Posts tagged ‘new model’

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.

May 23, 2012

Some Great Info On Setting Rates

Fellow model Dekilah (an art nude model) wrote an excellent blog about rates, where she talks about working trade, setting rates, when to start charging, and much more.  It’s geared towards freelance models who aren’t agency represented, and is full of great information.  Here’s an excerpt:

IS THERE ANYTHING BESIDES LOCATION, STYLE, AND BUDGET THAT I SHOULD CONSIDER IN CHOOSING MY RATES?
Yes, and usage of the images is a big consideration. Will they be submitted to websites? Sold as prints? Sold to private sellers? The budget of the shoot will often reflect the usage. For example, if the photographer is going to sell prints or to a private buyer or website, they are likely to have a larger budget than if they are simply hiring you for artistic or portfolio purposes. This is not always true, of course, but often. Usage information will often be given in the release, but I recommend asking as you book the shoot and it never hurts to ask for specifics if they are not already given.

And another, which I agree 100% with:

SHOULD I KEEP DOING TF AFTER I START CHARGING RATES?
Most people agree that the answer to this is “yes, under the right circumstances.” The whole idea behind doing TF is usually to build your portfolio. And if/when you begin to charge rates, you will still want to update your portfolio, but generally when you are paid, you no longer receive images. There are exceptions to this, but in the general “rules” your payment is what you get out of the shoot. So when you want to update your portfolio you will either need to do TF or pay a photographer.

Click here to read the full post from Dekilah.

If you’re curious about my rates, go here, where I discuss them.

April 16, 2012

Upcoming Posing Clinic With Mark Niemi

On May 19 from 1P to 5P I will be hosting “Pose Like A Pro” at 500 West Cermak in Chicago, IL.  Mark Niemi has invited me to teach this class to models in his studio and we’ve worked out a super special low rate of just $60 per person attending.  This is a great workshop for new models, but photographers can attend as well to get tips and tricks relating to how to verbally instruct models on posing.

For more details visit https://markniemi.com/-Pose_Like_A_Pro__.html

June 30, 2011

How Many Edits & Who Picks?

It’s often asked, and often debated: how many edits should a model get from each shoot, and who picks what gets edited?  Here’s my take on how many photos a model needs per shoot, as well as who should choose the pics… and some other stuff.

I’ll start out by saying that, largely, every photographer is different, and how they choose to do things is different.  For this very reason, it’s important to discuss image receipt expectations (and realities) with every photographer you’re thinking of working with before you schedule a shoot.  This way, there’s no surprises, and no reason to back out of a shoot if you find out that the photographer works in a way you don’t agree with, and there’s less likely to be issues with someone being unhappy with what they got (or didn’t get) after the shoot.

What does a model need for her book?
Generally, a model only needs 1 great shot per look for her book.  However, in some cases, it might be best to receive 3-5 images per look so that she can choose which she wants to upload, so she can have the option to upload different shots to various sites, or create a diptych or triptych (with permission, of course) to tell a story.  Uploading more than, say, 10 shots from a single look can lessen the effect of the look, and can weaken the set overall (after all, you’re only as good as your worst shot).

This actually applies to photographers as well.  Too many images from one look with a model can weaken your book instead of strengthen it.

Who chooses what gets edited?
When I was a newer model, I liked to go through and choose photos.  It gave me an opportunity to see everything we had done and study how I moved and emoted.  But eventually, I realized that I was working TF* with photographers based on the work that was in their portfolio, which, presumably, was work they had chosen to edit.  So I stopped spending time choosing photos, and often let photographers know that I am fine with their choices.  I have found that this has helped me get edits faster too, which is nice–there’s no lag time where the photographer’s waiting for me to choose edits.

Formats, sizes, and prints… what?!
Generally I make sure that I receive one unwatermarked image that is high quality enough (and properly sized) so that if I choose to, I can make a 9×12″ print from it.  Sometimes, I request a specific image from the set of edits, to receive in this format, because I know it’s something I definitely want in my book.  In some cases, I’ve been provided with a print release from photographers, but not always.  It is something I’ve had to ask for before, and rarely is a problem if I explain I’m getting prints made for my portfolio.  Past that, as long as I get the one shot in an unwatermarked

Shout out to Blue Cube Imaging, who I use for printing.  Brent and his team always do top-notch work, and come highly recommended by myself and many others.

