So you want to travel with a model? I've been shooting portraits for around four years now, and have started to (finally!) add more traveling to my life. Unintentionally, it turns out that my travel partner, my friend Victoria, also happens to be a model. In a relatively short span of time, Victoria and I have shot together in multiple countries and states, including Florida, North Carolina, New York City, Ireland, Italy, and France. In my career up until this point, I had worked with a variety of models, choosing them based on how they fit a location or look. Here are some of the pros and cons of the experience.
1. Good connection with the model
Working with new models is always a gamble because you don't know how you will work with that individual. Will they take direction well? How experienced are they? Will our personalities connect? When you travel with someone, you already know that your personalities work well together, and that speaks volumes when it comes to creative work. Victoria and I know each other's tendencies and we are always on the same page when it comes to shooting.
This is extremely valuable when shooting on the road because sometimes the location or weather doesn't allow for that "getting to know you" or planning period that shoots so often require. Sometimes you have to throw on a dress, run out into a field, shoot a few pictures, and get back in the car before the model freezes to death in a thin outfit in 40-degree weather. There truly is no room for error. Like most things travel related, having the ability to go with the flow, be spontaneous, and adapt to your environment is crucial when shooting on the road. Traveling with the same model affords me this spontaneity.
3. A look that fits your style perfectly
As I said above, working with new models is always a challenge. I have worked with beautiful and very experienced fashion models who just do not fit well with my photographic style. They are fabulous at what they do, but their look just doesn't fit the style I am going for. When traveling with a model, especially one you have already worked with in the past, you know 100 percent what you are getting. Before traveling together, Victoria and I had done numerous shoots together. As a result, I knew what she was capable of and knew that she fit perfectly with the look I had in mind. If you travel alone and source models along the way, you will meet some pretty cool people, but will gamble with whether or not the photos will come out exactly how you envisioned in your head.
1. Not expanding horizons
Traveling and shooting with the same model means not meeting other models and making connections that are so crucial to photographers in this industry. When you already have an experienced model with you, you fall into the trap of simply working with her and not expanding your horizons and contacting other models along the way.
2. Lack of diversity in portfolio
This is one that I struggled with for a long time. When you travel with the same model, especially extensively, your portfolio starts to get filled up with pictures of mainly her. Although other people may not know that it is the same model in a vast majority of your photos, you, as the creator, know that and it can be difficult to come to terms with this. For my entire career, my portfolio reflected a diverse pool of models. To let that go and come to terms with the fact that my work was now flooded with one person took some getting used to.
Thankfully, traveling and shooting with the same model affords me with way more pros than cons. If you have a person you work well with and that you are considering traveling with for creative or other reasons, I would suggest to just jump in feet first and do it. Despite the cons, the ability to have a best friend ready and willing to carry a gown for miles, change into it on the side of the road, and stand on the side of a cliff for you in crazy cold weather is something that cannot be replaced through traditional model sourcing.