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Thread: Model shoots - finding models, your experiences?

  1. #1

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    Model shoots - finding models, your experiences?

    I'm getting more into people photography of one sort or another. I even joined Model Mayhem.
    But I am a little tentative (shy) of actually doing casting call to move ahead with models other than my wife and willing friends.
    So, I was wondering who here has been involved with using models other than friends and relatives?
    I know there are several model/photographer sites (Purestorm I have heard of as well), and what are your experiences there as well?

    The main issue holding me back is that I am not a great people person to begin with. Plus I would want to be prepared for several looks as that seems to be the norm. So what constitutes a 'look' and how different does another 'look' have to be to be considered 'another look'?
    Plus I don't want to make a fool of myself (in my eyes as well as others). I'm not the character to throw myself in regardless, and want to be as prepared as possible.

    Thanks in advance.

    Graham
    (bit of a coward at times, and this is one of those times)

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    Re: Model shoots - finding models, your experiences?

    Hi Graham,

    I can relate well to all of that

    To be honest, I don't think there is a "magic pill" - it just comes down to being prepared to work hard and (hopefully) smart; good results mean being aware of a number of things on a number of levels - from models - to hair & makeup - to lighting - to locations - to techniques - to "looks". You don't need to be an expert in all areas (what I know about makeup you could write on the head of a pin), but you do need to pursue the "rights of passage" which means shooting - mucking things up - learning - shooting some more (rinse and repeat).

    I'm not a great people person either, but I also found that I didn't need to "re-invent myself" - as I gained experience I learned (and am still learning) what to ask for - things to say to make models comfortable etc. Above all else I just be myself - I be professional at all times - but none-the-less just be myself - and let them be themselves too. If we're both a little nervous then that's fine (there are "tricks" to help (like music and friends)).

    In terms of finding models, I started out with family - moved on to friends of kids (I've given away so many free canvases I've lost count) - and eventually got to the point where the friends would start asking me - and now I'm at a stage where they start paying (not always lot, but things are moving in the right direction).

    Got to run for now, but will write some more a bit later.

  3. #3
    CougarFool's Avatar
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    Graham, is there a camera club near you? They might have studio nights where they have professional models along. This is a great way to build up your confidence in dealing with them. Otherwise there might be a studio that has group days that you could join.

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    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Model shoots - finding models, your experiences?

    You do have options:
    1. Family and friends (as Colin suggested).
    2. Model photo shoots, this workshop has numerous events around the country. It might not be the best way to begin, but it is an option. (www.DigitalDaysPhoto.com)
    3. Toronto Photography Festival-a yearly month long festival dedicated to people like us and located in your city.
    http://scotiabankcontactphoto.com/

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    Re: Model shoots - finding models, your experiences?

    I think that you need to be assured of your photo capabilities before working with models.

    This is the same as shooting weddings or any other non-repeatable event. Although you CAN repeat a session with a model, it is (IMO) necessary that you get decent images from the start or you will lose your models.

    I recommend that you have a selection of your best shots readily available, sort of a mini portfolio. This will often convince a female model (we are talking female models aren't we) that you are a serious photographer and not a voyeur or even worst; a molester.

    Business cards that are simple, with your name, email address and an internet gallery link really helps. I have a smugmug.com account and really like it. It costs me about five U.S. dollars a month and I consider it well worth it. I don't have my phone number on the card to ensure my privacy.

    I wish that I owned an IPad or some similar device which would be small enough to carry around but large enough to show my images to prospective models. However, that is not on my Christmas list for this year.

    You must know that your images will be well focused, well exposed and fairly well lit (if you are doing the lighting).

    It would be, IMO, exceptionally difficult if you needed to concentrate on getting a technically good image with a goodly portion of your brain while also needing to concentrate on getting an aesthetically pleasing image with another portion of the gray matter! My brain doesn't multi-task that well. Heck, I can't walk and chew gum at the same time!

    How do you contact models for shoots? I belong to a set of loosely organized photo groups which have a wonderful driving force. The lady instrumental in getting most of the group shoots is vivacious and is in touch with many individual models and groups of models as well as modeling schools and beauty schools. We will most often have several make-up-artists and hair stylists on a shoot as well as the models.

    I have been asked by many young ladies to do one-on-one shoots after I have posted my images on the group's website. To tell you the truth, I don't take up the one-on-one shoot offers because I am married and don't wish to involve myself personally (even on a professional level) with young ladies. That is simply because I think that my wife is more receptive to group activities than she would be regarding individual shoots. I always try to be sensitive to her feelings. I appreciate it that she doesn't object to my photographing the lovely young women.