I recommend that photographers deliver photos in JPG format.  JPGs are generally the best format for uploading to the web, and if they’re high enough resolution, are fine for printing as well (though the TIFF file format prints well too if it’s high enough resolution).  Most models don’t have the proper software to view anything other than JPGs, GIFs and BMPs, and most portfolio websites only accept GIF and JPG files for upload.  So JPG is generally the way to go.  Some sites may mess up your image’s colors if you don’t properly embed the color profile.  Pat Yuen wrote a blog that kinda might help explaining that, so if you’re curious, go here.

Requesting all unedited photos from a shoot.
It’s not necessary that a model get all of the unedited photos, and it’s certainly not the norm.  After all, what in the world is she going to do with hundreds of unedited, full-size images?  Likely nothing.  However, I remember a time where seeing virtually every frame from a shoot was helpful.  It showed me what worked, what didn’t, and what I needed to work on.  It was a very effective learning tool for me.  But I have hundreds of CDs laying around with unedited images on them, and nothing to do with those images (and no desire to look at them, at this point).

Models, you should never expect to get unedited images at all, let alone a CD of every shot from the shoot, full size and unedited.  Photographers that provide this are not the norm, and certainly not the majority in most places.  Largely, there’s no need for you to have hundreds of images from one shoot.  

If a model asks to see unedited (or sometimes worded “raw”) images, I recommend going thru them (after copying them all to a new folder so as not to overwrite or delete anything) and removing everything you absolutely do not want published–things like blurry images, blinks or weird faces that don’t look good, light misfires, wardrobe malfunctions, whatever.  Why remove those shots?  Because, again, you’re only as good as your worst shot, and if a model really likes how she looks in a picture, she might put it up even if it’s not in focus, because, well, the photographer did give it to her.  Then watermark all of the images, across the middle with “proof” or “sample”.  Make it transparent, so that the model can still see her whole pose and expression, but make it obvious.  And finally, make the images web-size only, but too small to upload anywhere and look decent.  Perhaps something like 400 pixels on the longest side.  Then, you’ve got a thumbnail gallery in which the model can see her poses and expressions, more or less, but she’ll be deterred from uploading the unedited images.

Photographers, it’s worth noting that if you’re going to provide all of the unedited images, even watermarked, there’s some risk that a model might upload some or all of them somewhere.  Sure, she’ll look like an idiot for uploading an image marked “proof” (provided you do that), but if you provide everything, that’s your problem to deal with.  In some cases, a model might upload an unedited image if you’re lagging on providing edits, because she needs to update her book or is excited about the shoot.  So think long and hard about whether you wish to provide unedited images at all.

If I hire a model, do I still need to give them photos from the session?
Generally, if you’re hiring a model, you don’t need to provide images from the session.  It’s always nice to get one or two edited images as a “hey, thanks again, check out the stuff we got” kinda thing, but it’s not necessary or expected (generally).  If you make it clear that your transaction will be simple (model poses, photographer pays), then you can edit on your own time and not have to worry about busting your hump to provide images in a reasonable amount of time.  But, as in the case with sending images, discuss this in advance to help eliminate unpleasant surprises.

Most important point?
Discuss it all before a shoot.  Models, if you have certain things you wish to get from a shoot, be up front about it.  Photographers, if you only deliver images a certain way, let the models know.  In the end, it’s less frustration for everyone.

June 15, 2011

Paying a Model: When Does the Clock Start?

Quite often newer photographers and models ask when the clock starts when it comes to paying a model.  Some seem to think it starts once the model is out of hair and makeup, the lights are set up and tested, and the photographer is ready to start shoot.  However, that is not the case.

The clock starts the moment the model arrives at the shoot location.  Not when the hair and makeup is done.  Not when the photographer is finished setting up and testing his lights.  Not when the model finally gets in wardrobe and starts posing.  A model’s time starts the second she arrives at the location to start hair and makeup.

Why?  Because while the model is in hair and makeup, she’s technically working.  She certainly can’t be shooting with someone else, or working an event, or looking for gigs during that time.  She’s on the clock with that specific photographer and team, the moment she sets foot in the door.

Save some time.  While the model is in hair and makeup, the photographer should be setting up his backdrop or designing his set, getting his lights up, and making sure everything works.  Then, when the model is made up and in wardrobe, he can snap off a few tests, adjust if necessary, and then start shooting.  If, that is, he hasn’t done it before she arrived (though this can mean sitting and waiting on the photographer’s end… so maybe have a compy nearby you can edit on).  Having a model wait around while the photographer sets up a backdrop and lights is just a waste of time and money.

