Posts tagged ‘photographer’

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.

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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

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.

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 15, 2011

Yay Nerdiness!

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

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

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

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

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

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


February 9, 2011

Checking References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 3, 2011

Trade vs. Free vs. Paid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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