Posts tagged ‘hobby’

November 29, 2012

Why You Shouldn’t Be A TF* Whore

Photo by James Glendinning of SilverLight Esoterica Photography

When I started modeling, I worked with everyone who contacted me, and shot everything I was comfortable with. I even shot some stuff I wasn’t 100% comfortable with. I figured that any time in front of the camera was good–I would learn more–and that I would have a diverse, up-to-date portfolio. When I shot things I wasn’t 100% comfortable with, I figured I needed to learn how to be comfortable so I could open myself up to other (often paid) markets. I went to TF* group shoot events and shot with anyone who’d work with me. I justified it by telling myself it was good networking, another chance to learn, and a good opportunity to update my portfolio in just a few hours.

After a couple years of that, I realized I’d become one of those models that was in nearly everyone’s portfolio, and I had VERY little to show for it. A lot of what I had was the same, and in quite a few cases, the benefit was staggeringly skewed–the photographer had gotten stuff he could use, but I’d gotten more of what I had, stuff I couldn’t use, or no images at all.

You know how I came to that realization? Someone told me.  I was at a M&G and a photographer said to me, “we’ve got to shoot… you’re in every photographer’s portfolio in the Chicagoland area but mine”. I told him to drop me a line and we’d talk, but I realized right there that I’d over-extended myself and very likely hurt myself in terms of getting paid work.  I’d become a “rite of passage” model for the photographers in my area.  That was a bad thing.

That’s when I started charging. At that point, I had been modeling for about 2 1/2 years.  I knew my angles, understood how my body moved, knew how to work with light, and was booking shoots every weekend I had free, months in advance.

That photographer who wanted me in his book so bad? He never actually contacted me to shoot… it was likely more of a polite, conversational gesture on his part. But boy was it a wake up call for me!

I wasted almost 3 years trading way too much. Now sure, at some point within the first year, after I worked with a couple of photographers who delivered crap, or didn’t deliver at all, I became a little more selective, but mostly, I worked trade. I wasn’t confident enough in myself to offer rates, and I was couldn’t find it in me to tell people their work wouldn’t benefit my portfolio. That lack of confidence was the biggest blow though, and that’s what had me working TF* with whoever asked for it. Big mistake.

That doesn’t mean I should have thought I was hot shit, or that everyone I worked with the first 2+ years of modeling didn’t help me out. But I should have been more honest with myself based on the amount of shoot requests that were coming in, and the amount of work I was booking. I should have started trading up early on, instead of staying at the same level (or dipping below it to avoid hurting feelings). My book would have improved faster, and I could have started charging sooner.

When I started charging, I had a few photographers I hadn’t worked with hire me, which was great.  But the photographers I’d worked TF* with who wanted to work with me again, and couldn’t give me portfolio worthy work? Nope… the vast majority of them wouldn’t hire me, no matter how many times they told me how much they loved working with me, how I was the best model they’d worked with, or any of that other unicorn farty stuff.  I was expected to show up at group shoot events and shoot TF* with whoever, and photographers contacted me expecting to jump at every opportunity they offered, drive for hours to shoot, and do whatever was asked of me because, well, that’s what I’d done for nearly 3 years.

By not charging sooner, and not being selective with who I’d worked with those first couple years, I’d really hurt myself in terms of paying work.  If I’d suddenly had to rely on modeling for income, I’d have been fucked unless I started doing serious glamour, nudes, and fetish work.  And that kind of stuff was what I wasn’t comfortable doing, or didn’t want to do for personal reasons.

Now, I know I didn’t have to rely on modeling to pay my bills. However, it would have been nice to be able to get some of the money back I was spending on shoots–maybe even break even here and there. I spent thousands of dollars over the years on shoes, clothes and accessories for shoots… not to mention hiring hair/makeup (because I managed to learn early on how beneficial that was), and driving miles and miles to and from shoots.

It makes me sick knowing how much money I wasted on shoots.  For the first 2+ years, I spent money on shoots that did absolutely nothing for my book.  And I can’t even tell you how frustrating it is knowing I spent a ton of time away from family and friends, and missed quite a bit of stuff for shoots.  “Sorry, I can’t that weekend, I have something going on” wasn’t something I told photographers… it was what I told my husband, my parents, and my friends.

