Advisor: What distinguishes a serious photo model

By Laura Buschmann
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Guide: What makes a serious photo model stand out?
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If you call yourself a model, you should also behave like one

A serious model follows unwritten rules on the set

How can I recognize a dubious photographer?” We already answered this question in another article about the machinations of nasty fellow photographers. But are there also photo models who are anything but professional? Unfortunately yes. We would now like to shed light on how a serious model behaves and why there is every reason to avoid models with certain – let’s say – “peculiarities”.


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Guide: What distinguishes serious photo modelsA photographer speaks plainly

Clemens R. (47) is a professional photographer who primarily takes pictures of cars. With a daily salary of just under 3,400 euros, he works about eight days a month for an automobile manufacturer, the rest of the time he uses for his own further education and teaches at a university. He trained in the classic way and has always been allowed to call himself a master photographer. As he says, “training in the craft of photography from the ground up is enormously important.” If a typical page-turner is looking into the subject matter and has a good eye, Clemens is happy to assist him or her. He only has reservations about dubious business practices.

In his spare time he is engaged in model photography. Professionally, he would not work this segment, as he believes cars are his “far more reliable than flesh-and-blood photo models.” Nevertheless, he is particularly fond of portraits and partial nudes. Here he tries to put the models in the right light and set the scene accordingly.

Woran erkenne ich einen unseriösen Fotografen?

Clemens has now agreed to tell us a bit about his day-to-day work with serious photo models and how to recognize the black sheep. He also exposes the most brazen lies and excuses of photo models, who actually would not have lost anything in the industry.

Finding a serious model can be easy

If both photographers and, for example, make-up artists keep their eyes and ears open, they will recognize who has established themselves on the market and which newcomers have what it takes to become a serious photo model. Unprofessional ladies are quickly sorted out.

In my opinion, every photo model should display a certain amount of professionalism. This makes it easier for everyone involved and a better photographic result is the success of this cooperation.

But how hard is it really to distinguish and sort out a serious photo model from the unserious ones? How can you protect yourself from throwing money and time out the window and being disappointed by the models?

  1. The classic – transfer without canceling
    Who does not know it: the appointment is agreed, the details are discussed and the day of the photo shoot is there – only the model is not. It is conspicuous by its absence. Calls are not answered, on WhatsApp is suddenly missing the double tick – blocked! Attempts to reach the model elsewhere fail. The ostrich method (“head in the sand”) seems to be very popular here. Of course, there was no cancellation. So who pays for the location, the makeup artist and the photographer’s time? Right. No one. And certainly not the photo model, who seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth.
  2. The stupid excuses – “I’m in the hospital”.
    The way to a shoot must be damn dangerous. This is where most accidents happen. Of course, the model is then so badly injured that she can not even cancel. Afterwards it is explained that there was a serious accident, the car was totaled and the model suffered a concussion. In the evening, however, photos emerge of the model enjoying herself at a party and grinning happily into the camera at the many selfies. Whoever thinks evil of this is naive. Sometimes, however, the grandma dies, the guinea pig or the cell phone had fallen into the toilet.

Guide: What distinguishes serious photo models

Can someone please watch my pit bull?

It’s the unusual things that write the photographer’s life. Thus, every photographer experiences different situations, perceives behaviors of his model differently. What they all have in common, however, is a fixed code, a kind of code of honor for photographers. However, this also includes that serious photo models adhere to certain rules. Following these should be a matter of course given one’s professional ethics. That this is different, however, is unfortunately a sad reality and certainly almost every photographer will be able to sing an unspeakable song about it. We report on particularly blatant cases here in the guide “What distinguishes a serious model”.

  1. The animal lover – dogs on the photo set
    In the meantime, my model contracts state that the protagonist is not allowed to bring animals on set. Why? Not because Clemens doesn’t like animals, but from experience: at one of his shoots, the model brought along a pit bull and asked if “someone couldn’t keep an eye” on the posh little animal while he was working. Not that there was no staff available for this. Few people would want to go for a six-hour walk with an unknown fighting dog. Of course without payment.
  2. The drinker – drugs and alcohol
    Although it may seem strange, there are actually models who show up on set more or less drunk – especially on shoots in the evening. Clemens has even encountered stoned photo models at work. “They were so broad that they could hardly implement any instruction reasonably,” the professional photographer reports. Especially brazen ladies consume the mind-expanding drugs directly on the photo set without a guilty conscience.

