Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Your book is only as good as the models in it. True or False?

A few posts back I stated that a photographer's book is only as good as the models therein.

As a model it's true that you need to be selective about which photographers you work with to ensure your book represents you as a class act, not a girl-with-car bimbo.

However, as a starting out model with only a starshots headshot and a sweet, but far from professional lingerie shot, an excellent photographer called Chris Fatseas was able to see potential in me for high fashion looks. We went on to create three shoots together, all of which helped us both to step up to professional fashion work in our respective fields. A model's face and body are the fundamental attributes that will get them noticed and get them work... or not.

A fashion photographer, however, is judged not on what 'might' be', but on everything their audience sees in the frame. The lighting, the styling, the makeup, the retouching... and yes - the quality of models willing to work with them.

There's a few aspects to my theory...

Without a photoshop effort equivalent to Extreme Makeover USA, a girl will not look like a fashion model unless she is one. So, the quality of the photos and therefore the reception of the photos is determined in a large part by the quality of the models the photographer can shoot with.

Also, the calibre of model and the backing of professional agencies speaks tomes about the photographer's reliability, professionalism and to an extent, their personality (that they are driven enough to seek out those connections, that they are personable enough to secure them).

This flows on to whether other models, agencies and brands will consider the photographer for work. "If that model shoots with him - she's excellent then surely he's great!" or, as the case may be: "Oh. Oh my. And is that a snake she's holding? No, it's a sword. And she's clutching a fence at the same time. And she has vampite bite-marks on her neck... and 100's and 1000's stuck on her lips."
I could devote a whole post to things I'll never shoot, with examples. I wonder if that would be defamatory?

Anyway, let me make my case in context. I recently received some messages on Model Mayhem which I feel evidence my point.

The first was from an amazing and very driven model. Not agency signed, but definitely something special (all will be revealed in due time). She asked to shoot with me, sent me some examples of styles she'd like to shoot, and was generally awesome and very to the point. In her post scriptus, she told me in a similarly direct tone that my work "screamed experienced" and that I ought to change my status to reflect that. I have it set to "some experience" at present, which I already thought was a stretch. I am still so new to this art form, and I have been so lucky to have this instant signature of a much more experienced photographer present in my work: the faces of agency-signed and agency-standard models.

The second was from Madeleine, a 17-year-old aspiring model. Madeleine has only a handful of pictures on her profile - none of them appear to be professional - but her look has potential, she has an excellent blurb on her profile and a friendly but dedicated tone in her messages, and I am planning to shoot with her as a result.

She reminded me of model Nadia Vodianova, and so we're planning out shoot around some concept photos of her:


I want this shoot to be all about simple elegance. Black dresses and jackets, surprising featured jewelry or embellishments. A girl about town. Eyes and eyebrows steal the show.

Then we're going to move on to a toussled/ wet hair beauty look, which I think will be an excellent addition to my portfolio.

The final, and (at least in my opinion) most curious aspect of the models-in-book question is the way fellow photographers will rate you depending on what models you shoot. It's been interesting as a newcomer to see the different faces of this intensely competitive industry. Some photographers compliment and admire your work with a given model, others seem to give off undertone of jealous(?) scorn. I don't mind - either way, it's a compliment :)

I do respect the fact that I'm a newb. The excellent models I've shot with have been the result of hard work, a series of fortunate events and generous people. I am humbled that excellent models Phoebe (a good friend) and Sarah (of Viviens) kickstarted my portfolio. Since then, I've been so lucky to work with photographer mentors, Cam Attree and Mike Murchie in particular, who have set me up with equipment and shoots that have afforded me the chance to shoot for agency models. Speaking of which... I need to start lining up my shoots with Busy Model's girls Eliza and Abbie...

T'here's so much to look forward to :)

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