New England fashion and beauty photographer

10 things models do that I love

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It was roughly 6 years ago when I started photographing models.  I lived in Atlanta at the time, and I started out as many portrait photographers started out…. I shot my friends, neighbors, my girlfriend at the time, etc.  I had no portfolio, nor did I know what I was doing.  However, that was also the exciting part.  I was charting new territory for myself, and I was able to interact with people in the process.  Interacting with people is one of the things that keeps me going.  It’s one of the great benefits of photography; it’s something that you can include others in… you can create great things as part of a team, and then you can share it with others.

As a photographer that specializes in photographing people, the crucial component, obviously, is the model that I’m shooting.  6 years ago, I was shooting my friends… fast forward 6 years, and I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with hundreds of models, all with unique looks, talents and personalities.  I’ve worked with a broad spectrum of skill level, from no experience to those signed with top agencies, such as Wilhelmina and Next.  I wanted to write a blog post to serve as a source of direction.  This is not meant as an exposé for those that didn’t do these things, nor is this directed towards any specific person.  This is information based upon my experience.  I’m using a lot of positive examples, with some examples of what not to do intermingled.  Models that do the positive things, are the kind of models that I want to work with.

Here we go…

 

1 – They know how to communicate.

This is where it all begins.  The whole process starts with somebody reaching out to somebody.  Sometimes the model and I know each other, or we know of each other.  Sometimes we don’t.  But that first step of communication is crucial, and it’s a first impression that will set the flow of everything that follows.  The best communication examples I’ve seen were professional and courteous.  If the model did not know me, then they introduced themselves.  In the age of social media informalities, I know that this is a bygone expectation.  But it’s a good first impression.  It’s good to hear how they noticed my work, or if they are mutual friends with somebody.  This establishes a connection.  It’s also good to hear what they are interested in doing.  What kind of work are they looking to do?  Is it something that would fit my portfolio needs or be something that I’m capable of doing?  If you’re a model looking to work with a photographer, I think it’s better to start with this formal message.  I often see models leaving comments on photographers’ Facebook and Instagram images, saying something like “Would love to work with you!”  That in itself is not a bad thing.  But follow that up with a direct message.  You’re going to be taken more seriously if you do.

Another area where communication comes into play is with comfort levels.  There should be clear communication and expectations established before the shoot as to what the look and outcome of the shoot is going to be.  When a model knows how to communicate well, they’ll feel comfortable expressing any concerns or hesitations with the intended outcome.  They should keep in mind, especially for trade shoots, that the photographer and probably others involved are putting time and effort into something that hopefully all of them can feel good about.  The worst scenario is when there is communication and everything seems fine during a shoot, then when it gets time to post an image, there is concern about who may see it and who may be offended, envious, etc.  This is something that should have been discussed beforehand.  To be honest, it’s not the photographer’s problem or the makeup artist’s problem who on the model’s friend list may be offended by what they see.  If the work is tastefully done, that is what should matter.  It all goes back to clear communication and expectations.  When people put a lot of time, effort and talent into something that they cannot share, and expected to be able to share, then that is an issue.  That is why it is important for the model to know what their boundaries are and to communicate them clearly up front.

2 – They are punctual

I can’t stress how important this is.  It is so basic and fundamental to success in everything, let alone modeling.  If a model is on time, it shows that they are prepared, professional, engaged, etc.  When they are late, it sends a message that they are none of the things that I listed.  It also implies that they value their time more than yours.  So when they show up late, it has a psychological effect on all those involved, and the shoot gets off to the wrong start.  Take steps to prevent this. Don’t estimate the trip time based upon perfect circumstances.  Plan for setbacks, plan for traffic, etc.   Make punctuality a priority.  Make it a habit.  And when you cannot arrive on time, clearly communicate.

3 – They know their bodies and they are comfortable with it.  

This one may seem vague and hard to define.  So many psychological factors come into play here.  One of those is confidence.  While the confidence can be boosted or diminished by the photographer, the model should come into the shoot “ready to rock it,” basically.  It’s easy to tell when somebody is a fan of the camera, and they want to work to get a great image.  On the flipside, if a photographer is spending time getting a model past all their insecurities, then less time is available to actually get great images.  The photographer should make it a comfortable environment and flow for the model, provide feedback where they can, etc.  This builds positive momentum when the model feels and knows that she is doing well.  That in turn makes me feel better about what I’m doing.  It’s all reciprocal.  It all starts with a baseline, and that baseline is higher when the model is confident about themselves when they walk in the door.

4 – They have a personality

This may seem harsh at first glance.  But my point is this… I think that shoots should be fun, and that means having an creative environment with open communication.  I love working with models that enjoy the process of a shoot, and are able to have fun with it and still be able to snap into “model mode” when necessary.  If there’s no personality, it’s kind of like doing a whole shoot without music.  It seems longer.  It seems mechanical.  And images themselves are much more powerful when they show personality.  If I’m getting a grasp of a model’s personality during the shoot, then I have a better chance of knowing how to bring it out in an image.