If I could go back and do it again, I would start out being selective with who I worked with. Granted I know a lot more now, and things have changed quite a bit over the past 6+ years, but I certainly just wouldn’t work with someone just for the experience. I’d make sure that what I was getting out of it was going to be worth my time and the money I was going to spend on hair/makeup and wardrobe. I’d evaluate photographers better, and charge sooner. I wouldn’t worry as much about hurting feelings if I said no or offered rates.  And I wouldn’t put my hobby–modeling–before my friends and family.

New models, think about the value of what you’re getting against what you’re investing, before you agree to a TF* shoot.  Don’t just think about the shoot in terms of your portfolio either.  Consider what you’ll be spending on hair and makeup, wardrobe, and gas to get to and from the shoot, and don’t forget to take all of the time you’ll be busy (traveling and shooting) into account.  Will the photos you get truly be worth what you’ll be spending?  If so, it’s a good investment.  If not, charge that photographer, or pass up the shoot altogether.  There’s absolutely no reason you should be shooting trade just to shoot.  You’ve got to be getting something you value out of the shoot.

The same could be said for new photographers.  I know there are quite a few of you out there who are grateful to have models willing to work with you, but if that model’s look isn’t one you want in your portfolio, she insists on bringing her boyfriend, her BFF, her kid and her mom with her, she expects 100 shots edited 2 days after the shoot, or she wants you to drive 3 hours to shoot for an hour with her… take a pass.  If the pictures you’ll be getting aren’t worth the time and money, the shoot has no value to you.  You can try out new things with other models–add it in when you’re shooting other things that will benefit you both, or you can hire an experienced model for a test shoot, just to try out new things (yes, you can do that!).

Bottom line?  Don’t waste your time and money just to shoot.  Seriously evaluate whether or not a shoot will benefit you, looking at the entire package in terms of value to you, before you just jump at the opportunity.  Don’t be afraid to say, “thank you, but I’m not interested in working TF*”.  Professionals won’t have hurt feelings, and those who do get pissy because you’ve bruised their ego… well… you’ve likely dodged a bullet in terms of other drama down the road.

Think before you trade.

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June 28, 2011

Rates, Travel Fees & Discounts

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of photographers are getting slammed with ridiculous travel fees.  Add that into the constant complaints about how models often say “my rates are reasonable” and the rates turn out to be just the opposite, as well as the complaints about models who say they’re negotiable and aren’t, and… yea  :/  Anyway, I figured I’d blog some thoughts on rates and explain how I do things.  I feel like my system is pretty professional and easy to work with.

When do you discuss rates?
I like to discuss rates and negotiate before even scheduling a shoot.  I work with the people interested in working with me to come up with a rate that suits their project and budget before we start figuring out the rest.  That way, there are no surprises for those folks I’m working with, and they don’t have to worry about suddenly not being able to afford me, or having a last-minute travel cost added on.

What are your modeling rates and what do they include?
My hourly rate is currently $50 per hour for modeling.  There’s no minimum to the amount of time I’m booked, but I do ask that folks interested in booking me take travel time into consideration.  I’m not likely going to like driving 2 hours each way for a 1-hour shoot.  My rate is flat for everything from commercial-lifestyle to fashion, and includes swimwear, lingerie, and limited implied nudity.  I do not shoot sheer lingerie or any nudes, so that’s a non-issue.  And don’t forget, the clock starts when I arrive on set, so I ask that photographers be conscious of that when planning.

How do you factor in travel costs?
My base rate includes up to 25 miles of travel, and past that I charge 51 cents per additional mile (which is the IRS mileage rate for 2011).  I work all this out on an individual basis before booking, so that the number quoted is as accurate as possible.  Quite often, I ask photographers for addresses or nearest intersections to their studios, so I can map things out in advance, and make sure that I’m not going to slap them in the face with a “oh, by the way, it’s an extra $60 for travel” the night before a shoot.  That’s just not cool, and I certainly wouldn’t appreciate it being done to me.

How did you set your modeling rates?
I initially set rates a couple years ago, when a combination of two things happened.  One, I started being asked for rates fairly regularly, and two, I was being offered more trade work than my schedule would allow.  I asked a few models in my area what their rates were, in an effort to be competitive.  I also started lower than my current rate, and built up based on both my experience level and how valuable my time is.  I do periodically review my rates and the marketplace, and look at what I’m offering compared to other models of my caliber, and adjust if necessary.