    However, when shooting the subjects, I always make sure of several things...

    1. That I conduct myself in a professional manner.
    2. That I am always courteous to the subjects.
    3. That I never touch the subject, I will ask her to pose in a different way or to slightly adjust a pose but, will never touch her to move her into the pose.
    4. That I always retouch the images in post production. I use Portrait Professional for most of my editing because I have a lot of control in that retouching. Along that line, I will always post only my best shots. I have been at some shoots in which I didn't post any images of one model or another because I didn't really like the results.
    5. I do a lot of head and shoulder shots. It is amazing how much a subject who is posing nude or semi nude will appreciate a photographer shooting head and shoulder's portraits. I don't like to shoot "cheesecake" images. (Where in the world did the term, cheesecake, come from?)
    6. I look at a lot of images and try to make a mental note of poses that I like and poses that I don't like.
    7. I always come through with the images I have promised the models.

    Having a make-up-artist and a hair stylist along on the shoot is a great help to the photographer. I have seen many images posted on various forums which could be improved drastically if the make-up and the hair-style were improved. Street make-up and photographic make-up are not at all the same thing and many images would really benefit from professional (on-site) hair stylist's assistance.

    If I were a single guy and did not have a lot of my time taken up with my Dog Rescue activities, I could be shooting a model or two every week just from referrals. This is a lot like when I started in weddings, I got almost all of my business through referrals from people for whom I had shot weddings.

    Referrals are a great way to get photo opportunities; whether it be with models or with paying customers. I recently covered a Christmas Fair for my local dog shelter. Several people asked me about dog portraits and I gave the my card. Although, I have not been contacted yet, I feel sure that I will get at least one or two dog portrait gigs from shooting that fair.

    Finally, it may be an advantage that I am a relatively old codger. I think that this relaxes the young ladies because my age is a good indicator that I will not be attempting to hit on them via my photography. This was not necessarily true in my younger single hard-partying, days. However, I was not as successful in meeting ladies willing to pose in those days as I am now!
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 10th December 2011 at 07:27 PM.

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    Re: Model shoots - finding models, your experiences?

    Another way to assure the model of your sincerity and professionalism is to suggest and deeply recommend that they bring an escort or friend.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 11th December 2011 at 09:52 AM.

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    Re: Model shoots - finding models, your experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Graham,
    To be honest, I don't think there is a "magic pill" - ......., but you do need to pursue the "rights of passage" which means shooting - mucking things up - learning - shooting some more (rinse and repeat).


    Yup, I was hoping there was an easier way around this. Apparently not.

    In terms of finding models, I started out with family - moved on to friends of kids (I've given away so many free canvases I've lost count) - and eventually got to the point where the friends would start asking me - and now I'm at a stage where they start paying (not always lot, but things are moving in the right direction).



    I seem to be at the same stage. I've shot a couple of weddings and I actually felt a lot more at ease doing that than getting a casting call together for a model shoot. I suppose I have to bite the bullet and get it done (New years resolution and all that).

    Graham
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 11th December 2011 at 09:54 AM.

  8. #8

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    Re: Model shoots - finding models, your experiences?

    First of all Richard, let me thank you for the length of your response. To put so much time into it ... wow, apreciate it already.
    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    I think that you need to be assured of your photo capabilities before working with models.
    I'm pretty happy with my camera and equipment control, plus I have the necessary studio lights, backdrops and reflectors all gathering dust.

    This is the same as shooting weddings or any other non-repeatable event. Although you CAN repeat a session with a model, it is (IMO) necessary that you get decent images from the start or you will lose your models.
    Part of my original post I asked what is a 'look'. I think part of my issue is that I can pretty much guarantee to get at a good image of a model, but I am not sure what THEY are looking for. HOW many different looks, and what constitutes a 'look'? Is acouple of different outfits sufficients, or are we looking at significantly different poses, facial expressions, locations, backdrops, 'stories'? I don't want to underperform. (Now there's a surprise, a guy suffering from performance anxiety!).

    I recommend that you have a selection of your best shots readily available, sort of a mini portfolio.
    Done and posted (Model Mayhem site http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/2273412/viewall).

    How do you contact models for shoots? I belong to a set of loosely organized photo groups which have a wonderful driving force.
    This is what I need, handholding for the first session .

