Models meet new people all the time. Networking is the only way to make it in the industry. Introducing yourself to and following up with potential partners is the best way to expand your horizons and secure new opportunities. But not everyone you meet is going to be who they say. Some are all talk, others are schemers, and the worst are predatory.
It’s especially important for new models to take precautions when agreeing to work with new partners, particularly photographers. Even if the work is unpaid, you still have the right to know every detail of the shoot, and to know all of it up front. Below are some tips that will help you weed out trustworthy opportunities from sketchy ones, and keep you safe while you’re working.
Photographers will often give a general description of their vision for a shoot, but you’ll need to know more than just the style. Will there be other models? A makeup artist or hairstylist? Where will the shoot take place? Will clothing be provided and if so what style? Most importantly, what is the shoot for? Will it be sent to magazines or only added to the photographer’s portfolio? Ask to see samples of their to work to get a sense for the photographer’s style and to also make assess the poses the photographer’s previous models have used before.
It’s not at all unreasonable for you to ask questions about the shoot, and in fact it is a good idea to email a list of them to any photographer you intend to work with prior to going on the shoot. Reputable photographers will not only have these details planned out, they will be announcing them to help publicize their work and the work of their partners. Kalon’s events and sessions are always announced on our website and social media, and photos shared afterward.
Once you have information about the photographer, look them up. Scrutinize their website/portfolio closely. It’s a good sign if they list the names of the models and artists in the photos, and if they link to their pages. This means the work is actually theirs, and can be verified by contacting the names listed (which is recommended, to get a better idea of what it’s like to work with them).
This will also give you an idea of the type of work they like to do. If their style doesn’t look like something you’re interested in, confirm that the shoot they’ve asked you to participate in is agreeable, or consider declining the offer. Never do something you feel uncomfortable with, not even to be polite, professional or experimental.
Research the Location
A public space is most preferable, especially if it will be the first time you are working with this person. A studio is a close second, but research the location. “Studio” sometimes means “room in my house.” Never attend a first-time shoot without company – bring along a friend or family member, or have them wait nearby until the photoshoot is complete.
Google the address, if a studio name is in the top results, that’s a good sign. Even if it is, though, use Street View to get an idea of the condition of the building and the appearance of the neighborhood. If you’re not comfortable with the studio or its surroundings, do not hesitate to ask if the shoot can take place elsewhere, or decline altogether.
Tell friends and family where you’ll be, who you’ll be with, and how long you’ll be there. Post a status on Facebook and tag the photographer/studio if possible. This is a good precaution and will also promote your activity and networking if all goes well.
It’s always a good idea to have someone come with you, for moral support as well as safety. Having a familiar face on hand can help you relax, which is always helpful on a shoot. They can be your sounding board for what’s reasonable, and also your escape plan if things get uncomfortable. If you’re told you’re not allowed to bring a friend, that might be a red flag already.
Know exactly what’s expected from you for the shoot, and what you’ll be receiving in return. If you’re being paid, know how much time you’re expected to put in and how much is being offered, and how it will be delivered (cash, check, transfer).
Also determine how many photos will be shared with you, when they will be shared, and what you’re allowed to do with them. Ask what the photographer plans to use the photos for. It’s a little unusual if they aren’t going to be used for anything public, though sometimes photographers are just looking to add to their portfolio. Studios like Kalon will often ask you to bring a flash drive so that unedited, original photos can be taken home that day.
At all points during a session — whether you haven’t started yet or are just about to wrap up — you are allowed to change your mind about it. Don’t hold back, a real artist will not be offended if you decide you aren’t comfortable with his plan, even if other models there are participating. Not only do you not want to end up in a compromising situation, but you don’t want to have photos of you floating around that you regret later.
We check in regularly with our spokesmodels throughout sessions to ensure they’re comfortable, in every sense. It creates an atmosphere of helpful co-operation when a model speaks up about her preferences and ideas, and being on that side of the camera the often have insights that might not occur to us as photographers.
The most important advice that we can give you in the professional world is never, ever agree to anything that you are uncomfortable with. A professional photographer will never pressure you to participate in a shoot you don’t want to do, be it erotic, nude, swimsuit or anything else – even “for the sake of art.”
The moment you feel a photographer is becoming pushy or unreasonable, it’s time to leave. Let other models know about your experience with them so that no one else finds themselves in the same position. The same goes for good experiences – let others know so that they can have an easier and safer time networking and meeting the right people.
At Kalon we strive to develop connections in Tampa’s artistic community. If you or someone you know is interested in modeling, or already in the field, call our studio! Our network of hair stylists, wardrobe designers and makeup artists are always excited to work with new talent. And so are we.