You offer discounts?  Do tell!
I offer discounts to students, because I remember what it was like to be eating Ramen for weeks to get a pair of shoes something I really wanted.  The student discount varies based on numerous things, so I can’t give an exact number.  But if you’re a student and are interested in hiring me, drop me a line and we’ll talk 😉

I also offer discounts when I’m booked by a single photographer in 4-hour blocks (half day) and 8-hour blocks (full day).  Typically, instead of charging $200 for a 4-hour shoot, I charge just $150, which is, essentially, like getting a free hour.  For 8-hour shoots, instead of charging $400, I charge $325, which is a $75 discount (it’s like a free hour and a half).

I have also offered discounts to photographers who are located less than 5 miles from me, or who hire me and then shoot at a location that’s that close.  I offer a 25% discount off my hourly rate for nearby shoots, which means it’s just $37.50 an hour if we’re shooting just 5 miles from my location.

Can multiple photographers split your rates?
I allow up to 4 photographers to book me as the sole model for a shoot for either a half day or full day.  I do not, however, offer the same discount for multiple-photographer bookings that I offer for single photographers.  Why no discount?  Because you’re splitting the $200 or $400 between up to 4 people, which makes it cheaper per person all around.

I ask that no more than 4 photographers book me at once because more than 4 photographers proves to be too many photographers, and means I can’t spend much time posing for each one.  I like to make sure that, when I’m hired, photographers are getting their money’s worth.

How willing to negotiate are you?
I’m pretty open to negotiating, or at the very least, discussing options.  I know things are tough and that many photographers are hobbyists.  The most common negotiation I do is working in exchange for wardrobe or wardrobe plus heavily discounted rates.  Sometimes, this is wardrobe purchased by the photographer and worn at the shoot, then given to me.  Other times, it’s wardrobe in the form of a giftcard, so that I can purchase stuff later on (not necessarily for use on that particular shoot or with that specific photographer).  I always tell photographers not to be afraid to ask models (or me in particular) about negotiating, because chances are, we’re open to it.  If you have something to offer, I won’t know unless you put it on the table!

Do you require deposits to book?
Typically, I don’t.  Though if I were traveling to your area specific to shoot, I would require a retainer, which would be applied to the final total.  I might also require a deposit or retainer to secure a date if a photographer had cancelled on me before.  This is, of course, something I look at on a case-by-case basis.

May 3, 2011

Getting out of a Creative Block

A photographer on one of the modeling sites, HT Portraits, shared a blog post of his, which discusses some ideas on overcoming a learning plateau in terms of photography.  Given my last entry, and how the team I worked with stepped outside our comfort zone, I thought it would be appropriate to share his blog with you.

Before I do that though, I would like to address it from a modeling standpoint, as quite often a model reaches a creative plateau that can put her in a funk (of sorts) and result in all kinds of issues.  Boring, still poses, the same facial expression over and over, doing the same kind of shoots over and over… you get the idea.  I have definitely been stuck on that plateau before… and it sucks.  So, I’m going to take this blogger’s suggestions for photographers, and write some tips for models.  Here they are… 10 tips for moving past a learning plateau, for models.