    Having a make-up-artist and a hair stylist along on the shoot is a great help to the photographer.
    This is useful, inconjunction with your earlier post about multitasking.

    Thanks for your time again.
    Graham

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    Re: Model shoots - finding models, your experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    I think that you need to be assured of your photo capabilities before working with models.
    Agreed.

    I recommend that you have a selection of your best shots readily available, sort of a mini portfolio. This will often convince a female model (we are talking female models aren't we) that you are a serious photographer and not a voyeur or even worst; a molester.
    Sage advice in my opinion. I would go on to add though, that in a shooting context, it's easy to disqualify shots based on any one of a number of criteria (blinkers, AF malfunction, weird expression, hair across face etc) - this makes it hard enough ... we don't want to ADD to that errors that are basically under photographer control. Point I'm trying to make is that in terms of accurate exposure / AF etc, the professional needs to have a reasonably high technical hit rate ("technical keepers"). Or to put that another way, having a portfolio of work won't save you from a "long walk on a short plank" if you can't reproduce that standard on a repeatable and consistant basis. An old saying comes to mind ... "an amatuer practices until they get it right; a professional practices until they never get it wrong" ... and you're entering the realm of professional photography here.

    I wish that I owned an IPad or some similar device which would be small enough to carry around but large enough to show my images to prospective models. However, that is not on my Christmas list for this year.
    This is what I present clients with initial selects on (as well as having an additional one of my own), and it works great from a number of levels ...

    - They get to play with an IPAD for a few days

    - I know what their viewing experience will be like (as opposed to viewing the images on their monitors)

    - They can't get the images off the iPad

    - They have to make decisions quickly, as I need the iPad back for the next client

    It would be, IMO, exceptionally difficult if you needed to concentrate on getting a technically good image with a goodly portion of your brain while also needing to concentrate on getting an aesthetically pleasing image with another portion of the gray matter! My brain doesn't multi-task that well. Heck, I can't walk and chew gum at the same time!
    It's definately a steep learning curve.

    I have been asked by many young ladies to do one-on-one shoots after I have posted my images on the group's website. To tell you the truth, I don't take up the one-on-one shoot offers because I am married and don't wish to involve myself personally (even on a professional level) with young ladies. That is simply because I think that my wife is more receptive to group activities than she would be regarding individual shoots. I always try to be sensitive to her feelings. I appreciate it that she doesn't object to my photographing the lovely young women.
    I'm the complete opposite in that I shoot one-on-one with young ladies a lot -- and I love it to be honest. Why ... a number of reasons, but the main one being that very often they're being photographed professionally for the first time and it's an absolute privilige to have them come in nervous - minimal makeup, when they're at an age when they're so concerned about their looks, and have a darn positive experience. Another is that I have a belief that in an age where they may well be vulnerable, I like to be the one who sets the standard in terms of professionalism in the hope that if they're ever in a situation where they may be potentially exploited, they know enough to realise that the situation is NOT normal, and hopefully run for the hills. And I might add that this has already happened; a few months ago a lovely young lady turned up as arranged for a shoot - she came alone, and I had another older photographer with me helping out that night. In all my contact with her prior to the shoot (eMails etc) I'd been totally professional, and talking about it later (now that I've got to know her better), she said that she told someone where she'd be, but by all accounts didn't have any great concerns. In contrast, she'd been arranging a shoot with another photographer a couple of months later (having gained so much confidence following her first shoot with me) - all was going well with the arrangements with the other chap when at the last minute he suggested changing the theme to boudoir. She called my for advice and I said that as far as I'm concerned, if she doesn't feel comfortable with that photographer or have confidence in him, then decision make -- don't do it. Personally, I don't think the other photographer was up to anything (this girl was old enough to do that kind of shoot), but she said she just had alarm bells going off in her head. I might add that I think the 'tog handled things badly, but perhaps he's learned a lesson from this as well (personally, if the subject ever comes up I tell them that I dont mind doing that kind of shoot if they want, but it's really up to them (it's all about delivering what THEY want, not what I want) (I might add too that the previous is subject to them being of an appropriate age, and with appropriate precautions for ALL parties).

    However, when shooting the subjects, I always make sure of several things...

