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Models – What you need to know to get the most from your photographer
Successful photography is a team effort, and a great photographer can only do so much. The hope of this blog post is to inform you, the talent, on what you should know about photographers so that you can make both your jobs easier. The more you learn, the better you can expand your portfolio and even possibly get more paying work. First a touch of honesty, and then let’s jump in into the meat of the post:
As a photographer I’ll admit we do sometimes have this feel of a sense of entitlement. We spend a lot of our hard earn money on equipment such as cameras, lighting, props, and more. The cost of all that said equipment can be staggering, ranging from the low thousands or even as much as the cost of a modern luxury sports sedan. Photographers bicker among themselves about how models don’t “respect” our investment, and sadly when you are surrounded by your own kind it just turns into a (excuse the language) circle jerk of frustration. I don’t agree with this point of view. Personally as someone who’s spent years in corporate, I love working as a team, and realized long ago that your product can only be as good as your weakest member. My investment in equipment is not to tell people how much I’ve spent, or not to belittle people who haven’t invested as much as me, but it’s to take responsibility of not being the one to be the weakest chain in the link. Any person who gives a damn about their product, results, will be willing to give the time, resources, and more to achieve better results. Those results are even more amazing, and more stellar when you work as a team.
Successful models spend a huge amount of time, effort, and more to build their look and brand. While it can be argued they don’t spend as much as photographers money wise for their clothing and material, they do spend a lot of personal time staying fit, looking great, shopping for the next look, and more. So photographers reading this don’t worry too much about a model whom may not seem to spend too much on their clothing, it’s really outside your control. What you need to do is make the decision as the business owner of your product if they are worth investing YOUR valuable time in. Just be aware that it works both ways sometimes, models aren’t aware of what we spend, and we aren’t 100% aware what models/talent have spent also to get where they are.
Alright long diatribe over, models let’s talk about things that will make you get the most from your photographer!
Also big thank you to Vivian Kyle, Connie Felix, JJ Cirrus, and more to all the help you have given me in the models perspective. You guys rock and obviously show respect and concern towards what you do.
No matter what your subject is, photography is defined by the light that hits it. Why does this matter to you the model? Well the perfect day to take photos might not be full daylight sun. Depending on the skill level of your photographer he/she might be able to work with you outside on a really drab day. A good photographer will invest more into lighting and understanding light. If a photographer talks to you and says how much they spent on cameras, and lenses, and in no way talks about lighting to you, then you are pretty much working with a cook that’s about to give you micro waved pre prepped food. Be aware that learning lighting isn’t always the easiest thing in the world, and there are many new photographers making an honest effort to learn, just don’t get caught in the web of a “Pro” photographer who thinks the only way to take photos is to have a $10,000 camera.
What’s important for you the model concerning lighting is to look at photos taken of you, and as your portfolio builds show photographers you will work with the photos that compliment your physicality the most. As a photographer gets more experienced, they can use that as a Rosetta stone of sorts for their lighting to help you get killer photos.
Also lighting is light, no matter if you have $10,000 worth of lights or $1000. A good photographer can easily manipulate any light source to their needs. A better photographer can do it’s masterfully with whatever equipment they have. But as a model if you see a photographer who does bring a lot of lights out, and a lot of devices used with those lights, and they do know how to use it well…you maybe be getting the 5 star treatment and potentially amazing photos.
In this post I used a really cheap camera, an extremely cheap lens, with Cheap lighting. The model Vivian was really happy with her photos. The total cost was less than $550.
Do’s about lighting:
Don’ts about lighting:
Models, not all photographers know how to use Photoshop. Imagine photography as a college course. It’s pretty easy for a select few, but annoying and difficult for a lot of people. Now there’s a lot of photographers out there so you can imagine just taking photography itself is already hard for some. Throwing Photoshop into the mix is like taking another college DEGREE at the same time. Some people just can’t handle it, or they don’t even want to mess with it. Photoshop is a very difficult program with a steep learning curve. It’s more than just knowing the program for some photographers, some don’t even know how to use their computer right.
What you should take out of this as a model is some photographers will not do the same level of post processing on you as others. You can’t rely on a photographer to make you look good and in turn should really take the steps needed to look your best. Here’s some tips on how to achieve that.
Here’s a piece of advice that might scare photographers, but it’s important to note. Tell a photographer if their natural level of post processing might not be up to your expectations. Photographers SHOULDN’T all know how to replace your parts to look like Heidi Klum at her prime, but they should make you naturally look better with lighting (yay), posing, and other forms of photography alchemy. If a photographer can’t, maybe ask if you can get your photos edited by someone who is talented at photo manipulation. NEVER do this without the photographers permission. Most importantly this might light the fire under that photographers ass to raise their game, and that’s important.
