Indochine's Top Shelf

Getting Quality Photos - Part II

In the first part of this article I dealt with the obstacles that seem to prevent models from getting good shoots. In this Part I’m going to address the nuts and bolts of the shoot.

1. Communication and Planning with The Photographer.

A legitimate photo shoot (the type that produces good results) takes planning and preparation. Talk to the photographer before your session and find out what ideas he has in mind for you and convey the things you’d like to try. Agreeing on concepts could get tricky, but it’s important to know what you’re doing before arriving at a shoot. When I first shot with Bria Myles we met once just to test the concept before the shoot actually happened. This was probably overkill, but I hadn’t shot in a while and I wanted make sure the lighting and colors were what I wanted. This made the day of our actual shoot that much easier because we had already squelched any awkwardness on our test run.

I recommend you meet with the photographer at least once before your shoot, just to see what your energy is like together. Photo shoots are partially about chemistry between the photographer and the model, and if you don’t feel comfortable with the photographer it might show in the photos.

A Note Regarding Escorts: Personally, I’m not a fan of escorts – especially boyfriends – on photo shoots. Still, I understand the occasional necessity for them. Again, meeting with/speaking to the photographer beforehand will go a long way toward telling you whether an escort will be necessary. You should also check the photographer's references. If you meet with the fotog and still determine you need an escort, you probably shouldn’t be shooting with them. Also, keep in mind that if you’re partaking in a professional photo session, there will also be a hair person, a make-up artist, and possibly even a stylist present on the shoot with you. With that said, model comfort and safety are paramount on a photo shoot. If having a friend with you will help, the photographer shouldn’t have a problem with it as long as it does not interfere with the model-photographer dynamic.

2. Working Out The Arrangement to Get Your Photos and Determining Photo Usage. This rule is simple: you should demand that all of your photos be delivered on a CD the day of the shoot, especially if you’re paying for the photos. This is the number one problem with photo shoots for models -- they trust the photographer to deliver the pictures and for one reason or another, it doesn’t happen. If a photographer balks at the idea of giving you photos the day of the shoot, it’s probably because he doesn’t want his work out there without his post-processing editing on them. That leads us to the next issue: photo usage.

I see a lot of models demanding photo releases on shoots. This is not the solution to your problem (see my blog entry on model releases), as the standard release gives the photographer more rights than they would have had without one! What you should be more concerned with is how your photos will be used and what control you have over that. This doesn’t require a lawyer. All you need to do is send the photographer an email (that he confirms receiving) making your concerns clear. For instance

“Dear John Fotog,

I look forward to our shoot this weekend. I just want to be clear that we are using these pictures solely for our portfolios and to promote our work. Neither of us will sell the photos or distribute these pictures publicly without the consent of the other. This means that we both have to give the other our consent (not to be unreasonably withheld) before posting photos from our session on the internet or in any other medium.”

This should not be a problem if you paid for your photos. In fact, you should ask the photographer to assign his copyright in the photos to you if you've paid for the session. If the photo shoot is TFP, the photographer may not like having you dictate which photos they can post. However, if the photographer asked you to shoot you should be able to set the terms of your arrangement. If you approached them, you may have to forgo this right. Again, this comes down to working with a photographer you trust and that has good references.

3. Make Sure You Take Versatile Pictures. You can’t book a Target catalog or a McDonald's commercial if you’re oiled down in a thong in every shot. These days, swimsuit and lingerie photos are all the rage, but you’ll need headshots and some lifestyle/editorial shots if you want to get work in something other than a music video and urban magazine. Ask the photographer if he’s willing to at least take some headshots before you get into the more risqué stuff.

4. Avoid Taking Pictures You’ll Regret Later. It’s easy to get caught up in the momentum of a shoot and maybe go further than you intended. Photo shoots may look like a carefree romp, but a serious model is always clear headed about what she’s giving the camera. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shot with models only to have them later say they hate the photos and don’t want me to use them. This can be avoided by simply looking at the photographer’s results during the shoot and taking a moment to evaluate the direction the shoot is going in. This may not always be easy, but it’s a lot better than ruining your goodwill with a photographer and getting a reputation for being difficult.

5. Make Sure You Have Good Hair & Make Up. This may be the last point on this list, but it is probably the most important. Really good pictures are always a collaborative effort, and a big part of that collaboration is hair and make up. For some reason, a lot of models think they can just go out with a photographer and get results that look like the stuff in Allure magazine with no hair and make up on set. For the most part, it doesn't work that way. Finding a quality hair stylist and make up person for your shoot is just as important, if not more, than getting a good photographer. If a photographer has no plans to even have hair and make up present on the shoot, you may want to reconsider. When evaluating hair and make up it is critical to find out whether they have worked on models with attributes similar to you with success.



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