Archive for ‘hobbyist’

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 😀

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!

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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 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.

January 24, 2011

Upcoming Interview

I was just contacted by Ron over at www.photographerandmodel.com.  They want to interview me for their Podcast! 🙂 Supercool!

We’ll be recording February 11, and the episodes are released every Thursday at 1A.  So you’ll probably get to hear my spot Feb 17th or so.

I’ll post more about this as it gets closer, but if you have any questions, feel free to add them to the comments and I’ll see if Ron and co-host would be willing to ask them.

January 19, 2011

A Break From The Break

Laura Ann Photography came up to visit me over the weekend, and we did some shooting while she was here.  Of course.  We shot 2 looks at the frozen beach in Highland Park, IL, followed by shooting a little on the train downtown, as well as while we walked to our destination downtown (ok, walked to get a cab to our destination LOL).  The next day, we shot at my apartment, took a break for lunch with Greg Kolack, and then shot some more at a top secret location.  Here’s a couple shots from the beach, as well as one from the set at my place (another of which is featured in my new header).  I imagine more will come eventually… I know Laura’s been pretty busy with editing 🙂

Shoutout to Christin C who did my hair and makeup for the first 2 shots! 🙂

January 18, 2011

Changes in 2011.

One step at a time.  But changes nonetheless.

I’m starting with cutting deep fried foods out of my diet.  Largely, this will limit what I eat from fast food chains, and will hopefully result in me going to healthier places, and maybe even making my own lunch every once in awhile.

I’ve also made a decision to not attend any group shoot events in 2011.  I didn’t attend many in 2010, because while fun, I didn’t get much out of the ones I attended in 2009.  I have decided that I am at the level that I do not need to attend TF* group events, and should only work TF* with very limited photographers of my choice.

Which brings me to another change for 2011.  I’m going to be even more selective with the TF* work I do.  No more “only with people I’ve worked with before”.  I need to concentrate on very specific stuff this year, and need to make sure that the people I work with can deliver the quality and type of work I need for my portfolio.

I’m also not going to walk in fashion shows without being paid, regardless of how I feel about the charity.  Last year, I walked in a show that, while fun, was a huge waste of time.  Not only was my entire day tied up waiting for no reason at the show’s venue, but I also had to attend practices and seminars that I didn’t feel were necessary to walk in a charity show.  Plus, much of what I was promised as a model wasn’t delivered, which wasn’t really fair.  So, no more of that.

I may also be re-evaluating using MeetUp to run my group, the Chicago Model Photography Insiders.  MeetUp is a nice tool, but it’s rather expensive, and there are other options out there for both event registration and group management.

Past that, I have other plans in mind for 2011, but I’d prefer to keep them quiet at this point 🙂

December 14, 2010

Random Advice for New Models

Discuss every detail with each photographer you’ll be working with prior to shooting. Every.  Detail.

Don’t book without getting a phone number.

Invest in several thongs that match your skin tone, to wear on shoots.

Spend a lot of time practicing, reading, researching, and looking for ideas.  You’ll never stop learning, coming up with ideas, or growing as a model.

Be realistic in your goals.

Realize that sometimes, your views on certain things might change.  That’s ok.

If you have certain things you’re not interested in doing, don’t do them.  Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into doing them.

And be aware that not being willing to do some things may hinder your success as a model.  There’s nothing wrong with that.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a hobbyist model.  You will, however, likely model at a loss.  But if you enjoy it… don’t let that hold you too far back.

Be reliable, honest, and accountable.  It will go a long way to building a solid reputation for yourself.  In other words, don’t be a flake or a diva.

October 26, 2010

Taking a Break

I’ll be taking a break from modeling from December 1, 2010 until March 1, 2011.

This doesn’t mean I won’t be active on the modeling sites or available for questions, advice, whatever.  I might also be hosting some workshops during this time as well.  I haven’t decided if I’ll be available for pose coaching still or not, but feel free to ask.

Just a heads up.

 

October 19, 2010

New article!

I’ve taken my “Comfort While Shooting” blog and made it an Examiner article.  Check it out: http://www.examiner.com/modeling-in-chicago/comfort-while-shooting

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