I have been shooting freelance models for over 2 years now. The difference between me and the next Tom holding a camera is that i do seriously consider my passion in photography as a way of helping freelance models. How i came about adopting this notion is thru several experiences and my personal beliefs.
Firstly, i am a married guy, just crossed the 40th birthday. Now, surely i know how it looks like going around shooting young girls in their early 20s, since this age range of 18-25 dominates the freelancing models. Before appointing myself as somekind of “hero” in this community, i gave myself a set of rules. I will list them below and frankly, i have been quite successful in this pursuit although i have not perfected my own thoughts and maybe have instances that i have failed maintaining one of the rules as i intended it to be.
5 Rules every photographer should have when shooting freelance models
1. Never touch the model during pose
A good photographer should never touch the model for aiding in pose. Its pretty ironic how some photographers feel that they are qualified to teach posing in the first place, being non-professional and being rooted in asian culture. Touching the models not only disregard this fact, but it opens up dangerous expectation whereby the photographer could be bordering on molestation. Its obvious that these freelance models are not professional models in most cases and at most, have taken just cat walk from Amber chia or other academy.
A good photographer should instead just voice out how he wants the model to pose and what kind of emotion he would expect. If the model is unable to perform, he could show by his own pose what he thinks the pose should be or allow generous attempt by the model to try out the pose.
2. Always deliver some good images within 3 days
These freelance models needs the images for their portfolio. I am assuming its a collaborative work and not some paid event that focuses mostly on shooting for fun. Never underestimate the power of photos shown to agents and its potential in helping freelance models. They need the photos and that is why you are shooting them, so deliver the photos as soon as possible with some editing.
3. Don’t get emotionally attached
The models are often pretty and beautiful. Its not hard statistically to accept the fact that the more freelance models you meet, chances are that you going to meet one that you like sooner or later. You can’t compare your “aged” gf or wife to them and when you do meet one that has character or attitudes that you personally fancy, you risk being emotionally involved.
My advice would be, stick to “friendship” or being “friends” as ultimatum borderline when this does happens and remember rule #1.
Of course you can have many friends that from this community just like any other community and you can also have very beautiful friendships that can last for a lifetime but remember the objective in why you get to know them in the first place.
If you are single and the other party shows similar interests, this rule can be ignored and go ahead be bf/gf. Else stick with it.
If you are already in a committed relationship, you should adopt this rule before you even venture into shooting freelance.
Remember Star Trek? While there is nothing wrong to have friendship-emotion like those of portrayed by Captain Kirk with Spock, in photography you are like Spock driving the Starship enterprise, if you are emotionally compromised, you resign your position cause you going to set a bad example to the community and you have no idea how many ppl will copy your example.
4. Freelance models are models
They are models or at least trying to be one, some might even aim for full time. Like any other models, they do have their aspirations and dreams. Your task, is just to take photos, let the clients/agents see them in different themes/outfit/expression so that they get jobs. They are not your GF. There is no point taking photos with them or posing with them unless they are developed to be your friends and its done casually just like you would with other friends.
Publishing photos of the photographer with the freelance models on facebook or instagram are nothing except “Sendiri shok”, nobody wants to see it and viewers don’t see the photographer as some successful casanova but rather some lonely and pitiful guy.
5. Avoid Lingerie/Nude and Hotel shoot
While many will disagree with me on this since the idea of “fine art” tends to steer towards this, but the fact is, most photographers are not professionals nor full time graduate of fine art photography or works for fashion houses nor Victoria Secret. In fact i haven’t met one in these 2 years that could give me straight face or honest to self evaluation that they did it out of the love for art.
First of all, event jobs and the jobs that freelance models participate, 99% does not require these kind of photos, so its useless for them to have such themes done. Second, lingerie brochures and catalogues already comes with models before it reaches the local country here, there is literally, no market to have such collaboration.
Freelance models that does this, are doing it for just $$$ event itself, never for collaboration.
Fact is, nearly every single negative image of a model photography can be traced to some Peeping Tom photography that is 80% driven by horny guys with just 20% of actual photography.
Photographers with more than half of their albums consisting of freelance models in these themes should register themselves with the authorities and engage in counseling, they are a risk to the community.
Now with the rules done, i focuses on improving my skills in photography while dishing out advice to whomever i encounter. In most cases i will just be frank with them. Some are just not cut out to be models professionally due to limitation in height and other factors. Some have high potential and some are already way over popular even before i met them. Some have sweet faces innocent outlook and that is a very popular demand locally so they will do well in normal freelancing.
Model Freelancing is just a way to earn income and often you have to balance it between an actual career and the lure of being a full time freelancing. Frankly, full time freelancing is a big no simply because these jobs are dependent on nothing but the model’s “beauty” which diminishes comparatively vs the younger generation as each year passes by. Actress/acting in Malaysia is very limited and should be avoided as a goal, casting jobs favors euro/western looking ladies. Well in short, for freelance models, i would advice to just earn as much as u can decently while pursuing doing a proper degree until you reach 25.
Its easy for freelance models to be disillusioned, so really, if you are a photographer and if your friends are into freelance, dishing out occasional “reality” messages is the best thing you can do as a friend. There is a reason why the percentage of freelance models in age 18-25 is like 1000% more than those in 28-30. Once the girl reaches 27-28, no freelance jobs and no experience and no degree…the sudden drop in income would be hard to deal with.