Photography studio, gallery and training complex

The Trouble With Models…

One of our regular studio hire clients at Fotofilia, who usually books the studio for a whole or half day at a time, will often book six models for the day – fully expecting at least one to show up hopelessly late, and another to not show up at all.

There have been other instances where clients have booked the studio and neither of the two models booked have shown up – leaving the unfortunate photographer with a studio hire bill for a shoot that never happened.

Now, in what other occupation would you put up with, or even factor into your workflow, that level of unreliability? Can you imagine calling an ambulance three times in the hope that at least one would show up? Buying two phones, expecting one of them to never work?

Fotofilia fave - Jenny

Many photographers (at least those working on lower budgets as most are) now rarely bother with traditional modelling agencies, preferring to use the vaious online model-photographer interface sites such as Model Mayhem and Pure Storm. I also use these sites quite frequently as a starting place for finding models, but these sites have a distinct disadvantage when compared with agencies: anyone can sign up and offer their services as a model, whether they have a genuine interest in modelling or not.

Fotofilia fave - Mark

Sometimes, there’s a clue in the profile information. Here’s my interpretation of commonly used expressions…

  1. I love partying/going out with friends = Going to arrive late and need services of a very good Make-Up Artist.
  2. I thought modelling would be a confidence boost = Not at all interested in modelling, just wants to see if anyone thinks she’s pretty.
  3. People tell me I should be a model = Gullible.
  4. I always give 110% = rubbish at maths so cant be relied upon to work out train timetables.
  5. It wud be gr8 to wurk wiv u coz I luv ur pics they’re awesome!!!  – (an actual email I received) = semi-literate and so unlikely to find studio.

Okay, so I’ve been a bit flippant, but it really is sometimes possible to spot the time-wasters from their profile info. If they say they’re only interested in hair shots, chances are they’re after a free makeover before the club.

What really makes me laugh are the profiles populated entirely by grainy phonecam images shot in the bedroom mirror and which state the model is amateur but that they will accept only paid work. How is a photographer to have any idea what he’d be paying for?

Fotofilia fave - Kat

But I’m still often caught out: just this weekend, my booked model (who IS very reliable) was going to have trouble with public transport as she was coming in from a different location, so I suggested finding a replacement for her on this occasion, thinking it would be easy. None of my tried-and-trusted model were available and so I began contacting some of the newer models I’ve worked with, and yippee! found one!

Two hours later, I had an email (an email, mind you – that I normally wouldn’t be accessing until the day after the shoot) to say that she too was unable to work, after all. So I sent a few more texts and found a replacement for my replacement. She’d love to do it! Phew! I could sit back and prepare for the next day’s shoot.

…An hour or so later (about 9pm on the evening before the shoot and I’ve settled in front of the tv with a bottle of pinot grigio), a text arrived. Replacement No. 2 can’t arrange childcare – sorry.

Grrrrrr! So I dash back to the PC and place a Casting Call on Pure Storm asking, pleading (somewhat desperately) for a local model to be Replacement No. 3. After a flurry of replies from models from those well-known areas of the West Midlands such as Glasgow, North Wales and Derbyshire, I start getting replies from local models offering their services.

Within half an hour I’ve found someone I feel fairly confident will show up – and lo and behold – she did! Organizing studio tuition groups is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Over the last few years I’ve built up a nice little list of great models that I know will never let me down, will turn up (more or less) on time (usually because I tell them a start time half an hour before they’re needed), and will rise to any task I give them with a smile, providing great images every time.

These models are few and far between, and the nature of this business being as it is, they sometimes move on, move away, move into a different league, or simply start a family. And so I continue to try to fill the void left by departing dependables as well as bringing in “new blood”  for regular attendees of my courses and workshops.

Working with a good model is a real joy, a collaborative creative experience towards a common aesthetic goal. Working with a bad model is a draining, one-sided arrangement akin to pushing a grumpy elephant up the stairs…

…if she shows up, that is. 

Pure Storm (more of this in later posts) –

Model Mayhem

Michelle G – one of the best.

Tina – smiles even when freezing!  –

Omie – my gorgeous 60s muse –

Marvin – utterly professional –

…and not to mention Jenny, Mark, Kat, Sophia, Gemma (heck, you know who you are)


2 responses

  1. Ken

    Another great post David, as you know i’ve been let down a few times.


    February 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    • Remember my Asian bridal shoot, 6 models and 1 MUA. In the end was only 1 model and MUA
      Waste of most of the day GRRRRRRR.

      February 7, 2011 at 7:26 pm

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