Choosing the right photographer

So a few weeks ago one of my friends was telling me how she wanted to get into modelling after being told how pretty she was. After a couple of recommendations she instantly signed up to one or two of the many internet modelling websites. Within days had over 10-15 offers the majority of these were for TF shoots.

Now if your new to modelling TF stands for Time for which basically means you shoot for free and in return you will receive something generally in the form of photos however it can be anything from clothing to props or even things like language learning lessons.

Now as my friend was a bit clueless I’ve decided to write a little guide about picking photographers from my perspective. Please note I am not a full time photographer, I primarily shoot as a hobby so take my advice with a pinch of salt however even if you disagree maybe it’ll give you something that you might not have thought about.

What do all the abbreviations mean? So you’ve heard of TF, what else is there?
Before continuing please read this

What do you want to do?
So generally models are limited by there levels. Some models only do clothed work however it depends on the model and the industry. Usually if your a model you will list this on your profile. Before organizing any shoots I recommend you sit and think about your levels. You should be very clear about what your willing to do and what your not willing to do. For example do not just tick every genre that is listed as if you list topless and don’t want to do topless people may contact you regarding if you are available to shoot this. To avoid any unwaranted attention try to limit your levels when you first start and expand them once you get more experience.

Depending on how you pursue modelling there are always going to be people who will try to push your levels, its a sad but unfortunate truth so be weary and don’t feel pressured to say yes.

Okay so firstly we need to sort out some basics, who are you?
Are you someone who is unemployed? do you have a job? are you looking to make a career out of it or are you just wanting to have some nice photos done with no intention of making a career out of it? These are all important questions and require serious thought. Do not just assume that because your pretty you will be able to make money from modelling, this is not how it works.

Next how important is getting paid?
If you have no experience and are just looking to making money from modelling you’re being unrealistic. If however your happy to work for free for say the first year or 6 months and then start charging then that’s not as bad. If one photographer has told you you should only accept paid work you will have to think to yourself what kind of client, photographer or designer is going to want a model who can’t pose, emote or highlight a brand/concept.

Obviously if your just doing modelling as fun and you already have an income from something else and aren’t fussed about the income from your modelling then its totally fine to only accept paid work. On the other hand if you don’t care about images and just want to make money irrelevant of who and what the images are for then there will also be someone who is happy to pay a pretty model to pose. In today’s day and age cameras are so affordable people are always going to be looking for models.

Now what kind of images do you want?
Do you just want simple portraits, glamour, topless, art nude or something a bit more strange/ exciting? It’s important to be very clear about what type of images you want. Yo don’t want to end up booking shoots with photographers who can’t provide the style/quality of images you desire.

Weeding out the weirdos
So more often that not you will come across a sketchy photographer. They might contact you on Facebook and not have a website or online profile. They might comment on your photos or say something like “great images, would love to shoot hun x” Now I’m sorry but that is just not suitable etiquette for contacting a model. You will also find that there are photographers who message you asking for something purely innocent like a fashion shoot. This is fine, however check out there work, many photographers think they can do fashion but instead they just shoot casual styles yet they think taking photos of a person in everyday clothing is fashion, it’s not.

Here’s are some thinking points:

  1. Do they have a website? A good photographer will have a website where they show off their photography. It will contain their best works, a little about themselves and how to contact them and if they’re really good evidence of who they’ve worked with and references models/artists have provided them. This is all basic and if any of this is missing I would be asking yourself why does a photographer not have such basic information on their website and what might be hiding.
  2. Do they have a profile on a modelling website? Sometimes photographers will message you via email or Facebook but they won’t have a website or portfolio. In this case you have to ask yourself what kind of photographer doesn’t have any images online. Are they really a photographer? why would they not have images online?
  3. How does they’re portfolio vary across the different websites. For example I have Personal website, Flickr, Tumblr, Facebook, Modelmayhem, Purpleport etc etc. Basically I’m a bit of a slut when it comes to flashing my work but if you look at my work its generally always the same type of content. However not all photographers are like this, some tend to have a personal website which is all their nice work but they might have a tumblr page which is just photos of topless girls or rudey stuff. Now just to be clear, this is not aimed at all photographers, there are reasons for limiting the PG stuff to facebook which is because Facebook does not allow nudity and other websites like Tumblr are fine with that, but just be warned if photographers seem to hide what kind of photography they make more public.
  4. If they do have a online portfolio/profile how do they come across? Now I mean this in the sense do they have well written profile notes, do they spell words correctly? Do they have core details like what styles they shoot, their experience and what they’re looking to get out of photography? If their notes are rushed, make no sense, contact text speak or anything tacky words like love, hun, babe etc what do you think they are like in person….
  5. Looking at their photos what do you think of their images? Are there many exciting images? or is it just naked women, tacky poses and no real effort when it comes to styles or setting the atmosphere of the photo.

What will you get from the shoot? So you’ve found a photographer, you’ve picked out outfits a theme and a style and even a date… surely that’s it?
Well almost but you should really clarify what you will get from the shoot, whether this be money or images.

  1. If your getting paid will it be cash after the shoot or a bank transfer directly into your account?
  2. If its a paid shoot generally you will not receive photos as you are getting paid for your time, generally it is a big no no to ask to get paid and for photos and some photographers will instantly cancel a shoot if a model tries to take the piss.
  3. If your doing Time for Prints/CD when are you expected to receive the end product? days? weeks? months? If the photographer is a commercial photographer then it can take months however you should always aim to be clear so you both have clear expectations.
  4. What quality of images will you receive? Web resolution aka just for posting on your blog and Facebook or high resolution images which you can print yourself?
  5. Will the images have the photographers watermark? will you get images without a watermark? how big will the watermark be? can you see examples? You do NOT want photographers that as wrapped in giant watermarks highlighting the photographers brand. A good photographer will have a discrete watermark as at the end of the day if its a TF shoot if a model is uploading images it should be about the model, NOT the photographer.

Okay so that’s all I can think of at the moment, however I’ll try adding more in the next few weeks. If you have any suggestions or comments let me know via the contact box on my main website.