So I love Vivian, she’s amazing. I asked to chime in and she wrote an amazing epic response concerning makeup. I want models to see it her until Viv can post it on her own blog and this links to it, so here it is cut and paste.
JJ Cirrus brought up a great point to me when it comes to modelling. While she hasn’t been doing it for long she found she was a lot more comfortable when a photographer knew about what she was going for, what she liked, and what inspired her on an artistic level. JJ isn’t your typical model though, she likes doing Steam punk and various other artsy pieces. That doesn’t make this point any less valid though, be aware that sometimes a great photographer has NO idea what you like, and finding a great one that does understand what you like can help create magic. Being comfortable around a photographer really helps with getting great photos, but the person you are dealing with maybe shy or new. I really suggest starting a dialog with them, so both of you get out of your shell. Find a common ground and talk about that, or if more importantly if the photographer is interested in what you bring talk to them about that and vice versa.
Something I’ve seen a lot of as a photographer is models who love photography also, it really is a magical thing that makes people either feel better or it’s thought provoking. Since I have a major passion for photography this is great for me because it allows me to talk to the model and create a friendly productive atmosphere. Yet this isn’t a one way street, a model who create dialog and works together with the photographer is amazing. This may sound a little metaphysical but there is an almost tangible creative cloud that you can feel when people are inspired and want to work. You probably have sensed that energy at a really great shoot, whats important to know is that the photographer isn’t the only supplier, sometimes you are also. Be ready to work the environment and shoot also with your enthusiasm.
Going back to the shoot above with JJ, I knew absolutely nothing about her and as of this post we still haven’t done more than a head shot. What I did know was there was this person who was decked to the 9’s and really enjoying what she loved to do. That’s the energy you want to capture, that’s the humanity behind the situation that makes capturing it in a photo just fun and outstanding. Even though Steam punk isn’t exactly my thing, I really was inspired by her commitment to it.
What’s really important in a great portrait session is you have to be vocal about things you like and things that you might not like, don’t let assumptions run it’s course. If a suggestion is made that makes you uncomfortable it will begin to show in your photos. It starts on the subconscious level and than really shows in how you hold yourself and more. This does not make great photos. Also keep an open ear and mind at suggestions, and listen to the photographers ideas. Explore them as they may deliver something you really didn’t expect, and just prove awesome. This is great when that happens.
So top hint for this section: Photography showcases a person and an idea or theme. The theme may not be fully understood by all parties involved. Try your best to understand it, and make those photographs shine even brighter. This matters too all parts of the team such as talent (model), photographer, make up artist, wardrobe, and more.
Posing is the number 2 thing I’m asked about when it comes to portrait photographer, right after lighting. Posing in photography is epically important, and oddly enough a lot of models assume it’s the photographers job to know how to pose them. Well here’s a hint to models, photographers as a whole, we kinda suck at posing. Not to say all of us do, some photographers are amazing at getting the pose they want out of their model, but those people aren’t as common as they should be. So what’s the solution? Well know your poses! Practice, Practice, Practice posing. Here’s a few hints for you to start out with. (For girls and guys)
Marissa, a local Atlanta model, was absolutely stellar at her ability to pose, but most important she did the due diligence and research on how to pose for her body type (Long and lithe) and she constantly floors the photographers she works with. She credits this to modelling school and though she dropped out before the whole schooling was done, this stood out as extremely important to her and has made her good money as a model. Photographers WILL PAY to shoot a model who knows how to pose themselves.
Now that the photo shoot is going to happen, do you know how you are going to get the photos, and how? We all want to make money, we need it to be able to do what we want, or hell just eat. As a model you are trading a specific set of skills for someone else who has a specific set of skills (I bet you read that in Liam Neeson’s voice) and it’s important to recognize how everyone is being compensated. Compensation can be varied. It’s important to know what to expect so you don’t get caught with a bad taste in your mouth.
TFP is a an interesting subject among models I’ve talked to, so to help you make a decision about here here’s some quick opinions from several models I’ve worked with in the past. These models are of various skill levels working in the Atlanta market.. (Big thank you to all those who provided valuable insight, they are great Atlanta models so please feel free to click on their name and contact them to work together).
So how do I approach the TFP situation as a photographer? Well I think models are humans and they need to eat, but I do recognize my skill sets are on the higher levels of the playing field. With that I don’t like charging models for their time. Photography to me is a job, but more importantly it’s a passion and a love, and I feel if you commercialize too much of it you will start seeing money signs rather than art. So after careful analysis I personally reached a path that was 100% right for me. I started teaching and hosting workshops. I meet new models and this is the MO.
