Why Won’t I Shoot With You?

I amended this title a bit – Why Won’t I Shoot With You For Free?

From time to time I post casting calls for photo projects in the model groups I frequent on Facebook. And, inevitably, I get replies from models who, frankly, I have no interest in photographing. Why not? Here are some of the reasons why I won’t shoot with you.

  • You didn’t follow directions – This is kind of petty, I know, but usually I instruct interested models to private message me or visit a page for details of the project. Never fails, though. I get replies that say “interested” or messages that say “Send me more details”. I don’t like being vague with my requests. I spell it all out very plainly so there is no room for confusion. If a model can’t follow simple instructions, she raises concerns about her ability to follow through on a shoot.
  • You obviously didn’t read the shoot description or requirements – When a casting calls for “no tattoos”, that means no tattoos. It doesn’t mean, “I can cover my tats if needed.” If the casting says “petite” it doesn’t mean 5’4″ and 140 pounds. If the shoot description says, plainly and clearly, that nudity is required, don’t say, “I’d love to do [that project] but I don’t do nudes.” (True story – I had a model reply to me that she was really interested in doing the classic figure photo project, but she won’t pose nude. When I asked her how she thought she could do figure without being nude, she said, and I cut and paste directly, “Figure doesn’t mean naked. If that’s all you do, then I feel sorry for you.” Yeah, I won’t be working with her.)
  • “I’d love to do this project! My rates are…” – I rarely pay models. It does happen from time to time – if the model has the portfolio to back up her request for rates (even more rarely). In fact, I have very specific need for a very specific type of model that is a paid opportunity. The models I pay bring something to the shoot worth paying for. Sometimes it is a specific look. Often it is experience with a particular type of work. The shoot description always includes information about compensation.
  • You don’t have the right look – This isn’t the same as not being the right look for the project. This is more general, and with apologies, more blunt. You don’t have the right look for anything I shoot. This is not to say you are unattractive or unappealing. It means that I have a certain aesthetic and preference with the models I choose to work with, and you aren’t it. There may be – hell, there are – dozens of photographers who will work with you. Go to them. Look at my work. Look at the faces and figures I have photographed. Do you complement those women? Does your look match my style? Be honest with yourself about what your look is and what look the photographer prefers.
  • You really don’t have the right look – I don’t care what your grandmother tells you. The fact is that you aren’t pretty enough, tall enough, thin enough, or special enough, to be someone who works with above average photographers. This idea that “anyone can be a model” is as true as “anyone can be a photographer.” Being the subject of someone’s creative work does, by default, make you a model (as the painting of the duchess at the top of this post shows), but that doesn’t mean you are going to appeal to anyone other than beginners, wannabes, or, worst of all, scammers. Again, this doesn’t mean you aren’t attractive to someone somewhere. Hell, my wife thinks I’m attractive, and we all know the truth! There is no way you’re going to see me audition for a part for a leading man or romantic lead. Know the truth about how you look. We aren’t all cut out to be model pretty.
What do you think? Do you agree with me? Do you, as more than one other model (and a few photographers) does, think I’m just an asshole? Chime it. Let’s talk.

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