Forums > Photography Talk > Are we only as good as our models?

Photographer

Neil Templar

Posts: 398

Glastonbury, England, United Kingdom

Recently I've been fortunate enough to shoot with a couple of really outstanding models and in so doing, two things have struck me...

Firstly, I found that I subconsciously shot more and for longer with each of them than I normally do.

Secondly,  I deleted far fewer shots.

As I'm the only constant with the models I work with, this led me to the inevitable conclusion that it's difficult to take bad photographs of good models.

Which in turn leads me to ask myself: Are we as Photographers only as good as the models we photograph?

Please don't take this too seriously...but it's a thought.

(Apologies if this subject has been here before but it's been a while since I've visited!)

Mar 25 13 05:47 pm Link

Photographer

Bob Helm Photography

Posts: 18220

Cherry Hill, New Jersey, US

Depends.

Some photographers are only as good as the models they work with and sometimes it is the model who is only as good as the photographer. I think working with better talent is always more enjoyable.

Mar 25 13 05:51 pm Link

Photographer

Carle Photography

Posts: 9262

Oakland, California, US

I'm only as good as my clients.

I don't sell "models" as much in my marketing plan.

Yes I use them for some examples, but since I sell direct to my clients, I am not selling a models "look"

Mar 25 13 05:54 pm Link

Photographer

ontherocks

Posts: 23084

Salem, Oregon, US

i think we're only as good as the performances we get out of them. now a great model can probably give a good performance without any help from the photographer where perhaps a less experienced model would need more direction. but some models just have more range and capability (and are more fearless to act out a part) than other models. great models are a joy to work with.

Neil Templar wrote:
Which in turn leads me to ask myself: Are we as Photographers only as good as the models we photograph?

Mar 25 13 05:56 pm Link

Photographer

Neil Templar

Posts: 398

Glastonbury, England, United Kingdom

Death of Field wrote:
I'm only as good as my clients.

I don't sell "models" as much in my marketing plan.

Yes I use them for some examples, but since I sell direct to my clients, I am not selling a models "look"

I think some might argue that unfortunately (or fortunately) it's the models 'look' that sells.

Mar 25 13 05:59 pm Link

Photographer

Will Snizek Photography

Posts: 1387

Beckley, West Virginia, US

I believe your interest in a subject comes through in photographs. While your personal skill is a factor, your best work will probably be with a model who piques your interest.

Mar 25 13 06:02 pm Link

Photographer

B R U N E S C I

Posts: 25319

Bath, England, United Kingdom

Sadly in the fashion world photographers are very much judged by the models they shoot.

A portfolio of moderately decent images of top agency models will trump a portfolio of outstanding images of equally pretty but clearly non-agency models any day of the week.

Because agencies don't let their models test with just anyone, people will simply assume that the person shooting the agency models must somehow be the better photographer. It's silly, but true.

Much of my work features nudity but most agencies with girls under exclusive contracts are reluctant to let their models shoot nudes for tests (although they may waive this for a commissioned editorial or Terry Richardson!) so I compromise and shoot clothed and headshots with good agency models to get their faces in my book, and the rest of my work with models from smaller agencies or MM who are free to shoot what they like.



Just my $0.02

Ciao
Stefano

www.stefanobrunesci.com

Mar 25 13 06:04 pm Link

Photographer

Dark Shadows

Posts: 2269

Miami, Florida, US

No, I don't believe that. I feel that I can be successful without shooting models at all.

Mar 25 13 06:04 pm Link

Photographer

Neil Templar

Posts: 398

Glastonbury, England, United Kingdom

ontherocks wrote:
i think we're only as good as the performances we get out of them. now a great model can probably give a good performance without any help from the photographer where perhaps a less experienced model would need more direction. but some models just have more range and capability (and are more fearless to act out a part) than other models. great models are a joy to work with?

I think that's a fair point.

Mar 25 13 06:04 pm Link

Photographer

Top Gun Digital

Posts: 1336

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

Neil Templar wrote:
Which in turn leads me to ask myself: Are we as Photographers only as good as the models we photograph?

I think this is true to some extent but perhaps it is more true in the case of a less experienced photographer.  A highly experienced photographer is going to be able to provide direction for a less experienced model and get better images than a less experienced photographer would get.  Of course this assumes that the model has basic talent that needs to be developed.

However, it's definitely true that it's easier to get great images when working with a great model.

