Posts tagged ‘photo shoot’

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.

July 20, 2011

Upcoming Event: A Sneak Preview of “The White Collection – LUXE”

I have the honor of modeling for bridal designer Atha Sharod in the Atha & Friends Present A Sneak Preview of “The White Collection – LUXE” event coming up on Sunday, August 7.  

Brides who attend the event will get a sneak preview of Atha Sharod’s The White Collection – LUXE, which features beautiful couture bridal gowns and honeymoon negligees.  Atha Sharod’s stunning pieces are made from 100% silk and French imported laces, and are custom made for each bride to ensure a perfect fit.  In addition to getting a chance to see Atha Sharod’s beautiful White Collection – LUXE, event guests will have a chance to sample wedding cake, enjoy music, food, champagne, gift bags and most importantly, the beautiful wedding gowns.  They will also get to experience a live photo shoot by Wedding and Engagement Photographer, Tuan H. Bui.  The photos from the shoot will be used for the catalog and website that the company will use to promote the collection.  Robert Sharod, the designer, says “I created this collection as a tribute to the American woman. I wanted her to know that she could be independent and yet be feminine at the same time” when describing his collection.  Brides, this event is one that’s not to be missed!

This incredible, one-of-a-kind bridal event will take place Sunday, August 7 from 4P to 7P, and will be held at the Loft on Lake, located at 1366 West Lake, Chicago, IL.  Tickets are less than $25 and can be bought in advance here: athasharodbridal.eventbrite.com  You can RSVP for the event on Facebook too… but be sure to buy your tickets in advance!

Check out this list of incredible preferred vendors for the event!

  • Wedding Planner: Charity & Gabriela with A La Moda Events
  • Photographer: Tuan H Bui
  • Videographer: Al with Elite Video Productions
  • Fashion Illustrator: Rosemary Fanti
  • Bouquet Preservationist: Loreen Hospodar
  • Make Up Artist: Tracy Ballog
  • Bridal Stylist: Susan from the Left Bank
  • Menu Tastings: Norman’s Bistro & Cedar’s Mediterranean
  • Wedding Cake & Bakery: Richard with Rueter’s Bakery
  • Dessert Tray Stylist: Lizabeth with Fancy Candies & Sweet Buffets
  • Vocalist: Karen Dade
  • Live Trio: The Bons Vivants

Brides, if you’re looking to make your wedding a classy, beautiful event, the Atha & Friends Present A Sneak Preview of “The White Collection – LUXE” event is THE place to go to find everything you’ll need to make your special day memorable.

Check out Atha Sharod online:
The official Atha Sharod website: www.athasharodbridal.com
Become a fan on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Atha-Sharod-Bridal/166098103434102
Be friends on Facebook: www.facebook.com/athasharodbridal
Follow Atha Sharod on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AthaBridal
Robert’s Blog: athasharodbridal1.blogspot.com

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 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.

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!

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

May 2, 2011

I love pie. And this team.

Every once in awhile a team gets together and consistently creates great images.  Which is awesome, but sometimes, you all need to step outside your comfort zones and try something new.  That’s what Christian Carlson, Christin C and I did on Saturday.

We started out with a set I’m calling Eyes, Lips.  Christin used her skills as an artist to not only flawlessly do my makeup (and hair), but place an eye on one hand, and a lip on the other.  Christian busted out his gels and we shot a beauty set that was way different for all 3 of us.  Here are my 3 favorite shots from the set.

  

But then things got crazy.

