Note: I would like to thank Kimberly Miller, author of the blog The Modern Me for working with me on this light-hearted and teasing article. This article is in two parts. The Top 10 Things to Never Say to both a Photographer and to a Model. We both sincerely hope you enjoy this piece which is intended to be jovial (not negative) in nature. That being said, unfortunately a lot of these are based upon actual events. Laughing out loud is permitted. Also I encourage you to jump over to her blog to check out a lot of the pieces she writes. Thanks sincerely!

Top 10 Things a model should never say to a photographer

10. “I think I can benefit your portfolio so you should work for free.”
Chances are, if a professional photographer is interested in trying something new or developing a fresh look for their portfolio (and they like your look) they will come to you. However, whenever you are approaching a professional (doesn’t matter what line of work) you don’t ask for or assume a free service. The same applies to the creative industries such as photography and graphic design.


9. “There is this other photographer who charges half what you do; does that mean they are twice as good?”
Photography fees are based on a number of factors. There is the level of experience they have, the equipment they own, the studios or locations they rent, the assistants, hair and makeup, location permits, and that is just the start of it. Photographers are also paying for liability insurance, usually their own health coverage, and equipment maintenance. When it comes to the photo shoot, there is time spent preparing for the shoot, doing the shoot, the post production, the achieving, and sometimes even the printing. Professional photographer rates are varied based upon all of these factors. Also, realize that every shoot includes a bevy of variables. For example, while one photographer’s fees might initially be less, it might be that it doesn’t include a desirable location, edited images or the same number of looks. This is not to encourage you to only hire very expensive service providers. To the contrary, just be sure to get all the facts up front and determine how their services meet your needs and budget.

8. “Will you charge less if I wear less?”
Assuming you want to be taken seriously as a model, you should aim to select a reputable and professional photographer. Any decent photographer will be very offended by this suggestion. There is not, nor should there ever be, a direct relationship between cost of the photo shoot and the amount of clothing on the model in the photo.

7. “Well, it’s your job to make me look good.”
Okay, this is actually half true. It is an important facet for a photographer to make suggestions on posing, stylist and other factors that affect the final image. A great photographer can get his subject to feel very comfortable on set to make truly stunning work; a not-so-great one cannot. This is the difference between making photos and taking photos. That being said; it is still your job as a model to have some idea what you want when you are creating your portfolio. Do your homework before you show up and think about what looks you would like to get. Practice posing, bring tear sheets you like, and communicate how you intend to use the photos. All of these things will help a photographer coach you in front of the camera.

6. “I’m only here because my friend/boyfriend/husband/sister/whatever said I should do this.”
If you simply are shooting for fun, that’s fine. But if you really want to be taken seriously as a model, you should not hide behind someone or something. It can often be difficult, especially on your first shoot, to express you interest in pursuing modeling as a career. You may think you are not qualified enough, or think, “what right do I have to say I can model?” Or you would think “what if someone judges me poorly because I chose to do this?” Simply put, you have every right to do this! Photographers (last we checked) are just people. This means they are prone to the same emotions that you are as a model; such as being nervous! Don’t be afraid to be confident and share your goals and hopes. Photographers will respect this, and in turn will work hard to help you achieve them.

5. “I like this other photographer’s work. Can you directly copy their style?”
Any creative agent (photographer, graphic designer, makeup artist, etc.) builds their business around their style. As such, they will live and die by that style. People will get hired, because of their style. Those same people will not get hired (by a different client), because of their style. Style is what separates creative competitors. Thus, asking a photographer to directly copy another’s style is (on one hand) saying that their style is not enough for you and (on the other hand) asking them to corrupt it for a different one. Now, of course, photographers love to get input and ideas. They can incorporate all of this (including samples from other photographers) into their shoot plan and vision. But every photographer will have their own unique vision and creative style. Think of it as the artist’s touch! That is a large part of why you hire someone and what you pay for. Also; if you are really into another photographer’s style to begin with; why not hire that photographer?

4. “Every photographer I’ve worked with has been awful!”
What are the chances that every single photographer who you have ever worked with has been awful? If we were to look at this mathematically; what is the common denominator in this equation? Yes, the model. So maybe the photographers were not the problem. To play devil’s advocate, let’s assume that they all in fact were quite awful. It does not matter. Saying this gives off a negative impression of yourself that you are the one with who is hard to work.

3. “Oh you can fix that in Photoshop right?”
Just because photographers have photo editing software, it does not mean they should be editing out everything to make it a photo illustration as opposed to a great photograph. A quality photographer will work hard to make sure the image looks as perfect as it can prior to uploading the photo to his or her computer. Of course they are going to process the image in a way to make it look great. However, expecting a photographer to change your waistline or to enhance the size of your “muscles” can be misleading to the audience who views it.