Mar 25 13 06:05 pm Link

Photographer

Neil Templar

Posts: 398

Glastonbury, England, United Kingdom

Dark Shadows wrote:
No, I don't believe that. I feel that I can be successful without shooting models at all.

Does that mean you should change to 'buildings mayhem' ?

Mar 25 13 06:08 pm Link

Photographer

Mortonovich

Posts: 5850

San Diego, California, US

Subject matter is critical in pretty much every genre of photography.

Mar 25 13 06:09 pm Link

Photographer

Dark Shadows

Posts: 2269

Miami, Florida, US

Neil Templar wrote:
Does that mean you should change to 'buildings mayhem' ?

If necessary. I do shoot real estate, and it does pay fairly well.

However, there are plenty of interesting non-models to photograph. I primarily consider myself a portrait photographer. I don't feel that I necessarily need models.

Mar 25 13 06:10 pm Link

Photographer

Erlinda

Posts: 7286

London, England, United Kingdom

I have no idea. I like to think that my eye/imagination helps in what makes me "good" hmm

Mar 25 13 06:18 pm Link

Photographer

MC Photo

Posts: 4144

New York, New York, US

-B-R-U-N-E-S-C-I- wrote:
Sadly in the fashion world photographers are very much judged by the models they shoot.

A portfolio of moderately decent images of top agency models will trump a portfolio of outstanding images of equally pretty but clearly non-agency models any day of the week.

Because agencies don't let their models test with just anyone, people will simply assume that the person shooting the agency models must somehow be the better photographer. It's silly, but true.

Much of my work features nudity but most agencies with girls under exclusive contracts are reluctant to let their models shoot nudes for tests (although they may waive this for a commissioned editorial or Terry Richardson!) so I compromise and shoot clothed and headshots with good agency models to get their faces in my book, and the rest of my work with models from smaller agencies or MM who are free to shoot what they like.



Just my $0.02

Ciao
Stefano

www.stefanobrunesci.com

But isn't the photo really about what's in front of the lens? A top fashion model is "more fashion" than a non-top model. It's about exclusivity more than substance.

Mar 25 13 06:24 pm Link

Photographer

Charlie-CNP

Posts: 2644

New York, New York, US

Neil Templar wrote:
Firstly, I found that I subconsciously shot more and for longer with each of them than I normally do.

Secondly,  I deleted far fewer shots.

funny thing is that the more experienced the model, I usually shoot for shorter periods of time on assignments, and shoot fewer shots. It is about getting the job right and moving on, not spending time with the models.

but as Stefano said, sadly some look at names vs. quality of imagery. its a double edged sword.

Mar 25 13 06:24 pm Link

Photographer

Ruben Vasquez

Posts: 3115

Puyallup, Washington, US

Yes and no.

When I first got into photography, I bought "a camera that takes really good pictures" (I said things like that back then). While I was down in Vegas one year, I took some pictures of the fireworks for 4th of July. I still had five exposures left when a girl I knew came home from work. So I asked if I could take some shots and she agreed. Now I've always considered her a gorgeous woman so I thought these shots were going to be amazing; after all I had a fantastic llama and a camera that took good photo's right? What could go wrong? Well, turns out a lot could go wrong. To say that the shots looked amateurish would have been incredibly generous. I forgot to focus on some, lighting, composition, you name it. She did fine but pretty much everything on my end was fresh squeezed crap. So that's the lesson that taught me just how much more important the guy behind the camera is then the equipment.

Modeling photography is a two way street however and there's only so much the photographer can do which is why better llamas will definitely improve the image(s). Indeed, good llamas can even save piss poor photography.

Mar 25 13 06:26 pm Link

Photographer

Square Jaw Photography

Posts: 378

Chatan, Okinawa, Japan

Neil Templar wrote:

Does that mean you should change to 'buildings mayhem' ?

That one made me laugh out loud.

As someone new to shooting models, when a model knows exactly how to pose and is experienced doing so, everything just flows. Though I shoot mainly TF, I find that paying for skilled models are worth it.

Mar 25 13 06:33 pm Link

Photographer

Neil Templar

Posts: 398

Glastonbury, England, United Kingdom

Charlie-CNP wrote:
funny thing is that the more experienced the model, I usually shoot for shorter periods of time on assignments, and shoot fewer shots. It is about getting the job right and moving on, not spending time with the models.

Yes, agreed, but when you get to my age... maybe its nicer to look for just a couple of minutes longer! (that's not meant to sound as wrong as it probably does!)

