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Archive for November, 2011

Putting Together a Model Shoot

November 28th, 2011  |  by  |  published in Featured, Shoot

If you have never worked with models before, you are missing out! It’s a great vehicle for practicing with new lighting gear or exploring new direction in your work. I love working with models to strengthening my boudoir portfolio. I won’t publish client images from boudoir sessions and model shoots give me images with which to market. It’s also super fun and I experiment in every way I can imagine.

Earl Christie and I recently got together for a model shoot up in Maine. We wrangled our models using our tried and true (un)patented model system. We’ve been running models shoots in ShootStyle over the years and I wanted to share what works for us.

We use Model Mayhem, and love it. There’s a great community there and getting to know the models and other photographers has been fun and useful. :) There is a basic free account, which has some restrictions on numbers of images you can post on your portfolio and numbers of conversations you can start in a 24 hour period, but over all, I highly recommend opening an account.

Casting call:

When you are ready to get going, start by creating a casting call. Here is where you can specify who you are looking for and talk about the shoot a little bit. Go big! ShootStyle has managed to score some amazing locations, so we link to the venue. Even if you don’t have links to the space, be descriptive. Include links to your work too. Describe what you are looking for and be very specific about what you will be expecting from the models. You can imagine, some of the situations that have been posted have been sketchy, to say the least. Describing everything in as much detail as possible is going to allay any worries your models will have answering your call.

Throw down some cash if you can. You are much more likely to get models with a little bit of experience. Working with a model who has experience is fantastic when you are just getting going, they will help guide you in common practices in the industry. It also greatly reduces last-minute cancellations. But if you are short on cash, you should be able to find some models who are willing to do TFP (trade for prints, or these days, trade for files).

Some models prefer to bring an escort. Since ShootStyle so often does group shoots, with multiple photographers and models, we designate a room for escorts to hang out so as keep our models as comfortable as possible. If you are willing to have an escort present on the day of the shoot, indicate this in your casting call. Many photographers don’t like the extra person, so if you demonstrate your flexibility, this may win you some points.

Spread the Word:

You might think that once you’ve gotten your casting call up, all you have to do is sit back and answer the flood of emails about to come your way. It’s probably not going to happen that way.

Start searching for models on Model Mayhem that you want to work with, and personally invite them to look at your casting call. I look for models that are older and curvier than the typical model since I am looking to build my boudoir business, and want to find models closer to my clients age and body type. I usually settle for older or curvier. By “older”, I mean pushing thirty. And “curvy”, is anyone over 130 pounds. Being much older and much curvier than that, I have to laugh. But the truth is, this field is full of 98 pound 19 year old aspiring models.

If a model lists another way to get in touch, use it! Facebook, email, form-spring, anything! You are looking to carpet bomb your casting call to get as many eyes on it as possible.

Confirm Confirm Confirm:

Once a model expresses interest, get a cell phone number and an email address. We won’t confirm a spot on the day until we get those. You don’t want to run into a situation where a model has changed her mind about participating, but doesn’t bother to tell you.

Once we confirm with the models, we send them an email with all the information they need. We provide a google map link to the address, a street address, our starting time, what to expect when they arrive, clothing and make-up to bring, and if snacks or drinks will be provided. Include at least one phone number they can reach you at on the day of the shoot, and tell them to expect a phone call the evening before the shoot. If you are doing boudoir work, they must bring a photo ID with proof of age!!

We also ask them to reply to us when they’ve received the email, which also lets us know they’ve read it.

Don’t forget to make the call the day before the shoot! You may have to do some last minute changing around and this gives you a chance to tell the model how excited you are work with them, you can remind them to bring their ID. It also lets you know if you need to scramble to find another model.

On the Day of the Shoot:

While you are shooting, keep checking in with the model to make sure she is comfortable. Avail yourself to collaboration. Often the models get a particular portfolio going in a particular direction, and they may want some variety. If you can do it, it’s great to be able to meet their needs as well as your own.

