Working with a professional photographer

You may be lucky enough to work with a professional photographer - if so, here are some hints and tips to make sure the shoot goes smoothly and you get what you want from it.

Always follow the rules below when working with photographers:

  • Be punctual. Being on time is very important.
  • Take a friend or parents along with you or at the very least inform someone of your whereabouts.
  • Make sure you tell the photographer that someone knows where you are.
  • Make sure that you know exactly what you're supposed to do during the shoot. Never feel pressured to do anything that you do not feel comfortable doing.
  • Whether it's a professional studio or on location, ensure that there is a separate changing area.
  • Reputable photographers will NOT touch you. Make sure you remind them of this if they get within your safety zone.
  • Make sure you get a modeling agreement "release" signed before the shoot. You must be informed where and how your images are going to be displayed, and give your consent.
  • Read all paperwork closely before signing a contract at a photoshoot. Never sign a contract unless we tell you it's okay. Sometimes, crooked photographers will try to get you to sign a contract at a shoot and then sell the photographs without your knowing. In this case if you signed a contract so there's nothing you can do about it!
  • Beware of contracts that prohibit you from working with other photographers. The amateur model should not accept this kind of contract. When you are starting out, you need to make as much money as you can working for as many different photographers as possible.

However, don't be paranoid - most professional photographers are more concerned about film, make-up, and the position of the sun. To most of them, 'time is money'.

Types of photography agreements

Before you work with a professional photographer, it's worth clarifying the nature of the arrangement - who's paying, who gets copyright in the shots and how they can be used in the future.

Trade for print (TFP)

Most professionals are looking to add variety to their portfolios without the cost. Some might be willing to do a trade for print (TFP): you pose for them and in exchange they will shoot what you want. But this usually means you will have to pay for your prints, and this may be very expensive.

Also watch out for the photographer who says it's free but goes on to use your images for profit - in this case you should get paid!

Photographer pays

This is the staple of the modelling community. The model (or the model's agent) and the photographer negotiate a mutually satisfactory rate, which the photographer pays the model in compensation for his/her time and a release to use the images collected from the shoot.

When being paid to pose, remember that the person who pays for the shoot is the one entitled to decide the format and details of the shoot, the time and place, how many rolls of film will be shot and the number of outfit changes that will occur. You also have to be prepared to follow the directions given by that person to get the type of shot that the photographer or client wants. This will often be the kind of print or shot that you already have plenty of as that's probably why you got hired for the job in the first place.

Additionally, on most professional, paid shoots you are not entitled to any of the prints that result from the assignment; the only way you can get hold of them is by getting shots after they are published (your "tear sheets").

You pay

The model pays the photographer for his/her time and the images he/she takes, as well as the copyright to those images. This is ideal if you need the photographer to shoot a particular image and you want to receive ownership of that image. The photographer and the model must negotiate a mutually satisfactory rate for the photographer's time but the model has complete control of the images thus acquired. Because this is typically a 'no hassles' deal it's a great way to start off, creating a strong base that you can build upon.

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