How to Avoid Model Flakes

Avoiding model flakes is something all photographers would like to do and this article will help you identify some of the red flags you may encounter.

First, I want to define what I, and most people, consider flaking: model flakes are models who do not show up to the shoot or who cancel at the last possible second (as in day of the shoot) without a legitimate excuse. Models who cancel with a legitimate excuse are generally not considered flakes.

I think in order to cut down on your flake rate, you need to examine your situation. Sometimes there were no warning signs before a model flaked. But often if you check references or at least ask around, look at how they communicate, and read their profile, then you can catch some red flags common to many model flakes. Again, sometimes there is nothing you could have done. And it is not your fault. Models should not flake, but it does happen and if you can do things to avoid it, you should. These tips are from my own experiences working with other models, from forums, and from photographers I’ve talked to over the years.

Model: Dekilah; Photographer: Clever9Design

Some Guidelines to Avoid Model Flakes

Keep in mind that these are guidelines, not hard and fast rules, a model who doesn’t fit one or even two of these guidelines may still be okay, but the more warning flags you see, the higher the chance of a model flake in most cases.

  1. If you are booking via a modeling site, look for a well-written profile that shows some degree of dedication to modeling.
  2. Look at messages you receive from the model. Is the model asking for any missing info? Does she seem into the concept by offering some insight, suggestions, or at least mentioning something specific pertaining to the idea versus just saying “I love that idea!”? Does she confirm the location and date or just say “That sounds good”? Not saying that some of us do not respond with short replies some times, but there should be some degree of real interest at some point.
    Note: this one may vary from model to model and situation to situation. Many traveling models or very busy models may not have as much time to communicate.
  3. Ask her for ideas she wants to shoot or input on the concept if the shoot is TF. Maybe she likes the one concept so much she wants to just focus on that, or maybe she does have ideas she might like to try as well. The key is that she seems to feel she is getting something she wants out of it. Don’t forget that the whole point of TF is to trade.
  4. Make sure you send the time, date, location (address) and your number in one message once all is confirmed. Include anything she is expected to bring or do (such as hair or make-up) and a quick note of the concept. This is really helpful for referring back to and some models even do this confirmation themselves to avoid any confusion.
  5. Ask around about the model. Get references if you can, but also ask around in your circles. I do this a lot with photographers I am working with for the first time. Keep in mind that you may now be getting second or third hand info, but a lot of good responses is usually pretty promising. One or two negative responses from a large pool can mean personal issues or lack of a creative click, but not necessarily an issue for you. I would not consider this a way to decide whether to cancel or book a shoot myself. I only use it to get an idea, unless something is pretty serious or I keep hearing the same bad thing happened over and over (as in multiple shoots, not just the same story retold).
  6. Consider a back up model. Have someone on call who you have shot with before, that way if the planned model cancels, you might still be able to shoot anyway. I think this is especially good if you are booking a location/studio or have a hair stylist/makeup artist coming (just let them know).
  7. Be cautious when booking a model you have not worked with before for a shoot that you are pouring a lot of resources into. For example, booking a new-to-you model for a shoot that you are investing a lot of money into or scheduling hair, wardrobe, etc, for may be risky unless they have glowing references. If you do this, I recommend definitely considering #6.

Potential Reasons for Model Flakes

The second thing you really need to consider is who models are. A lot of models are young women. Women between the ages of 18 and 25 can be going through a lot of life changes and some of them are not used to being held responsible and accountable. Some of them party, some are not good at keeping schedules, some have demanding boyfriends who they are very attached to and trying to keep happy (whether you think they should or not), etc. This is pretty normal for this age, the ones who are super responsible are the exceptions. They also may be in college and trying to study and cram for classes. They also may not have reliable transportation. Most models who are serious about modeling will be responsible and will find ways to cut down on the chances that they will not be able to show up, but there are a lot of girls who are new to modeling or not quite as serious.

What NOT to Do

So many times I see discussions about model flakes and I see generally poor advice being thrown around.

A common “solution” that always seems to come up is charging models some sort of booking fee. This is quite ineffective if you’re looking for quality, somewhat experienced models. It makes us feel un-trusted, it makes you seem pushy, and most of us simply don’t have the extra cash to give you. On top of that, we feel like we’re being punished for the few bad eggs.

Don’t take to social media or your profile with rants about it or shove it in the face of your potential models that you won’t tolerate flakes. Any model with any sort of real interest knows that flaking is horrible and a lot of us are even scared to call if we get sick or injured for fear we’ll be labeled a flake.

How to Handle a Pattern of Model Flakes

I covered this a bit in my first paragraph, but try not to get discouraged. If you have a lot of flakes, it might be time to examine what the cause of that might be. It might just be a string of “bad luck” and may have nothing to do with you. It might just be that you are choosing the wrong models. Try looking outside of your usual range (age, look, area, etc) and see if that helps. It might help to ask good models you have worked with if they have suggestions of reliable models for you to work with as well. Similarly, try finding local groups on FB and MM and see what models people seem to work with regularly. That would be a good place to start to find reliable models.


Dekilah has been an art model since 2009. She has worked with over 100 photographers, ranging from the newest of the new to hobbyists and highly-skilled professionals. She is also very active online and in person reaching out to newer models and photographers to help them learn to communicate well and to avoid common issues in the modeling industry. Her website is

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116 Responses to “How to Avoid Model Flakes”

  1. July 11, 2022 at 5:10 am, Paul said:

    It is one of the great injustices of this photography world

    I just had a model flake after weeks of planning luckily most of the wardrobe and props can be salvaged and also the studio rental.

    I had gone on so long with reliable and most of the time the same models I have worked with previous that I forgot about these wannabe flakes/plague of this game.

    Their really should be a way to post a review about them to avoid it continuing to happen to other dedicated and serious photographers. But there really isn’t.


  2. December 22, 2019 at 1:20 pm, Roy McCann said:

    Thank you for your insight. I have only shot about 25 different models. I follow most of the steps/techniques that you suggest. I have been fortunate to not have encountered any model “flakes”. Two models that have some difficulty in communicating in a timely fashion and that is one of your warning signs. She was a little difficult to pin down on a date and time and not as responsive as I would like for my comfort. Professional traveling models have been the most reliable and professional in their communications and thoroughness. I never ask for a model deposit, but I do pay traveling models a booking deposit. So far 25%. I do provide a detailed shoot plan with sample photos that I have taken for model approval. Unfortunately the occasional model is guilty of not reading the plan carefully. I do not like surprises at a shoot, for me the photographer or the model especailly. I always encourage the models to bring a companion. I have shot with boyfriends, husbands, girlfriend, ex boyfriends and ex husbands in attendance.


  3. December 21, 2019 at 11:18 am, Tony L said:

    Always remember the vast amount of models are not professionals. If you’re asking models to trade with you and you aren’t paying them, some if not most may flake or cancel last minute. Several years ago a model kept cancelling last minute, etc. When she finally showed I asked what the deal was. She confessed she was homeless for a bit and the places she stayed weren’t always stable. This was confirmed by the two large suitcases she had with her and other things.