    3. That I never touch the subject, I will ask her to pose in a different way or to slightly adjust a pose but, will never touch her to move her into the pose.
    Personally, I do - but - with qualification. I always ask first (generally just guiding shoulders into position and adjusting hair), but there are also obvious no-go areas under any circumstances (necklases / pendants being off centre are a classic example). I also mention if any pose makes them feel unfomfortable or they feel is too revealing to just say, and we'll move on to something else. Basically, if you don't earn their trust then the shoot is doomed anyway.

    Having a make-up-artist and a hair stylist along on the shoot is a great help to the photographer.
    Darn nice to have them as another set of eyes watching for stray hairs during the shoot too.

    Finally, it may be an advantage that I am a relatively old codger. I think that this relaxes the young ladies because my age is a good indicator that I will not be attempting to hit on them via my photography. This was not necessarily true in my younger single hard-partying, days. However, I was not as successful in meeting ladies willing to pose in those days as I am now!
    This brings a smile to my face As a young man I would probably have been voted "least likely to be a success with the ladies" - oh the irony when these days ladies of the same age now give ME their phone numbers (now that I'm technically old enough to be their grandfather!).

    Just some rambling thoughts -- hope they help.

  10. #10
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Model shoots - finding models, your experiences?

    I noticed on the Model Mayhem site that the models will tell you their preferences, such as no nudity or will shoot glamour/boudoir if tastefully done.

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    Re: Model shoots - finding models, your experiences?

    I haven't seen any responses from the female photographers on this forum. The circumstances can be the same for you as well, whether you are photographing a male or a female.

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    Re: Model shoots - finding models, your experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    I haven't seen any responses from the female photographers on this forum. The circumstances can be the same for you as well, whether you are photographing a male or a female.
    I've heard many say that women are more comfortable having boudoir shot by another female, but I think a lot just comes down to professionalism. I was talking about this to one of my models the other day and she was saying how she shooting a nude male was different to shooting a nude female for a male photographer, and I think she was a little surprised when I said that for me anyway, there's no difference what-so-ever; it's not a "woo - whoo - nude shoot - get ya gear off" situation; I see it as nothing more than a lighting / composition challenge (and one that keeps you so darn busy thinking and doing). Probably a lot like the movies where the end result might be "sexy", but at the time there's nothing even slightly sexy or sexual about it - it's just plain hard work.

  13. #13
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    Re: Model shoots - finding models, your experiences?

    Hi Graham,
    If it's any consolation I did my first model shoot in the mid-60s and I'm still as nervous as a schoolboy today. However, I have learned a few tricks.
    From your standpoint, when you pluck up the courage to get a model I would suggest you try for one with a bit of experience and tell her (or him) it's your first time - they will be gentle with you! Ask them for advice, it will help you with your interaction. Do not expect the model to fly into pose after pose and all you have to do it press the shutter, you will have to work with the model and, because it's a human being the subject needs a lot more attention than a bowl of fruit.
    It may not come naturally to you, but you need to engage with your model. Talk to her all the time, even if it's inconsequential chat.
    Try to get as much of your studio set up before the model arrives. Nothing pisses them off more than getting ready then sitting around for ages, while you decide what lens you're going to use and what ISO setting you need. In fact, outdoor model work is a lot easier than studio. Do some reccie work beforehand to get some ideas about model placement.
    Have a look at a few pictures beforehand to get some ideas on posing. I suggest you try at least 20 different poses/arrangements per shoot. Try to keep the session down to about an hour, give the model lots of breaks.
    Lastly, the golden rule is never touch the model. This is a rule I break a lot, but I always tell the model first exactly what I'm going to do, i.e. "I'm just going to take your left hand and put it on your knee." This saves a lot of time rather than trying to explain in words what you want her to do. If you decide to break this rule, keep it to a minimum and try to avoid touching anything above the wrist or ankle.
    If you know anything about make-up, that's a great ice-breaker. I did a make-up course about a hundred years ago with this type of work in mind and it's been a godsend. I'm no good with hair though, so when I suggest they bring a friend I try to get the friend to be a hairdresser if I can.
    As Colin says, it ain't glamorous - it's damn hard work. Richard's (rpcrowe) idea about the printed cards has worked well for me in the past. At least when you approach someone on a bus they know you're not just being pervie.
    Good luck, it can be very rewarding.

  14. #14

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    Re: Model shoots - finding models, your experiences?

    another idea is group shoots,try searching on FB for group shoots in your area,we have loads happening in Nottingham and everyone gets to find out through networking,cheers martyn ps heard lots of horror stories lately,first question not to ask a model is "are you single" lol

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