.

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