A few simple practices when considering hiring a photographer, or agreeing to work with one.
*from an article by paul buceta
1) Do they have a website? Not just a WWW, but a full site with contact info, galleries with samples of their work? A “Coming Soon”, or no page doesn’t count. In this day and age, you can’t call yourself a professional without one.
2) Google their name, if there have been any sexual or other legal charges against them, you’ll find them. Make yourself aware before deciding.
3) Obtain in writing exactly what you’re going to shoot, what the purpose of the shoot is and what promises are being made. ANYONE with a camera on their phone can submit to magazines, test for Playboy, and promise to get you seen by the right people. You need to be certain they can deliver what they are promising and more importantly, what you are paying for. I have heard stories where photographers promise to get models into magazines or even win contests, if hired. This is illegal. If you feel you’ve been a victim of this, obtain legal advice.
4) Be a big girl. If a photographer asks to see nude pics of you before shooting, use your head. Unless you are doing a nude shoot, there is no reason for it.
If you are unsure, or even want to take a chaperon with you, do so. RUN from any photographer that doesn’t allow it.
5) Write a review about your experience. Good or bad. This way others can see what to expect. Trends will show after a while. Don’t let the photographer write the review for you – if offered, while difficult to do, decline it. Don’t be a tool. Write your own. (See next point)
6) Don’t be fooled by online testimonials. Contact the models the photographer has worked with and talk to them personally. Even ask them how the photographer stacks up to their peers. You might find yourself a better one!
7) Don’t be afraid to leave. Walk away from the shoot if you feel compromised in any way.
8) Be careful of lofty promises, hard sales, and PLEASE, follow your gut. Most models I have spoken with which have had bad experiences all share the same feeling of, “I should have listened to my gut”
9) SHARE! If a photographer steps out of line, and by this I mean crosses the boundaries of your rights. Make it known. We are all in this together and are all responsible to ensure we maintain the credibility of our professions. We have a moral obligation to each other to prevent this behavior from continuing.
10) Unless a photographer is PAYING YOU FOR EXCLUSIVITY, it is unprofessional for them to ask, or expect you NOT to work with other photographers or companies. Exclusivity means you can’t work with others thus removing you from opportunities and as such you need to be paid for this.
11) Watch out for the ‘Bait and Switch‘. This is where a photographer reaches out to you mentioning you have the perfect look for a magazine, advertiser, or (insert awesome opportunity here). It’s not until they have peaked your interest they send you their rates to shoot. If you’re the perfect model for the shoot it should be the other way around – YOU should get paid. At this point they have lost credibility and you should cancel immediately. ANOTHER form of the ‘Bait and Switch’ is when you book with one photographer and they send another in their place. I’ve heard of this happening, so in your correspondence make sure to state that you’re booking with them and them only and are not interested in paying for someone else to do their job.
12) Make sure the product you are going to shoot for actually exists. I have heard of models shooting for supplements and magazines that don’t actually exist. It should be pretty easy to find out. A little research is all it takes. If you can’t buy the product online, that should tell you something.
I know this happens from time to time, even recently, I have heard or been told of impersonations of me or well known photographers on Facebook and Instagram, even text messages reaching out to models. Please be cautious when receiving messages from anyone that doesn’t speak to you directly. If they only have a few friends and the account isn’t very old, that should be a good warning sign.
13) Be weary of those that speak of other photographers negatively as a way to encourage you to work with them. Business reasons aside, it shows a lack of integrity and simple human courtesy.
If you have SERIOUS concerns, please feel free to contact me for advice.