Dealing with Flakes for Photographers

Generally, new models will have the highest flake ratio. Treat a shoot like you are hiring any employee and ask for references, ID in advance, or go through an agency who will fire her if she doesn't show! Always and I mean always, charge for your shoots. Take a NON-Refundable deposit that is applied to their shoot. You may still have flakes, but that's spending money when they don't show.

Red flag if a model uses any of these terms during correspondence:

1.) Escort

2.) Canon vs Nikon

3.) Mac vs PC

4.) How many pictures am I going to get?

5.) GWC this and that

Remember: If your work is good enough and the model you are choosing to work with is professional they will not object to this and will most likely commend you for being thorough and having all of your ducks in order.


Basics for New Models: Cell Phone Pix

Throw away these photos*

Photos you took with your cell phone
Photos you took in the bathroom mirror
Photos you took by holding a camera at arm’s length
Photos from a night out with your friends
Photos where you had to crop out another person
Photos from a wedding, even if the photographer was a professional

Okay, don’t throw them away, but don’t use them for modeling. Put them on Facebook. Your friends like seeing all kinds of pictures of you.

How to get good photos for free

1. Get a friend

If you don’t have one of those, a family member will do. In a pinch, find an acquaintance with 10-15 minutes to spare. If you don’t have any of the above, you may need to spend some time in other areas of your life other than modeling.

2. Get a camera

And not a phone camera or webcam. Very few of those are of high enough quality not to look like phone or webcam photos, and those sorts of photos don’t make you look serious. It doesn’t have to be a professional camera, but taking pictures should be its primary purpose.

3. Get a clean space

Yes, I know you live in a tiny apartment and you throw your clothes everywhere. Spend a few minutes clearing a small area so we don’t have to see your mess. Clutter is ugly. You don’t want your photos to be ugly, do you?

4. Let there be light

If possible, shoot these photos during the day, in a place where there’s a lot of indirect sunlight. When you’re standing in direct sunlight, you’ll probably be too bright in some places and too dark in others. If you must shoot at night, turn on all the lights. If possible, don’t use the flash on the camera. That usually flattens features and is notorious for causing red eye.

5. Wash your face

Don’t wear makeup. Think of your face as a blank canvas. People want to know what they’re working with. Don’t worry, though. Everyone has blemishes. That’s why makeup and Photoshop were invented. Also, keep your hair simple and natural. If you want to play with makeup, do so after you have the basic photos finished.

6. Wear simple clothes

These photos are about you, not your credit card statement. Jeans and a t-shirt or tank top are excellent. Swimwear is also good, especially if you expect to be modeling in that (or less). People need to know your body type, and bulky sweaters, puffy jackets, and hoop skirts prevent that from happening.

7. Take these four shots:

Head and shoulders, straight on
Head and shoulders, turned at an angle
Full length, head to toe
Something to show your personality. Smiling, brooding, laughing, whatever.


8. Be professional in submitting, use proper spelling and grammar, or have someone else submit for you.


The Cost of Producing a Calendar in Summer

This is from a photographer's perspective.

1. Purchasing thousands of dollars worth of gear.
2. Pack it all up, bring his gear to the locations.
3. Shoot 12 girls ALL DAY in different poses, outfits for the calendar in the blistering heat.
4. Pack up all the gear, travel home, download the photographs.
5. Go through, color correct the photographs, develop them, pick the shots, retouch/edit all the photographs for the calendar for hours and hours and hours!
6. Design all the pages for the calendar, get approval from all the girls for the shots and layouts via email and endless phone calls.
7. Find a place to have the calendar printed, figure out who the hell is going to pay for the calendar to be printed.
8. Have the calendar delivered to his home so that he/she can review for errors and mistakes.
9. Deliver the calendars to the girls who have been anxiously awaiting for said calendar for all the hard work they put in...
10. Then deal with unhappy models because they do not have a fanbase with enough people who want to buy their calendar.


Agreement & Terms + Under Promise & Over Deliver

Many new, models and photographers spend little time focusing on the most important part of the shoot - AGREEMENT AND TERMS. Releases and Usage Licenses are something those new to the industry pay no regard. If you are serious about your craft, make sure you retain a CONTRACT LAWYER who can look over a standard release you wish to use. Don't just go changing things on your own, that method is destined for disaster.

TF Terms:
Terms are not one size fits all. Some photographers give one retouched image, some give 100 images untouched on a CD - again there is no set protocol. My terms vary by model and situation. Always clarify terms before a shoot. Ask questions that give direct answers. And then clarify again. Just make sure to agree to everything upfront and in writing. Getting it in writing is extremely important. Many disputes could have easily been resolved by putting the agreement in writing. Verbal agreements become he said, she said.

Realistic Agreements:
Follow through on everything you say you will do. Don't commit to delivering things you might not be able to and you should be fine. If you say you'll have the photos in 3 days, DELIVER THEM IN LESS THAN 3 DAYS! If you promise a model a CD of 100 images, you better provide this. Also if you promise to retouch 10 images and you want to do it right, this can take 2-3 hours. If you do serious re-touch, clean hair, clean wrinkles, mask and adjust background - that may run 2-3 hours per picture. If for some odd reason you can't deliver upon agreed to terms offer compensation and COMMUNICATE. Communication goes a long way.

