Thursday, February 10, 2011

Selecting Photographers

Study fashion magazines closely to learn what
makes a marketable, useful fashion photo.
Choosing which photographers to work with can be a complex subject. When you first begin modeling, you take what you can get for the most part. But as you grow and gain experience as a model, you eventually have to become more selective as well as ambitious about which photographers you shoot with, and which you do not.

If you visit a site like Model Mayhem and search for local photographers, no matter where you are on Earth you'll find certain types of photographer.

The "Guy With Camera" (or "GWC") is very common, though some industry networking sites like Model Mayhem make efforts to keep them off the website. A GWC is a beginner photographer who has a camera but little skill, no "eye" for composition, and no serious knowledge-of or interest-in the fashion & beauty photography industry. Typically GWCs are interested in photography primarily because they get to take pictures of pretty girls; they are in it for the wrong reasons, and it's usually obvious from the quality of their work, or from the nature of it.

The "art student photographer" is also quite common. These photographers are more skillful than GWCs, but their work has little or no marketability. The work may be artistic and interesting, suitable to hang in a coffee shop or a tiny community-based art gallery, but not suitable for magazines or advertising. You can often spot the art student photographer because they often describe their work as "experimental." Other art student photographers may believe themselves to be shooting "fashion" but their photos are not focused on portraying and selling the product.

When you are a brand new model, it is inevitable that you will work with a few GWCs. After a while you will step up to working with art student photographers. But if you are serious about modeling then there comes a time when you have to become more selective. For a model with low self-esteem, the "art student photographer" has an appeal because they can make you feel good about yourself. But this is what I call "esteem modeling" — modeling because it helps your self-esteem and makes you feel special. It's okay to do a little of that here and there, but if you are serious and not merely dabbling in modeling for fun, then eventually you have to step it up and "turn pro."

When you decide to get serious about modeling, start looking for photographers who understand the market. For example, while many photographers describe themselves as a "fashion photographer," very few actually produce publishable work. One of the big secrets is that a true fashion photographer shows off and sells the product, whether it is shoes or a dress or a purse or makeup. Most photographers who claim to shoot fashion are really just taking beautiful pictures of beautiful girls. Photos of beautiful girls do not sell fashion; photos of beautiful fashion sell fashion. And the best way to learn the difference between a photo of a pretty girl and a photo of beautiful fashion is to study published fashion photography in magazines.

Study the fashion photos in magazines like Vogue, Seventeen, and Lucky and compare them directly to photographers you have worked with. You'll gradually learn from experience how to recognize a photographer who knows how to shoot fashion and understands the market. As you get more serious about modeling, those are the photographers you need to work with. Move away from working with photographers who help your ego by making you feel pretty, and instead work with photographers who understand the market well enough to truly help your career and your portfolio. By studying the work in fashion magazines, you can develop your eye and understand the marketplace for modeling.

Just as an advanced model should avoid "esteem modeling," you should also beware of "charity modeling" or "guilt modeling." Just because your friend bought a new camera doesn't mean you should become his model and start doing shoots with him. Don't feel guilty about rejecting requests from photographers who are not as good at photography as you are at modeling; you can't say "yes" to requests just because the person is a friend, or just because you "feel bad about saying no." If you find it hard to say no, find a way to make it positive, such as suggesting a more appropriate model the new photographer might work with. Charity/guilt modeling is a dangerous trap that can suck you in, eat up a lot of your time, and take all the joy out of modeling. It's better not to do any of it at all; establish a policy about it and don't make any exceptions; only work with photographers who are at your skill level (or above) and who can genuinely help your portfolio.

No comments:

Post a Comment