Friday, March 7, 2014

After talking with a new model the other day.

Image has nothing to do with the post, other than it's getting warmer out and it's nice to think about summer and ice being off the lakes. 

I was talking with a new model the other day and she was wondering if an agency that asked for money up front was a scam and a agency that didn't ask for money which was sending her to castings wasn't a scam. Up front, this sounds like a open and shut case right? Money up front means red flags, where as someone taking you on without charging is normal? Well, although this could have been the case years ago, things are changing now and we need to look into the situation a bit more.

This isn't meant to be the end all be all of advice, I'm sure I've said some of this before, and I'm sure others have said some of this before, and it all gets back to asking questions when talking with agencies.

This agency asked up front for money?

You really have to look at the agency, the amount of money, and ask questions to figure this out. Way back in the day it was usual to take costs out of the first few pay checks talent had (this is really boiled down) where as now either the pay checks are lower or it's more competitive or a number of things that have moved agencies to ask for some of these costs up front. If the cost seems reasonable, and the request reasonable, then it's reasonable to assume we're on the up and up.

This would be around $100 to get listed on a website (may have to pay someone to plug your name into the site) or a few hundred for the layout and printing of compcards. This is on top of any photo shoot you would pay for, and styling for that shoot. Yes, modeling has costs, and these costs are normal.

Now some agencies in town don't charge, some do, and it's just a matter of talking to them and understand where they are coming from. I'm not saying one way is better than the other, just to be aware that these costs can be normal.

These agencies haven't responded yet, but this one has. 

So, part of the reason we call models "models" is that everyone can't be one. They are a "model" or something or another. If models were normal people we would call them "normal people" and anyone can do it. I'm not an agent, I don't have my finger on the whole pulse of the market here as an agent would, so I'm not going to get into who could or couldn't be a model. Just that if you want to do it, then give it a shot and see what happens. No harm done, never know until you try sometimes, and who knows what would happen? The worst thing you can do is not try, then you never know for sure if you could or couldn't have done it.

On the flip side there are A LOT of agencies here and other places who will sign up people whom they know will never be successful, ask for money up front, and maybe send the person out on a few fluff castings. So, if you have tried with the major agencies here and none of them were interested, it's really not productive to find someone that will pick you up. Because, someone will, you will pay them, and you may not get any work. Again, although everyone can try, not everyone can be a model.

I'm not going to list off local agencies that I trust publicly, but I will answer any emails asking about them.

I talked to X agency and they are exclusive. 

Some agencies like models to be exclusive with them, some don't. I know models who are in both situations as well as models who are with a few different agencies. It just depends on how you feel about the agency and if you want to work with them. This is a situation where you would need to sit down with them, go over the details, ask a lot of questions, and go from there. The agency may be a great place for you, or it may hold you back from other castings or going with (for example) both a print agency and more of an acting agency.

What I don't feel is a good reason is not being able to do test shoots or shoots on your own. Part of the reason to having an agent is that they are there not only to get you work but also help you with your development. Part of helping you would be to setup or approve additional photo shoots. This isn't because they are control freaks and want to manage every part of your life, just that they may have specific looks in mind for their models and wouldn't want them doing shoots with every Tom Dick and Harry that has a camera. Not to mention they wouldn't want their models signing any old release that may be presented to them to do a test shoot.

Either way, it's best to talk to the agency about this, see why they are doing what they are doing, and then deciding which is best for you going forward.

Photoshoots are expensive, which is why I am trying to do tests. 

I get this sometimes, or models trying to "test up" and yes, sometimes they can be great ways to build a portfolio, however most of the time they are more of a waste of time. For example,  why spend a year testing when more or less the same results can be had by paying someone $300-500 and having the images back within a few weeks? Sure, it's a bit of money, but within the month you could either have updated images to show to your agency, or have a good start to your portfolio when you contact agencies for the first time. Either way you saved 11 months, which may be worth the money.