    I know its frustrating. A few tips. Don’t rent studio space or hire make-up artists for new to you models. Some models may not have a ride to the location so a offer of a Uber to or Lyft or if they’re cool with it a ride from you may be helpful. Dresses or outfits can be found cheap on line or at thrift stores and may encourage models with few clothing choices to come. While many photographers lack lots of cash a few bucks offered may mean the difference between a flake and a model coming through. $25.00 or so may not mean much to you but may help a broke student.

    Most of all NEVER make or take it personally. Its not a romantic date.


  4. June 30, 2019 at 11:38 pm, Teila said:

    Absolutely ridiculous = “This is quite ineffective if you’re looking for quality, somewhat experienced models. It makes us feel un-trusted, it makes you seem pushy, and most of us simply don’t have the extra cash to give you. On top of that, we feel like we’re being punished for the few bad eggs.”

    I trust you about as much as a BANK or any other place of BUSINESS that knows how to conduct business that requires good credit, collateral, down payment, etc.. trusts you. We don’t, and if a model takes that personally then that model looks at the reality of the world through immature eyes. Requiring a fee isn’t “pushy” any more than a bank requiring good credit and a down payment isn’t “pushy’. It’s business, until you prove yourself financially or socially worthy of being trusted.

    Of course fees, high credit scores for the best interest rates, etc., are the result of bad apples; so what? That’s nothing to take personal. The bottom line is that college educated women (who majored in something industry actually needs) and those most fiscally responsible, are the most willing to pay fees (my fee is $25 refunded in cash after shoot). Those who cannot afford $25 are generally those who are neither fiscally nor socially responsible… and most successful people in business or running businesses in the U.S. know that.


    • July 04, 2019 at 6:53 am, Smiley said:

      I could not have said it better myself. “Put your money where your mouth is”. If you are so dedicated and ready to shoot, put a little something down toward it. I’ve even done $20. Shows your commitment. And sometimes not only do I give them the $20 I add a little extra to it in appreciation for not canceling and being a responsible model. These models not only get it, they appreciate it and I’ve been able to call them back multiple times for awesome shoots.


  5. May 27, 2018 at 7:24 am, Brian Ditmer said:

    I’ve run into some that don’t even cancel. They just stop replying to messages. Sad. I’ve had very little success with MM


  6. May 27, 2018 at 3:55 am, Michael Henshall said:

    What I believe many of us are either overlooking or fail to address is that many of the “models” we’re wanting to work with are of a new generation – the ‘Millenial”. That generation grew up with pats on the back for everything and no real consequences, so they don’t see it as any big deal to flake or not show, or come up with some excuse, or in most cases, not respond or communicate at all. It’s what their parents and society have allowed. You’re asking someone who used excuses and was given passes also through their childhood to now try and become professional overnight. Most young ladies that are desired for photo sessions have been given so many passes before or they’ve never been held accountable, that “it’s ok to make up an excuse or not follow through” and just move on. For the most part, there will be another photographer to come along right behind you and offer them a similar opportunity.

    I agree that it’s amazingly frustrating when trying to work with a model, and I’ve built in my own little procedure to weed out those, for a lack of better term, wanna be models. Most are ‘social media models’ at best; girls that think shooting with GWC’s for a few photos to post on IG or a guy offering to pay them a hundred bucks or so as being a model. So when you are trying to work with them on a legitimate project with actual requirements or specifications, they default to their own insecurities and because they were never held to any form of reliability in the past, they “flake”.

    We can all discuss this topic for hours on end, but what you have to realize is that they are just unreliable. Unless there is something significant in it for themselves, they don’t care. They have no remorse because they weren’t brought up to have remorse for canceling or backing out; part of why the job market is the way it is now. And now we’re translating that to the modeling industry – good luck. Best recourse is to vet many models, over book as was suggested in the article, and hope that you get one or two at best to actually show up. Case in point – booked numerous models for photo sessions for an upcoming trip to FL, 14 to be exact. Out of 14 models, 6 showed. Be conscience of the area your traveling or trying to book models, and just know that if it’s not benefitting them to a great deal, they will either find something else better to do or just chose not to do anything.


  7. May 26, 2018 at 6:18 pm, Dean Lautermilch said:

    I have found over the last ten years that a TFP shoot will occur the first weekend that it can or not at all. Anytime a model has pushed for a future weekend for me she will flake. Also, a serious model will text/email for confirmation at least two days before. What is worse than a flake are the ‘serial flakes’ who will cancel an hour or so before a shoot and then request a future date. I tell them ‘no’ as they had their chance.


  8. May 26, 2018 at 11:56 am, TravelingSalesman said:

    I don’t shoot much any more, however when I shoot I ONLY work with models who say that they shoot nude. It’s pretty simple that if they have marked that , they’re more confident. My work is really rather tame, but it also eliminates that little discomfort where I ask them to drop their cover-up and they want to negotiate what does and doesn’t show in the photo.
    I generally start by sending the model to another area of the working space with a light cover-up and have them undress before we even start. THAT can be a tipping point where I send them home. I don’t need to see them nude, but I also don’t want to stop shooting because they’re uncomfortable with a pose.


  9. May 26, 2018 at 8:30 am, Don Christian said:

    Yeah they are alot of them around too i have ran into several of them and mostly it’s because of 2 things #1 they are just simply inconsiderate and or have no responsibility at all.
    some of the signs that you can watch out for that can be a model flake is when you chat or talk with them about booking the shoot, they might say something like,

    ok i have to hook up with a ride or a baby sitter or something like that, this is a red flag that they may flake out, simply because t hey can’t A find a baby sitter, or B a ride.

    one thing you want to get before the shoot is a valid Phone number, don’t just settle for Facebook or social media texting, get a valid Cell phone number that way if she is not there on time you can call and say i’m at location, where are you..

    If you ask for a phone number and they refuse to give you one saying they don’t give that out, then just say forget it, your policy is that you require a phone number, and not their friends phone number, if they don’t want to give out their phone number then don’t deal with them that is how i work, i always require a cell phone number or i just simply don’t even bother..

    Serious models will have transportation, a cell phone weather it’s a personal one or a business one for their modeling.
    Serious model will always keep in touch and ask things about where the location is the address, the exact time and how long and all them types of questions.

    Also some models that are paid models, will ask for a Deposit, don’t do it, unless you know them or some one you know knows them well, because they are scammers out there who say they will do a shoot take a deposit and never show and you don’t hear from them again..
    I never ever ever give a deposit ever, unless it’s some one i know, they are only a few models that i would ever give a deposit to..
    If they as for a deposit just simply tell them the reason why and if they refuse to book the shoot then move on and say sorry to bother you..

    The only way i would submit a deposit to a model i don’t know is if they give me a reference of another photographer i know or model i know well, and also a valid phone number and copy of their Sate valid ID or Drivers license, Your going to need to get that any way when you go over the model release, I always have models sign a model release and get a picture copy of their ID / Drivers License, you need this if your going to publish any of the work no Publishing agency will even bother with you if you can’t provide proof of age of the model So always get that.
    If a model is unwilling to provide that to me, there is not shoot.


