“You’re too good to work with me”

I recently came across a social media status update by one of the more accomplished fashion and beauty models within the photography community, somebody I’ve worked with and have another shoot planned for next month. The nature of the model’s update was about conversations she’s had with photographers, the type of photographer I would class myself as: hobbyists, keen amateurs, professional hopefuls, or possibly even the complete beginners. These gist of this conversation, and I’ve found that this particular model is by no means alone in this, was the photographer not wanting to make a booking because, in their own words “oh you’re too good for me”.

The feeling being that booking one of the top models would be a waste of everybody’s time because the skills of the photographer don’t match the model’s ability.

This is of course complete nonsense. Utter balderdash.

Of course I understand the sentiment; I’ve been through similar feelings myself, but they are easy to get over when you work with these models. So if there are any photographers reading who think that they can’t book a particular model because she’s too good, or you’re not good enough, and are perhaps thinking some of the things I’ve thought in the past, let me try to help you.

Don’t worry that you can’t produce images as good as those in the model’s portfolio. You’re not meant to. It doesn’t matter, and nobody is expecting you to any way. Shoot for yourself. If you want to improve then an experienced model can help. They have experience and if that’s what you’re lacking then you should definitely book them.

Take Artemis Fauna for instance.

Artemis Fauna
Artemis Fauna from out first photo shoot

Artemis is, aside from being a very experienced and incredibly beautiful model, is also an accomplished photographer. Whilst we were discussing shoot ideas we also spoke about lens choice and suggested aperture value combinations. This was incredibly helpful.

Sinopa Rin is another example of the “modelographer”.

Sinopa Rin
Sinopa teaches me something new on each photoshoot

I was lucky enough to have Sinopa along on my first shoot. She was supposed to be there as a model, but ended up being a teacher, educator, motivator, and possibly therapist too. I gain more and more knowledge from each photoshoot with Sinopa. If there is ever a moment of doubt or uncertainty she will always add a creative suggestion when asked.

Continuing the trend of models who know life on both sides of the lens is Arabella.

Arabella
Arabella helped me get started in the right way

I only found out how good Arabella was with a camera after our photoshoot had finished and she showed me some of her published works. Arabella was one of the experienced models who took a chance on me in the early days just when I got started and didn’t have a stack of positive references to my name.  Her experience and creative eye were invaluable in helping my get started and most importantly to get better.

Stephanie Dubois is another I’ve been lucky enough to shoot with.

Stephanie Dubois
“Too good to work with me”

I will admit that immediately before making the booking to work with Stephanie I felt a lot of the feelings that some of the photographers mentioned at the start of this post had been going through. Why would Stephanie work with me? The answer is because she’s a professional model and I’m a photographer. That’s how these images are created. Stephanie didn’t care that the images would end up on my blog and not the from cover of Vogue. She understands that there are amateurs out there looking to create photographs and was happy to help me. I’m very much looking forward to working with her again.

There is a longer list of top models that I’ve worked with, but this was starting to look like me showing off rather trying to help a photographer make a booking with one of the top models. Believe me when I tell you that your starting skill levels is irrelevant, and will improve if you work with these model. Don’t be scared, don’t worry you are not good enough, just commit to the booking. You will not regret it.

Danny.

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Drinking all of Arabella’s tea

Last few posts about my photographic journey have of course all been about working with models ever since I found the PurplePort website. This post is no exception, and is all about my shoot with Arabella.

When I first joined the site I knew I was going to need some help getting started. When you create an account on PurplePort, they create a list for you called “People I’d like to work with”, and you can add people to the list with the click of a button. Not keen on the name so I decided to create a new list called “Models who could help me get started”. A much nicer name I felt. So I set about the task of searching for some help.

This is a fairly short list, and the models were chosen because they were either nearby, mentioned on their portfolio notes that they would work with beginners, had an outstanding portfolio – images and notes, said nice things in the groups, or, let’s face some facts here, I had a little crush on. Arabella qualified for the list on all counts and was instantly added as soon as I saw her portfolio. Thinking nothing more about it, I continued my search.

