More real talk: How to avoid flaky models.

Photographers, this geared towards you, but this is also practical advice for any kind of artist looking for any other kind of artist to collaborate with. Be you a new or experienced photographer, your bound to run into a cancellation or a no-show, which is a very frustrating thing when you’ve rented a studio, or maybe even rented equipment. So here are some tips to help avoid that situation.

SO you’ve taken an interest in photography, bought all the necessary gear, done a bunch of googling for tips and tricks, and have booked studio time. Now to pick models! I would first suggest trying to find a Facebook group for models and photographers in your city. Model Mayhem would be the second best option, and Kijiji third. However the majority of flake/unprofessional complaints I’ve heard have been about people found on Kijiji.

The first step in avoiding flakes is crafting a coherent, professional casting call. Within your call should be details about what you want to shoot, what type of model you’re looking for, whether it is a paid call or TFP (Time for print), and information about the time, date, and location of the shoot. You should also include a link to any portfolio you may have, or include a few photos of any work you have done.

You’ve posted your casting call and the replies are coming in, or maybe some models have contacted you outside of the casting call. First you want to look at how professional their message is. Of course not everyone knows how to be utterly professional. You don’t want to judge it by grammatical efforts necessarily, you want to go by how much interest is shown through their message. To me a message like “hey i have this hair color you’re looking for” is lazy. A message like “Hi there, I saw your casting call, meet your requested requirements, and am interesting in working with you”, that’s a dedicated person.

If, in their reply, it seems clear they did not read the casting call the whole way through, this may not be a professional person to work with. If you included a description of the theme or concept you want to shoot, and you get a message saying something like “hey im interested what do you want to shoot”, move along.

In their message, they may not have been able to provide professional quality photos of themselves because hey, they might be new at this too. They may send you some selfies, or an instagram link and that’s fine. But if all the photos are the same pose and facial expression, this person may not be beneficial to work with.

So their reply was coherent, they had some decent shots to show, and appears to have genuine interest. Before you lock into a Facebook friendship, and before you book the model, meet with them first. If you’re any kind of artist seeking a new kind of artist to work with, always meet first. If the model can’t meet up, won’t meet up, or doesn’t show up, you probably don’t want to work with them. If they didn’t show and there was no warning or explanation, move along.

If they show up late without reasonable explanation, or if they show up hung over or inebriated, move along. If they seem distracted, and are doing things on their phone the whole time that doesn’t relate to the shoot your potentially collaborating on, move along.

Lastly concerning the meeting, make an effort to get to know them. Make sure they are actually someone you can get along with. Ask questions like if they’ve lived in the city their whole life, what kind of music they listen to, or what they do for work.

So you met and everything went well. The date is set and the studio is booked! Maybe you even lined up a hair and make up stylist. Now that you’ve spent a bunch of money it’s time to protect your investment. If you book a photo shoot too far in advance, people can forget or lose interest, but if you book it too soon people may feel rushed and overwhelmed which could lead to anxious feelings. An anxious model is a model who cancels with a mysterious flu the night beforehand. I book everything about two weeks in advance and make a point of being socially active with them up until the date of the shoot. 4-5 days before the shoot I always send a message to confirm again that the shoot is happening, and the day before I always send a “see you tomorrow!” message. Send these messages in the morning so they have all day to reply to you. If they don’t reply to the 4-5 day heads up message, shoot them another one to confirm the following morning. If that isn’t answered by the end of the night they may be a flake and it’s time to quickly find a replacement.

Unfortunately it still happens that even though you’ve taken all the precautions, the model still pulls no-show. It is an unfortunate financial hazard of the industry. Sometimes crazy life things happened, other times they just decided not to show. But these tips will at least let you sift through and find the people who are professional, creative, and punctual.

Until next time!

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