Great article for models on what they should do to prepare for a shoot. I always wanted to write such an article for my Photographers Guide to Models series. Now I’ll just like to this article.
I’m arranging shoots and got the question, “What should I bring?” for the umpteenth time and decided I need to make a generic answer to that. So I looked at my modeling app and realized I need to explain what each kind of shoot is, and “what to bring” is related to the shoot type. So I created a shoot description page, that includes what to bring.
I know at least one of my models occasionally reads this blog and maybe more. If you want to read the page and give me feedback, that would be great.
Pretty girls who want their picture taken are abundant. Models are few and far between.
What’s the differences?
A model’s got skills. 🙂
There are a lot of skills a model has, but the two I’m going to talk about are expressions and poses.
The cry of the pretty girl is “Tell me what to do”. The mark of an experienced model is they change poses and expressions so quick you have to slow them down. Every time the shutter clicks or the strobes fire, they are changing.
If you are interested in going from pretty girl to model its time to build your skills. A skill is different from knowledge. I may have knowledge of all the moves in ballet, but I don’t have the skills. The skills come from one thing.
The type of practice most beginning models think of are actual shoots. These are great and you do learn every time you shoot, but let’s face it, you won’t be shooting that much. If you are brand new to the modeling game, you’ve got a crappy portfolio and no skills. What do you have to offer a photographer? Money? How much shooting can you afford to learn? Not enough right?
The other practice method is the mirror. Its free. You can do it every day. Expressions can be practiced in the bathroom mirror every morning. Take your face through different emotions, happy…seductive…alluring…aloof…mildly annoyed.
Try to communicate something with just your expression. What expression would you use to tell that cute guy across the room “Come here baby” or “You have no chance, stop looking at me.” Think up scenarios and try them out.
Try subtle changes to your expressions and see how they change things. Move your chin up or down. Move slowly so you can catch what angle makes the difference. Open you eyes wider and wider. How does that look? Move your lips around. Say your vowels. Smile and change your head angle.
Try to “amp up” expressions. Take a common expression and try to make it stronger in what ever it is expressing. For instance, say you have an expression of happiness. Start at “I’m a little happy” and make it more and more happy. Keep adding that something to the expression till it gets down right silly looking. Till it’s cartoony. Sometime that’s just what you need. Pinup expression are over the top like that.
In the video below watch what the model does when the photographer says “I want to catch you smiling.” (Around 6:23). She smiles strait at the camera, them pulls her chin up and looks at the sky while smiling large. It gives an whole new feel.
Now get a full body mirror. Try out poses you’ve seen in magazines. Try dancing in front to the mirror and freezing when something catches your eye. Then do the subtle changes to arms and legs like you did with expression.
Some photographic genres have very iconic poses. If you are doing pinup, there are a lot of poses to learn. If you are doing fitness, the poses empathize muscle groups.
Now mix them together. What expressions go well with what poses? Pinup expressions are great with pinup poses. Do they work with fitness poses?
Photographers, like me, search video site for behind the scenes photoshoot videos. Models should too.
This musician Aubrey is good. Not only is she that blonde bombshell kind of pretty, but she’s got lots of expression and energy.
Wonder what fitness poses look like?
If you are a goth model the kiss of death might be a cool concept, but generally it is a very bad thing.
I met a young woman a few weeks ago and gave her my card. She was cute. She was dress iconically, which I thought was a cool concept.
I never heard from her again.
This wasn’t really surprising. People are like that. And as I’ve been told it is hard being a model and there is a lot of fear involved. But a couple of days ago I was surfing MySpace and ran into her profile. So I sent her a message.
She responded and said she liked my stuff and that she’d be interested in the calendar, but had some flaws that would keep her out of it. I’d also asked if she’d be interested in a general shoot and she replied to that as well.
She told me to contact her manager about a regular shoot.
That’s it for her. And it is it for her with about every photographer I know who will shoot with a model for free. We hate managers. They are totally worthless. I have never heard of a manager doing a model any good at all. They are kind of like HR departments, there only purpose is to say no and keep people away. This is not what a new model needs. She needs to shoot with a variety of photographers and build a portfolio.
I’m sure the deal managers present to models is they will get them paid work. And that would be cool if a) it were true, and b) it wasn’t necessary for them to vet all modeling jobs. I’ve never heard of a model manager ever getting a model work. I’m sure it happens, but I’ve never had a model tell me it has. And as with all agencies, managers and agents, if they didn’t get you the contact, they don’t need to be in the negotiations. Especially if there isn’t going to be money involved.
Most photographers won’t even contact a model if her profile says you have to go through a manager. Why should they? A manager is an extra level of trouble and you can find another model.
I’m going to attempt to put myself in the place of a well meaning manager now. There are a lot of freaks and guys-with-cameras out there trying to take advantage of pretty young girls who want to be models. And the managers girls are all hot and they’ve got IT, that thing that will make them big. So they deserve to be compensated. If someone isn’t interested in that, then it isn’t worth the girls time to shoot with them.
Problem is this isn’t how modeling works. There are a ton of pretty girls out there. That alone isn’t what makes a model worth her pay. The ability to create great images is what makes her worth pay. And you know how a photographer or an art director decides she can do that? Because she has done it. Because she has great images in her portfolio. If she doesn’t, then it doesn’t matter how pretty she is, you can’t trust she’ll produce good work enough to spend money.
