Photographers are NOT a dime a dozen!

May 12, 2016

Photo credit: DCN Images

 

It almost seems as if professional photographers are a dime a dozen, yet they all have their own unique styles of workmanship which differentiates them from one another.  However, a fair, hardworking, and conscientious photographer that you can rely on for more than one occasion or one who you would trust to refer to others is rare.  

 

I have been modeling for over 10 years, and when I began my career in the industry, I did not have many connections nor know the ins and outs of the business.  If it wasn't such a difficult and raw experience, I would not be able to have had the exposure of learning tough lessons, such as hiring professional photographers, and would not be able to share my thoughts today.  I remember when one of my first agents in Toronto told me that I needed professional photos to build my portfolio, and when I went by their referral, I paid just over $500 for my first photo-shoot which included clothing attire and a make up artist.  Did my photos turn out amazing? YES! Did I have a great experience working with a professional photographer? YES! But was it necessary to spend this kind of cash as a newcomer to the industry? NO! 

 

This was before I knew about ModelMayhem.com.  When I discovered online sites like Model Mayhem I lit up like a fire cracker knowing I spent an outrageous $500, meanwhile there was a host of photographers at my disposal.  However, social media sites are an excellent way to network and gain experience, but I quickly learned that I was not always receiving the professional results I had with my first photographer. I was generating many photos that were not up to industry standards and therefore I couldn't use them in my portfolio. 

 

From there, I realized that I needed to do more research first before trusting a photographer to provide the right professional image for me - this is why I'd like to share the tricks of trade when hiring photographers!!  

 

Here is a great blog on how to spot bad photographers, it's definitely worth repeating to you all: 

http://www.spectaclephoto.com/blog/2016/5/9/for-models-how-to-spot-bad-photographers

 

As he states at the end of his blog, this is not true for all photographers, so do not solely base your beliefs on this article alone but rather use it as a guideline.

 

Photo credit: Robert McGee Photography 

 

Planning a photoshoot? 

 

When it comes to looking for a photographer, keep an open mind and do not judge a book by its cover.  Yet, you must do your research first by using the above guidelines. Once you have found your photographer, connect with him/her in advance and have an open communication so you both have the photoshoot experience you are hoping for. 

 

Discuss:

 

- Looks, i.e. clothing, shoes, hair, make up

- Location(s), i.e. meeting spot

- Photoshoot style (lifestyle, bikini, lingerie, fitness, high fashion, editorial, business, boudoir, etc.)

    ** each style involves different angles and lighting

    ** ensure you explain what you are comfortable with 

- Send sample images you hope to achieve (visuals are always helpful)

- If there will be a make up artist that either you or they will provide, discuss make up looks!

- Turn around time for raw and final photos

- Expectations

 

What should a GREAT photographer do for you?

 

Aside from photoshoots as a paid model, I have to say, its been a decade in the industry and there have only been 3 photographers I have worked with continuously who were either decently priced, or TFP (trade for prints) to better my portfolio. This was due to...

 

- Professionalism

- Creativity

- Great communication

- Positive experience during shooting

- Good direction

- Challenges me

- Sending top quality raw images to allow me to choose my favourites (do not expect all raws but        enough to select from)

- Awesome editing skills

- Quick turn around time for final photos

 

It can be quite difficult to find a photographer who can master all of the above, but it can be done if you do your research!! 

 

Aftermath

 

Out of the hundreds of photos taken of you, you will usually only find 1-10 that you love, which is normal.  Now that you have had a successful photoshoot, ensure that you... 

 

- Credit your photographers/partners when posting, especially for TF/TFP

- Obtain high quality resolution photos from your photographer so you can print large images

- Print and start your portfolio 

- Market yourself by adding them to your online communities and send to your agent!

 

If you are new to the industry, I highly suggest that you go out there and work with TFP/TF photographers as you need to gain the experience for when you audition for a major print ad.  They will expect you to be comfortable in front of the camera, able to work with little direction, and look natural! 

 

When I run into a highly recommended photographer or a photographer who has a fabulous portfolio, I will definitely pay to work with them. You will constantly need to show variety in your portfolio, practice your on-camera skills, and update your look. You will find it worthwhile to shed out a few bucks to lock in a proper photoshoot with a dime!!  

 

Photo credit: DCN Images

 

Do you have more industry questions? Please do not hesitate to ask me! I am happy to share my experience. 

 

__________

 

Stay tuned for my upcoming industry blogs:

* Avoid scams and find the right modeling agent.

* How to prepare for a photoshoot

* Portfolio: What casting directors are looking for

* How to prepare for your upcoming pageant

 

Xx,

 

Melanie

 

 

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© 2017 by Melanie McGregor. 

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Toronto, Ontario