  10. May 26, 2018 at 8:25 am, Samantha Jasmin said:

    I agree with the article and it raises many valid points about flake models.

    This is a two way street though, some photographers say they are going to meet one location and then change it to another last minute which messes with the model getting to that location and if you have never met the photographer before the shoot it raises some red flags about the photographer.


  11. November 30, 2017 at 5:20 am, Richard Barone said:

    Model portfolios are phony. Photos are touched up a/o dated. Photographers who can make a woman look glamorous with elaborate sets and choreographed shots probably get fewer no-shows than those who tell it like it is. Commercial photographers have the advantage.


  12. November 30, 2017 at 1:18 am, Bernd Stoeckl said:

    I had only one model that did not show up so far in HongKong and I had to find out with inquiring emails that she was in Australia at this time due to family issues.
    Annoyingly I had booked a very expensive suite for the shooting for nothing.
    The model had good credentials and was not a young one either.

    I have had no problems in Europe so far but had some very weird communications with American models – insulting me because I did not accept their idea of a “contract”.
    Apart from the ridiculously high compensation double to Europe, nude shooting seems to be to American models a kind of pornography job maybe because of their prudish growing up and environment.
    If a model does not communicate well upfront or share their mobile numbers and email I do not pursue the shooting that is my personal rule.
    I also stay away from American models not worth the money to me.


    • November 30, 2017 at 1:13 pm, Dinar said:

      You will find American Models the Most flaky of any country.

      I am based in L.A which is the Flake Capital of the world ha ha ha…


  13. November 29, 2017 at 4:03 pm, Dinar said:

    I stopped long time ago booking Models from MM, they are almost 100% flaky. If I have any serious job to do and Model does not show up it is a disaster. Hurray and Thumbs up to the Flaky Nation !! ha ha ha…..


  14. November 29, 2017 at 3:21 pm, Tim Dolan said:

    This just showed up in my email as a spotlighted article, having read the article (good) and comments, I will offer my experience.
    Flakes happen…

    Now on to more detail. With the caveat, I am mostly shooting only occasionally these days and almost all of my shoots are either for an art project of mine or for a fetish production company getting product shots of the products to be sold. I generally avoid agents as I have had bad experience with 3 out of 4 agents (#4 I would use again). In one case the agent did not let the model know until she arrived for my TFP shoot that her other shoot was cancelled (the paying one), needless to say she was not happy and I couldn’t blame her, still tried to do the best she could, but you could see it and it was not a good shoot (luckily early on, when I was still learning), I would have preferred a reschedule. The other agents were just too hard to contact about models, so much so I gave up trying to schedule the model, despite that I was paying. I tried to go direct to one model and she said she had to go through her agent, so because of her agent, no gig for her.

    It should be noted I work with both new models and professional models, I much prefer the professional ones, but when they show up I like the new ones as well, usually. About half of the new models I have worked with went on to continue modeling for many years after.

    I consider the following in deciding if the model is likely to bother showing or not. As mentioned not one of them alone is a non-starter, the more there are the more likely a model is to flake on me I have noticed. That said on occasion I will see pictures in the portfolio and I would really like to shoot with the model so I take a chance, usually ending in failure, but every so often not and then I get spectacular shots.
    In no particular order:

    – Cellphone selfies taken in the bathroom (usually a bad sign right there – get at least some professional shots)

    – No good face shots (If you are afraid to show your face, likely you should not be modeling)

    – High rates listed with a join date of less than 3 months.

    – Says no TFP only paid shoots (again with less than a year experience)

    – Pictures of them working in a strip/exotic dance club (several of these have had unrealistic expectations of pay rates for photographic models)

    – Either says they won’t do nudes, but have nude shots with no explanation as to why they have a nude shot or says they will do nudes, but only has shots with mostly covering clothing on, not even one-piece swimsuit shots.

    – Lack of or minimal follow-up confirmation. (traveling models are given a pass on this one if the basic important details are confirmed). I have never had a traveling model flake on me, although I have had two reschedules (for good reasons) and a cancel (well in advance)

    – Failure to actually schedule a date until the last minute. I don’t do last minute scheduling any more, unless it is a backup model for one that flaked and then I try to use one I know is reliable and I have worked with before (which also means they know I am reliable). I almost always try to get confirmed date & time at least 2 weeks out.

    – As someone else mentioned, no activity on their profile in months.

    – and lastly and this one is highly subjective, experience when I read the text in their profile.

    As I mentioned, I have sometimes ignored all of the above, more often than not I should not have, but every once in awhile it is worth the pain of flakes to get that one Gem.

    Of course I can afford the time and have other projects to occupy my time if they don’t show and since I am usually paying (only after the shoot), I am never out anything except some time. Usually.

    I have only had one occasion where I had an elaborate shoot setup and needed 2 primary (nude), and 3 secondary models (not nude, supporting role) and one of the secondaries, flaked. I got lucky though because a friend of the MUA called while we were doing makeup and it turned out she liked doing modeling occasionally and in the end happened to be perfect for the supporting role I needed. I will note that when negotiating that one, it was, I make no promises until I see her, but she was a perfect fit.

    Just my experience and opinion.

    I am very easy on the excuses (even the Grandma died for the third time ones) as long as the model calls and gives me at least 72 hours notice and will accept my ride canceled on me if you call me notice before the shoot starts. I will always offer to pick up if a local model and time permits. But not showing and not calling is going to get a bad reference from me if asked.


    • November 29, 2017 at 4:12 pm, Dinar said:

      Well said Tim, however MM Models I would say (from my experience) that about 90% of them are flakes, so I stopped booking from MM, I have better chances getting a serious Model from an unexpected source…. Craig’s list. On Craig’s it’s about 50/50 chance to book a good one in my experience.


      • November 29, 2017 at 4:42 pm, Tim Dolan said:

        It may be a location thing, I am in Southern Virginia (on the East Coast) and have had good luck with MM (and before I gave up on it, OMP).


  15. November 29, 2017 at 2:17 pm, DHM said:

    Book two. If you can’t book two, don’t book any. Especially if you’re hiring a studio for the shoot, paying MUA etc. That’s the first thing. Second, if you made a mistake of booking just one and the model flaked, don’t try to reschedule the shoot with them (even if you have free studio / shooting space). Find another one to work with. There’s no shortage of people who are serious about modelling and there’s no point in rewarding those who don’t respect your time and money.


  16. October 13, 2017 at 8:41 am, Michael Edward Thomas said:

    Under your paragraph, “Potential Reasons for Model Flakes”, you point out reasons why models flake. While all are true, I think it is a sad commentary on our society that these young women may not have ever been “held accountable”. At some point they need to grow up and act like women rather than errant teenagers. Many, many of the models I have met through MM think that all there is to modeling is to be somewhat attractive and know how to put on lipstick and cock one hip or the other and call it a pose. They have no idea about the real world of modeling, the posing skills, the attitude, the absolute requirement for COMMUNICATION AT ALL TIMES, and almost as important, the business side of their chosen “profession”. Getting paid to stand in front of a “guy with a camera” and smile does not make a model a professional. Don’t get me wrong – there are also numerous models on MM that are thoroughly professional and treat this job as though it pays their rent, and it does if you work it correctly. All the comments herein about how to avoid flakes are spot on and we photographers need to employ those tactics at all times, or risk getting burnt.


