The Basics of Modeling…Q: What photos do you really NEED?A: It depends on whom you need them for. If you want photos to show around to MODELING AGENTS, you need somethingyou might describe as extensive passport photos: NO make up, NO jewelry, hair pulledback, ears showing. Head shots, upper body, full body; front-back-sides-3/4 turns. Payattention to your posture and do most of your smiling with your eyes. These are best shotin a swimsuit because the purpose is to show what you have to work with physically. Ifnot a swimsuit, wear something very clingy like a tube top and leggings or snug fittingshort-shorts. Remember that the photos are about YOU physically, not about what youcan wear. These are decidedly NOT glamorous and therefore not very exciting or fun forthe model (or the photographer - I call them "standing autopsy photos"). But agents wantto know exactly what they would have to work with BEFORE they apply make up, fancyclothes, hair styling, etc. You want your skin to look good (smooth, tight pores, not over-tanned, unmarked by tattoos or piercing other than a single - double at most - ear lobepiercing). Spend very little money on these! If you do a trade-for-prints with a photographer onwork he/she can use, you can most likely get him/her to shoot these other shots for you atno cost. You scratch their backs, they scratch yours. But dont walk in asking to get yourback scratched first or for your back to be the only one getting scratched. The worst place to get these shot is the glamour studio at the shopping mall. Theirjob is to make you look like anyone OTHER THAN you, and they apply make up with aputty knife. And they will charge you serious money for photos that make you feel fussyand pampered, but no one else can use. The second worst photo is your graduation photofrom high school. You also cant use photos of you sitting with family on the living roomcouch or together with your best friends at a party. [But if these are the only photos youhave, you can use them to find a photographer interested in taking some new ones.] Those photos will work with agents and very little else does. Once you have anagent, you will spend some important money on getting some valuable photos. These toocan come through trade-for-prints with a photographer as long as you are shootingsomething useful and interesting to him/her. But dont be afraid to spend $200 to $500 onquality photos from someone who really knows what he is doing. A name brand fashionphotographer in New York would cost you several thousand dollars, but you couldnt getin to see them for 18 months anyway. Find your photographer by reputation, listen toyour agents advice and ask to see his other work.
ON THE OTHER HAND, while those photos will help you get an agent, they wonthelp you very much in getting new work today with or without an agents help. You alsoneed photos of you doing the sort of work for which you want to be hired. If you have notear sheets yet of you doing print work, make your own. Get photographed wearingfashion that looks best on you. Runway photos often dont show the audience or even theother models. So get photographed in a suitable location doing your best runway walktoward the camera, NOT looking at the camera. Take a catalog (big brands, not theTarget ads; young women can look at dELia*s catalog for posing ideas) into the studiowith your favorite shots circled, and copy the poses exactly. Read through Cosmo,Glamour, and Seventeen; circle the best poses and practice them in front of a mirror. Youalso need VERY CLEAR headshots in several outfits (formal, casual, and swimsuit toturtle necks). Overall, these are photos that show what you look like when worked with[the agent photos are stripped down; these photos are dressed up.] Whatever work youwant to do, have photos of you doing that: formal, casual, sportswear, swimsuit, lingerie,figure, etc. It is too hard to get "apple" work if you only have "orange" photos.Q: How do you get a photographer to take those photos?A: You have several options. 1. If you are paying, you call the shots. Dont be afraid to spend a couple hundred($200 to $400) with a photographer whose work you like. Know exactly what you aregetting. How many frames is he going to shoot? How many prints do you get? Are yougoing to get contact sheets (I personally cant see the details well enough) or full prints (Iuse 4x6 prints)? How many 8x10s do you get for your book/portfolio? How long will ittake him to deliver after you have shot everything? When do you pay? (We all do itdifferently, but on paid assignments I charge a 50% deposit payable before we startshooting, and the balance when you place your order for the shots you want.) Questionyou should ask: If you are paying, who owns the negatives? Actors: You need head shots showing you convincingly in character as well as theflatteringly real you. 2. Trade time-for-prints. This is very common, often called "test shoots." You willrarely get it from your neighborhood portrait photographer at the corner mall by the hairsalon. They sell their work/service directly to the consumer and your photos will notcreate additional sales for them. Studio lobby displays are of work they are already beingpaid to do. But many other photographers (commercial types who shoot ads, etc) mayvery well take the shots you want in exchange for modeling for what they want. Thetrade-for-prints deal is that you shoot some photos that are useful to the photographer andhe shoots some that are useful to you; or the same photos are useful to both of you. But ifhe does not deliver the photos to you afterward, then you are entitled to payment for yourtime.
"Test Shoots" are exactly what they sound like; we are testing each other to see if wework together well. Or the photographer is testing new equipment, new lighting, newtechnique, etc. Or perhaps the photographer is taking your photos to show them (testthem out on) a client to see if the client will select you for an assignment. Frankly, Ipersonally do test shoots with a new model to see if she shows up, shows up on time,works well with me and to have her photos that I took in my portfolio. When I submitproposal photos to a client, I almost always include just photos that I took myself becauseit gives uniformity to the presentation and proves I have worked with that model before.If these test photos become saleable later on, my release form clearly states that if I makemoney with them, the model and I share that money. In all those cases, the test shoot is free to the model. However, if the shots areprimarily for the model rather than for me or for us together, there is a charge. Everythingis spelled out in advance and you have to know exactly what you are getting into. NOTE FOR MODELS OVER 18: After shooting a series of blue-haired matrons,many photographers like to air out the place by photographing very cute girls. Sometimesthese are swimsuit, lingerie, and tasteful topless or full figure. You do not have to doanything you dont want to do, and if he ever makes you feel creepy - leave the studio andtell your friends. Before you start, you will want to know what he will use them for; Itsokay for him to make some money to compensate for the time/skill/film/processing he isdonating to you. But if you dont sign a release form, they are completely useless andcannot be distributed anywhere. They will be for display purposes only! But ask yourself:If he is going to make any money with them, do YOU share in any of that money? If so,how much? NOTE FOR MODELS UNDER 18: All the same things apply to you except thatthere cannot be any sort of nudity involved. If you are a kid, you have to be photographedas a kid. Never EVER get in front of a professionals camera without a parent/responsibleadult present. And as a minor, you may not sign a release form. If a photographer evermakes you feel creepy, tell your parent and leave the studio. NOTE FOR ALL MODELS: Anyone who uses the phrase "You will never workin this town again" has absolutely no power. 3. Trade work-for-prints. Work-for-prints is a little different than trade-for-prints.Occasionally, I will have a paid assignment coming in, but it is a barely payingassignment. There is little enough money to cover material costs, something to cover ourmarketing expense to obtain the job, something to pay me for shooting it, and nothing leftover to pay the model although one is needed. Why would you take that job? The reason I take that job is that it fills a blank time slot on my schedule better thanhaving nothing to shoot. Or, it is a new client who I need to WOW with what I can do
before I can get an inside track on the real work that pays us all. Or, it is in a new areawhere I dont know if I want to go and this is a paid way to find out. The reason you take that job is that you are open/available that Wednesday morningand modeling is better than not modeling. Every model needs experience working in awide variety of settings and with a wide variety of photographers. So the trade-work-for-prints means that you get photos of you actually modeling onsomething that will be published - which will give you an actual tear sheet for yourportfolio.