I don’t care if you plan to model once in your life, you just picked up a camera, or you just randomly decided five minutes ago to get into this, you can (and should) be professional in how you act.
The word professional in the model photography “industry” has two general meanings:
1. Professional as in someone who does this as their job and usually they’re fairly good at it.
2. Professional as in acting like a mature, responsible person, in other words having a professional attitude.
I’m talking about #2 in this article.
I’d like you to think about all those times you were out at a store or at work or where ever and you thought “Gee, that person is so unprofessional” or “Wow, that person must really just not care what people about their work/their business/etc.” You don’t want to be that person, particularly since model photography tends to be a very networked, social field. It’s okay if this is a hobby for you, it is for me too, and it’s great if you’re lucky enough to model or photograph for a living. We’re all into the same thing, maybe different styles and aspects, but it’s the same nonetheless.
Now, let’s look at some basic ideas to help us on our way to being professional.
1. Everybody starts somewhere. Don’t look down on others or trash talk about them just because they’re not as “good” as you. Photography (and modeling) are forms of art and we are all entitled to our own opinions. Some of us are slower to learn. Some of us simply like different styles. Some of us can afford better equipment or wardrobe or whatever else.
2. People talk. As I said before, model photography is a very social field. If you do something unkind, or irresponsible, or just plain out of line, people are going to hear about it. The same goes for if you do a fantastic job and you’re great to work with.
3. You aren’t going to work well or “click” with everyone. It happens. Not everybody’s personalities are compatible and that’s okay. You don’t have to work with anyone you don’t want to. However, if and when you are around people you don’t click with, the professional thing to do is to remain civil and simply avoid any tension if at all possible.
4. We all like different styles. Some of us shoot nudes, some wouldn’t dream of it. Some of us shoot for publication, some don’t. Some of us shoot weddings or portraits or animals or whatever else. Some of us shoot glamour, or fashion, or fetish, or casual, or whatever else. You won’t like everything I shoot, and I won’t like everything you shoot. We must agree to disagree sometimes.
Your attitude, both in text and in person or on the phone, can play a fairly large part in your modeling or photography. It’s very, very easy, particularly in forums on modeling sites, to get carried away and make a very poor impression. The important thing to remember is that people do remember, they do notice and they do talk to each other.
For example, if you post on a forum and you act like a diva or you’re rude or otherwise unsavory, you may lose potential shoots. ‘Well, nobody in my area uses the forums’ you may say. And while that may be true, never discount those that don’t live near you. I’ve had several photographers from other states/cities contact me for work after having seen some forum post I made that they liked or found insightful.
If you come across as fun to work with or as having a really good attitude, photographers may be much more inclined to find a way to shoot with you. This might be via them traveling to you, offering you paid work in their area, etc.
But forums always carry a certain amount of drama, right? No kidding. However, you as a mature, professional model (or photographer or whatever for that matter) are there to network, share ideas, and talk about relevant things. You are not there for petty arguments over where tattoos are good or bad, whether so and so should or shouldn’t be there, or anything else. You should offer your insight if you feel so inclined, but don’t get in arguments if you can help it. If something is starting to irk you, walk away. Go comment some photos, practice your poses, or find another topic to discuss.
And what about interactions in person? Those are important too. I’m not going to go too deep into how you should act while shooting right now, but I will say that your attitude during a shoot can be so much more than just a one time, in the moment thing. Photographers and models talk to each other. I have gotten a fair amount of paid and solid trade work just by being a good model, having a good personality and being fun to work with. Photographers I worked with talked to others and there is no local photographer I’ve worked with recently who hasn’t said they’ve heard great things about me. I’ve even worked with photographers from out of state who have friend here who knew about me. And it wasn’t hard at all. I just did what I’m supposed to do. I’ve had my share of issues as well, but I handled them to the best of my ability and moved on.
A good attitude can be a powerful thing. A bad attitude can ruin your reputation. Besides, you’ll feel better and be more confident if you’re honest, friendly, and professional. You’ll probably have setbacks, we’re all human, but try to keep the drama to a minimum.