  17. October 12, 2017 at 10:19 am, Tony Lawrence said:

    Never forget when you aren’t paying models and 95% of the time photographers aren’t we are asking them to pose in exchange for images only. Some models are very focused but many are simply people who just want to take a few images and anything that sounds like more fun or they need sleep, etc. and your shoot is not going to happen.

    The best advice I have is learn to recognize people and patterns including your own. Don’t take anything personal.


  18. October 12, 2017 at 7:00 am, tsigili said:

    While you may have intended this to be helpful to photogs, it really isn’t. The truth is, you can have problems with agency models, as much as with internet models. Yes, those are far less often, but you still encounter them, especially with newer models, from agencies. I have a fair amount of experience with both, but agency models are far better.

    The two most common problems, with internet models, is that they don’t understand what modeling is all about, nor that they are being “employed”, as a temporary worker, by an employer, and subject to the performance of the work agreed upon.

    The number one cause of flakes, is they don’t have any responsibility. The number two cause, is they are being asked to do something revealing, and they aren’t comfortable with that. The number three cause, is they don’t feel they are being paid enough to do the project, and they back out, or perform poorly.

    If you want to shoot with someone who will show up, here are the best suggestions I can offer:
    1. only shoot with local talent, you can interview prior to shooting, unless they are professional agency talent.
    2. be sure you make it very clear, to non-agency talent, what the project involves, and once the project is agreed to, make sure that the model has no problem doing that, especially if anything revealing is involved. I use an interview form that allows the model to select categories of work they are comfortable doing. I provide “idea books” to them, that clearly show, in imagery, what each category involves, prior to having them fill out the form. I then interview them to determine how well they understand the categories, as most inexperienced models think”glamour” is “beauty”. They have no idea what glamour actually is, nor what variations in a category can involve. They don’t know that “lingerie”, can be totally sheer, or that “swimsuit” can be very brief, or that anonymous, means with the face concealed. The form also gives me their physical information and sizes, and I can tell more about them from their physical information, than anything else, because it is entirely based on real data………..height, weight, measurements, etc.
    3. once we are on the same page, I will have the model try on things she has brought with her (or from our own wardrobe selection), to evaluate how well she fits into the categories she has agreed to. That means determining any physical issues, such as short-waisted, or short calves, etc, that impact on how she will photograph. I will also be looking for facial mannerisms, or lack of them.
    4. once we have gone through this process, we will set up a limited test shoot, to see if the model can demonstrate their ability to show up and do the work, and how well they take direction, and how they actually photograph. If this goes well, then we will consider setting up a real project, that requires investment of time and money, to do.
    5. those that cannot pass this process, are not worth my time and effort, to photograph. There are only two kinds of pro work………those for paying clients (which use pro agency models 90% of the time), and personal projects, which use non-agency talent. A number of those personal projects will include revealing requirements, and models have to be chosen for those, based on their ability to handle that work.
    6. traveling models are never considered, because they will almost never show up, and I can’t follow my process for finding reliable talent.
    7. never pay a model that hasn’t proven she can do the work needed, and is worth the investment, of time and money. The photographer has a lot more to lose, than the model, as a rule. Especially if you are doing location work.
    8. never use paid talent that cannot do an acceptable job of hair and make up themselves, as even if you hire an MUA /stylist (try to only hire those who can do both, well), you have to have experience with THEM, as well, to have confidence in their ability to show up, and do a good job, on a variety of faces, and hair styles. Or, be able to do that yourself, as I can do (make up and not hair), and consider that, in the agreed modeling fee.
    9. this is not about pampering talent. It is about hiring people, either through trade or money, and you, as the hiring employer, need to be sure you are not going to be wasting your investment in time, money, and effort.

    Modeling is not what most people think it is. It is not glamorous, it is not “Hollywood”, and it is not “fun”. That doesn’t mean it can’t be, but that isn’t what it is about. Modeling is about fitting a person into a project, that works well in accomplishing the goals of that project, with the right physique, look, and expression, as well as the skills needed, to make the project successful. That is the responsibility of the booker, and the client. When you hire models on your own account, you are assuming the role of both, the booker and the client. Do your job well, and you will have fewer problems.

    If you are having too many problems, then you need to change methods, or stop shooting models. There is no question, that shooting models is far more demanding, than other types of work, in every way. It can be frustrating, unsatisfying, and costly. Models can make or break a project, and you have to be selective. The best work comes from a collaborative effort, but that is really hard to get, in today’s world, from non-agency talent, so don’t be afraid to say “not the look I need right now”. You are better off NOT to shoot models, than to be spinning your wheels, doing shoots that don’t benefit you, or never even happen.


    • May 26, 2018 at 7:50 pm, Jon L. Miller said:

      You have some very good points and truths especially the glamour Hollywood part. I sit with the model if possible before the shoot and show my portfolio and explain everything I can. Now, I do not book a model unless I’ve met them first. I can tell from that meeting if this person is going to show up or not.


  19. October 12, 2017 at 4:07 am, Christo said:

    I had a model call in saying she felt ill 20min before the shoot, I had spent 9hrs building the set and setting up the studio, only to have her call 3 weeks later saying she was ready to go. Don’t think so , once bitten twice shy


  20. October 12, 2017 at 1:08 am, Bernardo said:

    Agree with some comments here there is no such thing as “flakes”.
    This is just life and business as it is.
    If a model is not communicating well and timely from the first contact I just drop it and don’t shoot with her.


  21. October 11, 2017 at 8:57 pm, artfull said:

    There are some good points in this article, but it leaves out at least one or two key things a photographer should do to cut down on model flakes. First, I always insist on talking to the model by phone both to verify basic info like measurements and skin quality and also to gauge the model’s personality, professionalism and commitment to the type of shoot I have in mind. I go through a series of questions in a professional way and give the model a chance to express any questions or concerns she might have. DON’T count on texting or emailing to determine those traits. That kind of communication won’t tell you enough, though an email at some point is important to confirm various details for both parties.

    I also tend to ask the model to follow up in some way, such as sending me unretouched photos including a headshot and a full-length body shot large enough that I can read detail and verify the model’s physical condition. This request for photos also helps to demonstrate the model’s reliability. That is, if she doesn’t follow through with the images I don’t trust she will be as she looks in the photos and also question whether she’ll be responsible to show up at the appointed time, etc.

    A long-time makeup artist says that “glamour models are often flakes,” and there’s some truth to that. A freelance model doing this for fun or extra money isn’t likely to be as committed, but also doing glamour work puts her in contact with photographers who can be flaky or untrustworthy as well. Age is not as important as Dekilah suggests. I’ve found 18 year olds who were quite mature and responsible, and 30 year olds who were total flakes. So it’s more important to assess the personality and professionalism of the specific model. The author gives some other good ways to do that, and most of them are helpful.