This concept started out in my head just as a wardrobe idea, and was inspired by various people and things (songs, actually).  I made the “Diva” shirt, the earrings, and gathered a bunch of accessories together after getting inspiration from music artists Ke$ha, Dev, and P!nk.  When I sent Christin my wardrobe ideas, she came back with this mask idea, and I managed to find a material that worked for it.  She also had this great shot that involved Silly String, which we decided we wanted to include.  I also found large sequins at Hobby Lobby, and snagged those (glitter would have been way too hard to clean up, and may have just looked like dirt in the shots, which wasn’t what we wanted).  I brought a few empty cans of AMP as well.  The set evolved from just a musically-inspired set to one that evoked thoughts of having been out all night partying.  Which, thinking about who I drew inspiration from when it came to wardrobe, works well too ;) LOL

Anyway, after the first set, Christin and drew on the mask I’d cut earlier in the week while Christian broke down his backdrop and re-set his lights.  And then we drew on me.  And then we piled on the accessories, tied on the mask, and started shooting.  I’ll just let the resulting shots speak for themselves…

 

  

 

Somehow, we managed to get them to be a little editorial, as well as a little crazy.  I feel like we were channeling a lot of different people here, and it kinda just… came together wonderfully.

This was, quite possibly, one of the most fun shoots I’ve ever done.  I have laughed on shoots before, but never this hard.

I think this conversation we had while reviewing pics sums it all up perfectly:

Christian: Wow… this looks like the set of a porn or something…
Christin: Yea, but it’s so awesome it makes me want to shit rainbows!!
Rachel: Christian, did you ever think you’d hear that about your work?

Check out the team’s Facebook Fan Pages, and LIKE THEM!

Christian G. Photography
Christin C Makeup

April 29, 2011

No Answer is an Answer

This one wasn’t on my “Reader’s Choice” list for some reason, but I’ve been sitting on this draft for awhile.  This week, on one of the modeling forums, this topic has been quite a popular one, so I’ve opted to finish up the draft and go with it, to round out this week’s entries.  Enjoy.

So, you’ve sent someone you’re interested in working with a message.  For whatever reason, you’ve monitored whether or not the message has been read, and you see that it has.  Despite this, the model hasn’t replied to you.  Not a peep from her.

First of all, why are you sitting and monitoring whether or not the messages you’ve sent have been read?!  Seems like such a waste of time, and I’ve never understood why people do that.  Send the message, and move on.  Certainly, you have better things to do with your time than wait for “unread” to change “read”, right?  I’d hope so!

Why might a model simply not respond, instead of taking a few seconds to just say “no”?
There are tons of reasons a model might not respond.  Some of the most common ones are…

  1. She forgot.  As silly as it sounds, it happens.  She may have opened your message on her phone, and realized her reply was going to be longer than was worth trying to type on her phone, and intended to answer you on the computer later.  And of course, since once you’ve read the message, it’s no longer “new”, it dropped off her radar.  It happens to all of us, at one point or another.
  2. The message offers her something she clearly states she’s not interested in doing.  Nude, fetish and erotic work would be the most common here.  Many models don’t reply to messages for work they note they are not interested in doing, because they’ve already expressed their lack of interest.
  3. It wasn’t clear in the initial message that the sender actually wants to shoot with her.  A message that states “you have beautiful work” doesn’t mean “I want to work with you”.
  4. The message was SPAMing rates.
  5. The message insulted her portfolio or the people she’s worked with.  I shouldn’t have to say it, but many models get messages that start out with insulting anecdotes about their portfolios or the photographers they’ve worked with, and some of us don’t appreciate it.  Why insult someone you want to work with?  Silliness.
  6. The grammar and spelling in the initial message is so poor, she foresees it being a pain in the ass to communicate with you, and opts to just not bother.
  7. The copy-pasta went wrong and the bottled message was accidentally addressed  to someone other than the model.  If you can’t bother to make sure you’re addressing your message to the right person, well… yea.

And sadly, another common reason (and perhaps the most common one for more experienced models) models don’t respond to offers they’re not interested in accepting?  People who can’t take “no” for an answer, and get pushy or butthurt because of it.