This solution has created a win/win solution for me for 3 years now, and it’s been absolutely outstanding to get a large stable of awesome models and also compensate them for their deserved worth. Models like what you just read above? Please apply to be one of our models here.
Watermarked Photos – What they mean to you
A watermarked photo is how a Photographer brands their photo. Not all photographers have a watermark, but many do. Normally watermarks are unobtrusive and in the corner. Many times a model loves the photo but a social media site like facebook will ask for the files to be cropped and the watermark will be removed, if this happens credit the photographer who shot it by tagging them. Watermarking is used to part to protect the image, but mostly it’s used to advertise the image to people interested in working with that photographer in the future. It’s proper to share it. If you PAID for your images they should not be watermarked at all, that’s just uncool on the photographers part.
As your portfolio gets more and more complex you will sometimes it takes more than just a good model and a good photographer to do photos, you will start involving others into the creative process. This is when make up artist, wardrobe artist, body painters, something something-artist comes in. The big issue is who’s responsibility is it to corral that talent together? Well here’s the easiest way to break it down.
Only photographer is responsible to book/contact/arrange the following talent: This is talent photographers should be booking, or should be made aware of WELL in advance.
Photography Grip/Assistant : Assistant to the photographer, puts up equipment, tapes stuff down, gets things out of the way and in general just move, setup, take down lighting and more. Assistants vary in experience and maybe another photographer, or someone who is completely new and just want to experience something different. If an assistant is a photographer, they SHOULD not give you their information unless you know they have talked to the main photographer about it. Great assistants also take care of the model’s needs. Assistants don’t require a lot of experience, so a boyfriend/girlfriend can be a great assistant but PLEASE tell the photographer well ahead of time. Some photographers do not like having a SO of the model around, do not be offended by this but do ask for an explanation.
Photography Lighting Director: While really rare to see, sometimes the photographer really needs help with lighting so they bring in Lighting Directors (Flash of light, loud noise). Lighting directors are kinda like magic unicorns of light that come in, setup everything, and sometimes vanish. These guys aren’t really assistants, they don’t do much lifting, and occasionally after setting up they sit in the corner and nod at their work or go off and help another photographer. If you see one take an instagram with them.
Extra Photographers : Extra photographers on set can happen, it might be a friend of the photographer or your sister who is trying out her new camera. The head photographer should be aware of another photographer there. Another photographer isn’t a bad thing, but the main photographer IS the decision maker, and that decision can be “No I don’t want you here”.
Photography Studio (Not location): If a photography studio (not an on location shoot) is required it’s best to let the photographer decide where to shoot. This is due to equipment, and more than the photographer will have experience for.
Photographers/Models can be responsible for booking/contacting/arranging the following talent: Though the photographer should be made aware of others well in advance.
These are all things that can be arranged by either photographer or model. If the Photographer is being paid by a magazine/website/agency to produce these photos He/She SHOULD handle all of the following talent.
Make Up Artist (MUA): A makeup artist really can add a level of awesomeness to a shoot, but please refer to the post above that a photographer may not know what a model likes. MUA are artist also and their work may not be what you like, even if they are known to be really good. If you have a makeup artist that knows how to make you look good inform the photographer. The photographer has final say in the matter, but if the relationship is good the MUA will probably get some great before and afters of their work to use for their portfolio. If a MUA is involved, try priming your face with a simple quality foundation to save them a little work.
Wardrobe Stylist: While not as common as a MUA, a wardrobe stylist can really provide a great look, mostly if they are able to work with your physical features to make you stand out. Like did you know pin stripes make you look taller, ahem 5’1″ models. If the shoot is booked for a boutique, or a fashion magazine, more than likely the photographer will have to make contact. It is possible though that you the model can get a Boutique owner interested in lending their clothing out for you, so do network around also.
Hair Dresser: Hair can make or break a photo shoot as much as a make up can. Photographers NOTE : Make Up Artist aren’t all hair dressers. Hair dressers are fun and awesome, and can be booked by photographer or model.
On Location Venue: This is wear a model can really help a photographer. Know a guy who has a boat and you want to shoot on a boat? Tell your photographer. Models so network out and see modelling location opportunities are LOVED by photographers.
Props (Alive and Non): Props can really help photos. Not just locations, but things like horses, cars, and more can be great. This is something models can help with also, and it’s much appreciated by photographers.
Well look in the future guys for potentially more additions to this post, and please feel free to share it.
I want to thank the following people for their contribution to this post, you guys are absolutely awesome.
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