  22. October 11, 2017 at 8:08 pm, carbonware said:

    I set up a fashion shoot in Florida at the Fountain Blue resort, there were weeks of planning and constant communication with the models and the rest of the team. Its a rather nice place and somewhat fancy.

    Of the three models I booked one canceled minutes before the shoot while another canceled the night before. I found one part-time model on Craigs list to help fill in who did her best.

    It really goofed up our shot plan and I had crew standing by whom I had to let go (although I did pay every for half a day). I did some of the job with the one model who showed up, my Craig’s list fill-in and finished the rest of the job in my studio back home.

    I contacted both of the models who canceled, one said she was too wasted to show up. The other told me she was grounded (she had lied on the release paperwork and had signed that she was an adult). All three of them came from the same agency. When I talked with the manager there she indicated it was common for models to flake out from her agency and really made no effort to apologize (she lost a customer for life).

    As you can guess I’ll never book with that agency again. BTW the two who flaked out had the nerve to friend me here on modelmayhem after the shoot.


  23. October 11, 2017 at 3:30 pm, Dennis R Geremia said:

    I enjoyed this article. Thank you for it. I would like to add one thing if I may.

    If you are experiencing a pattern of model flakes, perhaps the model isn’t the problem. Self-examination is supposed to be good for us. Perhaps the photographer should take a close look at their own communication. They may inadvertently be giving off a vibe that they are hard to work with. They may also just come across as creepy. I know I have sometimes given a bad impression without even realizing it.


  24. October 06, 2016 at 9:28 pm, carbonware said:

    I once had a shoot arranged in Florida at the Fountain Blu hotel, kind of a fancy resort. I had been putting it together for months and had several models booked, assistants, a stylist and the art director for the project who was paying for the whole project. Of 5 models who had committed to the job and who had been in lots of planning calls three blew us off at the last hour, none had good excuses. We did the shoot with the two models and talked one of the assistants to stand in who had done modeling off and on in the past. I paid the three who did the shoot including the pay that was to go to the flakes.

    Later one of the models called a few days later to ask if I wouldn’t mind pulling the crew together (I had at that time flown on to another project in another state) to do the shoot she canceled out on an hour before it was to start because she now needed the money! unbelievably rude and unprofessional.


  25. October 06, 2016 at 1:22 pm, Diane Hook Spadola said:

    Thank you for the great tips. As a professional body painter that hires photographers for my shoots, a flake actually hurts my rep and the models.’ I once scheduled a shoot with 8 girls and only 3 showed up…and one had never been photographed professionally. EEK!


  26. October 06, 2016 at 4:53 am, Glamour Sydney said:

    In 8 years I have had 4 or 5 flakes. I believe the fact that they happened were all my own fault ultimately. In every case, I had overestimated the confidence and responsibility level of the model. That’s on ME. As pointed out often they are very young and irresponsible – that’s what kids are like. Only when you get to be in your 30’s do you develop that “I don’t need to lie, I don’t give a crap what people think I’m just going to be honest – I have no reason not to be now. I’m old and I don’t care.” But 30 is a long way from 18, 19, or 20. Young people are still at the stage where they have a reputation or self respect to protect and will TELL LIES in order to “protect” that self respect. Yes, it is misguided, but remember, you were young once too! So, there is always that chance a newbie model will flake. You have to be prepared for that. Always. To not have a Plan B is a reflection on YOURSELF and your inability to manage your business. It’s as simple as that. As the article says be aware of the signs and really give and get enough information to build enough CONFIDENCE. Put yourself in their shoes. The model doesn’t KNOW you. You don’t KNOW them. It’s two strangers. Anything could happen. They might just freak out at the last minute. So it will happen and it is no big deal – so long as you know it will happen, and have a Plan B always.


  27. October 05, 2016 at 3:53 pm, Todd Lachance said:

    In my experience, 95% of the models in Calgary are flakes. It’s very frustrating and time consuming that I almost never use the site anymore.


  28. October 05, 2016 at 2:11 pm, Dinar said:

    The Flaky situation is really bad especially I found out with female models, not so much with male models. As I travel a lot I noticed the problem is the worse in the U.S with American models. The Europeans, South American and Asian models seems to be more responsible.

    I do not even try to recruit models (paid jobs) on MM anymore as 90% of the time they flake. Surprisingly I got slightly better results through Craig’s List.

    I would say that this is my biggest cause of stress before a photo shoot where budget is set and the crew is there. In a case like that if the model does not show up it spells disaster.


  29. October 05, 2016 at 1:47 pm, Brian Ditmer said:

    I just chalk it up to…well I dunno. But I chalked it up. Was a TFP shoot so expectations weren’t all that high. But after a good deal of location scouting and exchanging messages on MM..POOF! not a reply, not an explanation..just gone. So If possible, checking references on a shoot..even a TFP shoot, is a good idea.


  30. September 13, 2016 at 12:21 pm, Gary Peck said:

    Fellow photographers that complain to me about no shows and fakes consider themselves victims, yet in reality, after booking the talent and sending them to your site to view your work they discover a talent-less collection of unflattering images that no one in there right mind would be interested in becoming a part of. However, they can’t call and refuse the job and enter into god knows what kind of discussion or having discovered the photog is a hack don’t feel a need to follow through at all. The motives of these “photographers” are immediately suspect and it makes me wonder why they fail to learn their craft and lack the ability to see their work for what it is – garbage. It’s a question of mutual respect on both parts and respect for the work.


    • October 05, 2016 at 2:52 pm, Greg Boycott said:

      Um…nobody should book anything until they’re satisfied by checking these things out in advance.

      And hey, if you find a talentless hack, simply say “I will shoot with you for a fee, as I’m not sure your style is going to fit in with the direction of my overall portfolio and style. Trade, therefore, is not going to work.” or something to this effect.

      At one point or another, we are all talentless hacks trying to develop and in order to develop we *do* require experience with real, actual people.


      • October 11, 2017 at 6:02 pm, Michael Edward Thomas said:

        Interesting concept that a model may not want to shoot unless it benefits her portfolio!!!! That may apply if she is paying me for the shoot, but if I am paying her, it’s really my photographic vision that I am trying to satisfy. Now, if I had asked a model to go beyond her limits, i.e., to do some distasteful or pornographic, that’s a different story. So long as I am paying for the shoot and am not asking the model to do anything against her morals, she should do what she does best, model according to my needs and directions.


    • October 05, 2016 at 4:16 pm, Kaouthia said:

      They can’t refuse the job? Why not?


  31. September 06, 2016 at 6:18 am, Andrew Greig said:

    Hi Dekilah,
    I had a model flake on me at the last minute no explanation. This is exactly what I wrote to her,

    “I was disappointed that we did not get to work together today, it would, however, have been nice to know beforehand, as then I could have done something else with my morning.

