A girl on facebook sent me a message and asked: how did you approach the photogs and other professionals, i.e., what did you say with regard to asking them to allow you to model for them? With agencies, the approach is the comp card, but what is the "bargaining chip", if you will with the photographers? I've heard of models even being signed exclusively with photographers, but I never understood how that works...do photographers have clients? Who are the other professional people you sought outside of modeling agencies?
Well first and foremost when it comes to photography it is not about you asking them to allow you to model for them. It is about approaching a photographer that is professional with your needs and working together. Modeling without paying for it is called a "test shoot". And not all photographers "test". Photography is a business and for a professional photographer time is money.
And investing in a good headshot or beauty shot close-up is a great idea for an aspiring model. A headshot is a great entry photo to submit to print modeling agencies. Many girls make the mistake of shooting the wrong photos, over and over, which do not help them, assuming the photographer (usually an amatuer) knows what to shoot. When really, the model needs to be more a part of her pursuits and really aim to be professional and get the photographs she REALLY needs. A headshot or beauty shot close-up is the first!
Shots showing you in active, laughing, running, walking, enjoying life.
And other shots that have a catalog feel, whether you are in jeans or fitness clothing.
If you have a nice body you should not consider glamour modeling if you want to work with a print modeling agency. Glamour is considered amatuer towards print modeling and it is best if you focus on catalog styled swimwear, lingerie, and fitness shots instead.
When you are approaching a photographer it best to bring an idea or concept in your email or mail your comp card to their photo studio with a note stating what you are interested in shooting. Think of your needs ahead of time as well. Don't expect the photographer to want to shoot you or know what you need. You should know. Shooting just to shoot is not helpful. You need a purpose to shoot and goal. Always.
So when you approach a photographer, even if you have a little budget or small budget, offer something that shows you are inventive, creative, and ambitious. For example, when I was new to modeling and wanted to build my portfolio I offered things such as " I know a makeup artist" or " one of my friends is an aspiring fashion designer or handbag designer or jewelry designer, and I could pull some product for the shoot." I offered, "a location I found, a lounge, furniture store, boutique store, that I got approvable that we could shoot in."
Locations are great to offer especially if you get it for free.
I did research, approached aspiring designers, and really put myself out there to make some of my own contacts that could translate into things I could bring towards a photo-shoot when I did not have the funds for photos.
I would not expect the process to happen over night but I would aim high.
Other ideas are going to a photography college/ school and asking if you could work with the students on headshots and beauty shots, offer some concepts, around jewelry, scarfs, handbags, accessories, and aim to work with someone who knows the craft of photography.
It is work, ALOT of it, to get quality photography without paying for it. A professional photographer treats photography as a business, as he/she should, so to get that quality you have to be inventive, offer more than just your cute face, offer your idea, think about the photography you need for your comp card, headshots, action type shots, commercial print type photos, and do some research, come up with some ideas, approach the photographer with a plan, not just asking for something but saying, we should do this together.
Also I have never heard of modeling being signed exclusively with photographers, that doesn't sound right to me. Some photographers might refer certain models they work with to their clients. Such as when I did a photoshoot for Women's World Magazine the photographer knew me and refered me to the editor and I was approved for the shoot and we did it.
Through photographers I have worked with, we together created some material which could be submitted to a magazine and together got some tearsheets but again it takes a certain photographer --who is not just holding the camera but really is passionate about photography, knows how to do it, and does it as a business.
As you are new to modeling it might be hard to get these opportunities without experience. You should focus on getting some basic shots, some nice headshots to get some more experience. A photo student, or get some headshots done, if you do not have huge funds express your budget and try to get the best quality you can even in just 20 shots. Offer I can afford $50 plus I know a great makeup artist, and I will bring just one outfit and we could get it done fairly quickly. So that the photographer won't feel like they are being jipped.
Also DO NOT offer to pose nude, be semi nude, or in a bikini, in exchange for a headshot. That is not professional.
Photographers do have clients, such as, magazines, ad agencies, product managers, who need certain products shot. Some photographers work exclusively with certain brands, such as working with a shoe company, etc, and shooting all their product ad needs. Again these are very professional photographers, not amatuers, they do not advertise for models, and do not use the internet looking for models. It would be best for now for you to start with some basic headshots and beauty shots, wearing jewelry and making the shots look like ads. Use the shots to make a compcard, send the compcard to print modeling agencies and photography studios by postal mail with a note stressing your assets. It takes ALOT of confidence to get ahead as a model, especially being self-made, and it takes ALOT of creative energy, time, and try! Many girls give up and settle for amatuer modeling, but that doesn't really mean that is modeling.
I've saught out aspiring designers, locations, marketing companies, art directors at ad agencies, magazine editors, and mailed ALOT of compcards over the years, over 500.
There is nothing wrong with simply paying for photography, actors do it to get headshots and it is normal. And you do get what you pay for in photography quality. So striving to get the headshot/ beauty shot-ups and commercial print styled shots, and when you have 4 or so, make a comp card and mail, mail, mail, it to agencies. It is a self-made world.