  1. Ask questions.  And ask again.  Ask the photographers you work with to explain something about their lighting.  Ask models you know how they practice their poses, or acheive certain expressions.  Ask models and photographers about styling (or drop by your favorite retail store and ask an employee to help style you).  Ask an MUA you’re working with for a quick tip on makeup application.  Ask, ask, ask!  You can’t learn more if you don’t.
  2. Take a risk and try something new.  Step out of your comfort zone and try something you’ve never done before.  This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to try something you’re totally uncomfortable with (like nudes, or fetish), but try out a genre you’ve never done (pinup or horror, perhaps?) .  Maybe try out a new pose or a new expression (don’t be afraid to be vocal while shooting).  Go through  your closet and find 3 articles of clothing you’ve shot in before, and figure out a way to style each one dramatically different.  You won’t know it won’t work until you try it, and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
  3. Read through forums for an uninterrupted amount of time.  The forums on many modeling sites can be a wealth of information.  And a great source of entertainment.  Spend some time browsing through them and reading posts, looking at the profiles of people who post often, and just absorbing the knowledge that’s there.  If that’s not enough, you can use a site like www.tfp.me to search for posts on a specific subject, and learn more.
  4. Start an inspiration collection.  I’m a huge advocate of this, and have mentioned it before, numerous times.  See an image that inspires you? Save it to a folder on your desktop.  See an ad in a magazine you like?  Tear it out and put it in a binder.  Store window catch your eye?  Snap a pic on your cell phone and email it to yourself to save.  Carry a small notebook with you to write down ideas as they come to you, or even sketch things out.  Inspiration is everywhere, and when you open your mind to it, you’ll be surprised how fast it can come to you.  Especially when in conjunction with #2.
  5. Aim high.  Don’t just look for inspiration in average places.  Look at the best of the best, and see what they’ve done.  Be inspired to be the best, by the best.  Sometimes, though, inspiration can be found in a poorly done image, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Just strive to not only be inspired by what you find, but to do it better.
  6. Find mentors.  Everyone can use a mentor, no matter how experienced you may be.  Look for someone to offer you tips and advice in an area you want to excel in, and then ask questions.  Perhaps see if you can shadow them for a day.  Maybe find a mentor in a different area–a photographer for example, instead of another model–to help teach you about other aspects of your craft.
  7. Take a break.  I’m also an advocate of this, having done it numerous times myself.  The length of the break doesn’t matter–take however much time you need, and don’t let anyone pressure into coming back until you feel you’re ready.  Sometimes, it’s as simple as turning off the computer and putting down the smartphone for a night, or a weekend.  Other times, you have to step away for a few weeks, or even months.  Stepping away from something, no matter how much you enjoy it, can give you a fresh look at things when you come back to it.
  8. Teach others.  Sharing your knowledge can be very rewarding, and you can also learn things from those with whom you’re sharing.  Offer to mentor a new model, or host a workshop for new photographers.  See a question being asked in the forums that you know an answer to?  Answer it!
  9. Get paid.  When you are getting paid, often, more is expected of you.  And quite often, that alone makes you step up your game and work harder.  When you work harder, you learn more, not just about what you’re doing, but about yourself.
  10. Enjoy the journey.  That’s right, enjoy what it is you’re doing along the way to wherever it is you want to be.  Take some time to make art, to shoot what you want to shoot.  Immerse yourself in a concept you’ve been dying to do, or something you’ve never done (see #’s 2 and 4), and while you’re doing it, have fun.  Never, ever forget to have fun.  If you do, once you reach your goal, you’ll look back and find yourself wondering if it was worth it.  You can still work hard, but take some time to enjoy both your work, and the results from your work.
So those are my thoughts on breaking out of a creative funk, or learning plateau, as HT Portraits calls it.  A model’s POV.

Now, take some time to read a photographer’s take on it, for other photographers.  

Though models can learn from HT as well 😉

Beating a Learning Plateau in Photography

April 22, 2011

Pre-Shoot Meetings.

Quite often you hear photographers encouraging other photographers to require a model to attend a pre-shoot meeting in order to tell whether or not she’ll flake, to make sure she looks like her photos, to make sure you’re on the same page with shoot concepts, or to see whether your personalities will “mesh” well enough so that the shoot will be a success.  Or you hear models (or the occasional white-knight photographer) telling others to go to a pre-shoot meeting to ensure the photographer isn’t a creep.  I have even heard pre-shoot meetings likened to casting calls!  There’s a lot wrong with all of that, so let’s start at the beginning…

The “So I Know You Won’t Flake” & The “Do You Look Like Your Pics” Pre-Shoot Meetings
I’m going to lump these into 1, because they’re both fairly short.

First, meeting with someone once before a shoot doesn’t guarantee they won’t flake on the actual shoot.  A flake is a flake, and they often don’t realize they’re doing anything wrong when they flake.  Also, being able to make a pre-shoot meeting doesn’t mean that something legit won’t happen to prevent a model from making a shoot.  Life happens, and sometimes, it interferes with things like photoshoots.

Second, if you aren’t sure exactly what a model looks like, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask to see unretouched “polaroid” type photos.  Most models will not bat an eye at providing these, if they’re not in their online portfolios or linked somehow already.  Those who do have an issue with providing polaroids… you probably don’t want to work with anyway.
Both of these things can be figured out by checking references and/or asking around in the local community.  When you check references, ask if the model showed up on time and was an accurate representation of the images she presents online.  If you have some trusted sources, ask them as well… word of a flake gets around quickly.