Save some money.  If you’re not working with a MUA and hair stylist, then ask that the model comes with basic makeup done (concealer, foundation, contouring) and that she bring the rest of her makeup kit with her so that she can adjust her look as necessary prior to shooting.  Have her come with her hair done too, and bring a few extra things so she can change it up if necessary.  This will save some significant time and means you can start shooting sooner instead of waiting for the model to do her whole face, style her hair entirely, etc.

Not sure how long to book a model for?  Many models will be willing to discuss hourly rates with you if you’re not sure how long your shoot will be.  Sometimes, it may be easier to book a set block of time and discuss an hourly rate for after that block, in case the shoot runs long.  Other times, it’s easier just to book a model on an hourly basis, and plan to not exceed X hours.  It all depends on the shoot, the prep time needed on set, and how many looks you’ll be doing.  So have that stuff worked out as best you can before discussing rates, if at all possible.

Hey, apparently, this was my 290th post! Neat!

June 6, 2011

Beating the Blues

Modeling can lead to emotional burnout pretty quick.  There’s only so much someone can take before they want to just hang it up and move on.  I imagine this comes from the rejection a model faces regularly, as well as the fact that modeling is very much about one’s looks (including their skin, face, hair, and body), and that models are often criticized.  So sometimes, models get emotionally burned out, and need a little encouragement, even if it comes from within.  Here are some ways I’ve found work for me when it comes to beating the modeling blues.  Feel free to add your own in the comments!

  • Review your photos, especially the ones you feel are your best, look at tear sheets (if you have any) and other successes you’ve had as a model, and otherwise remind yourself that, hey, you’re good at what you do.  If you weren’t, you wouldn’t have all that stuff!
  • Sometimes, stepping away for a bit can be the best cure.  It might just mean a night or a weekend away from the forums, Facebook, and other modeling-related stuff, or it might mean a break from modeling entirely for a little.  That’s up to you.  But a break from things might be what you need.
  • Other times, pushing yourself to create something new and different can also help get you back on top of your game.  Try a new concept, or push yourself into a really complicated pose.  Try out new hair, makeup and wardrobe, or shoot a style you’ve never done before.  Work with someone you know can deliver great shots, and work to create something new and better for yourself.  The results might be just the boost you need!
  • Writing helps me.  Often I just start a new blog draft and get my thoughts out.  Sometimes, I end up deleting it, but other times it turns into something worth publishing.
  • A glass of wine, a hot bath, and getting lost in a good book always cheers me up.  Sometimes, I even grab an old favorite off the shelf and read it cover to cover.
  • Going for a drive can help clear my mind.  As can taking the dog for a walk, or even sitting in front of the TV and doing something crafty.  Concentrating my energy on something that’s not modeling related can be a big help.
  • Retail therapy.  Even if I don’t buy anything, I find it comforting to go to the mall and browse, or grab a coffee and people-watch.  I often prefer to do this alone.
  • Along those lines, Ugly Dress Game with a friend or two can be hella fun!
  • If something’s really bothering me, I’ll often use my husband as a sounding board.  He’s got a level head on his shoulders and will tell me if I’m being a tard about something, if I’m over-reacting, or if my feelings are just.  And sometimes, talking things out helps them make sense too.
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 16, 2011

The 4 Types of Critiques

At the Meet & Greet over the weekend, the subject of critiques came up.  I had been wanting to write on critiques for quite some time, because as a model, you have to be able to handle a critique quite well, or you risk burnout and ego destruction.  However, I’ve been struggling with exactly how to write that blog.  But then a few of us had a conversation on being constructive when critiquing, and I figured that would be a good topic to write on first, especially because it’s something all members of the modeling world deal with, no matter what facet of the industry you’re in.

As I see it, there are 4 different types of critiques: the Unhelpful, the Unicorns & Rainbows, the I’ll Do Your Job For You, and the Constructive.  As someone who makes their living as a creative, as well as being a hobbyist model, I’ve been at the receiving end of all 4 of these kinds of critiques before, and have been from the time I was a kid taking art classes after school.  I’ve also been on the delivering end of most of them as well.

