To know before you do a shoot with anyone

If you are an aspiring model or thinking about it -- this should be helpful to you.

This is what you should expect from a professional photographer or serious amateur
- (and much of this relates as well to an agent/agencies):

He/she (I will use "he" for the rest of this) should offer to meet with you at a public place before a shoot so you can get an idea of what and who he is - or in his studio if he has one and if there he should expect you to bring a friend. He should have references, professional as well as personal - be able to point you to his website, to work he has done, like books, magazines, institutions that has bought his work, etc. If he has no website, can't show you any published work, prints, etc. be aware - it should set of loud warning bells in your mind.

While there are many honest. straight and professional photographers out there (and likewise amateurs) - there are many more who are not - perhaps they like to look at naked or nearly naked girls/women, perhaps it's something else - pornography is a major money maker for many so called photographers. Just remember that any time there are photography, film or video involved there are legions of bad stories - to the detriment of those of us who are the real McCoy..=*^) As for agencies, there are many well regarded agents/agencies out there but also many whose only goal is to make money off you in any way they can.

Look thru his work - if he has a website - and he should - spend some time looking at the images there - are they what you would like to look like - what you want to show people - if you were in those images - would you be proud to show them to people - would you carry the images with you in a portfolio book and show to strangers - or friends - and feel good about them? If the images appeal to you. then that is a good sign. If they do not - then you should probably talk to someone else. Likewise, if you are looking for fashion work and all you see is lingerie or poorly executed nudes or nearly nudes, or images that says "I'm not really comfortable doing this" you should look elsewhere. Trust your instincts - most women have a good sense for fakes....=*^)

He should offer to send you (or show you) a copy of the model release/contract he is using so you have a chance to look thru it before the shoot. He should tell you exactly what the shoot will cost, what you can expect to get/receive in exchange for the fee he will charge you. In case of a TFP - Time For Print - shoot, the same applies - he should be able to tell you exactly what you will get and what you will not - and be able to put it in writing. He should tell you what you might be able to achieve as a model - if you are 5' tall you can obviously not expect to have a career as a runway model - however much you would like to..=*^)

He should be able to answer any questions you might have and you should feel that he cares about getting you the best - whatever the best is for you - it is always different for every model - and he should be able to make you feel that he is sincere about your success - or at least getting you a great portfolio - a CD full of raw images from the shoot is not going to do you any good whatsoever!

Beware of anyone offering you this in addition to or instead of a portfolio book with finished prints - it simply means he doesn't care about his "work" - that it means so little to him he simply doesn't even want to take the time to finish off the images - or that it is so sub par he knows he can't make decent prints from it - no self respecting artist - pro or not - will EVER give away his raw work or the rights (copyright © ) to his work - which is exactly what someone who gives you a CD of a shoot amounts to. This is a sure sign you're talking to someone who is looking primarily to take your money or mainly interested in getting you to take your clothes off - of course if that is what you want to do in the first case, you should still do what I have been telling you here when you look for someone to work with - this is especially important if you want to do Fine Art/Nudes - there are very few great Fine Art photographers out there - and many bad ones - again - look at the work and trust the feelings you get from it.


At a shoot, if you start to get pressure to do something you have not agreed to do - to pose nude when you have agreed on a basic portrait/fashion portfolio - walk away. Any time you get bad vibes, walk away, call someone else, set up a new meet. And if you show up for a portfolio shoot and there are other girls/guys waiting for the same thing, demand your money back - and make sure that there is a clause i the contract that covers this - you absolutely do not want to be a number in the line for a portfolio shoot - unless it it what we call "A Look See" - where a photographer/agency is looking for a specific type of girl/model for a commercial job.


After a shoot, presuming it went well - you felt good about it - you had fun and a great time was had by all - he should sit down with you - normally a week or so after the shoot - and go thru all the finished images and discuss with you what is good and what can be improved. He should tell you your good points and your bad ones - honesty here is the best way to improvement. He should give you a portfolio with the number of images agreed upon in the contract.

