Photographer & Protagonist

I recently responded to an online survey. It really wasn’t directed at me but rather at models or perhaps more specifically at aspiring models. Oh and in case you’re wondering, this is an editorial comment so we should be good to go as far as respecting copyrighted material. I should also mention that the person who posted the survey saw fit to delete my comments as well as telling me I was cynical, negative and unlikely to ever complete a successful photo-shoot because of my glaring character flaws. I rearranged these in a more logical order (if there is any logic) and added punctuation. The two models who responded chose C and A in the same order.
Survey for Models

When working with photographers, what is the most important thing that makes you feel happy about the shoot?
A) Friendliness of the Photographer.
B) Free, open, fun and creative atmosphere.
C) Trusting the quality of the photographer’s ability based on past work.
D) Clear direction for every pose.
My responses as near as I can remember them…

A) I’m an artist and a professional. I have my own moods and goals that have nothing to do with insuring your happiness. I’ve probably already started thinking about how to photograph you and completely forgotten  about things like manners. Don’t take it personally. I’m going to talk about work and I won’t be asking how your puppy is. I’m not trying to be unfriendly but we’re not actually friends. I will do my best to put you at ease and answer any your questions but then it’s time to go to work.
B) Who ever said a photo-shoot was supposed to be free, open and fun? I’m not even sure what free and open are in reference to; unless you are talking about models who feel free to cancel at the last minute or who are open to doing something more entertaining than keeping an appointment they made. As free as the wind blows attitudes end up costing everyone money. My time is not free, it’s valuable. There actually is some creativity involved… Creative excuses for not arriving on time or for canceling at the last moment. You can celebrate at the end of the shoot when the work is done. Work then fun, not the other way around.
C) Really? Don’t go by my past work. I’m always living at the edge of failure and trying things I’ve never done before.  There is a good chance I will fail completely. That is not to say that I won’t keep trying, there are just no guarantees. The past is past. Let’s move on and try something new.
D) I’m not going to direct someone (who calls themselves a model) in every pose. That would be completely ridiculous. I will give you  an outline of what I am trying to accomplish, make minor adjustments (verbally) and give feedback as we go. You must also bring something to the table. You are the “model” and therefore responsible for delivering your end of the work. I don’t like it when photographers and models point at each other claiming it was the other person who spoiled the shoot and ruined the images.
My responses were branded as a diatribe and as a bitter personal attack (same thing but against who). I responded that there was nothing personal about it, just me giving my opinion and no bad will or finger pointing intended.
It was also mentioned by one of the models that if she has to force the work, it will look forced and be a complete failure. I replied that force is often a necessary component of progress and likened it to what rock climbers call the “crux move.” It’s an all or nothing commitment to proceed  where success or failure are the only two options and you are bound to fail a lot before you finally succeed. I can see where someone with little or no experience could mistake that for fun, open and free. It’s really about testing your limits and expanding them. I also talked about my admiration for the models I have worked with who were dedicated and professional in their willingness and ability to get the job done.  Modeling is not for fragile egos. It’s harder than  most people imagine. I know this from personal experience, not imaginary visions of how I think the world should be.
My comments were removed from the discussion and now everyone in Imaginary Model Land is free go their happy candy-coated, cavity riddled ways without me and my bitter, cynical, arrogant, self-centered mentality (did I miss anything). As a few of the would-be models like to say, “I am sooooo sorry.”  😉
I’m dedicating this post to all the incredibly hard working models I have had the pleasure to work with. You don’t know how much I appreciate you right now.