Serious models do not pay with sex

  1. Constantly postponing appointments – How serious is the model?
    Especially popular for home shoots in the model’s own apartment is to simply leave the photographer and makeup artist standing in front of a closed door. Of course, the model cannot be reached by phone at this time. The date was postponed several times beforehand, and here, too, the pool of excuses seems almost inexhaustible. How serious are the model’s intentions of professional cooperation?
  2. Payment in kind – Sexual advances
    If you do not arrange a TFP shoot, you must offer something in return in the form of payment. That means money. For a certain photographic service – and Clemens knows what he can do – the man behind the camera calls up a price and communicates it in advance. If a model then suddenly chafes at wanting to provide sexual services in order to pay for the photos, this is less evidence of professionalism. “At a photo shoot in an old workshop with valuable vintage cars, a model once bluntly offered me a blow job for the photos – and she was serious about it! Certainly, some photographers will get involved, but professionalism looks different.

A photographer speaks plainly about the behavior of modelsAn erotic photographer wants independent models

A contract is a contract is a contract. If professional soccer players don’t take it too seriously when it comes to valid and ongoing contracts, many a supposedly respectable model seems to follow this credo. This is especially noticeable when the girl has a new boyfriend who also “advises” her on professional matters – without any special qualifications, of course, but with all the more persuasive power acting on the model. A lifestyle advisor by the book. And how no one needs him. He’s as superfluous as a goiter, but unfortunately he’s there too often. Many serious photo models should work more independently or look for a proper agency that can represent them reasonably, especially in fee negotiations and also procure assignments.

  1. Agreements are not kept – The lifestyle consultant
    Especially on the set, when the lifestyle consultant constantly talks in and wants to forbid the model one or the other action agreed upon in advance, a self-appointed “consultant” is completely out of place. There is nothing wrong with an accompanying person, but this person should remain discreetly in the background and not act as a “manager” and ruin the relaxed to familiar atmosphere. Clemens has experienced often enough that his own boyfriend “markets” his life partner in such a way that actually only one of the two works: the model.
  2. The thieving magpie – And suddenly something is missing
    At a shoot, equipment, clothes, accessories and props often lie in disarray, there is an orderly chaos. Especially with many changes of clothes or location, things can sometimes get a little wilder. Impudent – even punishable – if the model or her companion takes advantage of the hullabaloo to steal something. Clemens himself was even affected by a theft; an expensive lens worth almost 1,800 euros went missing. When the model was served with the criminal complaint by the police, the lens magically reappeared. Nobody can use people like that!
Der Erotik-Amateur - Mythos oder Wirklichkeit?

A serious model knows document forgery only from TV

  1. The trustworthy – Never work without a model contract!
    Why some do it? Nobody really knows. This refers to working without a model contract. Good for the numerous lawyers who are just waiting to make a buck in disputes between models and photographers. Anyone who works professionally does so only with a contract that regulates the rights of both parties. Of course, this is especially important for partial nudes or nude photos, because no one wants these pictures to just show up somewhere on the Internet. Therefore, all contingencies, shooting areas, publication rights, as well as the fee should be put in writing. The “right to one’s own image” is of limited help without a contract and no one can prove what was agreed!
  2. The creative – Check the personal data!
    Sometimes it has happened that an initially respectable model has forged her own signature. Why? Because the other data were not correct either and were fictitious. Therefore, Clemens advises every colleague to check the personal data on the basis of the ID card and ideally to make a copy or take a photo of the ID card. Afterwards one has then something in the hand, should there be discrepancies or irregularities!

How professional models workGood virtues are the be-all and end-all

They were once considered “typical German virtues,” diligence, punctuality, reliability, and correct, striving work. But in the meantime, not every German model necessarily stands for professionalism. The work ethic leaves much to be desired in some cases, which is probably due to the general decline in values in today’s society as a whole. Being a serious photo model sometimes means hard work! Young women often want to earn a lot of money, but do as little as possible in return. So-called “influencers” such as Katja Krasavice speak a clear language here. It’s fashionable to want to earn your money through YouTube or other social media channels. Sure, some make it, but certainly work highly professional.

  1. The model who is only interested in cheap photos
    Honestly, shoots on a TFP (or TFCD) basis are of no use to a professional photographer. No, he does not want to expand his portfolio. He sells a service and charges a reasonable price for it. Should he nevertheless work on a TFP basis, he must be exceptionally convinced by the model or the proposed project. If the photographer has no added value, such a photo shoot is of no use to him. On the other hand, not every model wants to work permanently for free. Understandable. The side that “wants something” should also be willing to pay reasonably for a good service. Just like everywhere else.
  2. Reliability, punctuality, diligence
    These should not be just words, but the attitude of any model who wants to work professionally and seriously. Of course, these virtues also apply to every photographer! The chemistry between model and photographer is very important and sloppiness or unreliability only complicate the formation of it. A good photo model is spontaneous, uncomplicated, changeable and flexible. Then the photos will also be good, if everything is right!

By the way: Where there is a professional model on it, there is not always a professional way of working behind it. There are hobby models that work far more professionally than so-called “professionals”. It all depends on the inner attitude!


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