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  • Writer's pictureRuss Tierney

Picking a model (part 2) - Models, don't do this..

Choosing a Model If you've not checked out part 1 yet, give it a whirl! It's an opinion piece, and much like part 2 'ere, it'll be reasonably subjective. I like to think of myself as being quite open-minded, but equally painfully practical. In person, I'm probably one of the nicest people you'll meet as long as you don't wrong me, but I know what I like and what I quantify as quality, but I also have a sharp tongue and I'm partial to the truth to boot.

Georgia Mae by Splash Point Photo

The aim for this blog is to explore my mind while picking a model, and probably that of many other photographers as a result too. Given I host themeless studio days, I'm quite often on the lookout for nothing in particular other than a strong model that is appealing either commercially, or by niche. I will occasionally purposefully search networking sites rather than merely posting castings.. in fact, I prefer to. With castings, I try to scare off the naive by being strict, but in reality I find it just attracts the crazies that often overestimate themselves or don't bother reading it. Those whom have talent but are shy or lacking in confidence will ironically get the message that isn't aimed at them, and they'll retreat as a result - maybe I should stop doing that?

Anyways, here, I shall run you through one of those searches, and the things that turn me off some people. I'll highlight some 'mistakes' that can be all too painfully common.. hence the clickbait tag line. Again, while these things are subjective, I'll try to focus on the practical aspects, so then this will hopefully be useful to some who've maybe not considered or thought about the various points in that way before. Ultimately, as maintained throughout part 1 - it's your choice! Worth a mention, however, is that I have no issues in shooting models that aren't necessarily commercially appealing or 'professional' as it were. If you can find the right face for the right idea, anyone can shine, and the narrative can fly! In terms of studio days though, it could also simply be a matter of someone who has built their brand, so they have a face that people want in their portfolio. They want work. We want studio days. And people want to shoot them. It's easy maths. What I do consider, though, is that we have a wide cross-section of photographers that use us. Some of those really know their lighting, but some are newbies, so it pays to have a model who is going to excite the experienced with their abilities, and equally look half decent in most lighting conditions.

When some models kick off after rejection - I'm actually doing them a favour!

Right, let's get to this.. and apologies if you're included in the search examples, but here goes..

You've lost the battle already if your avatar isn't speaking to the photographer!

It goes without saying that you're not going to look at every single profile when searching, so circled above are the profiles I was drawn to. Obviously at this point I'm not checking the profile of those not circled, so it is by no means stating that they are not good models, it's just that their profile image - as a tiny square on a search page - didn't attract me to click. Looking at these pictures again today, I could make a case for more, but you're constantly combing through pages of faces, so your attention span is gradually getting shorter, your eyes are getting tired, and your patience may be wearing thin. Another worthy note here - and to just double down on why you shouldn't be offended if you know, or are one of those not in circles - is, some of them are models I really like and have used for studio days!

So why was I drawn to one profile over others?

Firstly, I'm looking for images that are the most professional looking at a glance. These will typically be those that are strongly and well lit, ie the plains of the face are well highlighted, and it doesn't look like a snapshot of light. Now, that may not be something that is necessarily a factor in the models' ability, but she's chosen it as her lead image, so it does mean she has a good eye and understanding of a strong photo (by my tastes at least). Casting lighting aside, for the reason mentioned; I'm also looking for people who convey emotion and pose well. For me as a photographer personally, this is by far the most important factor! No matter how beautifully styled and lit an image is, if it's emotionally dead, it's not saying or doing anything. You can ruin an amazing idea with an average model. Some models you can coax that out of, others, not so much. However, I could potentially cast that aside too if I think the model is commercially appealing and simply someone that people would like to photograph. Some people just have an appealing look. There's no justification, they just do! And lastly, I may look at professionally styled images, but again, I'm not necessarily drawn to them as professional if the emotion doesn't match the production.

I'll also let my creative side make a few choices along the way too, as I might get curious with some of the funkier and more artistic profile pictures. You may wish to display your craziest, quirkiest image as your lead photo because that's what you love to shoot, and I'm all for that! ..but it might cost you a studio day :)

Georgia Mae shot by Splash Point Photo

So you've got me on your profile, what is it I am looking out for?

Rates: Unless you've blown my mind and I think there's an outside chance it's viable, if I see "message me for rates, they're reasonable and reflect my experience" (see part 1 for my opinion on 'experience'), then I'll probably instantly hit the cross at the top of the page having translated that as, "they're high, and you know they are, which is why you're not posting them". Just list your rates and save us both a bit of time.

