Some helpful hints on booking commercial work with a photographer.

Photographers are always going to want to work with models who make our jobs easier.

I can’t speak for other photographers, but I’m happy to share my booking process with you.

My first priority in any commercial shoot is making my client happy. In many cases, they’re working with an ad agency, so I’m trying to make multiple third parties happy. In many cases I have little or no input in casting a Shoot. I’m getting hired because of what my work looks like. It’s the hired gun scenario. But if I make all those people happy, they’ll want to hire me again. And if you can help me do that, I will want to hire YOU again.

However, if the client is not local, and they’re not sending me somewhere, they’ll want me to provide them with a selection of potentially suitable models based on the design brief they’ve sent me and our creative discussions.

Sometimes these briefs and discussions are incredibly specific, other times I have more freedom. But at the end of the day, my job is to make the client happy.

At this point I create a casting call. Especially if I’m looking for a model who wouldn’t be routinely represented by a modeling agency. In a lot of editorial style work I may be searching for a type, a “look”, or a character in the little movie that’s running through my head. Finding a model/actor is fantastic for these kinds of shoots.

I recently posted a casting call for a skincare company. The design brief calls for the photographs to illustrate their product being used. But the model’s identity is not shown. This tells me that they want the audience to be able to see themselves using the product and not identifying it with a specific person. So my model is “every woman”. Of course this also means the modeling fee is smaller!

My client has spent a lot of time thinking about the demographics of “who” they’re selling their product to. And what they want the images of their product to convey. Let’s face it, “body wash” is liquid soap. How do
I add value to liquid soap? How can I make this look like the greatest liquid soap in the whole world?

As a photographer I want to work with models who are professional and prepared, and that starts with reading the casting call carefully. Do you fit the description?

If I ask for a Link to your portfolio in the casting call, that means you need to have a portfolio. An Instagram profile doesn’t count, nor does a Facebook page. We live in an era where a model can create an online “book” very easily and very inexpensively.

And an online book shouldn’t have more than 20 images in it. 12-14 is fine, as long as they’re all from different shoots. You shouldn’t be including multiple images from a single Shoot. And it’s just as easy to create a PDF comp card. Think of it as your business card.

*Important Note: If you’re unfamiliar with portfolios, ‘books’ and comp cards, these are basic modeling tools that you should immediately familiarize yourself with. The internet is filled with great tips on creating killer portfolios, books and comp cards.

In all these cases, the key points to take away are that less is more. Be laser focused. Fewer images are actually better. But every image should showcase the best aspects of you.

That’s why I don’t want to have to go to a Facebook or Instagram account and dig through images of you at the beach, your cat or dog, or what you had for lunch. And because i am not going to show it to my client, I’m not even going to look at it.

What I want is for my client to see that I have contacts with 6-8 models, all of whom are organized and professional and worth $2000 to represent their product.

Because I really believe in the importance of diversity, I am looking for a range of different bodies when I say something like “fit and toned”. To me that means someone who represents an active, healthy lifestyle, if not specifically ‘athletic’. Someone who runs, cycles, goes to the gym or yoga studio, dances or does Pilates, etc. And of course, after all those activities, you use body wash!

And diversity also means representing all the amazing people who make up this big, wide, wonderful world we live in. I’d love for this first body wash Shoot to turn into a bigger campaign. With more bodies, in every shade.

So, please, help me make it easy to hire you! It’s a cliche to say that you only have one chance to make a good first impression. It’s a cliche because it’s true. Make your submission materials so good that it makes it hard not to hire you!

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