Do You Smell Bad?

It happens to many photographers, they can’t get models to work with them, especially the particular models they want in front of their camera the most. These photographers ask themselves, “What am I doing wrong? Is my photography that bad? Does it stink? Do I smell bad?”

Ok, the latter part about the smell is a reach, especially if the model has never met you in person—actually maybe not. Perhaps you’re emitting bad smells and aren’t aware of it, so let me help you identify the things that can make you stink in a model’s eyes.

The Business Card Title Stink

My all time favorite, the business card that states you are the CEO, President, Commander-in-Chief, Chairman of the Board, etc., of your photography business. Get over yourself; you’re more of the “chief bottle washer” before you can call yourself CEO or President!

While those titles might make you feel good, they won’t improve your photography. Models will perceive the “little man syndrome,” using a title to make-up for your short comings. You’d be surprised how many models are either graduates of college or enrolled in college. Models may act stupid at times, but they are smarter than you think, and they aren’t alone, people in the industry, probably even the person that printed the cards, laugh at self-given titles.

Unless you’re a photography business that has at least a couple of dozen employees or more, generating a million dollars a year or more, no one cares about a self-given title—you are a photographer, period. Get rid of the title stink, in fact, don’t even put a title on your business card, being humble is better than chest pounding. Impress a model with your photography skills, not your title, and if you need to improve your skills, join us at one of our photography workshops or an Americano Dream VIP Experience.

No Stink, Advertising Photo, Evan Williams

Notice the vertical format of this liquor ad. It ran full-page in Maxim, Sports Illustrated, and Playboy. Model is Playboy Playmate Monica Leigh, client was Evan Williams Bourbon.

The Horizontal Stink

No, I’m not talking about the horizontal position of the model, but the horizontal position of your camera. Even Ansel Adams, more known for his horizontal landscape photos, took the time and photographed vertical when the shot called for it. Magazine covers and the front of model comp/ZED cards are traditionally vertical, not to mention so are most headshots.

Turn the camera. We wake up to a horizon, sleep to a horizon, so naturally to our minds, horizontal photos are weaker than vertical photos as we don’t walk around with our heads turned sideways. It’s about impact and horizontals stink compared to verticals when you’re trying to make an impact with your photography.

In fashion, glamour, nudes, an beauty photography, if your portfolio is filled with horizontals, it screams amateur. It’s OK to have horizontals in your portfolio as photo editors like choices for layout and design, but don’t flood your portfolio with them.

The Silent Stink

Growing up we used to call them the silent killers, you know, when you pass gas and it’s a quiet one. We’ve all done it, and they are usually the most-smelly ones that can clear a building faster than yelling “fire” in a theater.

Well guess what photographers, keeping your mouth shut and not providing direction or feedback to your model is like a cutting a stink bomb in church—no one really wants to say anything because God is watching. Well I’ve got news for you, he’s watching all the time and he knows models hate silent photographers during a shoot—they can’t read your mind!

Models don’t expect you to know every pose, but know at least some basic poses to get a shoot going—hell, make them up as you go as not every pose works for every model and it will at least give you a starting point. Fake it till you make it! Yeah buddy, it works!

Talk to your model along the way; tell her she’s beautiful, even if she knows she is, they still want to hear it. (Read my seventh book, it spells it all out and has a bunch of five-star reviews by women!) The reason most models are models, is with the tons of pressure women deal with by our society, they need that reassurance they are beautiful, call it a need to improve their self-esteem. Don’t be scared, give direction, but don’t be boisterous either.

The Pervert Stink

Everyone has a perverted side in them, in some form or fashion, and anyone who says they don’t, they’re the actual solid matter from where the stink originates—like the cow dung size type. That said, you are a “professional photographer,” so be one. Model photography isn’t about sneak peeks, cheap shots, and let me see how fast I can get you naked.

I’ll be the first to tell you, we’ve all slipped up, models and photographers for that matter as it takes two to tango, but a slip is a fall, which means you can get up and avoid future slippery situations. I’ll expand on the latter in my future memoir, but don’t think models can’t tell the difference between an honest intention and one with ulterior motives. Just being labeled a “photographer” carries a stigma to many people, it’s like telling someone in Los Angeles you’re a producer. Even real “producers in LA” hate to tell people they are producers. Stigma is just an eloquent word for shame.

The modeling industry is a small community and with popular modeling forums/communities, plus Facebook, social media and smartphones, word gets out fast if you’re acting like a perv. Treat your model as a lady, that treatment travels just as fast in a word-of-mouth society.

Models are smarter than most photographers would like to credit them, perversion is more obvious to a model than you think—plus the perceptions of bad boy photographers is more rampant than you think, especially since the Internet, the population of photographers and models has increased exponentially, more than ten-fold. Yes, there are stink models too, and they have to deal with their own perceptions, and when stink attracts stink, it just make everybody in their appropriate profession fields stink too.

Lighting Gear, no stink

As you can see here, the lighting set-up used for the liquor ad above. Gear is important to a photographer, so is a great website, it’s part of your gear.

The Portfolio Stink

Yep, your online photography portfolio  sucks if you don’t take the time for postproduction—remember, your portfolio is only as strong as the weakest image. Models and others in the industry take notice, if you can’t grab their attention with your photography, you won’t grab them with your name unless you’re an A-list celebrity.

Think about it as presentation. If you go to a restaurant and see crappy looking food, especially if it stinks, are you going to eat there? Not! Do you go to just any food store if you’re trying to eat perfectly healthy, no, you go to Whole Foods or similar.

If you want models to come to you, or work with you, show them quality work, and BTW, don’t point them to your Facebook, Flickr, or Model Mayhem portfolios, point them to a portfolio that is on your domain—check out as a start. Think of it as a smart investment, not one that will stink up your financial portfolio.

While cologne can hide some serious stink, there is no substitute for improving yourself, and your photography. For starters, attend one of our photography workshops or an Americano Dream VIP Experience—we’ll be happy to work with you so models will want to work with you. It all starts with you!

With that I close, and like all my posts, articles and books, I ask you not to forget the men and women who proudly protect our freedoms, God Bless them, their families, and friends, Rolando.

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