I get asked often whether or not my models are professionals or if I like to work with amateurs versus experienced models. There are obvious advantages and disadvantages to both, but if I would have to pick one, I am usually more excited to work with someone with little to no experience in modeling given that she has visible potential. Before I list my reasons why I would choose either one, it would be best to explain my type of work. I prefer my style of photography to be intimate and feel more personal, almost a boyfriend perspective rather than a studio session. I want the audience to feel as if they are actually there playing with a real woman. I want the chemistry and interaction to be palpable. I don’t want the model to feel distant as if she were above and beyond the reach of the audience. Simply put, I want the girl-next-door feel.
When working with an experienced model, it depends what field of modeling she fits into. My least favorite type are fashion models, they have memorized ten fashion poses that are usually unnatural, sometimes uncomfortable looking, or simply just trying too hard to look different. A fashion model’s job is to make clothing look good, not their own body. Granted, if a model has the ideal height, face, and body structure, she can make any pose look good, however it still won’t convey a sense of intimacy in the photos that I am looking for. No matter how hard I try to direct an experienced fashion model to be more natural and playful, the poses are so ingrained into their muscle memory that they fall back into them and I just shake my head! On the other hand, if the experienced model usually does glamour or any other sexy genres, then I’ll shut my mouth and let her take control of the session and I become a trigger-happy-puppy. She will know how to flirt with the camera, how to tease with her outfit, and enjoy being suggestive with her poses. An experienced model in the same genre as the photographer’s interest make the session go by incredibly fast and efficient with guaranteed results.
When working with beginners, it’s always a gamble whether or not this model will truly have potential in front of the camera. The true test is when the shutter starts clicking and the model is required to start moving fluidly and interacting with the photographer. All beginners need some warm up time, some women require only thirty minutes while some might need additional future sessions. My evaluation for every model on her potential varies greatly on what I think of their looks, attitude, and personality. I might give some women more chances than others. It does seem like a lot of investment is required in terms of time and energy to work with a new model, time spent coaching and directing her. Notice I used the term investment. Being a model’s first photographer leaves a huge impression on her and usually gives me priority for future work if I make her feel beautiful, sexy, and comfortable. This is true throughout the photography world. I’ve ran into models that will not shoot intimate portraits with anyone else other than their “personal photographer”, just as I have models that are exclusively mine. An experienced model might work with me only if I can trade her final edits or if payment is involved. A beginner who is looking to build her portfolio will be my muse for the time being and I can pursue my creative path without the pressure of delivering a final product. We are all possessive in some ways. To summarize, the best things about a new model is the exclusivity of their time and image, and being able to mold them to how I work as a photographer.
I believe both experienced models and inexperienced models both have something to put on the table, and both are a gamble sometimes, so I don’t restrict myself to one group. I really just want to find the next model that I can share amazing chemistry with and really blow the audience away with spectacularly intimate photos that other photographers haven’t captured of them. I’ve had plenty of bad experiences, but each one is a learning process to better filter out future potentials, and the amount of amazing women I’ve created incredible work with far surpasses the forgettable ones.
Cassie is a true testimony to my philosophy. Treat the women you work with respectfully and generously, and you will build a special relationship that will be rewarding in your career and personal life. I was Cassie’s first photographer many years ago, and even though she doesn’t look a day older or an ounce less stunning, she was a timid and shy model during the first session. She eventually jumped into the glamour modeling world and has built a great amount of experience with many photographers while sharing an occasional shoot with me during that time. Since then, she has been concentrating more on her career and less focused on modeling. I am the one she’ll call up whenever she’s in the mood, and I can proudly say I will always be her photographer and she will always enjoy the freedom of being in a state of undress and feeling beautiful in front of my lens. Every second I’ve invested in her from the first day to the end of the last session hasn’t made her more of a professional or less of an amateur, it has made us into the ideal artist and muse pair.