A short while later I received a flashing red notification. I had a message. I didn’t get many messages at the time. I wondered who it could be. It was a message from Arabella. I panicked. Models didn’t message me other than to keep their reply rates up with a “Thanks but no thanks Mr No References”. This was a different message however, a nice message thanking me for adding her to my list and would I like to arrange a photo shoot? My hear skipped a beat; several in fact.

I sent a very direct and succinct reply to Arabella, stating …. oh who am I kidding? I prattled on and on about me and Lego, and how I’m new, and how I’m a complete nervous wreck, and who pretty she looks, ladies underwear, and just a whole load of nonsense. Awful message! I pressed send, started looking for the Recall Message button, realised there wasn’t one, had a little cry, and then got back to counting my no references.

A short while later Arabella replied and ACTUALLY AGREED TO DOING A SHOOT WITH ME! I couldn’t believe it! Mad woman!

I was of course overjoyed. I did a little happy dance around the room, got back to the keyboard, and tried to act cool. More messages were sent, a mood board created, and a date arranged. Before I knew it, the date came, and here’s what happened.

Arabella says that she likes to drink a lot of tea. This is good. I love tea. So to get things started we had a cuppa,  had a nice chat about photography, drink some more tea, bit more chatting, and a final get-read culpa, and then we got started.  We began the shoot indoors with a portraiture session. I wanted to practice using my speedlites so we tried some head shots. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get one of the strobes to fire. It would work for two shots then stop. I would like to say that this is the first time I’ve ever had an equipment failure in front of a beautiful woman, but alas that wouldn’t be true.

Me: “This has never happened to me before”

Arabella: “It’s ok, it’s not important”

Me: “But it was all working fine last night when I was practicing on my own”

Arabella: “Don’t worry, it’s not a big deal. It happens to lots of other men. I have a solution …”

Fortunately Arabella took the matter in hand – now now – and provided some lights and soft boxes of her own, and we got down to creating some photos (at last).

I’ll be honest here, most of the shots from the first session are not my best work. Arabella was great, and had lots of props, hats, nets, and all kinds of things, but my heart just wasn’t in it. Studio type environments are quite alien to me and that’s somewhere I really need more practice. After a quick cup of tea we decided to head outside to a local beauty
spot. I’m much more comfortable in this sort of environment.

There was a nice bridge.

And then we found a bench

I really was starting to feel much better about the photo shoot now, and I think it’s showing in the images.

We wandered over to the bandstand an Arabella stared doing her stuff.

If I look back at the images I’ve taken since starting to work with models, oat are head shots. I like them. The reason I started this little journey was to get better at portraits. So, I moved in a little closer …

And closer …

And even closer …

It was around this point in the shoot where Arabella told me a funny story about how when out on another photo shoot her and the photographer met another middle aged man out with a beautiful young woman and realised they were out on a shoot too. They waved to each other in a photographer-and-model-comradery sort of way. I laughed, but all I was thinking was “Oh no! I’m a middle aged man chasing after young women with my camera. Talk about mid-life crisis!”

So for pointing out the obvious I made Arabella lie on the freshly cut grass as revenge. Wink

We wrapped things up, almost a full hour over time, and headed back to Arabella’s, bu alas she was out of tea bags.

The three models unfortunate enough to have worked with me at this point will have noticed me saying “May I?” whilst gesturing with the camera moving towards my eye, in a may-I-take-a-photo kind of way. This is something I’ll need to get over. As we parted I did ask Arabella “May I?”, but was with outstretched arms in offer of a goodbye hug. I couldn’t even shake the hand of the first model I met, just left her stood there with an outstretch hand for far too long. This I think is personal progress for me.

And that’s the end of the story … almost.

Perhaps I should’t share this with you, but after returning home Arabella and I exchanged a few messages and appropriate feedback was left. She then told me that she’d only recently heard news of a tragic event involving somebody dear to her. She thanked me for a nice shoot. I was utterly gobsmacked that she’s gone ahead with the shoot. I’d have cancelled. Arabella honoured her commitment to a complete stranger, a middle-aged GWAC (Guy With A Camera) she’d never met. This I think speaks more about her professionalism and honour than my words ever could.

Thank you Arabella. x