2. “Must be a fun hobby, photographing all these beautiful people all day long.”
Photographers, the good ones anyway, often choose their craft because of their creative talent. They enjoy the challenge of capturing their subject in the best way possible. Most would not say that they got started in their field of photography simply because they wanted to hang around taking pictures of beautiful people all day. Many photographers also enjoy shooting things other than people and whenever they go look for the perfect image in their head. While it’s okay to talk about the benefits of being a photographer, don’t ever jump to the conclusion that the reason the photographer is in their field is simply beautiful people.

1. “Great photos, you must have a really good camera!”
Yup! You figured it out. That is the one and only reason the photo looks good.


Top 10 Things a photographer should never say to a model

10. “Wow you are in so much better shape now!”
In no universe is this ever a compliment, period.  If you want to compliment a model you can just say “you look terrific.” No one wants to hear that they look good now with the implied undertone that they didn’t before. This is a sure fire way to make your subject uncomfortable right before they get on camera.

9. “You’ll probably never get into an agency because you are not tall enough.”
There are plenty of talented individuals under 5’8” who have made a career of modeling.  Don’t discourage someone from completely abandoning the industry because of their height. Think about all the commercials and advertisements where you see people of all age ranges, shapes and sizes. At some point, each of them was hired by a photographer or an ad agency or a magazine editor to do that photo shoot.

8. “Everyone has to pay their dues.”
What exactly does that mean anyway? That the model has to take some lame gig because they are not experienced? The truth is models should take jobs, or even opportunities, that they feel most passionate about doing. Some may find success building a host of smaller jobs before scaling up to larger gigs. Others may be fortunate enough to book larger gigs faster. There is no road map for what a model need to do to build a career, everyone is unique and thus everyone’s path is different.

7. “If you are not getting jobs it’s because you are not working hard enough.”
There are people who are in the right place and the right time and something falls in their lap. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all of us!   Models often work very hard on landing jobs without success. It’s incredibly disheartening when someone assumes you have not been published simply because you are not working hard. Recognize your model’s talent, provide encouragement and when appropriate, make suggestions on things he or she might consider for their future career development.

6. “You really should not have shot with that other photographer.”
Red flag! This communicates to a model you are not a confident photographer. A confident photographer believes firmly in his or her work. They have no problem encouraging you to work with others. As a matter of fact, they often encourage it as each photographer has their own unique look and style. No one photographer can provide you everything you need. In the end, a confident professional knows their own work is solid, and you will likely come back in the future.

5. “Sorry, I’ve been too busy to reply.”
Wake up photographers. You are in the service industry. This means that your primary job is to serve your clients. If they have been waiting what they consider to be too long for their proofs or their photos, or to hear back from you about a job and your only response is that you’ve been too busy, it can be insulting to me. As if you were saying “I have all this other work which is far more important than your nagging needs.” Try to treat every model and client as if they are your top priority. It builds confidence and rapport so they are encouraged to hire you again.

4. “Okay, I suppose we can shoot some lifestyle stuff later, but first let’s shoot something really sexy.”
As a service provider, a photographer needs to listen to the goals of their client. If a client wants a certain look for their portfolio, do not try to push them into an avenue they are not comfortable with (or simply don’t belong in). Ask your clients what their goals in modeling are and base the looks of the photo shoot around that.

3. “If you book me, I could totally get you into tons of magazines!”
Photographers should not over promise; especially on such a large goal for many models like getting into magazines. Yes photographers and models can set goals and game plans to target certain publications with their work, but to try and guarantee it (and then fail to deliver) destroys credibility. To many, it comes off as a cheap trick to try to drum up business.

2. “I normally charge 10 times more, but for this one day you can get me at a discount.”
That would be a stellar deal… if it was accurate. There is nothing wrong with a photographer offering special deals or discounts. However if they are dishonest about their original rates to get work at these falsely discounted rates; that is transparent to many models and another way to destroy one’s credibility as a professional photographer.

1. “I only needed to take a couple shoots, you did that well.”
It might be true that the first couple shoots you take are the best, but good photographers never bank on that. Telling a model you don’t need to spend the time trying different posing positions or angles is really cheating that individual. Models like to have a variety of shots from which to choose. Not devoting your full attention and time to that individual is a sure fire way to insure they don’t return for additional shoots. In addition, they are likely not going to refer people to you if they don’t feel like you took the time you need to capture the best image.

Hopefully you enjoyed this piece! Feel free to share own thing to never say in the comment section!

James Patrick

Kimberly Miller