|What Do You Say To
A Naked Model?
Working with glamour models, Part I
by Joe Farace
If you expect to produce marketable images, communicating with your models is the single most important aspect of glamour photography. That's why the first question photographers ask me about working with nude models is how to talk to them. These shooters want to know the best way to communicate honestly and effectively so models will pose comfortably and with assurance. The most important thing to remember during the entire process is to treat models with the highest ethical and professional standards. It will make your photographs better and your legal bills non-existent.
The best way to get pictures that you both can use is to find common ground. Some models you may hire are amateurs who know little about modeling and less about the business of photography. What you say, how you act, and how you treat your models is a determining factor in your success as a glamour photographer. Building that relationship begins from the first time you talk or meet with a potential model. That's why I believe communications between model and photographer should begin before you meet with them.
I often get calls and e-mails from models and aspiring models requesting test shoots but there's only so much time available. To streamline the process, I mail a Pre-interview form to models before an interview or shoot. The form asks the kind of name, address, and physical description information you might expect, but also what hours and days she's available for photography sessions. I also ask what kind of modeling styles they're available for during the test shoot-not later. The following styles are listed on the form: Maxim-style, Fashion, Lingerie, Swimwear, Business, Artistic Nude, Casual, and Glamour. Potential models are requested to check all that apply
The pre-interview form is indispensable. If you need a swimsuit model and she isn't interested in posing for those kinds of images or her availability and your schedule aren't compatible, you save time and effort by not scheduling an interview. Look for inconsistencies in the answers. I had one model check Maxim-style but not Lingerie and when I asked her why, she said the magazine she saw didn't have lingerie shots in it. Maybe she though I meant Popular Mechanics. You need to ask questions, which is why I also ask for e-mail address, so any questions can be answered before the interview. One model checked "nude" but during the interview when I asked her how comfortable was she posing for nude images, she said "not today!" I never did find out what day, so it's important you stress that models answer all questions honestly.
Along with the pre-interview form, I ask the model to send a small photograph or website URL so I can see what she looks like, although I find attitude is far more important than a model's appearance. If she is a new or inexperienced model, I send another form with information on what I expect from a model, starting with being on time for the shoot. Some of the other tips have to do with what she can do to make her photographs look better while providing variety in her portfolio. To make it convenient for them to reply, I include a self-addressed stamped envelope, but nevertheless only 60% of the models that call or e-mail ever return the pre-interview form. Of that, I interview less than half.
For models that I'm familiar with through their website or referrals from other photographers or models, I use a Casting Form during the interview. The Casting Form is similar to the pre-interview form and includes e-mail address, cell phone, as well as traditional contact information. After making them comfortable, I ask them to fill out the casting form while I look through their book. The questions on the two forms are almost identical, and let me know-along with the kind of images in their portfolio-where I might be able use the model.
You can't rely on forms to do all the work and during the interview I spend time with the model talking with her about the kind of photographs I like to make, but more importantly what she likes to do. When you have overlap in these interests is when you have the possibility of creating great images together. It all boils down to this: If you don't talk to the people you're photographing-relate to them as human beings-you're never going to make good images.