By Kevin Casha
"People envy the job of model and fashion photographers. Is not taking pictures of beautiful, glamorous models the ideal way of earning a living?"
Malta's Kevin Casha takes us through the minefield of model photography. He should know! Malta is populated with a seemingly endless variety of beautiful girls, who all dream of being models. However, there are well-established rules of behaviour for carrying out this type of work and he tells us all about it, mainly from the male perspective.
Alas, reality is not always like that. Getting to the top of this profession is far from easy. The competition is murderous and you have to keep your feet solidly on the ground.
Consider some facts:
Every amateur photographer wants to take model pictures, so finding paying clients is not that easy.
The bulk of a model photographer's work comes from young hopefuls wanting to make a mark in the glamorous model world. Most of these would-be models do not enjoy good financial situations, so their spending power on photography is limited - the money they have needs to stretch a long way - clothes, hair, make-up, etc.
Few models are physically perfect, so the photographer has to really tune up his skills in order to be able to hide defects and bring out the good features of the 'model'. A photographer must be capable of handling the good with the bad.
So how does a photographer try to break into this area of photography successfully?
Start with some solid homework. Buy, and study in detail, all the fashion magazines you can lay your hands on. There is nothing more instructive than studying images and trying to analyse why you like them or not. Most people just look fleetingly at images but don't delve deeper into what really makes a photograph tick. This simple analytical exercise will serve very well when building up your own picture portfolio. Due attention should be taken of poses, props, composition, lighting, mood, and colour, as well as backgrounds. The list is endless but regular practice at this will help you to plan better images.
A photographer has to remember that a model, especially a goodlooking one, can take her pick of photographers to make her portfolio - mostly for free. Keep foremost in your mind that the quality and creativity of your images must be really special to get clients willing to pay good money for their portfolio pictures. If you want to be noticed by agencies and win fashion and advertising contracts, your work must really stand out
Dealing with models needs tact and diplomacy. Reputation is crucial in this line and a photographer should not be pushy. Your initial aim is to build a strong portfolio and you must make contacts with models and do as many photo shoots as possible. This not only gives you valuable experience in handling models and refining your photographic skills and technique but also enables you to build up a body of images for showing to prospective clients.
Someone who doesn't personally know the photographer may not be very keen to pose for pictures for a stranger. If the model is hesitant, the photographer can always suggest that a friend comes along to the session - but beware of boyfriends or mums! They will inhibit both the model and the photographer during the shoot. Giving your card, contact numbers, website and any references one might have, shows that you are bona fide. Eventually, when you have some published work and a striking portfolio this will help convince prospective models. An attractive and effective way of promoting yourself is by having some personal cards made. These could be ordinary business cards, but a postcard containing some impressive photographs of your work, along with your name, address and phone number makes a much better impression. Having an active website will also go a long way in convincing models to sit for you.
It is also vital to operate a fair deal. As a starting photographer, you will not be able to afford professional models, so an agreement can be struck with amateur models. Keen amateurs are usually happy to work for a good set of pictures. This way of working is called 'time for prints'. Agree ahead of a shoot that the pictures you give the model will have your name on them. These can be used by the model as long as she credits you. Give her a CD with images but make sure the photos all have your logo or name (your domain name is best) and that they are all edited to the best of your abilities.
Remember that it will be your work which will make or break you. To avoid complications, use models who are over the age of consent and have them sign a model release form giving you the right to use their images. Outline clearly what happens if the images are going to be used commercially.
Working with amateur models will also help to teach you better posing techniques. Amateur models are usually inexperienced in posing, so it is the photographer, from the camera position, who has to guide the model into attractive poses.
A photographer should know how to get the best out of a model. They must decide which is the model's most attractive side, best look or pose for the specific photographs. The model only has to concentrate on getting over to the camera what the photographer is asking for.
There are 417 days to get ready for The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
which starts on Wednesday 16th March 2022