And there is a lot of stuff a model needs to learn to go along with good looks. She needs to know how to handle makeup and hair. She needs to learn to do it herself, and she needs to learn to let a MUA do it. She needs to learn to pose, and what angles make her look better. What poses accent her positive and lessen her negatives. She needs to learn multiple expressions, and how to convey feeling to the camera.
These are all learned things and TFP is where they learn them. So women, don’t put a manager between you and photographers. You are smart enough to know which guys aren’t worth shooting with – and this changes as you gain experience. You can take precautions for your safety without having to have a manager around.
Been cruising the online modeling sites today and can’t help but write something about profiles. By a profile I mean the actual text that goes with your portfolio.
Here’s a few bad things.
Saying you only want paid work when you have a crappy portfolio. There is only one area of modeling you are going to get paid work with a webcam portfolio – porn. And not softcore or nude porn, nope we’re talking hardcore. You might be able to get some bondage work – I’ll let you decide if that is hardcore – but you aren’t getting any other kind of work.
Tell us your life story We don’t really care about where you grew up. Actually we don’t really care that you’ve always dreamed of being a model. That’s nice, but it too isn’t relevant.
Saying you will only do TFCD with professional photographers. This one is close to OK. What you really want to say is you only do TFP with good photographers. Or the nice way to put that is, “I am currently only doing TFP with photographers that will help my portfolio.” And you don’t really get to say even that with a webcam portfolio. If that’s what you’ve got you should shoot with some amateur photographers, they are better than webcam.
Here’s a few good things.
Admit your new and want to build your portfolio via TFP Photographers won’t think badly of you if you have a webcam portfolio and admit is sucks. In that case just make sure your portfolio has a decent shot of your face and a shot of your body, preferably in something like a swimsuit. And don’t process the images. They are their for documentary purposes.
Tell us what you want to shoot. Let us know the kind of things you want to do helps a photographer what to expect.
Babylon 5 used to be my favorite TV show. I loved the 7 year arch. So, being me, I jumped on its creator’s book on screen writing. In one of the chapters he talks about writing for one of B5’s most self centered characters, Londo Mollari. He said Londo’s sentences had Londo at the center of the sentence because he was most important to him.
It was the first time I realized writers think at that level. They decide where to put the subject of the sentence based on the character’s personality. And it made me think about sentence structure and personality.
One of the things I catch myself doing, especially while blogging, is starting every sentence with I. The first thing in the sentence is me. I consciously try to vary that. Not because I think I’ve got me at the beginning of everything, but because I don’t like all my sentences to have the same structure.
But I just read a new model’s profile on OMP and was struck that every sentence started with I. In one long run on paragraph. And it told us all about how she was going to be successful as a model and was a good person.
My first thought was “think about your audience!” People reading your portfolio don’t care if you are good person. You are apply for a job. Talk about what you have to offer a potential photographer. Its not all about you.
The writing was really just bad, not selfish. A good essay writing class would help with that. But it puts you off when you read it.
I realize some models feel safer if they don’t give their real name out on the internet. That’s OK, but pick a name that isn’t stupid, or that sounds like a stripper/porn name.
Really the more normal the better.
Here are a few I’ve been collecting from new models in Texas on OMP that fall under the stupid category.
Jazey, Egypt, soda, Pink Pantha, Nookie, Brunette Barbii, WikkedMix, Modelingbabe4ever, EthnicEyecandy
Please give me a break.
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I’m not claiming to be an expert, but this is my take on what you can look forward to and what is expected of you by photographers.
Your first goal is to develop a good portfolio. A portfolio is a collection of pictures of you showing what you look like, what you can do, and what you want to do.
When a photographer looks at a portfolio he’s trying to figure out a number of things about you. He wants to know what you look like to know if you fit the projects he’s working on or if he could develop one just for you. He is trying to figure out what kind of stuff you are willing to do. And he wants to know how versatile you are. There are other things he wants to know about you but those are generally answered via communication or your profile, and we’ll cover those later.
So what do you want in your portfolio?
You want quality. Nothing turns off a photographer more than webcam pictures in a portfolio. We understand you might not have anything at first, but you sure can’t demand really any money to shoot if you don’t have a portfolio. Normally you’d pay a photographer to help you develop your portfolio. But there is another way, Time for Print or CD TFP/TFCD.
TFP means a photographer will shoot you for free in return for getting to use your images in his portfolio. The two of you are trading your time and effort for images for your portfolios. There is a lot of variation in the terms of a TFP, but remember it is about getting images for both of your portfolios.
You’ll spend time and effort and preparation for a shoot. The photographer spends, time, prep, post and equipment to get images he can use in his portfolio. Some photographers will give you actual prints, some just give you all the raw images and you have to deal with them. You’ll have to sign a model release, giving the photographer the right to use your images for self-promotion and he’ll give you the same.
This is also a great time for you as a new model to practice. Often photographers who do TFP are doing it for practice themselves. Or so they can do the artsy stuff they love, but no one hires them for. Just remember this is a trade. You need to give and receive respect, as well as treat the shoot just like one you are paid for.
Couple more tips on portfolios.
Use more than one photographer. You need variety and rarely can you get that from one photographer.
What’s in your portfolio is what people are going to assume you do. If there are nudes in your portfolio, photographers are going to assume you do nudes.
If you want a specific thing, look for photographers that do that thing. Want goth images? Scan the portfolio sites and find a goth photographer and send him a message asking about TFP.