This week I want to go through all the questions that I get about working with a team. We will talk about models first and then we will talk about MUAH and stylists/designers. Last part will be about assistants to photographer, stylist, MUAH and model’s friends on set.
Before we start I just wanted to add that I am talking about what works for my style and aesthetics, you might need to figure out your own solution. But at the same time maybe the points I make are worth consideration while you are working through finding it.
Agency representation. It’s strange for me to hear from MUAH, designers and even magazines that they consider only agency represented models. For me it’s strange for 2 reasons: first, working with new faces from agencies is a big part of my job and I know how easy it is to get signed and how inexperiences a model from agency can be. At the same time, chances are a model that you got through the agency didn’t even see your portfolio let alone liked it. Agent told her where to be and she showed up. For this reason for my editorial I only work with one agency in Boston, with one agent who knows me and knows what’s important for me. In other cases I really can see how good the model would work with me from her portfolio or even just Instagram account.
It depends of course on your style and what you try to achieve. It’s easier to work with an agency model when you have a big team and you need for her to show up on time and be able to sit through 3 hours of hair and makeup and not to “freeze” at the most important moment. But for me it’s much harder to create something very special with a person for whom I am just another assignment.
So on the scale from “first photoshoot” and “10 years of experience” I like to work with both ends, but not the middle. Worst case scenario for me is a model who did a dozen of photoshoots and thinks that she figured it all out. You’ll get diva attitude, 10 poses with no variations and big fear to look wrong in any way. A new model or not-a-model friend will be naive, but honest in expression and will really feel like these few hours are super special. You also can ask a friend to try new and experimental stuff, especially if he/she is in arts as well. Very experienced model on the other hand is tired of endless catalogues and e-commerce assignments and craves something cool and unusual and she is ready to step out of her comfort zone to get that.
Working with a model more then once. Some of my best pictures are made with a model I only worked with once, others are made during photoshoot #3 or 4. Many of the models think that second photoshoot is a question of liking or disliking someone, but sometimes the only one photoshoot is so good because it’s the only one you will have with that person — you go a bit greedy and try to push yourself to get the best result. With other people you need to go slow and build trust or just get better understanding of person’s face and body language before you will think about that one perfect idea for this person.