Working with models

Once burned twice shy, that is the cliche saying isn't it? I really tend to be a person who thinks, once burned...Hey! Let's try again and see if that is the norm for the situation!

Sadly, it worked out to be the shy that has won out when dealing with models. (This post is a long one)

Please be aware, that in this entry I am specifically talking about models. Not people getting portraits done for their significant other, senior portraits, etc...but models.

As a new photographer in the field of portraits, models, etc (You know taking pictures of people who want pictures as opposed to your family members and close friends who sit for you because they like you?) I have found that a couple bad experiences with models has left me with a bad taste in my mouth which leaves me extremely hesitant to reach out on sites like Model Mayhem, One Model Place, or any of the others.

Right now for the most part I am looking for TFP (trade for print) unless I really am looking to do something very specific. TFP is a mutually beneficial relationship for new photographers and new models.

As I mentioned before I used to model, and so I have a pretty good understanding of TFP, as well as when the model should pay or should expect to be paid. If the photographer is being paid by a company to get specific shots, the model could expect to be paid. If the photographer is planning to make money off the shot, I could see how you would expect to be paid. If the model is asking the photographer to do something specific, then the model might have to pay.

My first experience with models posing for me, was in Hawaii. The girl, to be frank, was a typical cookie cutter blond with no spark...pretty enough but no spark. She had only had one other photographer ever take her picture and was looking for TFP. Great I thought this works perfectly. Turns out she had been talking to another model, a man, about doing something together. He was mocha skinned and quite good looking. Okay, so they came as a package deal.

The day itself went alright, I knew I had gotten a couple good shots. The issues were, she was timid...I was not doing nudes, but in every shot she looked stiff. Looking back on it now, I will take the blame partially for that because I should have figured out ways to get her to relax.

The one that really threw stones in the soup was the guy. He was a total prima donna, complaining about the cold, demanding that I only take pictures in poses as he directed...and he also bullied her. Eventually I worked around it, but it was not a pleasant experience.

All of this I could write off though, as personalities. What came later is what bothered me.

I had let both models know, and it said in the TFP contracts I had them sign that this was something I did in my own time after I was done with a day job. It said to not expect the images for a minimum of 5 weeks, because of the full time job consideration. I also told them that I would do my best to get them one or two finished shots a little earlier.

The two teaser shots I got to them within a couple days, along with a polite note that I was flying back to New Orleans and would mail them CDs after they were done being processed.

Within a week of my getting back I got an email from the blond, wanting to know if the pictures were done yet. I wrote back that I hadn't had time to finish them yet, but would in the next few weeks. At week 2 she had written nasty messages to my email as well as on my profile on the model/photographer site we were both on. By week 4 (and remember almost all the pictures were done by this point, but the contract had said minimum 5 weeks) she filed a complaint with the site against me.

I explained to the site what was going on and emailed them a scan of the contract, showing that she had not paid me to have the images done in a specific time. I sent her her pictures and hoped it would be the end of it. It wasn't. Every time this girl saw someone post a public message about wanting to work with me, or having recently worked with me, she would go to their page and be obnoxious.

Around this time I decided to not deal with it (throw in 3 flake models who wasted my time) and I left that site never to look back.

To this day I have only done a model shoot with one other model that I didn't know personally. I know that as I get into portrait work more, I will have people coming to me that I don't know...but those are people looking to have portraits taken, or events documented...not models that are on the "modeling sites". So here is to getting over my issues dealing with models.

Note: I am not saying that all models are like this, but to my experience the modeling sites that are all the vogue lately, seem to breed this attitude of snobbery and diva-ness in people who are just starting out.

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