Scott Leonard

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Model Fiasco - Learning to negotiate with Talents.

We’ve all had the pleasure or displeasure of working with models. In my case this consists in mostly amateur aspiring models. The question then to ask is who should pay? 

Where I am from models seem to be use to getting shoots for free, and when i say free I mean 100% free. Whether they have experience, been published, have adequate wardrobe, and makeup… Unfortunately, for myself I also live in an area where there are a lot of creepy old men photographers who would do anything to get a young 19 year old female half (or completely) naked in front of their lens. These GWC photographers aren’t trying to get published, make money, or become better photographers. In most cases their images are over edited (super smooth skin) or under edited… The sole purpose of their voyage is procure in “procuring” (pun intended) young, and defenseless female aspiring models. 

To my understanding, the way fashion photography for models should go is as follows. People who want to become models but have no experience contact a photographer with regards to having a shoot. The photographer, then draws upon the powers of the universe to obtain inspiration as to what kind of shoot to perform on the aspiring model. These powers then come back, and tell the photographer that since this person obviously doesn’t have a portfolio built, he should do a standard all angle headshot session at a modest, but stern price. The photographer, lets call him “Mr. Photographer” then goes back to his customers, and tells them the type of shoot, price and time the shoot will take. This should be standard operating procedure, the same way a beginning photographer doesn’t just march into Canon, and demand sponsorship. In this industry an investment must be made in order to obtain success! Models can not expect to have no experience, no clothing, no makeup, and not pay a dime for photographic work. Just as the beginning photographer must build up his work, buy equipment, learn by shadowing a better known photographer, and practice on friends and family. This of course, until he builds up the funds to pay a model, or finds a model willing to risk shooting with him TF. 

Unfortunately, young unexperienced models who shoot with old horney men get the wrong perspective on how the industry works from day one. Thus, bringing everything to a halt, and creating super diva models who expect the photographer… who let me remind you has most likely already spent thousands of dollars in equipment, to also invest 100% in the shoot (which most likely is just a model portfolio shoot). These models usually have no wardrobe, makeup, or poses in their bag. 

When it comes to working TF (time for…), the model should be established, semi well known, she should know some basic poses “correctly”. The model should know how to combine clothing and makeup. If the model, or photographer cannot find a MUA that will work TF they should divide the costs equally. The models should be expected to arrive on time, and ready for action, she shouldn’t be super tense or stressed, and most definitely shouldn’t reflect those emotions in the end photographic work. The model should understand that the reason you are working TF with her is because she has invested enough time, energy, and money to deserve a professional photographer’s attention, and vice versa. The TF work doesn’t necessarily have to consist in portfolio work, it can be a themed shoot, or even an assignments for publication (even though you might want to get a paid crew for that). 

Last, paying models… models should expect pay when a they are well known, established, schooled, professional models. Many girls think that being considered a model consists in sitting around, and looking pretty. Let me assure you, that isn’t the case! You can be as pretty as the swan muse and have the grace of a goose at best. Modeling consists of more than just being beautiful. In fact, you don’t being beautiful isn’t necessarily a requirement at all. What you need to be is, professional, graceful, confident, and elegant. Models that pull off the mentioned are the successful models. Those girls who try to obtain everything on the down low rarely become well established models. Their lack of gracefulness, and elegance is noticeable from miles away, and that will only take them to the depths of indirect photographic prostitution, and pornographic work at best (harsh honest words). 

The paid model is expected to know her stuff, look natural, and handle business professionally. Working with a professionally model should be a pleasant experience, and the work obtained from the shoot should be usable for a number of purposes. I myself am yet to have a shoot with one but I am expecting to soon. 

In conclusion, I really hope that this small article helps photographers with what to expect, and how to handle models. I was inspired to write this article because of the situations I have found myself in lately with regards to hordes of inexperienced models contacting me, wanting to shoot TF, or for pay. These individuals who lack the skill needed to even call themselves models, and who have portfolios that consist of four, and five low quality pictures. Guys, I would love to hear back from other photographers with regards to how they handle working with models so feel free to comment below. Thank you.