Also, some photographers who aren't that great charge a lot of money and give you images that aren't that great. So it's best to really look at their work, shop around, and pay someone that fits your vision as well as that can deliver the type and style of shots you're going to need.

I've said this before many times, but professional images aren't needed in order to be first picked up by an agency. Yes, as a photographer I would rather have you pay me =) at some point, but understand that expensive images aren't needed to start out. The same applies to tests. I feel it's a flag, maybe a red flag, if a photographer says how they can get you in agencies or get you work if you pay them or shoot with them - not saying that never happens, just normally not the way it works. Usually these photographers who say that shoot glamor/nudes or just bad images and are easy to spot.

I live a few hours away, but still want to be a model. 

In short, part of modeling is going to castings, many castings. You may or may not get the job when going to these castings, but you definitely won't get the job if you don't go to these castings. Now yes, agencies can understand if you have a job or if you're a student or if something comes up, but generally the point is to go to castings. If you can't go, and things just aren't going to work out, then it may be best to wait and try modeling when you're living closer or when you can afford to take that time - or try to make that time and make that extra commitment.

I haven't talked to my parents yet... 

I get this from time to time. So three things just off the top of my head. 1) Somehow you're going to need to go to castings, depending on age parents may need to be involved for that. 2) If you're under 18 a parent or guardian will need to sign anything that needs to be signed. 3) There may be requirements for a p/g to be on set along with 1 and 2.

So in short, yes, you will need to talk to your parents and yes they will need to be on board if you're going to model. No way around that until you're 18.

I read online that... 

So there are a number of places online that give advice, suggestions, and information. As with this blog, anyone can write anything and get it online and sometimes (although not like this blog) it becomes popular. Although I do feel getting a background in a topic is important, it's best to ask a lot of those questions in person.

Examples are... (off the top of my head)

  • Can I be a model? (This is why agencies have ways to submit images and contact them)
  • How will I be paid? (Again, best asked in person as each has their own way of doing it and it could different even from client to client)
  • I'm thinking of moving to a larger city in a few years? (There are a number of local agencies who have sent models out of state for work or have other contacts in larger cities)
  • What kind of photos do I need to start? (As a photographer I will freely admit and have always said that you don't need to pay someone before contacting agencies, their specific requirements will be on their sites) 

We are lucky that in our area here we have some agents and agencies that have been around for a number of years. They know what they are talking about and would be more than able to answer any questions. Remember, it's their job to get models jobs, and they really do know what's best for models careers both locally and nationally. 

Again, being a model isn't for everyone and just by it's definition can't be for everyone. That doesn't mean it's not worth a try, but just that there is more too it than looking amazing and friends saying you should model.

Andrew Thomas Evans |

Friday, February 21, 2014

Backgrounds in images!

So the headshot session I talked about a few weeks ago reminded me of another good point. That is, the background you may or may not want in your image and how it would have an effect on the shoot and maybe budget. I attached an example, but I'll get to that a bit later.

So for a few clients I've had to work with them on locations because they needed to have something specific in the background, or they wanted to do something in their office. This is fine, I have no issues at all working on location, and no issues at all trying to make things look great. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a location, and when thinking about the shoot.

For example, although not shoot related. I'm working in my day job at a office building in the burbs in the aftermath of the blizzard we just had. Thankfully, for a few more days, I have a desk with a window view. Now, when I'm working the window is great, it's nice to see the outside, weather, so on. I don't really pay attention to the parking lot of cars, power lines, or huge snowdrifts that may or may not detract from the view. If I were smarter I'd say that the way our minds process images in person let's us get distracted and not see what we would be distracted by in photographs, but I'm not sure.

This holds true for clients, their office may or may not be a great place to do a job and they need to look at it not from their point of view or even their clients point of view, but from a photographers point of view. So some of the things to look around for are distractions out of the windows, power lines, cars, other buildings, signs, everything really that could pull the eye away. Sometimes, it may not be much and things work out, other times we're really in a battle to make things work. Just depends on the view and what's behind you.