    I have thought deeply on why you didn’t turn up, and a couple of possibilities came to mind.

    1 This was your first booking and you were not ready for a nude shoot. Although, as I discussed with you, we were going to make time to get some portfolio shots that you would like taken. And that the major part of the session would be testing my new lighting rig, for which you would be wearing close fitting long sleeved and long legged thermal clothing, so that we could achieve silhouette and partial silhouette shots. I also said in my earlier emails that the most important thing for the shoot was that you would be comfortable. I said that I had a heated changing area for you, and at any time during the shoot you could go there. I also said that we would be taking some shots for a theme I have been developing. I also said that if you did not want to do anything that came up you could just say no.

    2 Maybe I presumed too much. But from my side of the issue, I found you on an Adult model site where you indicated that you would shoot nudes, and you had a price (negotiable) of $110 per hour. The other reason that I thought you were aware of it having a nude component is that in your initial text to me you said that you had lost your birth certificate and needed to replace it. You do not need to be over 18 for clothed shots, but you do need to be over 18 for nude shots.

    I think that there have been misunderstandings on both of our parts. But I was happy for your partner to attend, because then you could feel completely secure. All along I have described how things would work. It is just business, and I was being businesslike – professional really. Early on I asked you to turn up without having worn your underwear, as bra and panties can mark the skin and it takes a while for the marks to go. Those who choose to model nude, whether for artists of photographers understand this. It is not weird or kinky it is just that you need to arrive ready to work And hanging around waiting for unwanted creases on the skin to disappear is a waste of time.

    I would like to work with you, but communication would have to lift a few levels, if you want me to shoot some clothed portfolio shots for you I would be happy to do so. And there is a good reason for that as well, then you could get some photographer feedback on your profile. I would like to hear from you about the reasons for ditching the shoot, as I wouldn’t like another photographer to suffer a “no show”. ”

    There was no response to this either, so I cleaned the studio.


    • October 05, 2016 at 2:34 pm, Dinar said:

      Ha ha ha… and you thought you will get a response ??? waist of time, that is why we call them flakes.


      • October 05, 2016 at 2:57 pm, Greg Boycott said:

        Yeah, wow, you spent a lot of time telling her something she probably couldn’t or wouldn’t read and she already knew anyway. Just do what I do and start estimating the net worth of your gear if you were to sell it on Craigslist.


    • November 16, 2016 at 11:56 pm, Dinar said:

      Did you really think that a Flake would read your response ? time waisted….. in my opinion.


  32. August 11, 2016 at 7:55 am, feutegraf said:

    I never have flakes because I always ask for a deposit and if I do get a flake I say thanks for the $100 for doing nothing 🙂


    • November 16, 2016 at 11:54 pm, Dinar said:

      @feutegraf, how do you extract $100 in advance from a Flake? Please tell me your secret…. I tried but could never achieve this miracle.


  33. April 28, 2016 at 4:30 pm, Sita Carolina said:

    Thank you so much! I have definitely had model flakes however I also do agree that there are a lot of reliable and great models out there!


  34. April 08, 2016 at 10:08 am, teila said:

    Really…. I mean some of you people are just not getting the picture. This is very basic business stuff we’re talking about. I mean business 101 stuff that you should’ve learned in freaking high school (chuckle).

    There is no such thing as a “flake” issue. None. That’s pure fantasy. That’s like banks complaining that there’s an issue with people not being able to pay off loans or Universities complaining that they can’t find students who can do ‘college level work’! Of course we think that’s silly because that’s what standardized exams and grade point averages are for- they give indicators as who is **most likely** to be successful students. Banks use credit scores, business plans, business demographics (and other demographics) to get an idea of who is **most likely** able to pay back their loans on time. Basic freaking common sense right?

    Photographers on the other hand, will talk to a some underachieving internet model (male or female) via text or email, doesn’t know them from Adam, hasn’t checked, or require them to have a reasonable reference history… and then will act surprised (OMG.. she flaked!) when some part-time stripper doesn’t show up to a TFCD shoot, because she had boyfriend issues.

    Yeah… eh… who can’t see that coming from 100,000 miles away. That’s like being honestly surprised that the bum on the street still hasn’t paid you back the $50 you lent him last year.. (insert obligatory eye roll here)

    I don’t know which is more pathetic, those photographers who keep wallowing round and round, endlessly, in a pool of flake-prone members of society; or the actual flakes.

    (shakes head) + (((chuckle)))

    Some of you are so puppy-dog sad on this issue that it’s almost cute… if it wasn’t so embarrassingly ridiculous! 😉

    Seriously people. It doesn’t take a 152 IQ to figure this stuff out. You can find an intelligent, punctual, bright eyed, willing-to-be-photographed, guy or gal in the University library much of the time quicker than you can log onto the ‘net, and sift through the many possibilities. By the time some of you finally find a model, I could’ve shot five that I pulled off the street, out of coffee shops,


    • April 09, 2016 at 1:07 am, Allan said:

      Except many people do default on loans and flunk university courses. “Most likely to” doesn’t mean “will”. I hire models for group life drawing sessions. Just losing one session to a flake affects the success of future sessions. Just one flake in ten is an issue. I have hired educated, professional people who applied to me (I didn’t solicit them) off the street and had some of my worst problems with those people. There is no exam or credit history for art models. Those with good histories – some which I have used myself for years – still flake at some point. You can’t see it from two meters let alone 100 000 miles.


      • April 09, 2016 at 12:37 pm, teila said:

        “Most likely” definitely doesn’t = “will”…. that’s why it’s called “most likely”. If you’re running a business, you simply make sure that *if* someone flakes, you’re not left out in the cold, just like many businesses do when dealing with people with bad credit… if you have the title to their car, and they default on a $500 loan with a 23% rate… it’s not like you’ve lost money.
        People do flunk university courses, but the university made money, not lost it, especially if the student is from out of state/country.

        Same goes for if you have them pay for a portion of your time up front, then you’re not flapping out in the wind if they default.

        If I was working with an elaborate set (I wouldn’t, because aside from art, it almost never translates into making a lot of money) I would simply shoot the scene on a campus, or other area where I have an endless sea of models to use at short notice. But that’s how I do business. Constantly covering my behind no matter how unconventional. It’s all about the $ with me- I’m not about to lose time or money dealing with people who are late or don’t show up.

        No flakes over 2 decades. That ain’t just from me having “good luck”. Like I said, it’s about knowing demographics and bypassing those demographics that are less promising.

        Best in photography to you Allen!


    • October 05, 2016 at 2:59 pm, Greg Boycott said:

      It must be super awesome that you have it so easy. Congrats on your awesome life. We should all be so gifted as to have your rarified air to breath. Truly, we aren’t worthy of your time. Thank you for condescending to speak with us from the comfort of your ivory tower.


      • October 05, 2016 at 7:50 pm, teila said:

        It’s not about “easy”, it’s about common sense and elementary business acumen being very beneficial to those who use it. People default on their bank loans, etc., but you don’t have to be a genius to know that certain demographics of people are far more prone to default, constantly make late payments, not carry car insurance or file for bankruptcy. There’s a reason some car rental companies only rent to people with a credit card.
        It’s all about making money, saving money and not wasting your time. Banks and other businesses (to include working photographers) understand this.