While on the subject of rates; different ones for different levels is a curious one - but this isn't a killer by any stretch, but it is somewhat annoying practically for a studio day. Unless the images are being used commercially where higher levels typically pay more (in which case you're probably not vying for work on a networking / modelling site), then it's makes next to no difference. The concept of charging more, is that it's worth more! But for the average photographer on Purpleport, it isn't. During a studio day, people could come in and shoot fashion with you all day regardless of the rate you've been given, so it's just awkward to work around unless of course you meet somewhere in the middle so that everyone has the option, for less. Then, of course, you risk a day of lingerie and art nude for a cheaper rate too. Having higher rates for higher levels with no reward to the person paying for them just suggests that you're uncomfortable with higher levels unless the price is right, and that's pretty morally ambiguous for the person on the other end. If it were me, I'd have my rates flat, and then work in the extras regarding the commercial aspect of the job, assuming of course there is one. As said in part 1 though, it's definitely a model's industry, and being able to take advantage of such trends that don't really make sense will benefit your bank balance.

Georgia Mae by Russ at Splash Point Photo Photography Studio

Screenshots: Don't upload screenshots! What does that say? I'm too lazy, and I care too little to download the images properly from the photographer, or to use a computer to then upload them. A model made a valid point the other day in that PP has a size limit on uploads, but again, if you care enough you will converse with the photographer or find a program to resize it. Screenshots also shit all over the quality of the photo too. Professional photographers will take one look at your portfolio and think, "I don't want my work shared in such shit quality", and just like that, you've lost them. This goes without saying if you attempt to edit your own images too.

References: It goes without saying that I'm checking references, but it also extends beyond words! If I'm still not sure about your portfolio, or think all your images are heavily retouched and that you may look wildly different, I'm going to those references, and I'm clicking the 'view images' link (see first image below). This will show me the images that you're tagged in with that photographer, but that are not on your portfolio. This is assuming of course they've uploaded any, so if I click the 'x' (second image below) to remove the photographer; I now have all your images that you're tagged in site wide (third image below). Again, any lighting issues may not be your fault, and a decent, open-minded photographer will recognise that, but it's an exceptionally useful tool to see the real you beyond the heavy retouching and the bias in which you present your self. If you've worked with a cross-section of abilities, and there's BTS there too, it effectively becomes a sort of modelling 'polaroid' as to what you'll look like with poor/no make up and average lighting etc.

Instagram/Google/Facebook: If your portfolio is small, and you've not worked with many for me to be using the references trick mentioned above, yet you've still captured my attention or are asking me for opportunities; you better believe I'll go investigating elsewhere! I appreciate a bunch of models these days want to post constant only fans links and set their profile to private to avoid being reported.. but don't, just don't. At least create a professional profile that's separate or something. If I can't find you to see that you care and that you are promoting yourself, then I'm moving on. That's your portfolio, your aspirations, and if they're not big enough for me to easily find them, then they're not big enough for me to consider being worth my time. I'm probably not going to bother following a private profile to find out.

Other things you may wish to consider:

Sign in regularly. People will be put off by those who they don't expect to communicate quickly.

Have a decent reply rate. On Purpleport VIP, you can see most people's reply rate (although i think you can opt out of it), so people will clock off your profile if it reads "rarely replies". Again, for the reasons above, people wont want to bother with flops, poor communicators and those whom are half arsed. I'll take a 'it's not my thing' over silence any day. Stop wasting people's time.

Stop changing your model name every five minutes. It's your brand and idenity! While I said above to have a strong profile picture.. have a memorable one too! Extend that to your model name. I can't tell you the amount of times i've clicked on the same profile 20 times because i've forgotten who they are.

On the subject of names,Kinkybird123, Lilhoe & Shorty aren't great names, or very professional either - what am I supposed to write on a studio day flyer or in credits? And this is coming from a guy who used to be called Randii Photography because Randii was my stage name in band!

Most importantly.. if you don't want your modelling career catching up with you, just don't do it! If you don't want that photo out in public.. don't take it. Nip slips and other slips happen, and working with a decent photographer will ensure that they don't get out, but your choices outside of that are your choices, and aren't other peoples burdens. I know more than one model who has tried to erase them selves from off the internet. These models offered paid shoots and signed model releases, so they have zero right to demand any such thing of photographers. Legally speaking, those images could be used commercially on a billboard depending on the details within the release, so they should count any photographer that does withdraw their images as going above and beyond the respect that you're not showing them.

All photographic images on this page are of Georgia Mae. Georgia technically wasn't a model but was a regular TF collaborator with me on the account we both have the same dark sence of moral explortaion and love of quirky creative ideas. That's quite a range of images from a non 'professional' - which harks back to everything I said in part 1! Do you agree with what i've said over these two blogs?

Do any models fancy writing a "Picking a photographer - photographers, don't do this.." part 3?

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