My Ultra Helpful Guide to Approaching Models for TF

15 Jan

Okay, so here you are amateur photographer and you want to work with a model on a trade basis. Or maybe you’re an award-winning photographer who is new to working with models. Or maybe you’ve worked trade before and you’re having a hard time finding more models to work trade with. Or maybe you’re just reading this because you found it.

I wrote this in response to my time in MM forums and my own experiences being approached for trade work. A lot of photographers seem to have difficulty finding models to shoot trade with. Or maybe that have difficulty getting the models they want to work trade with to work trade with them. Of course, you can’t get every model to work trade with you. Maybe that specific model doesn’t shoot trade at all. Maybe you need to improve your style or skills before that model is comfortable shooting trade with you. So please don’t misunderstand and think I’m saying you can shoot trade with any model you happen to want to shoot trade with. I’m just trying to share some general guidelines for those who might be having difficulty.

So without further elaboration, let’s get started. And please don’t be offended with some of this. I’m taking what I’ve read (and experiences I’ve had and been told about by other models) into account here. Not everything here applies to everyone.

1. We really don’t care how awesome you say you are. But we do care about how awesome your work is. All most of us want is work we can put in our portfolios.

2. Don’t be a dick/ass/bitch to us. Period. At all. Ever. We tend to respond poorly to this and nobody likes a condescending attitude. Don’t tell us that we should feel lucky to work with you. Chances are if that’s true, we already feel that way.

3. Don’t lecture us on escorts. If you have an escort policy, it shouldn’t take more than a couple sentences to explain. Please don’t tell us what type of man we should date. Please don’t give us examples of other situations that we wouldn’t bring an escort to and try to relate it to modeling. While some of it may be true, you really aren’t likely to change our minds.

4. Many of us have circumstances listed in which we will in fact shoot trade, even if we generally shoot only paid work. Some of us will trade or barter for various things. Wardrobe and shoes are a common one, but there are many of them and they vary greatly depending on the model. There is a group shoot event called DEAC where I shoot trade, and only trade, for example.

5. Tell us why you want to work with us (in a non-creepy way). Maybe you like our posing style. Maybe your like our face or our eyes. You don’t have to say a lot, but something that lets us know you aren’t just droning through a ton of models sending them the same message over and over.

6. Pretty please read our profile/website. Many of the questions I get asked by photographers are already answered there and while I don’t mind answering them again, if the photographer doesn’t like my answer sometimes they seem to feel like they wasted their time contacting me and that’s not helpful for anybody.

7. Give us at least a brief little outline of what style(s) or genre(s) you want to shoot with us. It’s a bit confusing for us to try to figure out what you might like, especially if your portfolio is full of different styles.

8. If our profile says we don’t do something, or don’t do something for trade please don’t ask us to do it for trade. Or if you absolutely must ask, please do so nicely and don’t be offended when we decline.

9. Don’t talk us out of working with you. Don’t tell us that you should be paying us or that you’re not that good, but maybe we’ll be nice enough to shoot with you. Tell us what you have to offer. Maybe you’re a student and you’re working on a project, maybe the images will be in a gallery, maybe you think you have a really cool style or concept.

10. Don’t expect us to travel long distances for a trade shoot. Some of us will, but it’s not a given.

Hopefully my list will help you and, if nothing else, perhaps at least amused you a bit. Hopefully you picked up on the slightly sarcastic tone. And while this was written in a slightly sarcastic manner, it was meant to be truthful.

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