5 – They promote what we created

The best models that I’ve worked with do this.  I think that it takes a little bit of maturity.  It also takes a little bit of marketing savvy to realize how this can actually help the model out.  It’s realizing that the process is about more than just them.  They understand that there are others, potentially many others, that are contributing to the final outcome.  They also understand that promotion is a two-way street.  Photoshoots are a great way to cross-promote each others’ work.  When I shoot with a new model, I want others to take notice.  If I had a good experience with that model, I will work to promote them to others.  If I’m helping build their success, then that is rewarding to me in and of itself.

6 – They give credit to the team

This is pretty simple, and goes along with number 5.  But I appreciate when models spell out who did what in the credits when they post an image to social media.  I do the same on any social media post.  It’s just plain courtesy, because it’s more than just about me.  If I see an Instagram or Facebook feed or album with a ton of professional images, and no credits given to the people that helped create those images, that is something that makes me pass on considering a model for a shoot.

7 – They have a passion for modeling

It’s hard to be great at anything if you don’t have a passion for it.  I want to work with the best that I can, and passion plays a big role in that.  Models who have passion for what they do will realize that being a model requires work on a continual basis outside of a shoot.  This means taking care of themselves physically.  Yes, the fashion industry has a rather narrow mold of what a “fashion model” should look like.  I’ll disregard that as I please.  A model does have to be in great shape.  This is one of the aspects of being a model.  It takes work, and that means doing the things required to stay in great shape.  The other part of this is continually developing oneself as a model.  I like it when I see them doing shoots with other photographers, appearing in publications, etc.  This shows that they are actively involved in the industry on a consistent basis.  I also like to see a model developing in terms of poses and expressions in order to get more captivating images.  The more they have the opportunity to practice those things, the better they will become.

8 – They have a portfolio or are building one

A good model will always have a portfolio of their work available.  That portfolio should be the best examples of what they are capable of as a model.  This is the same for a photographer.  If I have a potential client or a model that I’m reaching out to, I don’t say, “yeah… just scroll through my Instagram feed, and you can see what I’m all about.”  This would be lazy and unprofessional and a waste of time for the person that I was communicating with.  Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens to me frequently as a photographer receiving messages from models.  They are often asking for TF (trade work), yet do not have a portfolio put together.  Coincidently, the majority of my paid work is doing exactly that… putting together model portfolios.  If a model is just starting out, I would highly suggest investing in one or two shoots with experienced photographers that will be able to provide a variety of looks for their portfolio.  If a model starts out with strong work, they will capture the attention of others that would be willing to use them for portfolio work or for paid gigs.  That momentum will build as they gain exposure and experience…. and a portfolio.

9 – They don’t re-edit the images and they upload the high-quality images

I appreciate when models understand this.  They know or have an idea of the amount of work that I put into the editing process.  I keep open communication with the people that I work with.  And I’m also open to ideas, suggestions, etc for the editing.  However, if I spend time editing a photo to make sure that the colors are right and the mood of the shot is right, the reaction I’ll have to seeing an Instagram filter being put over it will not be good.  Most photographers that I’ve talked to feel the same way about that.

The other part of this topic is uploading the files when models post to social media.  I will usually provide the model with the files that are formatted for social media uploads.  Most models do this, and there is no issue.  What shouldn’t happen is the model taking screenshots with their iPad or iPhone and then uploading that.  This deteriorates the quality of the image and is a bad representation of the work.

10 – They are selective with who they work with

While I would expect models to work with different photographers and build up their experience, at the same time, it is important for models to be able to differentiate between good work and bad work.  “Good work” is inherently subjective, but models should have some idea of what is quality work that they can use for their portfolio and what will further their modeling career.  If you’re a model and you have photographers reaching out to you about doing test shoots, and you are unsure about their quality of work, you should seek out somebody that you trust in the industry to provide a 2nd opinion.  At the end of the day, who you work with represents you, and that can be in a positive or negative light.

 

I hope that the list above is helpful in some way or another.  They are exclusively from my perspective, and not intended to represent an industry standard.  However, I am confident that those things will help a model further his or her career.  If you’re a model, photographer, makeup artist, hairstylist or anybody in the creative industry, feel free to reach out to me on Facebook or Instagram.  I’d love to connect with you!

 

Appearing in the image above (Louisa Kleinert, Laura Sioux Kirkpatrick and Pam Jean of The Beauty Patrol)

2 Responses

  1. right on Josh! it is really fun to photograph people who enjoy it and all these other points are great icing on the cake. love your portfolio:)

    thanks for your help in Dallas
    – Eric

    October 29, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    • Josh Eskridge

      Thank you for the feedback, Eric! I appreciate it.

      October 30, 2015 at 1:25 am

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