Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rained out photo shoot

The weather doesn't cooperate when you're scheduled to do your shoots outside. It was no surprise that once the client is set and the date is scheduled, the rain swoops in and washes your plans away.

We decided to move the shoot indoors. Despite not being able to capitalize on the natural light and urban background, we managed to get some fantastic pics. I certainly don't believe this dress could look any better on anyone else. Once we decided to do the photo shoot I knew this was definitely the look for her. So with her permission I went back and got it this dress for her and the rest was history. Less than a dozen frames later it was a done deal for this pose and look.

I brought down the contrast to soften it while also bringing up the offset to wash it out and reduce saturation. I really wanted it soft to give it a somewhat natural light look despite being inside. I also brought in a tinge of graininess. I believe it bodes well for the general feel of it.

I would have liked to be outdoors in the city with this shoot but in hindsight I believe it turned out well. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Working with Unsigned Models

I write this largely from personal experiences with aspiring models. I’ve often wondered why some of the most beautiful and talented women in the world have such a tough time establishing themselves in the modeling industry while others seem to coast through. Those with agency representation have a much better go of it than your everyday freelance model. Why? Well here are my two cents.
False Expectations
Yeah I said it first. Some will never be a model. At least not in the strictest sense of the word. Many try and many fail. It’s a very shallow and superficial world and the competition is fierce. You’re only on top until the next best thing comes along. If you’re not psychologically suited to handle disappoint, competition, rejection, deadlines, brutal traveling and harsh critics then you had better remain the cute girl next door or the proverbial hot farmer’s daughter. 
Know Your Place
Categorically speaking you may be ill suited for the type of modeling you’re aiming for. There are many types and sub-categories with very very specific and stringent criteria. Certain body types fall into specific groups. If you’re aiming for the runway and you’re short and a bit voluptuous you’re likely to be disappointed. Be real with yourself. Runway can’t always be swimsuit models. Few can traverse across genres and categories. Some models will always be promo models and never see high fashion. You’ll find others that are more suited to lifestyle, catalog and commercial work. 
I’ve found many models looking for runway work but better physically suited for fitness or maybe glamour. Models are brands within themselves. Like any brand they must be marketed to suit the intended target industry or demographic. If you’re not at least 5’9”, slender, athletic with an above average complexion and uniquely beautiful bones then you had probably better look to other work like print and catalog which might still be a bit of a struggle. 
Geography plays a significant role in the type of modeling you want to do. What area of the country do you think has the most retailers, agencies and models in the swimsuit industry? You guessed it, Florida and California. It’s the weather. If you sell tanning services you need swimsuit models. If you’re a retailer that sells swimsuits you don’t set up shop in Alaska you go to Miami. That’s where the people are and that’s where the talent is that you need to use in your ads and customers that will also partake of your services. If you’re from Seattle then your Fall and Winter Fashion catalog bookings may just be endless. If you’re serious enough you may need to go to where the business is for the type of work you are seeking and suited for.  
No Cry Babies
There are few days off. You have to want it and want it enough to keep on the grind no matter the hurdles. No one likes a complainer. Keep at it and stop whining when things don’t go your way. You will be able to complain a little once you’ve made it. But on your way up your flexibility, talent and hard work will do the rest.
I’m cute. I want to model.
Chances are, one too many people said you’re cute and you're starting to believe it yourself. That's okay. Confidence is more than half the battle. Male or female you have to know there is a great deal more to it. As aforementioned, competition is fierce. You may be cute in this town or today but there is always someone better looking, taller, leaner, more voluptuous, better coordinated and seemingly born on a catwalk coming soon if not here already. You’re a brand. You have to sustain that brand thru alliances, networking, promotion and advertising like any other product or service. 
Stop Wasting Other Peoples’ Time
There is nothing more frustrating to a potential business partner than a series of false starts. In the past three months I must have been contacted by more than a half dozen aspiring models proclaiming to want to do photo shoots. Correspondence is reminiscent of the following: 
Model:  “Hello. I saw your work and would love to work with you.” 
Me: Sure. Are you interested in establishing a portfolio, expanding a portfolio, promoting a product or event, or is this simply for fun? Please elaborate on your goals and interests.
Model:  “I saw your work and would like to expand my port I think.”
Me: Sounds good but what specifically would you like to achieve. Are you interested in a particular type of photography; high fashion, catalog, beauty, glamour, nude, lingerie, etc? Do you want to do an editorial or a theme? Do you simply want head-shots?
Model:  “Let’s settle on a theme and set a date.”
Me:  Let’s talk compensation first. How will you be paying?
Model:  “I was hoping we could trade for each other’s time.”
Me:  Let me look at your port. If I find that working with you can help both our ports I will consider it even though it’s unconventional and not a normal thing for me. Let me work out some model release details. If you're okay with it, and everything works out then we can move forward.
Model:  (Later) “Let’s set a date and a theme.”
Me: How about February 12 at 2:00 pm. Let’s first meet or at least settle in email or a phone call the details of the shoot such as how long it will take, location, special arrangements if any, the model release, makeup and wardrobe, etc.
Model: (blank -No further correspondence)
As you can see it’s bit of a pain and I often go much much further than any photographer would in such circumstances. However, if it was an agency model, the agency would establish all the criteria and details, set a date and the model would simply show up ready to shoot. Don’t waste time. Be sure about what you want. You’re not doing yourself any favors by having the photographer work his/her butt off to extract any needed information from you. The photographer is trying to be thorough and alleviate any misunderstandings. 