Make sure you have a release all made up for the models to sign. It shows respect to the models to offer to give them a copy. We take a photo of the models ID and keep it with the files. Keep track of these ID’s. And don’t let them get posted online. The ID has a models personal identification on it and you need to keep them safe by not inadvertently publishing their home address. (This happened to a model-friend of mine. If one is doing boudoir work, you can imagine how terrifying it would be to have your street address out there on the internet!)

Let the models know when you will be delivering their edited images to them. Give yourself double the amount of time you think you’ll need to deliver them, and try like help to deliver earlier. It can be a nightmare for models to get images from photographers. Don’t be that guy.

Above all else:

Show mega-respect for the models. These models are putting themselves out there for you to practice your photography; it is a gift to you, even if you are paying them. The greater respect you can show the models, even in the face of last-minute cancellations, lateness or general dippiness. the easier time you will have with your shoot.

Have a blast out there! And I would LOVE it if you would let me know in the comments section of the blog what tips and tricks you have for working with models!

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There Is No Such Thing As A Photo Emergency

November 9th, 2011  |  by  |  published in Featured, Shoot

If you’re anything like me, you’re a workaholic, a control freak and a perfectionist. Ok, that might be harsh even on myself, but I think most small business owners can relate to not being able to shut off work when it’s necessary. This is especially hard to do for photographers because even those of us who have an office away from home, still most likely have a computer at home, or at the very least, a smart phone in your hands way way way too often. Not to mention that the tools we use for work – cameras and computers – are also used for play.

And if you’re like me, you’ve had friends, loved ones, family, or (the worst) your own child say “Can’t you just shut it down for the night? Can you just put your phone down? Are you still on the computer?”. And it sucks because you don’t really realize what you’re doing. You think you’re being productive. You think that if you don’t work every waking part of the day, that you will fall behind, that clients will get mad, that inquiries will go elsewhere, or that you’ll miss out on something major.

You check your work emails on your phone, in your bed. Really??

The fact that my husband leaves me little love notes on the computer, because he knows that’s where I’m sure to look? Cute, but really – a little sad.

There is no such thing as a photo emergency. This is what I have to remind myself every time I feel guilty for putting an away message on my email when I (very rarely) get away for a weekend or vaca. But more importantly, this is what I need to remember when my work day is over. Once the baker closes its doors, no more cupcakes for you!

Since most of us shoot weddings on weekends and portraits in the evenings, we need to make a different schedule for ourselves than the average 9-5 M-F. For me, this past season, I would mark off one day a week as my day off. This didn’t mean a day off from everything, to be fair. I simply wouldn’t shoot that day, or I wouldn’t edit, or I wouldn’t go to the office. It was a day off from one or all parts of work. I may still check email, but I wouldn’t respond until the next day. It took a LOT of restraint, trust me.

I recently posted my own, self proclaimed, office hours on my home office door. My studio office downtown is by appointment only, and I often work from home. No clients come to my home office, but this sign is a reminder to me, no – a guideline that I must follow. You know, unless I want to end up a big nerd with no family, no friends, no life, no hobbies, no fresh air, no sun on my skin, a bad back, carpal tunnel, thick glasses, and unwashed hair…

Since wedding season is almost over, and portrait season is drawing to a close all in about a month, I am busting my hump to have evenings and weekends free again. My daughter deserves my full attention. Forcing myself to take a day off in peak season allowed me to manage my workflow a lot better. I would work on one project at a time, finish it, and then start a new one. I pride myself in multi-tasking, but I now see that it wasn’t helping me; it was actually diluting the work that I did do since it wasn’t getting my full attention. A cool little app for Mac OSX that my intern Caroline told me about is SelfControl. Look into it if you have a really hard time closing Facebook, emails, etc while you’re editing.

Now that I’ve caught up on work by managing my time a lot better and writing this article without designing an album at the same time, I’m going to turn over the sign to CLOSED and go enjoy this beautiful Indian Summer day with a bike ride to the beach. The album will wait and no one will die because of it.

Enjoy!
~Zofia

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