The Unhelpful Critique
This kind of critique is when the criticizer simply tells the artist “I don’t like this” or “this sucks”, without giving a reason or a suggestion as to what can be improved.  Generally speaking, it’s a rather harmful critique as all it really does is damage the criticized party’s ego, without guiding them on improving their work.

That said, it’s not always a critique that’s given with bad intentions.  Sometimes, the critic might honestly not know how to improve a piece–either they don’t have the knowledge to express what needs to be changed, or they might honestly be at a loss for words.  In the latter case, this may mean scrapping the project and starting again, because that’s what needs to be done.

As someone who’s being critiqued, this type of critique is often very frustrating to receive.  Knowing something isn’t good, but not knowing what it is you need to do to improve it is a huge challenge.  Sometimes, it means just stepping back and looking at your art and asking questions.  Largely, the best question to ask is, “what is the ultimate goal of this piece?” because knowing what it is you want the viewer to take away, and making sure you’ve succeeded in that, is helpful.  It may also help to take a break from that piece of art, and work on something completely different for a bit, and then come back to it.  Taking a step away from something, and then revisiting it, might help you see it in a new light.

As a critic, this can be a hard critique to give as well.  Sometimes, you know something isn’t right, but you’re not quite sure what it is about it that’s off.  Of course, saying that instead of just saying “this blows” is helpful in itself, to some degree, but yea.  It can be hard to articulate, especially at first look, what’s wrong with a piece.  I find that thinking out loud can help both the critic and the artist.

The Unicorns & Rainbows Critique
The Unicorns & Rainbows critique is the opposite of the Unhelpful in the sense that the critic raves about how wonderful the piece is, and can’t find anything in it that needs to be changed or improved.  This one could also be called the Mom Critique, because many mothers are notorious for thinking their kids produce the best work out there 😉

It’s rare that a finished piece is entirely perfect, and sometimes, the artist needs to know what it is that’s not right about it (especially if they’re having second thoughts about it, or it is something different from what they normally produce).  Getting a Unicorns & Rainbows critique can be frustrating if you’re serious about hearing what it is about your work that needs to be improved upon.  If you just want to hear how great you are, or can’t handle being told you and your work aren’t perfect, then this is the critique for you!

The I’ll Do Your Job For You Critique
This is, largely, a harmful critique as well.  In an I’ll Do Your Job For You critique, the critic literally tells the creator what they need to do to improve their piece, and in media where it’s doable, the critic may even pick up a brush (or pencil, tablet pen, whatever) and literally do the work.

When discussing critiques, I recalled a painting I’d done when I was a kid (7 years old, I believe).  It was a beautiful still life of a vase of flowers, and my parents framed it and hung it in their house.  And yet, instead of being proud of it, all I could do was look at it with disdain, because it wasn’t wholly my work, and I felt like a fake having it framed and having my parents be proud of me for painting it.  Why?  Because at one point, I was struggling with shading one flower, and when I finally decided to ask for the art instructor’s help, she came over.  But instead of saying “hey, you can try shading that pale yellow with other colors, instead of just trying purple like the color wheel says you should”, she picked up my brush, mixed a few colors, and shaded my flower for me.  She did my job, instead of guiding me by giving me an idea, and thus the tool to do it myself.

An I’ll Do Your Job For You critique is essentially the same thing.  Telling someone exactly what they need to do to fix their work not only robs them of the tool they would learn by figuring it out themselves, but it also takes away their creativity by turning their vision into someone else’s.

The Constructive Critique
This is the most helpful kind of critique.  In a Constructive critique, the critic not only says, “I don’t like this” but tells the artist what he or she doesn’t like about it.  In a photograph, it might be, “the lighting is a little off” or “the pose isn’t that strong” or “the colors are a little washed out”.   Note that the help doesn’t come in the form of actually outlining what needs to be done to fix the shot, but instead simply states what the critic finds wrong with the shot.  This gives the artist a chance to analyze how to fix the issue, which helps them grow as an artist, which is really what a critique should do.

Sometimes, there can be a fine line between a Constructive and an I’ll Do Your Job For You critique.  Telling a new photographer, for example, that they need to use a reflector to lessen the harsh shadows on a model’s face is cutting out some of the guesswork when it comes to lightening the shadows, but it also still leaves them room to figure out where to place the reflector, how to hold it, and otherwise troubleshoot the problem.  That’s a good thing.  If you were on the shoot, however, and you just grabbed a reflector and said, “use this” and then placed and held the reflector for them, then you’ve just done the thinking for them, and the work needed to fix the problem.  That’s bad.  As a critic, it falls on you to know where the line lies, and make sure you don’t cross it.