This is also the primary reason professional photographers, stylists, muas and others in the industry do not want to speak with anyone that does not have agency representation. You’ve been stereotyped as unreliable.  What do you want to do? Establish the who, what, when, where and how. In a dialog such as the one above, you’ve probably burned that bridge behind you. You’ve been labeled as undependable, confused and grossly unprofessional. If you’ve changed your mind simply reply by saying that you’re currently pursuing other interests or that your schedule hasn’t permitted further consideration at this time. But don’t get mad because you feel you’re being interrogated because you’re not giving the stylist, mua, or photographer enough information.  
Agency Representation
Not everyone can and will be signed to an agency. It’s a tough world. Just because you’ve seen the other models from the agency and find that they’re much less talented and attractive than you are, you’re upset that you can’t get signed. There’s much more to it than the eye can see. Some of the others may have more experience. Modeling is also socially dynamic. What’s in now may be out tomorrow. Your look may not be in demand at the time nor are all agencies created equal. Some agencies focus on runway, others on catalog. Some other agencies do glamour and beauty. Others may focus on lifestyle and fitness. You’re probably marketing yourself all wrong and to the wrong people. It’s a business as much as it is a beauty contest. 
If you can get signed, get signed. You will likely have a better time at it because some people simply can’t manage themselves and get access to more prominent clientele. However, you will be compared more discriminately to your peers. You may not get as much work as you think; thus, making the case for the freelance model that works when, how and in the circumstances they choose to. 
Self Representation   
If you don’t want to do it then you don’t have to. If time doesn’t permit, then you move on. If you’re busy with other things then forget about it. It’s your call as a freelancer. However, it’s a business. You’re the proprietor and you’re only as popular and sought after as you make yourself. The broader your applicability to different genres and types of modeling the better your chances of getting paid work. Because you are freelancing you don’t have to follow the stigma of the agency but you will have to be willing to do more to get paid work. 
There are a dozen other reasons why it’s such a misunderstood industry. As an marketing and communications professional, I often find that most of the disappoint stems from a poor understanding of how the industry works. Since I also work in print design, I often use all types of genres of photography depending on my client’s wishes. If I’m designing a financial newsletter then I may need a conservative, mature male and/or female for the front cover. If it’s a poster for a swimsuit clothing line then I will select a model accordingly. If it’s for my own portfolio then I choose based on the same criteria: responsiveness, punctuality, clarity, professionalism, suitability, and ROI like any business person would. 

Signed or unsigned understand that you may be attributing to your own lack of success by not presenting yourself properly and not having enough knowledge about the industry. Do your homework, make alliances and expand your network. Above all else do not burn bridges. Keep an open dialog with potential business partners and be clear about what you want to yourself and to your professional acquaintances.