Obviously as a photographer in today’s techno world, one has to “work” the voluminous photography and modeling website communities out there today, and boy is there bunches! In fact, there are so many, it’s often hard to keep up with them all and when you update one, you have to update another. Making matters worse, it’s a Myspace model mayhem of sorts. If you’re not spacing, mayheming, tweeting, facebooking, and yahooing, then you’re not linked in.
While most top professional photographers use land-based agency models when it comes to major assignments, many have shifted their not so serious work or self-promotional work into the cyber club mêlée. It’s very convenient and cheap, especially in today’s economic crunch—simply put, if you’re a published professional photographer, models are a dime a dozen and they will pose for you just to get a chance at some top photos for their webfolios loaded with Myspace type photos, this is where the fun comes in as a seasoned veteran photographer, also known as a professional.
I don’t mean to poke, but I have too, as often this is the topic of conversation with all top professional photographers at one time or another—it’s entertaining. Hopefully with this post a model will read this and learn, if you want to impress a professional photographer, here are some of the things you don’t do, but we’ve actually seen on the web and sometimes have almost tossed our cookies on some of these—yes, these actually appear/appeared on the webfolios:
1. My favorite are the so-called “mentor” and moderator lists some sites have of photographers and models. These are supposed to be the “coaches” of the newbies coming on board to some of these sites. Most web mentors or moderators take these titles seriously as if they’ve won the Pulitzer or Nobel prize. Some will even put it on their calling cards—bottom line, professional agencies, bookers and pro photographers will tell you “Who cares?” Especially if you tell them one of your images made that famous “showcase” or “pic of the day.” Again, “Who cares?” Your talent should speak for itself. If you know the difference between a photographer’s promo card and a model’s comp card, then you probably don’t need to read further.
Even worse, the majority of these modermentors have never been published, have no professional credentials and a chunk of them only have Internet experience. But by God, if you are on the website they modermentor in, they are God. They wear the shield of bravery and courage, sans the uniform, though many have sans the clothes images in their ports and work the forums like there is no tomorrow, pounding their chests like beating battle drums. “Welcome to my clique,” if not, the modermentors will malign you. They are not all this bad, but I can tell you, after this article you’ll know which ones I’m talking about on your frequented model/photographer website. (I’m going to get it now, trust me on that one!)
If you’re a website owner of the above, it makes sense, free cheap labor to police your forums for trolls, flames and libelous claims—a word to a forum owner, you’d be better off with a free college intern studying B-Law and journalism or an old-timer who’s been around and knows the biz.
2. Now that latter was long-winded, now they come easier. Oh yeah, “funny,” he said. Ok, another favorite, “I do my own make-up.” Ugh, yeah, we bet you do, that’s why your port has cell-phone Myspace type pics too—you know, the kind with the extended arm out, self-portrait types or shots in the mirror, we know you own an iPhone, you don’t have to broadcast it to us. Ok, rarely, but if you are an MUA and a model too, we forgive you on that one and probably like you better. But going to the MAC counter at the mall doesn’t qualify you for a professional make-up artist—even photographers can get discount “professional” cards there too. There is a difference between MUA and MAC, you see?
3. “I’m not modeling right now, I’m on a hiatus, took some time off for personal reasons, have to deal with family problems, etc., etc.,” but yet your profile page shows you just logged in earlier today or the day before—like the Geico commercials, “What she really said, ‘My boyfriend doesn’t like me modeling so I’ve put this statement up here to make him happy and he’s too dumb to notice I still login everyday.” Some advice, if you’re in this situation, your relationship is doomed. Cut the cord, find one that supports your modeling career.
4. “I’m managed by photographer (name goes here).” All top photographers stay away from models “managed” by photographers, in fact, in some states it’s illegal. A model doesn’t necessarily impress me if she’s agent represented, but at least an agent is normally licensed as it’s required in most states and she’s passed the agency’s entrance exam. It also shows a model is passionately committed to modeling and has done her homework and knocked on doors, probably owns a portfolio (book) too.
