Being a model isn’t always as lighthearted and glamorous as it seems as sadly cases of kidnapping, sexual abuse and stalking frequent the media. Starting out in modelling ten years ago I was entirely naive to the industry and believed that every man who owned a camera and sent me an email asking to book me for a photoshoot was genuinely an avid professional photographer. Nowadays it’s more important than ever to be streetwise in the industry in order to minimise your risk of being on the wrong side of a non-professional.
It’s easy to get lured in by the promise of large sums of money, exotic portfolio images, grand locations and fame – when in reality it’s usually a guy with no qualifications and a camera hoping to lure a pretty girl into his bedroom to take explicit pictures or worse. Thankfully I’ve managed to keep my head above water, navigate the industry without ever having an agent and suss out the fakers for which these tips are vitally important to any girl considering a career in modelling as well as existing models.
Before giving out any personal details, booking photoshoots or meeting up with unknown photographers ask yourself these questions:
How were you approached by the photographer? If it was on a modelling platform how long have they been a member? Do they have a rating, and if so, is it in good standing? If the email is from a business but has a gmail/hotmail/yahoo address is it an authentic member of staff contacting you or somebody posing as a professional?
What is the quality of their previous work? Don’t be afraid to do some digging – Google the photographers full name to look for online feedback, search portfolios and see how long they’ve been trading for. You can look up or previous models to see if they still shoot together, and if not why not?
Where have they been published? A good photographer will always strive to have their work printed and recognised and value their contacts in the industry. If they’ve been published, have a strong network of fellow photographers and returning models you’re more likely to have a longterm successful relationship.
What images are you comfortable with and where do you draw the line? Before you take the first photo be clear on what you both would like to achieve and what your limits are. Take screenshots of similar styles and poses for inspiration, compose a mood board and write a list of exactly what you want to cover and expect from each photoshoot. Never feel pressurised into exposing skin, posing suggestively or being in a surround where you don’t feel comfortable. Voice your concerns immediately and refer back to what you both agreed on to keep things on track throughout. It’s never too late to stop and walk away.
What are your rights and who has ownership of the images? Prior to any shoot you should both discuss how and where the pictures will be used. Do you want them for social media with or without a watermark, will they be printed for a single fee or released online as a part of a series? What are you both getting out of it, how much has it cost, how will you be paid and who takes care of travel? Ask, ask, ask!
Where is the location and who are you taking with you? If you’re going to a photo studio for the first time use Google Maps to scope out the area. Know where the nearest carparks are, train stations and bus stops. If you can’t take a friend or partner with you then leave full details with somebody you trust detailing the photographers full name, physical description, phone number, address and times you expect to arrive and leave along with the route you plan to travel. Keep your mobile phone fully charged and accessible at all times.
Sometimes if something appears too good to be true then sadly it is. Don’t expect everybody to be as honest and genuine as you are but instead learn to filter out the time wasters by asking as many questions as possible and doing your research. Social media is fantastic for networking within the industry and models and celebrities will often tag stylists, makeup artists, photographers and agencies in their posts which you can follow and contact of your own accord. Remember your safety is far more important than money!