I can't honestly say that portraiture is really my thing. It's not what I grab my camera for every day. But I can't deny that portraiture is a huge part of photography, and it is nice when you have the right people to work with.
A few weeks ago I put an ad up on Craigslist that I was searching for models who needed shots for their portfolios. I need some for my portfolio too so I figured a nice trade was in order. I was surprised that it took a little while to get my first contact. I even had to renew my post to get one. Finally though someone contacted me and I was quite pleased. We set up a date to shoot and all seemed well. Of course Texas being Texas, the weather went from absolutely wonderful to absolutely dreadful that week so I told her we may have to reschedule but we would just have to see closer to the day of the shoot. So fast forward to the day of the shoot and my message to her was basically, "Hey it is a little cold but the weather isn't too bad, we can go ahead with the shoot if you wish." No response... She ended up flaking out on the shoot.
A word to the wise for photographers, models, or anyone wishing to do any kind of business: don't be flaky. I would rather the model have told me, "Hey you know what? I'm not really feeling it today, I'll tell you when I am ready," and I would have been perfectly fine with that. When you just completely bail on people, you end up burning bridges. I am not pretending that my photos were going to launch her modeling career into super stardom, but you never know what could happen when you make these kinds of connections. In the art world, connections are everything so don't bail on the people who are trying to help.
It was back to Craigslist for me and I started to question again why it was taking so long to get hits on my ad so I did a little research. I knew from the start there are better sites to advertise on but I was looking for a specific kind of model. Someone with little to no experience who was simply looking to add to their portfolio. So I picked Craigslist which was good and bad at the same time. I started looking at the section I had posted in and quickly came up with a hypothesis as to why I was not getting very many hits on my ad. Many(I use that word lightly) of the ads in that same section were for some form of nude services. Even amateur porn in some cases! While I agree that there is a certain artistic aspect to the nude body, I seriously doubt Craigslist is where you should be searching for such things. What it meant to me is that many people glanced over my ad and saw it as "one of those," ads.
My hypothesis was sort of proven correct by the next two inquiries I received. One was an escort asking to take nude photos for her and another was a... questionable modeling agent. Again, nude photography is not something I would shy away from. I am not a 13 year old boy. But you can just never tell with Craigslist and so I had to decline.
Luckily enough I was contacted for a fourth time by Jasmine, the model you are seeing in this post. At this point I really didn't think much of her contact because of the previous instances, but mostly because of the previous model who had flaked out. I kind of expected her to do the same. But I went ahead and scheduled a shoot and we went from there.
I am quite happy that I did schedule a shoot with her. She was actually very pleasant to work with which made the whole thing enjoyable and comfortable. That's the other thing, if you are a model or a photographer, do everything in your power to make the other person comfortable. Don't expect too much or be too overbearing and on the other side of the token don't be too clammed up and boring. In Jasmine's case she was quite friendly, talkative, and fun.
One thing she did that I am glad for too is that she brought along a friend. This made me happy for a few reasons. For one, it is always nice to have someone around to help make a model smile more naturally. Especially with models who have little or no experience, it is a bit tough looking natural and comfortable in front of a camera. I mean really, how would you react with a person putting a camera in your face knowing full well these photos may be shown to hundreds if not thousands of people? I bet it would be anything but natural. So bringing a friend along to lighten the mood is a good thing. Another reason though is simply security. Again, being that this was a Craigslist ad, you never really can tell what you are getting yourself into. It makes me sad that I need to say that but it is a simple fact. She was smart for bringing a friend for that reason. Honestly there is no telling who I am or what intentions I have. It just so happens that I am me and my intentions are to take photos. For all of these reasons I brought along my sister Janett. My hope was that a female presence would lighten the mood a bit. Plus Janett helped me out a lot with things so I must thank her for that.
So that's it for this story I guess. Everything I said here could really apply to any professional setting and not just photography. I think the key to getting what you are looking for in any professional endeavor is just to be relaxed. I have always found that a relaxed atmosphere always goes over far better than a stressful one.
Here are a few more shots from that day. I wish I was better at editing and retouching to get rid of fly away hairs but alas, I am not. However, this was an outdoor shoot, that stuff happens. If this was going into publication I would have definitely sent the images off to a retoucher and had someone doing hair for me on the day of the shoot.