Also, as far as senior pictures and portfolio shoots, a lot of people I feel get attached to a lot of locations that in a photo just don't work out - or don't workout with out work. For example, the Minneapolis river front is a wonderful place to go visit, walk through, sit around having a drink, and it's pretty romantic. The Stone Arch Bridge is wonderful, and a great place to go for a walk. However, the banks aren't always clean, and not to mention the powerlines that go down the river there. Those lines, although it can be done, aren't always fun to take out. Plus, it's usually busy with other people and the shot may or may not have others in the background. So, although a great place to shoot, a lot could be done at a less busy city park if the skyline or bridges weren't really important in the shot.

Finally, the picture I posted was shot in the studio and a background plopped in. I wanted to do a winter shoot this year and winter just kept on kicking our butts with cold and snow that I had to do it this way. It can be done, but it's sometimes more fun to be outside when shooting outside, however with somewhat careful studio shooting a person can be extracted and put on a background which is always an option. Well, and I just wanted to share that pic anyway.

Andrew Thomas Evans

Friday, January 24, 2014

Over or Under thinking Headshots

So the other day I was talking with a business client (as this doesn't relate to actors, models, and those who get work directly from their image) and we were discussing what types of outfits and locations would be good for their business headshot. In that conversation they said "well I may be over thinking things". That could be the case, and maybe there was some over-thinking, but that's never a bad thing. What's bad would be to under think it, not take your profession and target market into account, and come out with something that won't really help you.

I look at it this way, and it's going back to college and the old Hygiene vs Motivator chart. If you're not sure what that is, or think it has to do with smelling good and shaving, a link is below.

How I feel photos and headshots factor into this in that they are more of a hygiene than a motivator for your leads/clients. If for example I'm going to buy a house, I will put some consideration into the persons headshot and website, but more weight would go onto their record, price, and services. So although a person would have to be up to date and have a good website and good headshot, it wouldn't really lead to more work. On the other hand it may create less work if the website or headshot was poor.

Now granted some industries may put more weight on a headshot. Realtors would be one of those areas where a relationship and personal interaction happen over the course of months and you're personally working with clients. Others may include personal trainers or those who have to build or create the same connection with their clients.

That said, I feel, and as I've always said, that you need to find the photographer that's right for you. As with the list above there may be many factors involved with that search but their work needs to be something you can relate to and something you would want to represent you.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Andrew vs Canon Printer = Printer Defeated!

So the other day I finally got ink for my printer, got some great paper for business cards and post cards, and started up shop. Now my printer isn't anything fancy, just a decent $150 (at the time) Canon desktop inkjet. Only really got it to do paperwork for the business, envelops, and normal office type stuff.

So I was printing off some 5x7 images for some postcards. The paper is so thick that it didn't really want to feed right going one way, but the image would get shrunk and re-sized weird the long way. So after a few hours I finally figured this out as well as there wasn't much I could do to get around it. Still have no idea how I printed my envelopes out as I did - but that's besides the point.

I will have better luck when I get to the 8.5 x 11 sheets of the card stock since that should feed just fine, and the 5x7's came from the butt end of the press sheet - since they only sell the paper per press sheet rather than cut down, and although "cheap" it wasn't like going to office max or something.

The next part I didn't really enjoy but knew what coming is color. So what we have going on here are viewing conditions, paper stock, inks, printer, and the actual image. I knew this was coming because I do have a background in the print industry from college, and a person can take control of the situation and calibrate everything. But, my point is that for the use I needed the post cards for (and will need) are some color prints sent to clients now and then, and some black and whites made for fun and sold online cheap. Also, the viewing conditions of those images will vary widely, so spending all this time calibrating something expendable seemed silly to me, and my printer is on the low end so it wouldn't have even been worth it.