Yup.  Thank your colleagues who, after being told “thank you, but I’m not interested” or “I’m not doing TF* right now, but my rates are…” get passive-aggressive, insulting, and downright mean.  I know many models who have experienced this, and I have myself on numerous occasions.  I’ve been told I’m a shitty model not worth paying, a bitch who didn’t know what she was missing, and other random things I don’t care to look up.  Some gems though, and totally uncalled for when the response given is professional.

There are also the few who, despite being told “thanks but I’m not interested” continue to push the model, asking if changing X, Y or Z would make a difference, or insisting on hearing why they’re not interested.  This kind of behavior is a huge turn off, because if someone is that pushy just to shoot, it makes one wonder what the shoot itself will be like… and more often than not, it causes the recipient to say “not worth it” and move on.

Let’s put it in perspective…
When you get flyers for, say, a landscaper, shoved in your front door, and you’re not interested in hiring that landscaper, do you call them and say “hey, thanks for the lawn mowing offer, but I’ve already got a reliable landscaper, so I’m not interested in hiring you”?  No.  You just recycle the flyer and move on.

When you get an email from B&H letting you know that they have a zoom lens on sale for $3000 from $3100, do you respond to the email letting them know that the measly $100 discount isn’t going to get you to buy the lens, because you know of a place that’s got the same lens at a $400 discount and just offered you free shipping?  No, you just delete the email and move on.

When a model goes to a casting call for a gig, does she sit by her phone waiting for them to call her so they can tell her “thanks for coming by, but you’re a 5’7″ brunette and we casted for a 5’9″ redhead, so, sorry, but you’re not right for this one”?  No.  Them not calling is them saying “your look isn’t what we were looking for, but thanks”.

Is there anything you can do?
If you are super interested in booking the model, you can try the follow up.  Wait a week or so and then send a message that says, “just wanted to update you on my availability” or “I need to book this shoot by [date] so if you’re interested please let me know”.  Don’t be a dick about it, just be polite and professional.  It’s quite possible that she intended to reply and forgot, or that her reply didn’t go through because of a glitch in the messaging system (it happens).

While you’re waiting to hear back, don’t dwell on the message and definitely don’t stop messaging other models.  And if you find someone to book the gig (if you were looking to book a specific one) while waiting to hear back, then it’s a good thing.  Far better, at least, than sitting around waiting for one model to get back to you ;)

The drawback to following up?
The drawback to the follow up is that, sometimes, the fact that the message was read and not replied to means, truly, that they’re not interested.  It might irritate the model a bit to get a follow up.  But that’s a risk you are going to have to take if you decide to go with the follow up message.  Of course, if the model goes superbitch on you for sending a follow up message, then consider it a bullet dodged ;)

Raise your chances of models responding positively.
Look at the portfolios and read the profiles of the models you’re messaging.  Does the work they express interest in shooting (and that’s in their portfolio) jive with what you’re looking to shoot?  Good.  Do they say “not interested in shooting…” and then list what you’d like to shoot?  If so, avoid messaging them.  Also, make sure their last login date is recent (say, within the past 2 weeks to a month) before you click “send message”.  It’s very unlikely you’ll hear back from someone who hasn’t logged into the site in over a year.

When you send your initial message, start off by sending a message that outlines what you’re looking to shoot, when you’d like to shoot, and what the compensation will be.  That’s the important information a model needs to know in order to begin considering your offer.  There’s no need to go on and on about the model’s beauty and all that–we get that you like our look and that’s why you contacted us.  There’s also no need to insult the work that’s in the model’s portfolio, tell her a certain photograph is unflattering, or speak poorly of those she’s worked with in the past.

And lastly, don’t be a jackass if someone doesn’t respond the way you feel you deserve.  This includes being sent rates, being turned down, and not getting a response at all.  Don’t take any of that personally, because it’s not personal, and simply move on to find someone willing to accept what you’re offering.  Be professional, and be patient if you have to.

The bottom line?  
No answer means, “thanks, but I’m not interested”.   Your best bet?  Move on.

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.

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