Welcome to the first edition of Fashion 101,
a series of articles revolving around the art, business, and nuances of fashion photography brought to you by Fashion-Show
. While some topics may be relevant only to the fashion industry, many of these articles can apply to multiple genres and art mediums, such as today's topic. As is customary with most of my articles, there will be a giveaway and discussion at the end!
What is a Model?
Simply put, a model is a person employed for the purpose of posing for an artist. This can be for a painter, sculptor, animator, photographer, etc. For the sake of this article, we will be looking at models for photography. We will also be further defining a model as someone who has agreed to pose or act for your photography project, versus a brief subject such as a person on the street.
Why Work With a Model?
A model brings a lot to the table for a photographer, particularly when it comes to bringing a photographer's artistic vision to life. While friends and family can certainly be wonderful subjects for photography, working with a model with at least some experience can completely change the end result. There is a common misconception that all a model does is look pretty for the camera, and while that is the truth for many, a model brings so much more to the table. A good model can bring a sense of character and personality that may have otherwise been lacking, their own artistic direction and ideas, as well as pose in flattering and creative ways that the photographer may not have thought to suggest.
The model-photographer relationship is one of collaboration, which together can lead to a much better product.
Terms to Know
In the world of modeling, there are a few terms to be aware of. TF:
Abbreviation of 'trade for,' which refers to the exchange of modeling services for something, also called bartering. Usually it means the trade of a model's time for photographs, or for magazine work. This is often for portfolio building. Test:
A test is a shoot for the purpose of experimenting with new equipment, an idea, a make up artist, hair stylist, model, etc. Tests can be paid or unpaid, but the goal is often for practice or portfolio building. Tear Sheet:
A tear sheet, or 'tear,' is a photograph that is published. Typically this refers to a photograph being published in a print magazine, book, brochure, etc. However, with the increased popularity of digital magazines, it can also mean an online publication. Rates:
These are the model's fees. These can be done as an hourly rate, a half-day (usually 4 hours), or full-day (usually 8 hours) setup. Creative Team:
This is a team of people that take part in a photoshoot. Members of a creative team can include a make up artist, hair stylist, designer, wardrobe stylist, photography assistant, art director, manicurist, props manager, set designer, and others. Casting:
This can be used in two different ways. A 'casting call' is when someone is seeking models to fill a particular need, not much different from an audition for actors. To 'cast' someone, is to simply hire them for a specific project. Editorial:
An editorial is meant to be a story-telling or cohesive-element photography series. Typically these are either fashion-focused, or cosmetics-focused. Talent:
Aside from the common definition, it is another word for a model. Moodboard:
This is also known as an 'inspiration board,' and alludes to the use of reference images for a concept or theme. A moodboard may include images showing the style of make up, the types of posing, or even wardrobe. Moodboards are very well-received in the fashion world, as it helps to communicate the photographer's vision to their team. Model Release:
This is a legal document that is signed by the model that gives the photographer the right to reproduce their likeness in photographs. Typically these are used for commercial purposes or magazine submissions, but is an absolute must when working with a model that is not agency-represented.
What Should I Look For?
What you're looking for in a model depends on several points. First, is your experience as a photographer of people. Second, is the theme and sub-genre of your project, such as beauty, editorial, swimsuit, fitness, etc. The third point, is the model's own experience with the craft.
Let's start with a photographer's experience. When approaching a model, having a portfolio of portraits will be a strong recommendation. Many models will immediately pan a photographer if they have no applicable images to show. Offer to take photographs of friends, family, or co-workers if you currently do not have portraiture. If this is not an option, then consider paying a model for their time, in order to help with creating those initial images.
Now, to consider the sub-genre of your photography project. If you are looking to do a production of a more gothic theme, then casting an alternative model may be something to consider. Or, if you are looking to cast a model for an editorial that is very high-fashion (think Vogue), then you may not want to cast a fitness model who would be unfamiliar with high-fashion poses. Whenever possible, you want to find models that have prior experience in the sub-genre you're aiming for.
