Welcome once again to my blog. This one will be a short one and will be in the form of advice for anyone who wishes to be an independent model.
I regularly do portfolio shoots for models and actors and I also use models when I want to try out new ideas or new equipment. I've been dealing with models now for over fourteen years and I've noticed some mistakes that beginners often make. I hope that the following advice will help you in your bit to start out as a freelance model.
It's not easy to get that first job, especially if you don't have any professional photos to show. Facebook on it's own is not good enough to catch the eye of photographers or others who may book you. Use Instagram and portfolio sites like Starnow, Purpleport, Model Mayhem and others. Make sure to use good tags and keywords. Model as a hashtag or keyword will not get you attention but #Limerickmodel, #blondemodel, #tallmodel, #Irishalternativemodel or similar specific ones may. If you join any of the sites I mention above there will be plenty of blogs and form discussions to help you out.
For the first few shoots you must be willing to shoot TFP or TFCD. That is Time For Prints or Time For CD. These are not free shoots but a collaboration between you and a photographer and perhaps makeup artists, stylists, etc. Castings for these style of shoots will be listed on the sites but you can also list one yourself. See how others word their's and learn from that.
The deal with these is that you pose for the photographer and he or she provides you with an agree amount of images in print form or on CD to use in your portfolio. This should all be agreed beforehand. Don't expect too many, I usually provide between eight and twelve, depending on the range of outfits and locations we use but some photographers only supply three or four. So you pay him with your time and he pays you with images. Both of you get something for your portfolios.
If you don't get any offers you have to do the chasing. Do a search on the site and find a local photographer whose work you like and contact him. Try several and one of them may agree to work with you.
Make sure beforehand that you both agree on the style of shots to be taken. This applies whether you are making the first contact or the photographer is. It's vital that this is very clear. The last thing you want is to turn up to your first shoot prepared to pose in sports gear and the photographer has a lingerie shoot planned.
Check out the photographer before you agree to shoot. Sites like Starnow has a system of recommendations where models recommend photographers they have worked with and vise versa. If someone has recommended the photographer contact her and ask a few questions. Not all models will answer but some will. If the photographer has no recommendations it doesn't mean anything, as models are bad at following up on them. Instead, look through his portfolio on the site and check if any of the models are also on the site, then contact them.
Model Mayhem has a system where photographers list models they have worked with and recommend. Feel free to contact any model listed but again not all will respond.
Check out the photographer's website and do a search for him or her on google, see what comes up. If the photographer is local to you one of your friends may already know him and could tell you what he's like. You may even recognise someone in his portfolio. Contact them, do your research.
A lot of beginner models tend not to do background checks on photographers but instead turn up with an escort. Many photographers will immediately cancel the shoot because escorts interfere with the shoot, the equipment or both. It's not unknown for an escort to break or steal the photographer's property. Camera equipment and accessories are expensive and wanting to protect them from a stranger is normal.
If you still want to bring an escort let the photographer know in advance. Generally, boyfriends, brothers and fathers are a big no no. Very chatty friends are too. Anyone wanting to take their own photos, even on camera phones are also out. An escort must remain in the background and not interfere in any way. One that sits in the car or reads a book while the shoot progresses is fine.
If you do your homework you shouldn't need an escort. Tell someone where you are going, how long you will be and the name of the photographer. Have them phone you at a particular time, for example, if you expect to finish at 5 pm have them phone you at 5.15 pm. When you arrive at the shoot and when you're leaving the location, text your friend. Let them know to expect those texts.
It's very unlikely that anything will happen to you, if you do your research but it's no harm to take precautions.
When you get professional photos get rid of the selfies. A portfolio full of selfies is not taken seriously. One, perhaps, to show how you look without make but no more should be the rule. If you have professional shots with selfies beside them it tells the photographer that you don't know the difference in quality. You're putting equal value on a quick snap and a photo that too expertise and time to produce. Why would anyone put effort into giving you something you put so little value on?
Wherever you are listed you must indicate the genres that you are willing to pose for. Don't list anything that you won't do. If fact, I would advise going on the safe side. If for instance you are willing to pose in a bikini don't list it until you have some experience of the scene.
Don't go to your limit until you have done several shoots and are very comfortable in front of a camera. Your boyfriend may have taken lots of beautiful shots of you on the beach last summer but posing for a stranger is a different thing. Especially as a professional.
The other thing is that GWCs will see it as an invitation and will try to get you to go further. Guys With Cameras are those who only do shoots with the intention for getting some girl to take her clothes off. The photos will never be processed and you'll get nothing from the shoot. Along with that you will feel uncomfortable throughout and will be under pressure to go further than you are willing.
For a GWC a bikini shot reads as "possible topless or nude". When you're new they will check you out and pressure you to do what they want.
Don't give in and as soon as you feel uncomfortable, leave.
Never pose for anything that you are uncomfortable with. Every shot is likely to end up on the internet and you or someone you know well could come across it at anytime. "Just this once, no one will know about it" never happens. If you allow the shot to be taken it can't be untaken. The photographer may genuinely not intend putting it up on the net but he drops his laptop in for repair and the technician finds it, sends a copy to a friend and he posts it. Don't take the chance.
If you have posed for a shot and are not willing to do that type of shot anymore, don't post it in your portfolio.
Going back to those bikini shots your boyfriend took last summer, they may be beautiful and show how confident you are in front of a camera and your great figure but if someone sees it in you portfolio it says that you do those type of shots. For a GWC it's an indication that you may take off more and an invitation to try.
Start out conservatively and expand your range as your confidence and experience grows. Never go beyond the limits you have set yourself, for anyone.
When you're offered work and you're interested in it, respond quickly. Any follow up emails you get at least acknowledge them, even if you can't give an immediate reply to questions it contains. "I'll get back to you at the weekend" will do, as long as you follow up.
Many new models set up a separate email account for modelling and forget to check it regularly. Don't do that. It's vital that you keep communication going. If a photographer is planning to shoot with you and wants to know your dress size but you don't answer for a week or two, he has already moved on.
The photographer may have booked a studio and makeup artist. If you haven't answered for a week, how is he going to know that you're still interested? He's not going to take the risk of loosing all that money and will either have found another model that he can be sure of or have cancelled altogether.
Keep in contact.