        If a photographer (or model) can’t manage flakes, then heaven help him or her if they ever try to manage a profitable and growing business.

        Best in photography and modeling to all of you


    • October 05, 2016 at 4:29 pm, Kaouthia said:

      I’ve had 2 flakes in the last 7 or 8 years.

      One just fell off the face of the planet the night before the shoot I’d travelled out of town for. Fortunately I was staying with a friend in the area, so no hotel bills, and spent the day hanging out with my friend instead. Wasn’t a big deal.

      The other cancelled on me 30hrs before a paying gig. That would’ve left me out of pocket a LOT of money (as I was at the behest of a paying client) had I not been able to find a replacement at short notice. Fortunately I did manage to find one, she turned out to be amazing, and saved the day. 🙂

      Both of the ones that didn’t show up were “well respected” names with lots of references.

      So, there are exceptions, but in general, yup, you’re mostly right. Many of the warning signs can be seen a mile away. But, somebody always has to be the first to test out a new model signing up on sites like MM so they can get those references that other photographers need.

      Like you, I live in a big university town, and there are plenty willing to step in front of the camera and be pampered for the day. They’re generally extremely reliable, too. 🙂


      • November 17, 2016 at 12:11 am, Dinar said:

        @Kaouthia, you are lucky, in L.A 90% of the models are Flakes….. the only reasonable expectation for one to show up is if you book them through a Modeling Agency at $700 per day and up !


        • November 17, 2016 at 1:03 am, Kaouthia said:

          You may be right with lucky. I prefer that term over “picky asshole”, but I do think it probably is just because I’m so picky.

          You can tell with most models if they’re going to flake during communications. So the ones I think will flake, I just end it there and don’t book anything.

          For important stuff, paid gigs, client work, etc. I only go with models I’ve shot with before. Or, I tell them to sort out the model themselves. That way, I still get paid whether their model shows up or not. 🙂


          • November 17, 2016 at 3:37 pm, Dinar said:

            You are the first one here that nailed it. I look for a first sign, that is how model handles COMMUNICATIONS – is the key word.
            If a model does not respond via e mail in time, or call back within few hr. when asked to return a call than it’s a big red sign, I immediately X them from the list, and that is the first layer of filtering 90% of the flakes.
            Good start, and There are other layers that comes next to filter out the few flakes that managed to pass the initial filter.

    • October 11, 2017 at 3:33 pm, Dinar said:

      They are all Flakes, 90% of American Models are flakes ! . Period. !!


      • October 12, 2017 at 3:33 pm, teila said:

        … as if I’ve somehow just been getting lucky all this time with finding the 10% that do not flake? I suppose jobs that require a technical graduate degree have a different workforce demographic by virtue of luck?

        The fact of the matter is that the % of flakes rises or decreases rapidly depending on what part of society you’re pulling your models from which should be common sense for most adults. I don’t have problems finding models and I don’t have flakes. My flake rate is still 0… probably because I don’t do business with the demographic that you call “90%”.

        Photographers who find themselves dealing with a lot of flakes have themselves to blame, no different than photographers or business owners who keep getting stiffed by their clients.

        There’s no such thing as “flake” problem… only a such thing as a *management* (i.e. photographer) problem.


    • October 11, 2017 at 3:42 pm, Dinar said:

      Hey Teila, you must be mentally disturbed, it shows in your writing. Guys stay away when you see someone writes like this, she is in her own fantasy world, la la land where good medications are required.


  35. April 08, 2016 at 3:11 am, Peter Moeller said:

    One important missing bit: make sure the model has a very good idea of the concept for the shoot.


    • April 10, 2016 at 4:00 pm, Dekilah Divine said:

      I do agree that being clear on what you’ll be shooting is important, but I’ve covered that in other articles where I felt it fit in a bit better. I’m not quite sure how it relates directly to flaking, but I’d certainly be open to hearing your thoughts.


      • April 10, 2016 at 11:32 pm, Peter Moeller said:

        Well, I personally find this very important and I’m happy to tell you why.

        There is a lot of cooperation on TFP basis between photographers and models starting out. This is also the area where most flakes happen, in my experience. (I find that working with experienced professional models, flakes simply aren’t an issue.)

        When I started working with models, the models were often quite new… This was often a shoot in park, or a commercial unit I used as my studio. Generally my casting call on MM was brief, followed up by some PM’s via MM, and a few emails. At that stage I had probably 50% flakes, which was very frustrating, because I was always there, on time, with all my gear tested and ready to go.

        Now, I write a detailed description of the shoot on MM. I also provide a detailed run-sheet, including example images, outfits and description of poses. I make a phone call or two talking through the shoot. Flakes still happen now and again, but rather 5%, not 50%.

        What am I doing differently? I provide the model with a lot of information, so she knows exactly what to expect.


        • April 11, 2016 at 9:33 am, Dekilah Divine said:

          I see what you mean. I think that probably makes a world of difference with newer models. I know that when I was starting out I had no idea of what to bring or what certain terms meant, so having it all laid out would be super helpful. Sounds like you’ve found something that works really well ^_^


          • April 11, 2016 at 2:46 pm, Peter Moeller said:

            Well, I didn’t cook that up all by myself. I did my research and at one stage stumbled across a package “Working with models” by Matt Granger, a photographer who’s Youtube channel is quite popular. This provided sample release forms, templates for run sheets, packing/check lists for equipment and pretty much all the information a photographer (or model) need to know. Would have saved me a lot of time, hehe.

            I had to smile about your comment “no idea what certain terms meant”. I had models apply for paid shoots who didn’t know what a release form or a run sheet is. I guess many hobby photographers don’t know either.

            It’s just funny, there seem a lot of “little princesses” out there that think because they are pretty, they deserve to be models. Good looks certainly help, but there is an awful lot more to being a photo model than a pretty face and nice body.

        • November 13, 2016 at 8:03 pm, Dinar said:

          Boy… that really helps… ha ha ha…as if the Flakes cares about details or not.


          • November 14, 2016 at 12:10 am, Peter Moeller said:

            You can be a smart arse or try to come up with something helpful and constructive. The choice is yours.

          • November 17, 2016 at 12:01 am, Dinar said:

            I sure know when not to waist time…. And keep your “Smart Arse” comment for your self Mr. Moeller !

          • November 17, 2016 at 12:27 pm, Peter Moeller said:

            You start contributing to this thread and stop making your smart arsing and I stop calling you out. Very easy.

        • November 27, 2016 at 3:18 pm, Dinar said:

          Hey Peter Moller – Obviously you are not a working photographer. No Pro has the time to write an entire BOOKLET size document riddle with boring NONSENSE. People here are LAUGHING at this behind your back. I would be embarrassed to show this to anyone if I was you !!