The “Yay, We’re On The Same Page” Pre-Shoot Meeting
If a photographer and I are working together on a concept that requires extensive planning, or I am art-directing a shoot, I will meet ahead of time to discuss ideas, if a phone call and/or emails aren’t cutting it.  I have done this a handful of times in the past 5 years, and will continue to do so if necessary.  However, the vast majority of the time emails (with the occasional attached image) and a rare phone call have been sufficient.

When I work with photographers on hosting workshops or events, I have no problems meeting in advance to discuss initial ideas, and I often try to schedule a ‘dry-run’ type thing a couple of days prior to the event if necessary.  I prefer to do this at the location hosting the workshop so that I can see the space I’m going to be working with and (initially) make sure the space is going to suit the group coming in for the workshop/event.  Of course, if I’m hosting at a space I’ve used before, it often becomes easier for both of us to plan via email or phone, with just a dry run a day or two ahead of time.

If a photographer looking to hire me or work TF* and wants to meet in advance, he will have to provide a darn good reason why a set of poloroids (I’ll even hold up the day’s newspaper, after I go buy one LOL) won’t work, and will have to work with my schedule.    I have no problems talking on the phone before a shoot (in fact, I absolutely require a phone number and email address to officially book a shoot).

The “Let’s Make Sure We Get Along” Pre-Shoot Meeting
A shoot is a job, even for hobbyists.  A model is there to pose and help the photographer capture an image in a way that suits his (or her) vision.  A shoot is not a social gathering or date, so there should be no reason to be so concerned with personalities “meshing”.  What matters more, during a shoot, is whether the model can follow direction given by the photographer, thus doing her part to help the final idea come to fruition.  Unless you’re doing a test shoot during your pre-shoot meeting, you won’t be able to tell that until the actual shoot.  Well, you won’t know this if you’re not asking “does the model take direction well” when you check her references, that is.

That’s right, another good reason to check references: asking if the model takes direction well, and whether she does what is asked of her to get the shot.

The “Just Making Sure You’re Not A Creep” Pre-Shoot Meeting
Now, I realize that “creepy” is quite often subjective, and based on individual feelings/thoughts.  That said, for those models who use a pre-shoot meeting to screen photographers their working with (instead of doing things like checking references), well… that’s not the right (or smart) way to go about things.

Make sure someone isn’t a “creep” by checking references with 3-5 other models they’ve worked with.  I wrote a whole blog on checking references here, in case you’re not sure how to go about doing this.  It’s a much smarter way to go about things, and, at the very least, you won’t have wasted both your time and the photographer’s time with a pre-shoot meeting.

Why A Pre-Shoot Meeting Isn’t A Casting Call

An in-person casting call (as opposed to something posted on a site like Model Insider) is a casting call.  They are usually held at a studio and are usually open to whoever is interested in the part (and meets certain requirements).  If, for whatever reason, a photographer is holding a casting at his studio, and I fit the bill, then yes, I’ll go.  I have in the past and I will continue to do so as long as I’m modeling.  There have been times when castings have resulted in, essentially, a waste of my time, but they were casting calls, and that’s part of the business–I go in knowing there’s a possibility I won’t get the job, or that once I get more details it’s something I’m not a good fit for, and I’ve accepted that.

If you want to hold a casting, hold a casting.  But don’t just sit your ass down in your local Starbucks and wait for one model to show up, and call it a casting.  That’s not only misleading to the model, but very likely a huge waste of your time too.  And who wants that?

The Bottom Line
Monday thru Friday, I work full-time in the Chicago suburbs, have a husband that works 16+ hours a day, and have a dog that needs to be taken care of (which usually falls on me because of my husband’s schedule), not to mention the typical household responsibilities.  On weekends I’m either shooting (or doing other modeling-related stuff, like organizing for a workshop), spending time with friends or family, or doing household things that didn’t get done during the week.  I will not drive over an hour (or more, with construction) into the city of Chicago or to a far away ‘burb for a 30-minute (or less) “great, we both like this idea” or “cool, you look like your pictures” meeting.  I check references, so I don’t have to worry about “are you a creep” meetings.

Many hobbyist models are in the same boat I am–working full-time, running a household and being responsible for a family, and shooting when they have time–so if you require a pre-shoot meeting, it might be a turnoff for them.  After all, there are plenty of other things they’d likely rather do than meet you for coffee to discuss things that either aren’t relevant to your shoot, work out details that could be done over email or a phone call, or prove to you something you could have found out by simply checking their references.  In short, they’re not going to want to waste their precious time on you, and will very likely just find someone else to work with.

