Many people in the industry work with models on a trade basis. To those who don’t know what that means, it means a model and a photographer, Make up artists or MUA’s, hair stylist (sometimes one and the same as a MUA), clothing designers and stylist, all work for the same images they produce , hopefully good enough for their portfolios. No money is usually exchanged between artists although some may be spent on materials (which could be split among participants). Some might want to sign a release, but this is not always nessesary, or a legality in most states but thats another blog coming soon.
Many times a new photographer will reach out and find new models to work with. SOMETIMES the models aren’t so good, photographers either. Most of the time these sessions can lead nowhere. You get a good shot or two out of several hundred or maybe a thousand. They can be good for all involved if they are used as learning tool, but many times they are frusterating for all parties involved, but they don’t have to be.
A trade should be called a “collaboration”.
If you approach it in this way it can be a great experience for everyone. A collaboration should be treated as any other paid shoot or job you work. Preparation, planning, creativity and follow through. Now having said that, you probably think I am talking about the photographer. I’m not. Here is where the collaboration comes in.
If and when you contact models, MUA’s etc.. you should be ready to listen, negotiate, communicate ideas and then decide whether to shoot. Just because you like a look of a model doesn’t necessarily mean you have the same goals or ideas of what you want. If you do connect on a level then here is where you start. Show up a to a shoot with no idea of what your in for, and you’ll get the same out of it.
A model should be as involved as the photographer in this shoot. They can contact MUA’s bring outfits and even help find locations and network. If a model or photographer balk at any of this, just walk away and look for someone who will. If you are going to give your time, which we all know is valuable, then why not make the very most out of every click of the shutter.
I personally like to talk to everyone I work with at least face to face. If thats not possible, then by phone, remember that cool feature on your… phone? Good communication is a crucial element to a successful shoot and without it only luck can make it have good results. Many people have been able to put images like this in their portfolio they use to seek out paid work. besides, someone who looks at your port will never know the difference if the work is good enough. It will also show you know how to work with a team which a plus to most editors.
So start by not calling it a “trade” but a “collaberation”. At least your perception of what you are doing will start to change.