This is a guest post from photographer Don Giannatti and his rebuttal to “What to Look For in a Photographer: A Model’s Perspective” by Aimee J. Martin.
I will start out by stating that the world of modeling and photography and the place they meet, there has been a terribly destructive change in what the reality of modeling is – at least to me. Most has been brought about by unmanaged websites like Model Mayhem and One Model Place and some by the proliferation of cheap access to digital cameras. What is missing is the gatekeeper for both… the agency. They still have a place and that place becomes all the more evident every time a model doesn’t show up or a photographer doesn’t deliver the images. We won’t get into the photography or the quality of the models… I am totally agnostic there.
And yeah… that’ll get you some mail.
“They must be professional at all times. Hitting on your subjects at ANY time is inappropriate and I can guarantee you won’t be shooting that model again.”
While this may be a truism for some, in fact it is a terrible thing to tell a model. I hate that there are cretins out there, hitting on models, but to tell a model that she has some control over that is terribly wrong. Instead, the message should be that it will happen – unfortunately – and find ways of deflecting it. Sucks, but that is the way it is in a lot of high-end fashion shooting. Anyone ever heard of Terry Richardson?
I can absolutely guarantee that models get hit on by some terribly famous shooters… and I can absolutely tell you they will be shot by them again. And again.
“If you are doing ‘TFC’ shoots – ‘Time for Comp’ which essentially means neither party pays but you both utilize the photos from the shoot to enhance one another’s portfolios, or if you are doing ‘paid’ shoots, a seasoned photographer will always have you sign a waiver. Make sure you READ the waiver before you sign it.”
That is all fine and such, but it is actually referred to as a “Release” – and yes, the model should read it well. An agency model will have with her a “Voucher” which the photographer signs and is therefore used as a “release’ for the current client. If the model is working for a specific client, the ‘release’ should only be for that client… not a blanket release for perpetuity. If the model is being paid by the photographer for whatever reason – stock, fun whatever – then the release is most usually a blanket.
Know what you are signing.
“Another aspect of a real professional is that they know their lighting and their lenses. If you book a shoot, ask questions. What kind of lighting they are going to use, what different lenses we will try out during the shoot. If they say they ‘just have a flash’… I’d probably take a pass on that one. A KEY sign of a STELLAR photographer knows that they have several key lighting elements and are well versed in WHERE to place them to enhance your features properly. This also heavily weighs on what time of the day you will be shooting. They should use key words such as backlighting, fill-in flash, reflectors, etc. They should also have a tripod… if they don’t, I’d be very weary. In other words, just KNOW your photographer. Look at his/her portfolio, if you like the work, then take it to the next step.”
I am really uncomfortable with this statement above. I know too many incredible photographers who rarely use flash. I know photographers who rarely use a tripod… or even have a clue of what they are going to do before working the shot. It is a way of working that is very evident in a lot of editorial shooters.
I cannot imagine having a model ask me whether I have a tripod or what kind of lenses I have… I mean – wow – I really can’t.
“A KEY sign of a STELLAR photographer knows that they have several key lighting elements and are well versed in WHERE to place them to enhance your features properly.”
Well – maybe.
“Look at his/her portfolio, if you like the work, then take it to the next step.”
Yes. If the work is good… does it really matter if the photographer didn’t use a tripod? Is it OK if they don’t use the terms of photography? Is it cool if they are only using natural light with an iPhone? If the images look great… of course it doesn’t. What do the pictures look like? Are they something you would like to have in your book?
YES. And know where to check!
I have criteria I recommend as well:
- If the photographer doesn’t have a website, strike one.
- If the photographer doesn’t have a neutral place to meet, strike two.
- If the photographer has any ‘flakiness’ to the demeanor, strike three.
With an established photographer for an established client it is probably a bit easier. But for the ‘Model Mayhem’ stuff, it is a good idea to have some criteria.
“If you don’t see any names or references, I’d steer clear.”
Well, that seems to be focused on the amateur modeling market, so I will only say that there are a ton of professional photographers who do not list the models they work with on their site. You will also find that there are a lot of photographers who are not on OMP, MM, FB or Flickr. Most of the pros I know are NOT on those spaces.
I feel the information that Aime has may be applicable to the very new, and internet based models. But the much more professional side has a different set of parameters and safeguards as well as a far different way of working.
I can tell you that any model wanting to bring an “escort” to one of my shoots is not gonna be hired. After 40 years in the business, I am not going to be ‘entertainment’ for some kid who has nothing better to do than sit like a bump watching his ‘GF’ model. I know for the internet crowd that is a big thing. Fine. Not interested in having a huge studio, a long list of clients and a history of shooting models all over the country and then be told by some kid that she doesn’t trust me. I understand, but I don’t participate.
Young ladies wanting to get into the modeling field as a profession may find this information a little skewed toward the amateur modeling field. I don’t care if anyone wants to have fun making photographs together. Weekend warriors can make some amazing work… and one of the best models I have EVER worked with is not with an agency, but with an online site.