Indochine's Top Shelf

Getting Quality Photos - Part I

One of the biggest mistakes I see with urban models is their failure to consistently produce quality photos, which is usually a result of their inability (or lack of willingness) to effectively organize photo shoots. This leads to long sabbaticals from the game resulting in decreased interest and opportunities. I believe this happens for three reasons:

1. A lack of motivation. Many urban models simply expect top photographers to come to them to shoot. For the most part, it doesn't work that way. An up-and-coming model has to essentially produce her own shoots until she generates enough interest to turn the tables. Urban model pics carry little value to a working commercial photographer.

2. Failure to set aside money for photo shoots. A lot of urban models expect quality photos for free, which only leads to problems (see below);

3. Lack of resourcefulness
and an overemphasis on shooting with trendy photographers that other hot models have shot with.

Quality photos are the fuel of celebrity. It's those great pictures on the cover of Cosmo and Allure that keeps people in awe of Halle and Eva Mendes. Without quality photos, interest in a model will definitely wane. It's easy to get pics when the magazines are all asking to shoot with you, because they organize and finance the shoots for you. But what do you do when this doesn't happen (and most times it doesn't)? You have to be prepared to make it happen without magazine-produced shoots.

This means seeking out quality photographers and being prepared to pay them something to get good shots. I know, I know - you're cute and sexy as hell. They ought to be paying to shoot with you! And it's that expectation that leads to all those ugly situations we read about in the Model Mayhem forums where photographers don't give models the CD of images, or expect sexual favors in return, etc. If you want professionalism, you have to be a professional. Don't expect to get quality pictures for free.

Model Brittany Daily - BlackMen Mag Produced Photo


The other thing I see a lot is models who will only shoot with a photographer another hot model has shot with. There's nothing wrong with working through the referral system, but don't turn away a good photographer that wants to shoot with you just because he hasn't just shot with Melyssa Ford. Use common sense about this. If the unknown photographer is talented and dying to shoot with you, chances are he will go the extra mile to make things work out because he's looking to attract interest in his work through shooting with you. The flavor-of-the-month photographer, on the other hand, is more likely to put you on hold and take forever. Remember, long lulls between photo shoots will cause people to lose interest in you, and often it never returns to the level it was before you disappeared from the scene.

Model Summer Walker is a good example of both the negative and positive examples I'm referring to. When Summer first hit the market in 2004, about 5-6 sets of photos were produced of her. She also shot with XXL and Smooth. But for a long time after her initial heat wave, no new photos of Summer hit the net. Then she shot with Zigga Zagga Productions. Those are some the best independently produced photos of an urban model I've ever seen. But it may have been too little too late. I'm convinced the lack of a consistent stream of photos of Summer significantly reduced her popularity, because the interest was there.

Model Summer Walker - Independently Produced Photo


I'm not saying it's easy to produce your own shoots, but it can be done because I've seen other models do it successfully. The days of just being pretty and getting ahead in this market are over. Today's urban model has to be as equal parts business savvy and attractive.

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