I guess the lessons of this rant are the following...
- If you can farm out printing it's worth it. Granted my business isn't setup on selling prints, so for me it's perfect to order online and pick up the mail.
- Buy a printer with a rear feed tray. There is no chance at all the card stock would make the bend in a normal printer.
- Learn how to use the printer and read the manual. (oops)
- If you don't need to calibrate, don't, it will be in the ballpark and honestly if you need things nuts on dead accurate, well, then you wouldn't be reading this blog for advice =).
- Keep the use in mind. I only needed about 20 copies of the post cards I made, and it would have been super expensive to farm that out. I came out ahead even with all the time learning how to do this.

Again though, if you don't need a nice photo printer at home there is really no reason to get one when really nice prints are pretty affordable online or even at locations here in the cities.

Andrew | 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Minnesota Rollergirls!

We usually go to pretty much every bout/event, and made our way there last night. For those who don't know about derby check them out here or the North Star league here It's a really good time and a great family event, also they are always looking for new members, so women who want to do this should check the sites out and see if it could work out!

The other reason for the post, is that sometimes it's fun to leave the big camera at home and see what I can do with my old cell phone. Just add a bit of brightness/contrast and we're set! So for those photographers out there, or those that take pictures, sometimes see what you can do


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Stones Peak - Rocky Mountain National Park

So I learned a few things about myself and the word here last spring on a trip to Denver/Boulder with my girlfriend. One of them is that the mountains are pretty neat, which I found out driving around the 3 mile Caynon (or just west of Boulder where they were hit with floods) and going though Gold Nugget Hotel Creek Mine Hill Town (or whatever that town is just west of Boulder). I also found out that, yes, the air is thinner and I was a bit out of shape, after climbing some stairs in a parking ramp.

Then the next day we took a trip into the mountains. Which, from Denver we went out on the freeway and got on the Peak to Peak which went up to Lyons and over to Estes Park (both of which as you know were hit bad with floods over the summer). Mountain driving, or foothill driving is a weave of turns and no real area to go straight, it's also up and down all the time. Oh, and there are crazy people on bikes everywhere! Not that they are crazy for being a pedal biker on the roads, but that these are pretty hilly and they must be in just amazing shape to do that.

Anyway, more to the image, I found out I'm not really a fan of being high up in a car with no guard rail, oncoming traffic, on a skinny mountain pass road - which was Trail Ridge Road in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Not that it's unsafe, just new to me, and I didn't like it all that much. What I did enjoy was getting out (after getting over my fears of getting out) and grabbing a few images of the landscape. This is the first one of them I was able to retouch, and there are a few more that I'm going to work on soon.

Also hopefully soon I will setup my online store, and my more art black and white website.


Andrew | |

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The New Standards Holiday Show

So I must admit, I've been a fan of them for many years, almost from the beginning, or at least their first time playing at the Dakota. The part about seeing them first, and then another time early on is what made me hesitant to go out and see their new work. To me, and it is jaded, I think of them as a small room acoustic stripped down jazz group, not a huge theater with guests and larger arrangements. That's not taking away from their music, what they do, or what they want to do, only that in mine mind the picture that I have of them is a bit different than some of the things they do now.

Also please excuse the photo quality for a moment, we were pretty much in the back row, my phone isn't too new, and I was more worried about enjoying the show than taking pictures.

Anyway my girlfriend was looking at something and stumbled on tickets to the second show. It's amazing that they even pretty much sold out a second show, and that they had to move venues to a larger place, and that the venue move was pretty late, only a month or so (I think) before the show. So we were able to get some tickets, all the way up at the back top level, and I geared up to see what this holiday show deal was all about.

Tell you what it turned out to be a great time, I'll post a link to a better write up about it on the bottom of this post, and I'd recommend the show to anyone and everyone (well maybe not younger kids). They brought on a great set of artists locally who did an amazing job, they had fun, and their covers are always a blast. Also, and wasn't expecting this, but Trip Shakespeare got back together for a few songs which was pretty fun to see as well.

So again, when it comes around next year I suggest to anyone that they get some tickets to this show, or listen to it when it's on the radio Christmas Eve and Day. 

A better review than I can write is here  -