It's a dangerous world out there. Believe it. With the advent and widespread popularity of digital photography, every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a camera is crawling out of the woodwork, claiming to be a professional photographer. That's why there are some things aspiring models should consider when lining up any photo shoot, especially your first one. Your safety should be your priority – and the priority of the photographer.
The Pre-Shoot Meeting
In your inital contact with the photographer – by e-mail or telephone – introduce yourself and your intentions. Where did you find out about the photographer? Why do you need a photographer? Tell them. Be prepared to send photos of yourself (even if they're just candids) for the photographer to evaluate.
In the photographer's response, they should invite you for an initial consultation. If their studio is established and in a commercial area, you can agree to meet them there. If they're relatively new, the second scenario would be to meet at a public place, for instance a coffee shop. In the second case, either bring someone with you or let people know where you're going.
Clearing that hurdle, once you agree to a time and a place, it's important to show up. At the very least, you should exchange phone numbers just in case you're going to be late or can't make it. Being on time for your appointments is also important and part of being a professional. You'll find in this industry, there are a lot of flakes and no-shows.
The meeting allows you to gauge your comfort level with the photographer and vice versa. Once again, let your conscience be your guide. For the photographer, it allows them to also get to know the personality of their subject – an important aspect in taking photos of someone.
The pre-shoot meeting also helps to establish a few things. As a model, you should bring outfits you might potentially be wearing for the shoot. You should also bring magazines, books, photos, etc. – any media that you can use as inspiration for the shoot. You should also talk about makeup and hairstyle. Will you do your own makeup and hair? Will you need a makeup artist and/or hairstylist?
The photographer should also bring their portfolio, as well as media with potential direction for the shoot. Also consider where you're going to shoot - does the photographer have a studio or access to a studio? Will you do a location shoot? Watch out for the photographer who shoots out of their apartment.
If you still have qualms about the photographer, you might even ask for references from people he or she has worked with before like clients or other models.
If you haven't discussed it in your e-mail correspondence, you'll also have to agree on compensation. If you've contacted the photographer first, you'll have to pay. Discuss the rate at this meeting. If the photographer has contacted you first, they may be willing to work with you for Time for CD (TFCD) or Time for Prints (TFP). They may be doing a paid shoot for a client – you should be compensated monetarily for this shoot. (Consider this rare, because clients usually go through agency zed cards of experienced models to find the right one for their project.) The photographer should also bring a copy of a model release form so that you can look it over.
Once you've discussed this, confirm contact information so that you can finalize the details of where and when.
Hope you haven't become paranoid or discouraged – just more aware. Think of it. You're now armed with information you didn't have minutes ago. Read on to Part 2 for safety on day of the shoot.
>> SAFETY, PART 2