April 21, 2011

Why Public Blacklists Are Bad

Public blacklists–lists of people an individual doesn’t recommend working with–can be found on many profiles on Internet modeling sites.  They are often fueled by anger and judgement, and are usually created and added to during the heat of the moment, while one is angry due to the actions of the very person they’re blacklisting.  The list-maker usually just wants to “get back” at the person whom they feel wronged them, and quite often, the list maker doesn’t pause to think of the consequences to themselves that these lists often have.

Consequences for the person with the list, instead of the people on the list?  You bet!

As someone who takes what she does seriously, I don’t like the idea of working with someone who’s got a flake list a mile long (or even just a handful of names) on their profile page.  In fact, it makes me wonder what in the world that person has done to cause so many people to no show up, or otherwise not deliver as promised.  But instead of asking what the deal is, I’ll just move on and find someone else to work with, because it’s far less of a headache.

Additionally, a profile that’s got a “do not recommend” list on it makes me wonder if the only purpose of the list itself is to get vengeance on someone, and not actually help out the person who might be looking to work with the person on the list.  With a blacklist telling only one side of the story, it’s quite possible that (for example) the model ended up there because she refused to let herself be pressured into shooting something she wasn’t comfortable with, and the photographer put here there to get back at her for not giving him what he wants.  Or maybe the model’s there because she refused to TF* with the photographer, but paid his biggest competitor for a shoot.  Maybe she bugged him for 6 months asking for images from a TF* shoot, and he got sick of it and blacklisted her.  It’s impossible to know.

A blacklist also means that I have to be concerned about ending up on a blacklist.  Not because I’m a flake, but because if something out of my control were to happen to spoil the shoot, would it earn me a spot on that list, or would I not have to worry?  That doesn’t appeal to me in the least.  I’d rather just not book with that person, because then I don’t have to worry about finding out.  Given the choice, I’d rather work with someone I trust to deliver and not hold a grudge than someone who’s got a list on his or her profile.

And that brings me to another point.  Experiences vary by person, and sometimes, personalities just don’t match up, making working together a challenge.  What one person might view as ok behavior, another might think is a diva attitude.  A joke a photographer tells on set might make one model laugh, and could offend another.  You get the idea.  Because of this, it’s hard to take blacklists seriously.  How do you know the reason the photographer or model is on that person’s blacklist is more than just a simple personality difference, which resulted in a strained or awkward shoot?  You don’t.

That said, how do you even know the 2 parties worked together?  A friend of mine was put on a blacklist by someone because they had a disagreement on one of the modeling site forums.  They’d never worked together, never talked about working together, and weren’t even in the same state.  But because there was an argument on the forums, my friend was blacklisted.  (It was asked by site moderators, later, that the person with the list limit it only to people they’d actually booked work with, and to remove people they’d simply disagreed with in the forums.   But yea…)

What if you get the other side of the story?

I suppose one could message everyone on someone’s blacklist, but who has time for that?  I don’t.  I’d much rather just work with someone who keeps their drama to themselves.  If they have drama, that is 😉

In a nutshell? Having a blacklist on your profile makes you look like a grudge-holding drama queen.  And that’s a bad thing.

Keep your blacklist private, and share specific experiences if asked.  Much more professional.

March 15, 2011

Yay Nerdiness!

A photographer I’ve worked with often, Ryan a.k.a. Hallopino, was featured and interviewed in the online magazine RKYV.  He chose one of our many shots together as one to send into them as an example of this work, and RKYV chose that shot to be the cover of the issue he’s in 🙂  I’m also on page 23 of the ‘zine, where they note why they chose that particular shot.  Click the images to view them larger.

Check out the magazine and the rest of Ryan’s interview here: RKYV Online

Here are a few more of the shots we’ve done together.  A little small, but mostly to save space.  Here they are, in no particular order 🙂

  1. Go Bears!
  2. Comix v.Something.0
  3. Accordion Rockstar
  4. Fashion, for Erika Hendrix
  5. Werewolf
  6. Ice Queen

There’ve been a bunch more shoots we’ve done together, but those are the ones I had available right now  (and largely, fan favorites) 🙂

And again, Ryan’s website is www.hallopino.com.  Check it out!


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 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.

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