Best way to serve a critique? The Critique Sandwich
In addition to these 4 types of critiques, there’s also what some call the Critique Sandwich.  This is when someone gives a critique in a format that’s generally “something positive, something negative (or sometimes, a few negative things), something positive”.  Usually, teachers use it so as not to totally bruise the egos of their students, because it starts and ends with a complement of their work.  Often, it’s a good way to give an overall critique.

So there you have it.
My thoughts on critiques 🙂

March 11, 2011

My Pre-Shoot Prep & Pep Routine

After so many years modeling (gosh, it feels weird saying it that way, but it’s true), I’ve gotten into, what I feel is, a great pre-shoot routine.  I’ve decided to take some time to share it with you, because a lot of new models have been asking about it.  I opted to start a few weeks out, instead of just the night before, because I do a lot of work for every shoot I do, and it’s generally much appreciated.

Few Weeks to 1 Week Out:

  • Work on getting a few basic ideas set with the photographer, to make sure we’re on the same page.
  • Once ideas are set, scan thru ideas folders for pose, wardrobe, and hair/makeup inspiration.
  • Put ideas into a separate folder and organize by look (using more folders).
  • Send a couple shots to the photographer as a “here’s what I’m thinking” kinda thing.  Generally it’s just hair, makeup and wardrobe ideas.  This concretes that we’re on the same page.

2 Days Before:

  • Print out all ideas, organized by look.
  • Gather up all wardrobe and accessories I plan on wearing, and try on all outfits.
  • Make adjustments as necessary (not everything looks as good on as it does in my head).
  • Any major adjustments to wardrobe get sent in a note to the photographer.  Minor changes are hand-written on printouts.
  • Make sure all wardrobe is clean, nicely hung, and pressed (if necessary).

The Night Before:

  • Get wardrobe/accessories and any hair/makeup products together.
  • Make a list of all items coming with me to the shoot (wardrobe, accessories, shoes, undergarments, etc.).
  • Make sure any ideas I have (printouts of poses, wardrobe ideas, etc.) are in bag.
  • Make sure everything that is coming with me is by front door so nothing gets forgotten. (Now that I have a garage, I could load up the car the night before instead, but some things might not be great exposed to heat/cold overnight, and others might be best left hanging as long as possible to prevent wrinkles.)
  • If, for whatever reason, something can’t be put by the front door, write a note and stick it to the doorknob.
  • Write down phone numbers, addresses and basic directions.  Make a second copy of same to have at home.
  • Create shoot playlist for iPod for drive to shoot. (I generally base this around the theme of the shoot, and vary it per shoot.)
  • Plug in cell next to bed to charge.
  • Set alarm for 2 hours prior to when I have to leave.  (I do this even if it’s a different alarm from my wake up, so I know when I need to start getting ready.)
  • Get in the shower to shave legs, do face mask, and deep condition hair.  Do not dry hair after shower–let air dry.
  • Take a hot bath with a glass of white wine, a few cubes of cheese, and good book.  (Remember to lock dog out of bathroom to avoid whining and/or nudging of wine glass into tub.)
  • Get to bed early enough to allow at least 7-8 hours of sleep.

The Morning Of:

  • Wake up, brush teeth, and shower (don’t condition hair, and shave pits in shower, just before hopping out).
  • Have a small bowl of cereal, or 2 scrambled eggs, and coffee.  Quick, easy breakfast that won’t make me bloat, and won’t have my tummy grumbling an hour into the shoot.
  • Brush teeth again.
  • Dress in loose fitting clothes to avoid lines, regardless of what I’m shooting.
  • Load up car.  Double check to make sure everything is in car.
  • Make sure I have purse, cell phone and iPod, as well as directions and photographer’s info.
  • Drop photographer a “leaving my place now” call or text.
  • Plug in iPod and start awesome playlist.
  • Head out.
  • If there’s time, swing by a gas station or Walgreens and grab a 20oz. bottle of Mountain Dew.  (Because I’m a caffeine addict.)

So there you have it.  Lots of work, and lots of little details, but it’s a routine I’ve gotten pretty familiar with now (hence why I’m calling it a routine) 🙂  Even after a break, I find myself falling naturally into it.

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