I personally normally give around 20 images - of those at least 10 are 8 x 10's or larger. If there is a dynamite image in the shoot I have been known to print one as large as 3 x 4 feet and give to the model. And the CD will have a copy of all the finished images from the shoot - normally around 50 - perhaps as many as 100 if we had a really good first shoot.

All of this takes time - a lot of time - especially if I was shooting digital - contrary to the popular belief that digital is cheaper and faster. it is actually MUCH more expensive, takes a LOT more personal time for the artist but offers more artistic freedom and greater control over the processing. The drawback is that the cost to achieve this is in the ten's of thousands of dollars - a major photographer recently stated at an ASMP seminar: "I use the same lenses for film as for my digital cameras - the difference in cost is that the film cameras/bodies usually last 10 - 15 years or more with little servicing and the total cost to shoot film is $17,000 - to shoot digital costs me $68,000 and I have to replace my digital cameras/bodies and processing equipment every 3 years!"

Personally I do few portfolio shoots - for several reasons - I am primarily known as a Fine Art visual artist/photographer. Although I am also known worldwide for my body of dance and performance images, I am more of an artist than a photographer and therefore I need a special person to work with in order to create the kind of images I am known for.

Another reason is that I am not inexpensive - I will not agree to do the "standard 4 poses or two changes of wardrobe" portfolio for $xxx.oo. If I commit to do a portfolio for anyone, I want it to be the very best it can be under the circumstances and I only accept a portfolio commission at all if I feel you have "The Right Stuff" and attitude/intelligence. And if I do accept a commission I will give it - and you - everything in my ability to make it a portfolio that we both will be proud to show.

I am not into making portfolio shoots on a assembly line setup.

It is in MY (and YOURS!) interest that the images you go around and show are as good as I - and you - can make them - another reason I would NEVER - EVER - give you a CD of raw unfinished images. Do you think photographers like Ansel Adams, Helmut Newton, David Bailey, David Chapelle to name a few, would give out cd's of raw images? Helmut Newton for example was known to make sure all images not printed to his exacting standard were destroyed. He was fanatic about this - sometimes getting into rows with his printer of many years when he felt a print was not good enough - even if his printer thought they were.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with me and I will answer to the best of my knowledge..=8^) - and if you want to see what a typical first portfolio shoot by me looks like you can go here:



The shoot includes partial nudity as Helen had told me she was comfortable trying that - and was shot at 2 different locations on the same day/evening - as is pretty evident from the images....=*^)

This shoot took more than 6 hours to shoot and the post processing - processing the raw images to final images, not counting the time to print the portfolio and the time to process them for the web was about 20 hours. Printing and web processing added about 5 more hours. This translates to an average of about 30 minutes post processing per raw image.

Serious artists/photographers will tell you that sometimes you might spend several days on an image in order to get it just right.

And they/we do this because we/they are proud of the work/images we do.


And, lastly, here is something to contemplate:


"There are two kinds of photographers: the Image Takers and the Image Makers.


The Image Takers are the photographers who record whatever happens to be in front of their lens.
If you sell ketchup, they will record the exact shape of the bottle and its red color.
If you sell cars, they will show every single technical detail of the hero car.
If your company is located in a high-rise building, they will record the total height with all the details in the windows.
If your CEO is short, they will show it. They will record all the details but don't ask them to make your ketchup appear appetizing,
your cars look sexy, your company feel successful or your CEO look like a world leader.
They are just image recorders who probably charge by the day, half day or hour and don't care about the rest.

The Image Makers are the ones who actually sell your product or image.

They go beyond the recording phase and have a gift to trigger desire, interest, love, surprise,
and other human emotions through the images they create.

These emotions sell! and if you're a model, will make you stand out from the others!

These photographers have a talent and a vision that is unique to each of them and that is highly valuable to their clients.

They would be crazy to not make money from this creative gift and talent that they have and this is exactly what they do:
they charge according to the value of their images.

The more valuable an image is, the more the client will want to use it.
This is why they charge per usage.

This is why they always copyright © their images
and this is why they never give away raw images, be they film negatives or digital files.

If you are trying to find an Image Maker at the price of an Image Taker, you are probably wasting your time.