Being a model can be a rewarding job. You get to meet new people, get exposure, make $$$, be part of a creative effort, etc. BUT, bottomline, it should always be considered a JOB. I'm not talking about one of those, "oh God it's Monday" type of jobs, I'm talking about a professional endeavor.
"But Steve, what do you mean, I have an agent who takes care of all the business stuff", or "But Steve, I'm just in if for fun", or "But Steve, I'm not getting paid so it's not really a job". Hmmm, nope, it's still a job.
As a photographer the model IS the most important component of the team. Not the only component but in almost all cases the most important. I rely on the model to treat their role as a professional. When you are infront of the camera you have been hired, whether paid or TFP, to do a job. That job is to represent a mood, showcase fashion, capture a mood, etc. I want you to treat it like as professionally as I do.
In the simplest terms think of it just like you are going into an office where you have a job...of course a fabulous office. Remember, if you are getting paid, or agreed to work TFP you are expected to deliver. As a photographer this is what I would expect (prepare yourself for lots of expectations....I'm a business guy first....sorry):
- Be on time. 5 minutes late and I start to worry. I've got a creative team giving me evil eyes if the model / models aren't on time. This means planning ahead. Make sure your car has gas, pack your bags in advance, plan for traffic, get directions early, get out of bed on time, etc.
- Since we are talking about time, DON'T arrive early. OK, 5 minutes is cool. Gives you a chance to drop your bags and hit the restroom. But seriously, most photographers are spending time before a shoot setting up, thinking about the photoshoot, getting in the zone. If you arrive too early it can mess me up. If you arrive early just ping the photographer or creative director. Let them know you've arrived and you'll be waiting outside or in your car until the call time.
- Communicate effectively. In today's connected world there is NO REASON not to effectively communicate. This can be done via text, FB IM, email, phone call, etc. It really doesn't matter, but communicate actively and regularly. Make sure everyone knows how to get ahold of you. Also, respond to queries quickly...even if it's to day "got your message, will read it and followup tomorrow". I am constantly surprised how often this simple aspect of the process is overlooked.
- Study & stay contemporary. Just like a normal day job where you are expected to stay up to date on policies, products, colleagues names, etc. Modeling is no different. Stay up to date on trends, lighting techniques that are being used, who's in the industry, etc. Also, keep your portfolio updated and contemporary,
- Be interactive, but business-like during a photoshoot. I like to work with people who are into it, and engaged. I like people who talk to me. I like models who treat me like a professional as much as I treat them. Just like in a work environment you want to work with people that you enjoy being with.
- Stay off your phone when you are getting made up. It's OK to take selfies or BTS shots, but when you are on the chair...you are on the job.
- When there is more than 1 model and you are not up being photographed, don't disrupt or disturb the shoot. Keep quiet. Don't chat up others loudly. Don't distract the other model. Don't bug the MUA or stylist. I'm not saying you need to be a meek church mouse, but I am saying it's unprofessional to disrupt the shoot.
- Come to the shoot prepared. If you are asked to bring selected clothing, bring it. If you are asked to wear loose clothing and no bra because of the style of fashion to be photographed, don't come in with skinny jeans & a bra. If your nails are supposed to be done...get them done. You get the idea.
- If for any reason you have to call off or can't make the shoot give the photographer AS MUCH NOTICE as possible. Same goes in your day job.
- Have a current rate card. If a photographer or client is going to hire you, you need to be prepared to quote your rate immediately. How would you like to go into a place of business to order something, but you don't know what it will cost until after you hit "buy". I didn't think so. Seriously, don't leave me guessing.
- At the same time, BE COMPETITIVE and understand the market rate & your experience level.
- Make sure you let the photographer or creative director know what you are or are not willing to do. DO NOT wait until shoot. This is especially important regarding nudity. And don't lie. If a shoot calls for fashion nudity (i.e. exposed nipples under a shear top), but you are not comfortable with that look that's COMPLETELY OK. But, it NOT OK if the mood board calls for that look, but you don't tell the photographer you can't do it...ugh.
- At the same time ALWAYS ask the photographer for a mood board, theme or concept. If he / she doesn't tell you then you tell them what you will / won't do. Don't leave it to the day of the shoot.
- Don't take it personally if you don't get a photoshoot job. Most photographers put out a casting and get several potential models responding. If the shoot calls for 1 model, then I'm only going to hire one model. If a photographer doesn't hire you then, thank him / her, stay in contact but check that shoot off your list. Don't go onto social media and trash the photographer, don't followup up with a "why not me..." response, etc. In a real job you don't get all the deals...trust me on this.
- Followup, but don't bug after a shoot. It takes time, sometimes a long time to post process images if it's TFP. When you agree to do a shoot, ask what the turn around time and photo compensation is. I often tell my TFP models that it can take up to 30 days to followup after the photos are selected. However, if time has passed and you haven't heard anything ping the photographer.
- Read the casting requirement before you respond.
See, it is like a job. A fun job, but still a job. I RESPECT 1000% those professionals that take it seriously. Just don't let it turn into a job where you are dreading Mondays.