For the final point, a model's experience is definitely something to consider. If a model is inexperienced, they may not know how to flatter themselves for the camera, nor know how to pose depending on the lighting situation, or be particularly personable and easy to work with. A more experienced model will typically bring more to the table, and can therefore make a photographer's job much easier by removing a lot of guesswork for them. More often than not, your experience level should be mirrored by your model, unless you are compensating them in order to approach better talent.
Where To Find Models
With the advent of social media, models are much more accessible than ever before. Below is a breakdown of some common approaches.Link: modelmayhem.com
Model Mayhem is a social network for photographers, models, make up artists, designers, stylists, hair stylists, publications, and more. One of the largest networks when it comes to models, this is one that I highly recommend for someone that is new to working with models. There is an approval process for this site, so having existing photographs of people will be a must in order for your profile to be created. With tools that allow you to post casting calls and browse for models that fit certain measurement, aesthetic, or genre-specifications, Model Mayhem makes it relatively simple to find the models you're looking for.Link: onemodelplace.com/
While not as large as Model Mayhem, One Model Place is another social network for photography-related creatives to meet and collaborate. This community offers a lot of the same features as Model Mayhem. While a lot of models will have profiles on both networks, I have found some that only have profiles on One Model Place.Link:
Mobile App Available in the iOS and Droid Marketplace
While this a mobile-based social network that runs purely on photographs, there are a lot of networking opportunities available. Tagging models and members of a creative team are very common practices for fashion photographers, which can make it easy to find local talent in your area. Search for hashtags related to your location and for models, and you may be surprised who you find.Link: facebook.com
While the most popular of social networks on this list, Facebook is a bit trickier to discover models on. Like Instagram, finding models is typically comprised of following the right people and paying attention to the people and pages they link to. Search engine inquiries such as 'facebook group for <location> models' may bring up results. The main use for this site is to follow the right people.
A modeling agency is a company that represents models for use in promotional, entertainment, commercial, catalog, and fashion work. Some of the larger and more prestigious agencies are Ford, Next, Elite, Wilhelmina, LA Models, Photogenics, MC2, and plenty of others. For someone that is just starting to work with models, finding a smaller boutique agency will be a great start. 'Testing with an agency' refers to having an agreement with a booker /agent at an agency to take photographs of their models in exchange for either images in a portfolio, or compensation.
If you are serious about taking your photography to the next level, working with a modeling agency is a must. A lot of models sign exclusivity contracts, which mean that they can only work with photographers that the agency tells them to. As a result of this, many of the world's most talented models can only be acquired through an agency.
While models can also be found on the street, or even right here at DeviantArt, above are some of the most popular methods.
How to Approach a Model
Once you have found a model you wish to work with, it's time to reach out to them! Everyone has their own way of doing this, but some tips for success are the following:
Be respectful. Complimenting a model with words such as 'hot, gorgeous, sexy, etc' might alienate a potential model and appear unprofessional. An industry-friendly way of accomplishing this is by saying a model has 'a great look.'
Give the model dates and times. Many models are contacted by a lot of photographers who give them no details. This forces the model and photographer into a time-consuming back-and-forth. Give the model as many details as you can in your introductory message.
If you have a theme or concept, share it with your model! Providing them with a moodboard will also go a long way in persuading them to work with you, as well as convey your vision.
Set the expectations for the shoot. This will include how many images the model can expect from the shoot, how long it may take, what magazines you may want to submit the photographs to, etc. Hash out your terms early, not later!
To try and avoid the model 'flaking' on you (not showing up), be sure to confirm the day before the shoot is due, talk to the model over the phone if possible, and share contact details.
Working with models can be an extremely rewarding experience, and one that is necessary for many facets of people photography and other people-oriented art forms. If you have any questions about an aspect of this tutorial, please feel free to comment below!
Have you worked with a model before?
What was your experience?
Where do you find most of your models?
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