When booking paid gigs, it is important to always ask for a deposit paid before the shoot. This eliminates flakes and those who are not serious. If they can't do a deposit, then move on.

I hope the tips mentioned help you understand how to negotiate terms for a shoot. These tips are meant to serve as basic guidelines for a shoot. Always go with your gut and a deal that is good for both parties should yield amazing results. With extreme fraud in the world we live in, those who do deliver more than they promised will make out better in the long run. Feel free to contact me if you would like me to send you customizable standard form I use when booking shoots.


Portfolio Tips: Photographers & Models

The portfolio is the first step for photographers and models. This is why a model & photographer working relationship can be a very rewarding experience. Creating a collection of the work that you are most proud of establishes your skills in a visual way that will draw potential clients and customers.

Many models rely on themselves to get work and notice in the industry. They think they will get noticed and work will come to them. While it can happen, the odds are stacked against. Models are not only judged for jobs based on the quality of their portfolios, but also personality and professionalism. The booking agency wants to know the model is persistent and goes the extra mile. It is crucial for a model to put their best foot forward. Modeling starts with presentation of the portfolio. Will the model show up to the shoot? Is modeling just a hobby? These questions must be answered in the mind of the agency in order for the model to receive a favorable response.

You Have 100 Photos: Now What?

Start by determining which of your shots you consider to be the best. Look at the work of other professionals. Read magazines and blogs to determine which photos are best suited for your portfolio. Take criticism and direction from experienced individuals.


The photographer will want to develop a signature added to the photographs. This helps to maintain the copyright of the work, and also adds a little extra advertising when the work is hanging in a home or business! Watermarks should be gracefully applied and become part of the image itself. I'll discuss this in a future post.

Photographers should be mindful that the model may not want the watermark on the photos. Find out the reason. Images with watermarks are not useable if the model wants to create comp cards. However, if the model is submitting digitally to an agency, the agency will still look at photos with watermarks despite what a model may say. If the agency likes the look, they will offer the model a test shoot. If you are a model who does not want watermarks, clarify BEFORE THE SHOOT! Whether a model or photographer, be sure to always, always, and I stress ALWAYS get the terms in writing. If unsure with anything in life, always ask!

Showcasing The Portfolio:

I recommend showcasing your work on your own website. You are a business. This helps separate you from hobbyists and shows you have control. Utilize photo sharing sites (Flickr, Shutterfly, Photobucket, etc.), in addition to your website. Create a separate folder or group for your portfolio pictures. Direct people to your website with a simple and short URL for quick and easy access to examples of your work.

Print a copy of your portfolio photos in 8×10 format, then put them in a professional looking binder or album. Often times photos look different on-line versus printed format. It’s important to have both versions available to show perspective clients. In our digital age, it’s nice to have physical prints that you can hold in your hands. Other things to include in the physical portfolio are a title list of the images (with perhaps some interesting back-story to go along with them), and a thumbnail page which provides an overview of all of the images in the portfolio.

Some photographers and models alike find assembling a portfolio of their work a bit intimidating. I hope that these tips give you an understanding of both sides (model & photographer) of the portfolio building process. Be proud of your work! Showcase only the best, practice and improve.


Quality vs. Quantity

Quality vs. quantity is a concern that comes up in many aspects of life. Clients requesting professional photography are generally guilty of this.

In the modeling world, new models tend to become obsessed with how many images they will be receiving at the end of the shoot. A majority of models are unfamiliar with the duties of the photographer including the retouching process, converting RAW files, and the length of time that goes into pre-planning and post production. People will not admit that quality is more important to them than quantity. I believe most people fail to consider the fact that we are all in different places in our modeling and photography. There are times when quantity can be perceived as more important than quality. This choice is relevant for practice situations such as trying out different lighting and angles as a photographer, or as a model, trying new poses.

Ideally, we would like all of our shoots to be higher quality shoots. Quality can be somewhat subjective and can also vary greatly from person to person. Of course this means different things for those of us in different genres and at different levels, but most of us prefer to shoot things that of equal or higher quality to our previous work, especially in terms of material we will be using in our portfolios.

So just what is a higher quality shoot? In my opinion this is a shoot that showcases your skill and/or talent in the best or very close to the best way possible. If you are a photographer, this may mean superb lighting, extensive planning with a model suited to the genre, and possibly including work with appropriate hair, make-up and wardrobe people. Models may be looking for the same end result, but you’ll be wanting a photographer who capture you in the best way possible for your genre. All and all it is important that goals are mutually understood before the shoot.

Quantity can be a good thing. I believe the inexperienced can benefit from shooting for quantity as long as they are gaining something from the experience of the shoot. Basically, if you need practice, quantity will benefit you.

For example, as a photographer you might be wanting to shoot fashion. However, you probably need a little experience before you can just jump right in. It's okay to use models who aren't necessarily 5'9. This opportunity allows you to practice your lighting, composition, etc.

All and all, the finished product remains important. A portfolio with a bunch of average images is not going to get you to where you want to be. If you receive more than (1) stellar image from a session, you did well. You want your images to help your portfolio, not hurt it. Importance lies on being able to reflect accurately what you are able to accomplish. With that said, I recommend quality over quantity.