Mar 25 13 06:36 pm Link

Photographer

Mark Laubenheimer

Posts: 8986

Seattle, Washington, US

you need to find the right tool for the job. if you want freckles, find freckles.

only the final image matters.

Mar 25 13 06:36 pm Link

Photographer

AJ_In_Atlanta

Posts: 12926

Atlanta, Georgia, US

-B-R-U-N-E-S-C-I- wrote:
Sadly in the fashion world photographers are very much judged by the models they shoot.

A portfolio of moderately decent images of top agency models will trump a portfolio of outstanding images of equally pretty but clearly non-agency models any day of the week.

Because agencies don't let their models test with just anyone, people will simply assume that the person shooting the agency models must somehow be the better photographer. It's silly, but true.

Much of my work features nudity but most agencies with girls under exclusive contracts are reluctant to let their models shoot nudes for tests (although they may waive this for a commissioned editorial or Terry Richardson!) so I compromise and shoot clothed and headshots with good agency models to get their faces in my book, and the rest of my work with models from smaller agencies or MM who are free to shoot what they like.



Just my $0.02

Ciao
Stefano

www.stefanobrunesci.com

+1 but despite this I see portfolios of "fashion photographers" who have no idea what a model should look like.

Mar 25 13 06:41 pm Link

Photographer

Neil Templar

Posts: 398

Glastonbury, England, United Kingdom

Square Jaw Photography wrote:
I find that paying for skilled models are worth it.

That's so true but isn't it nice when they are TF !?

Mar 25 13 06:41 pm Link

Photographer

Garry k

Posts: 27872

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

No , but I have hope that someday I will be worthy of the models i shoot

smile

Mar 25 13 06:43 pm Link

Photographer

John Fisher

Posts: 2083

Miami Beach, Florida, US

"Are we only as good as our models?"

Yes.

John
--
John Fisher
900 West Avenue, Suite 633
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305 534-9322
http://www.johnfisher.com

Mar 25 13 06:43 pm Link

Photographer

Neil Templar

Posts: 398

Glastonbury, England, United Kingdom

John Fisher wrote:
"Are we only as good as our models"
Yes.

Thanks John

Mar 25 13 06:46 pm Link

Photographer

Kevin Greggain Photography

Posts: 6768

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

I can only comment based on experience.

Before Mosh

- Moderate comments, little communication, a few tags here and there

After Mosh

- Lots of comments, emails asking about what it was like to shoot Mosh, a few more very decent commercial opportunities.

Maybe there is no direct correlation, but I think there is.

Mar 25 13 06:51 pm Link

Photographer

Andrea Acailawen

Posts: 953

Tampa, Florida, US

AJScalzitti wrote:
+1 but despite this I see portfolios of "fashion photographers" who have no idea what a model should look like.

lol *gigglesnort*

Mar 25 13 06:56 pm Link

Photographer

Neil Templar

Posts: 398

Glastonbury, England, United Kingdom

Imageography wrote:
Maybe there is no direct correlation, but I think there is.

Thank you.... I thought so.....

Mar 25 13 06:56 pm Link

Photographer

Andrea Acailawen

Posts: 953

Tampa, Florida, US

For fashion, and probably even more-so for beauty, the answer is most definitely yes.

Mar 25 13 06:57 pm Link

Photographer

BTHPhoto

Posts: 6840

Fairbanks, Alaska, US

I wish I was as good as my models.

Mar 25 13 06:59 pm Link

Photographer

Neil Templar

Posts: 398

Glastonbury, England, United Kingdom

Andrea Acailawen wrote:
For fashion, and probably even more-so for beauty, the answer is most definitely yes.

"Then I saw her face... Du du du du.. Now I'm a believer....
Not a trace, du du du du ...of doubt in my mind"
(thank you)

Mar 25 13 07:00 pm Link

Photographer

Neil Templar

Posts: 398

Glastonbury, England, United Kingdom

BTHPhoto wrote:
I wish I was as good as my models.

I wish my models would show up!

Mar 25 13 07:01 pm Link

Photographer

rbphotos

Posts: 39

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

I have to say Yes. Take two photos one of two different  models doing the same things same lighting same outfits. You will like the photo with the better looking model 95% of the time. Just my. 02 also.

Mar 25 13 07:03 pm Link

Photographer

afplcc

Posts: 6016

Fairfax, Virginia, US

Neil Templar wrote:
(snip)...
Which in turn leads me to ask myself: Are we as Photographers only as good as the models we photograph?
...
(snip)

Nope.

