You book a commercial job and the client wants a beautiful face to grace their next ad. The client relies on you, the photographer to help with the process of hiring the model. The crew you hire rely on you to select the right candidate for their needs. That's great, right? Get the most radiant face, possibly the one with the highest social media numbers for that extra bump and you're set! Is that how it works?
I wish the process were simple but there are other factors, more important than a gorgeous face that increase your odds of a successful photo shoot. Being that you are the lead consultant for the brand and crew, they are relying on your expertise to guide the process.
First of all, beauty is subjective but in a town like Los Angeles, good looks are more common than a gluten allergy. I can throw a rock and hit a beautiful person, but finding one that is perfect for the photo shoot is a bigger undertaking.
The campaign that I developed for Michael Todd Beauty featured Wilhelmina Models talent, Vanessa Curry. Hiring Vanessa came with a long list of requirements that she fulfilled which made her the brand's final choice.
How can you go through a more thorough vetting process? Decide what you are selling and what the intent of the photographic campaign is. In our case with Michael Todd Beauty, it was about creating a lifestyle brand that is within reach of every consumer. We wanted to elevate the current images and dictate that the consumer for this brand was successful, great to look at, knowledgeable about important products and had enough of an income to purchase quality goods. In addition, the company wanted a model that would appeal to multiple ethnicities.
Knowing that important bit of information, I found the modeling agency who cater to this type of talent. I opted for Wilhelmina as they focus heavily on commercials vs. high fashion, though many models can cross over. Some jobs reach out to multiple agencies and others reach out to only one, the correct way of doing this is making sure you have enough options for the client.
In this case, we had great options with Wilhelmina and when you consistently book with one agency it does help with negotiating as a "return customer". This will save your client on their budget, not to mention makes them happy that you have solid relationships around town.
The modeling agency will send a "package" (online gallery of options who fit your criteria for this particular job). In viewing the package, I look for the following:
- Can the model give a series of emotions or do they have one or two looks? In the event the client changes creative, you want to be prepared.
- How do they move and showcase the variety of material and products in their portfolio?
- Can they be both sexy & respectful? There's a fine line and your project will determine exact needs.
- Do they understand their angles and in relation to the brand?
- Keep the makeup artist & hairstylist in mind when reviewing facial features they'd be working on. Are you making their job easier or harder?
- Have they worked with other brands before? (Why this is critical)
- Is the model sample size or what specs do they have? What are the specs because this will decide your wardrobe stylists' budget and efforts.
- Review their digitals to see the real person vs. retouched portfolio images
- Review their social media (This is BIG and it's not for the reasons you think)
- Are they new or seasoned and worked with many photographers?
- Are they pleasant to have on set? (This applies to your entire crew)
Capturing the perfect image for your client is only the tip of the iceberg. Setting them up for a successful shoot, creating a campaign they can build on and providing an on-set experience for everyone involved is also the duty of the photographer and producer.