This is a tricky one. It came up in a discussion with a photographer friend of mine who stopped doing TFP and stopped testing because the models never showed up, were late, or were terrible.
It made me think, if an aspiring model wants to approach a professional photographer that is established, has credits, has a professional photography career what would she do.
I also understand the an aspiring model has to start somewhere and the more established photographers are going to be hard to work with....for free that is. Well I think "getting something for free" doesn't always mean it is good or worth it, so be aware of that one.
If a professional who has a professional photography business and career is testing models it could be a good opportunity, but how would you approach this person?
Here is some of what we discussed and also some of my thoughts on things to be careful of in general when shooting as a new model and how to approach to get what you want and have a good experience.
This is a loaded topic and could be a whole book actually.
Honestly, before I share any insight, I want to stress that I don't think TFP through social media sites is a good idea for most models to consider. Most TFP photographers those offering tfp on these sites are lame, and their work on model social networking sites is lame and unprofessional, and is simply not the photography a shorter girl can use for getting real modeling work. If you are searching for a photographer on the Internet be VERY careful and have high expectations. Aim to find the professionals (in this Internet age I suggest always being skeptical).
Here are some tips for approaching and finding and getting what you need:
1. Many girls who approach me who want to model are eager to "Find a photographer" or they want to "get a photographer interested in shooting them." Well, I think before you search for a photographer, or get in front of the camera, an aspiring model has to know what photos she needs, and I think investing in yourself, paying to work with a professional who has quality work is a good idea to start. Paying $100 for a headshot is worth it, but even that can be very low price to pay, and of course you don't always get what you pay for, or..you do, and sometimes it might take more than one shoot to get what you need...it is a part of the process of being self-made. It is not easy. Something that will help is: Do YOU know what photos will work for you as a model? DO you know what type of photography YOU NEED to work as a model? If you don't I would find out, research or search thing blog to find out. Commercial print modeling is very different than fashion and nude modeling. Commercial print modeling is a lot more conservative and about personality, smiles, and energy and knowing the style of photo you need is very important when it comes to finding a photographer who can help you get the photos you need.
2. It is best to approach a photographer who understands what print modeling is. And for a shorter girl, your face is something that needs to be captured well,so if the photographer doesn't understand this, then most likely this is not a someone to work with, you should skip working with this person all together because you will end up wasting your time shooting nothing you need.
3. If you are on a budget and trying to get a couple shots for your compcard and portfolio which can market you towards print modeling, here are some suggestions of things you can offer to try to get what you need from a professional photographer when you do not have the funds for a full shoot. Be honest about your budget when approaching a photographer. Offer something to make the shoot worthwhile and make you stand out-- such as: a location, does your friend work at a cool cafe, lounge, furniture store, art gallery, is your friend a jewelry designer and could you offer to borrow some of the jewelry for the shoot, do you know a makeup artist who the photographer might be interested in working with? Show you are bringing to the table your understanding that to get something on a budget you should be a part of the process and show you are not just another model asking for a test.
4. Don't just think that styling, makeup, and good lighting makes the shots you need. The styling has to be fitting for the type of modeling you want to do, the makeup has to be fitting as well. Again, #1 know what type of photos you need.
5. Talk ahead of time about EVERYTHING, how many photos will you get and when? Get in writing if you can.
6. Another option all together is calling a print modeling agency, pick up the phone and call, and ask the agency what photographers they can suggest you shoot a headshot with. Usually agencies do have photographer's they can suggest to you.
7. To make a comp card you want to show the real you and the best of you and if you are really struggling with your budget and what you need, then here is another idea.
At sunset, or in the morning, (good light) have a friend of yours shoot some smile shots of you. Wear some jeans, a tee-shirt, a dress, and keep the makeup natural and hair natural. Hold a handbag, act like you are modeling some cute shoes, play with your dog. Basic shots are what you need and I do suggest aiming to work with a professional, but to "just get some first shots, shoot with your friend or even your mother.
8. Before your shoot study examples of ads and commercials, get in front of the mirror and practice posing naturally, hold a product, and start to learn how to model "something" naturally. Modeling is about modeling something. Modeling a product. Study lifestyle ads, notice the girls smiling. This is commercial print modeling, study ads and notice the styling, the hair, and model's expression, it is usually simple, natural, and full of real'ness.
I believe success comes when you know your self, and are smart about your pursuirs and I believe in investing in yourself, and aiming to work with people who are serious about their photography craft. In my early modeling pursuits i had some very poo-poo tfp, and mainly it was because I wasn't thinking about what I needed and just focusing on getting infront of the camera, even if it wasn't quality. Which I did for a year. I made many mistakes at the start of my pursuits as a model, (my memoir Almost 5'4") shares much of these not-so-wonderful experiences, and how I overcame them. If I could do it again I would have aimed higher sooner, which is why I am telling you to do so. Aim higher, want better for your self and get more and better quality and build friendships with people who value their work, have ambition and are talented.
These days if you are just looking for someone with a camera that is easy to find, but to find someone who is testing models, or someone who is worth your money takes knowing what you need.
Here are some things to be aware of and be in the know of to prevent a letdown:
I suggest not walking into anyone's apartment to shoot a photo shoot without an escort. Be comfortable and go with your gut if something feels wrong, leave, walk out, you do not have to stay. Even in a photo-studio feel that you can bring an escort, and if the photographer does not let you bring an escort this is a good sign that the photographer is not really a photographer afterall and is really a creep.
Skip scams and mistakes and bad experiences by striving to work not just with photographers with skill but photographers that are also nice people. People who communicate with the model, who make the process about communicating and collaborating and understanding one another's goals of the shoot. If it feels like you are there just for the photographers pleasure, that is not a good thing. You should leave.