Pro photographers may help models out, but pro photographers and their clients frown on model managers, especially guys with cameras that are pretending to look out for your best interests. Again, helping a model out is great and noble, but don’t call yourself a model manager (photographers). These are dirty words in the industry. If you’re seriously helping a model out for her best interests, become her friend, not a boyfriend. While models and photographers do date, like any similar professions, as long as it’s done with good intentions, there’s no problem. I have nothing against models screening photographers for shoots, I recommend it, and if you have a photographer friend, there is no problem with them helping you, just don’t call him a model manager, you do no one any good.
5. “I don’t do nudes.” Well I don’t either, though I photograph them. While most pros understand models will put that in portfolios for there own protection, don’t make that statement and then have a photo or photos that scream, “Showing you my boobs, hope you like them.” or “Here’s my crotch shot.” And it’s almost an oxymoron to make that statement and have photos of you (model) on all fours wearing a thong about a ½-inch wide. The difference between it and a Playboy nude is a ½-inch of fabric, sometimes less.
6. In reference to number five above, our other favorite images we crack on are the ones with legs wide open. Don’t get me wrong, a pro can shoot these types of images in a classic style, but classy is a fine line between trashy. We’ve pretty much all have taken sexy pictures, but this is your PORTFOLIO that is SUPPOSED to have your BEST PHOTOS! Save the other ones for fun times with your friends at a slumber party when you’re all drunk. Like those photos you have on Myspace showing your party poses and one-arm extension photos.
7. Now the culprit to #6 & #5 above, more “views.” Yes, those little view (hit) counters for image views just impact our egos. Now for those that don’t get it, if your nudie pics or show me your boobs pics, or “I’m bending over and grabbing my ankles” pics have the most views, it’s not because your beauty shows at its best—and if you’re convinced I’m wrong, “Here’s your sign.” That headshot that could be the on the cover of Vanity Fair probably has low views because it’s photography, not amateur piccies. The new Sears and Roebuck catalog viewing days for young lads are now the model and photographer websites! When is the last time a just going into puberty person ever hired you? Get over it, hit counters are great ego strokers but they are not the tell-tale sign that you’re onto stardom or supermodeldom. If you think that, then please understand there is a difference between dom and dum. Oh you say? Dugh.
The great Helmut Newton once said in an interview with Style Monte Carlo, “There are certain limits, although I hate the word ‘good taste,’ to me it is totally deadly for any creativity. Of course there are some limits and I am not going to say what they are. I mean I have done in time, like everybody or like a lot of photographers, hard pornography. As a matter of fact, it has been exhibited, very recently, for three months, at the Castello di Rivoli, near Turin, Italy which is a wonderful museum.“
Like Geico again, what he really means, “We’ve all taken photos that were fun, sexy and crazy, any photographer or model that tells you otherwise is lying. It comes with the territory.”
8. I don’t care about the music you like, not at least on your “portfolio” page. That’s like the photographer who has a 3-ring binder portfolio and he has all the models “autograph” the photos. Save that for your “I love myself wall” in your office or studio. The pink layouts, the flash photo galleries on top of one another, the bumper stickers, the Myspace pets, etc., will not get you assignments, it just shows your true personality—save it for Myspace, not your modeling space. This is not a modeling Mafia Wars.
9. Don’t tell professional photographers that you’ll require a CD-ROM of all images taken. Not going to happen. Get over it. The real difference between a professional photographer and an amateur isn’t the money, it’s the fact that a pro never shows you their bad photos, we all take them. In the old days, we called it burning film. A pro photographer knows how to “photo edit” their work first, comes from publication experience. A GWC knows how to burn CD’s at the end of the shoot, probably goes with an invitation to dinner or a drink or two.
10. Keep your photos current. We love it (actually hate it) when we stumble on a portfolio with chopped hair, an avatar with long hair, photos that show a 10- to 30-pound in weight difference, and/or some images with blonde some with brunette hair. Which color is it, how much do you really weigh and is your hair long or short? As a model, your images should be current—we want to see how you look today, not how you used to look. I get paid to photograph people who want to look what they used to look like before two kids and 15-years of marriage. It’s called photographic therapy or phototherapy, the art of using photography to help build or re-build their self-esteem.
Ok, that’s enough as this blog is turning into a book. But I wanted to use some fun to hopefully educate a few folks out there. It’s not that hard, really. Now I have to get back to MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc., etc., etc.
Thanks, and all the best, rg sends!