Oh, a good model make s difference.  And all things being equal, I'd rather shoot with a good model than a mediocre model.  But the reason why photography is an art and not a craft is that we're not limited by this stuff.  We are not only as good as our cameras (although some photographers allow their cameras to limit their performance).  We are not only as good as our setting (though some photographers allow that to limit their performance).  We are not only as good as our lens.  Or the available light.  Or our tools.

A good house painter is a craftsman.  But he's limited by the qualify of his paint, the quality of his brushes.  A good photographer is not a craftsman but an artist.  And an artist creates, he sees possibilities that others don't see, he manufacturers art that others can't.

As a photographer, what limits you the most is yourself...the photographer.   

Ed

Mar 25 13 07:07 pm Link

Photographer

Neil Templar

Posts: 398

Glastonbury, England, United Kingdom

rbphotos wrote:
I have to say Yes. Take two photos one of two different  models doing the same things same lighting same outfits. You will like the photo with the better looking model 95% of the time. Just my. 02 also.

Thank you. I agree.
Ultimately the old adage is always true ... 'Sex sells' (that's not being crude. That's being factual).

Mar 25 13 07:08 pm Link

Photographer

Grayscale Photo

Posts: 177

Columbus, Ohio, US

No.  You're as good as you are, no better and no worse, independent of the model you shoot.  A good model, especially if she's attractive, will cover up a lot of mediocre photography... at least for the casual observer.

Just because people ooh and ahh over an image (usually with comments like, "wow, she's hot!") doesn't mean it's technically a good photograph.  A bad photo of a gorgeous model is still a photo of a gorgeous model. 

If you go over to the Critique forum and give feedback to photographers by purposely ignoring the attractiveness of the model when making your judgements, you'll be in a tiny minority.  It just means most people aren't judging the photography that closely, not that it's all good.

Mar 25 13 07:09 pm Link

Photographer

Camerosity

Posts: 5367

Saint Louis, Missouri, US

RennsportPhotography wrote:
Some photographers are only as good as the models they work with and sometimes it is the model who is only as good as the photographer. I think working with better talent is always more enjoyable.

There’s a lot of truth in that… and in this:

ontherocks wrote:
i think we're only as good as the performances we get out of them.

If I’m shooting an experienced model who has a strong portfolio, I expect to come away with many strong images. That has generally been true – but there’s one shoot I did with a really good model that I’d love to do over.

I don't think it's a coincidence that most of my best photos were with the best models.

If I’m shooting with an inexperienced model with a weak portfolio, I know it’s going to take a lot more work on my part. To some extent luck is sometimes involved – as is a really large CF card.

Several weeks ago I shot with a new model and, out of 800 or so images, I got six that many models would probably like to have in their portfolios. Another photographer who saw the photos booked the same model – and paid her. He got nothing. He has threatened, jokingly (I hope), to sue me for false advertising.

A really good model makes life much easier. And I suspect that many models, including some very good ones, would say the same about photographers.

It takes two to tango.

Mar 25 13 07:12 pm Link

Photographer

Garry k

Posts: 27872

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Death of Field wrote:
I'm only as good as my clients.

I don't sell "models" as much in my marketing plan.

Yes I use them for some examples, but since I sell direct to my clients, I am not selling a models "look"

So ( in looking at your avatar ) Is Fujifilm one of your clients ?

Mar 25 13 07:17 pm Link

Photographer

GER Photography

Posts: 8437

Imperial, California, US

We can do naught but record the light reflected from a subject. That being said I have seen some awesome photographs of hobos and derelicts, boats and buildings... The subject matters, but it is sometimes what you see in a subject tha others don't that makes the difference!

Mar 25 13 07:18 pm Link

Photographer

GoldRoseMedia

Posts: 2939

NORTH BRUNSWICK, New Jersey, US

Neil Templar wrote:
Firstly, I found that I subconsciously shot more and for longer with each of them than I normally do.

Secondly,  I deleted far fewer shots.

As I'm the only constant with the models I work with, this led me to the inevitable conclusion that it's difficult to take bad photographs of good models.

I have experienced this too. There are certain models who somehow manage to look amazing in almost every shot -- it is indeed difficult to take a bad photo of them. It is rare though; I would say that fewer than one in ten models I've worked with fall into that category.

Mar 25 13 07:21 pm Link