          • November 27, 2016 at 8:18 pm, Peter Moeller said:

            Look, I started posting that since I do the run sheets and releases, I don’t have flakes anymore. I started preparing those after a pro photographer gave me this advice. And It certainly works for me, regardless what you say.

            I am not a full time professional, but I do paid part time work.

            I know from passing comments and because I have seen some of the paperwork that many pro photographers prepare run sheets, releases or similar documents. Do all of them? I don’t know.

            What is your problem anyway? Did you not like me calling you a smart arse, and now you try getting back at me?

            I apologize for call you a smart arse. Can we bury the hatchet, please?

          • December 23, 2016 at 3:26 am, Dinar said:

            Fair enough Peter, please don’t take it personally, I know you are a good man trying your best to solve a problem. Merry Christmas !

  36. April 07, 2016 at 6:14 pm, Mark Stockman said:

    I’m lucky enough to have worked as 2nd camera/”gofer” for a couple producers before I decided to do a shoot of my own. I highly recommend that. Even if you work for free, consider it an apprenticeship. This also gets you references that the models can check.
    To start out, I’m hiring a model that I worked with before- she’s a full-time professional, and a blast to work with or just hang out with. She’s not inexpensive, though- this is how she earns a living. I wanted to have a second model I’ve worked with at the shoot, too, but she has a full-time day job and has a work commitment that weekend. But I knew that a month ago, and the shoot isn’t until Memorial Day Weekend. When I book other models, I’ll pick first from the ones that producers and models I know have worked with and recommend.
    Modeling aside, I have noticed a serious decline in professionalism across the board over the past few years. I will sometimes call a business,.and the person there will just answer “Hello?” Even if you’re rushed, you have time to say the business’ name: “Smith’s, can I help you?” And even on business calls, I almost never hear “Hello, this is Mr. A from B. May I speak to Ms. C please?” That was expected on personal calls back in the day.


  37. April 07, 2016 at 6:51 am, Richard Gorremans said:

    Good read and very accurate in many ways. Having shot all across the US over the years I have run across everything from total dedication (agent calling from the back of an ambulance to say her client would not be able to make it to a shoot), to a claiming death in family and posting about going out and getting drunk at a party the night before on her FB page.

    Flakes, both talent and photographers, are an unavoidable fact of life. I handle the issue with a simple disclaimer on my pages.

    No Show
    No Call
    No Reschedule

    I don’t argue with them and my simple practice about discussions is that I NEVER write anything in a message that could be screen printed and used against me.


    • April 08, 2016 at 3:14 am, Peter Moeller said:

      I agree, never reschedule a flake, why let the model do this to you twice?


    • April 09, 2016 at 1:10 am, Allan said:

      Well said. I do the same. No arguing, no rehiring. Never argue with somebody who doesn’t know the meaning of “job”, or even basic respect.


  38. April 06, 2016 at 6:11 pm, Allan said:

    Don’t leave out the flakes who do turn up and then trash the session. I do “shove it in the faces” of models I interview that I don’t tolerate flakes, since most applicants simply don’t understand where the line is drawn on this.


    • April 07, 2016 at 2:02 am, Dinar said:

      Hey Allan, that does not help much, they will still flake.


      • April 07, 2016 at 2:33 am, Allan said:

        The flakes will probably still flake but at least they know the deal.

        Many models are not so much flakes but people who just don’t know the boundaries. By making the boundaries clear (i.e. if they cross them, they don’t get hired again) they at least know how they are expected to behave and must behave if they are to get work.

        You are right. I explain the rules (which are minimum, basic rules of professionalism and practice) to everyone who applies and most of them look at me as if I think I’m talking to a two-year-old, then later they do exactly what I asked them not to do and act surprised when I get annoyed about it. It’s not even just the flakes who do this. The only reason I do explain them is that models in the past did not understand them, which surprised me.

        But I’m getting off of the flake topic now and getting onto plain human nature, which can be crazy enough by itself.


        • April 07, 2016 at 11:35 am, Dinar said:

          Allan, 100% correct, I go through the same experiences……


        • April 08, 2016 at 9:49 am, teila said:

          Allen, you’re circumventing common sense here. Why would you expect to get anything but a “flake” if all you fish from is a pond (demographic) filled with flakes?

          You have to do business like a bank or boutique medical clinic. You only deal with those who are most likely to be responsible. You can’t ever be 100% sure, but you can definitely limit your exposure to irresponsible models and clients.

          I’ve never had a client not pay. I’ve never had a model flake. Clients pay up front, and I only seek models from groups of people who are statistically very responsible in society. Is a 24 year old gal with a doctorate of Pharmacy, married, two kids, and a paid off Volvo, statistically *FAR* more responsible than most 24 year old strippers, hooter girls, retail workers, restaurant hostesses, and fast food workers? Of course. You don’t have to have to be a genius; just have to use a reasonable measure of common sense and pick your models from a pool of people who are most responsible as opposed to trolling troubled waters for broken fish…

          You’re largest problem isn’t flaking models, but rather your willingness to stoop down to their level. You need to reassess your own standards. 😉


          • April 08, 2016 at 4:36 pm, Allan said:

            telia – I don’t hire by text or email, I always interview in person. I hire models for life drawing sessions. I can only be so careful and I am not their psychiatrist. I have had problems with professional dancers who have done ten years of ballet, actresses who have worked in professional productions, professional fitness models (one of these didn’t show up for his first session), even professional life models who have worked through an agency for eight years. I have had models do several sessions for me with no problems and then suddenly before or during one session they flake. Many of these are in their late 20’s or 30’s. Some of them were referred to me by other artists who hire them regularly. I am ready to believe that it is because of something I am doing but so far none of them have accused me of anything. My only solution is to be very business-like, set firm boundaries and follow through on them, while showing them respect and caring for their welfare while working for me.

  39. April 06, 2016 at 4:55 pm, teila said:

    “Booking fee” with 100% cash refund at the end of the shoot works like a champ! Augment that with focusing on university juniors or seniors and you’ve reduced your chances of dealing with a flake dramatically. Focus on fresh faced soccer moms with graduate degrees and higher and you’ve reduced your flake rate to practically nil.

    I haven’t had a single flake. zilch. nada. zero. I haven’t had one model show up late that did not call and give me reasonable notice or a simple heads up first (e.g. they got lost… which doesn’t happen much anymore with GPS now so prevalent, public transportation is running behind, or a class/lecture let out late, etc..) I just haven’t had to deal with late or no-shows.

    Size up your models, and prospective clients just as a bank or lending institution sizes strangers with no history up, and you’re not likely to ever have a problem. Yes, you will miss out on models here and there, but with the plethora of models, AMNTM (america’s next top model) junkies, gymnasts, acrobats, etc., that can be contacted via internet from all walks of life– finding reasonably intelligent people who are hell-bent on showing up on time isn’t hard to do if a photographer uses common sense. Booking fee! Money talks. Period. I’ve used $25 for years + all terms and conditions in writing. Problem free! 🙂

    Best in modeling and photography to all of you.


    • April 08, 2016 at 3:17 am, Peter Moeller said:

      Booking fee is a good idea.


  40. April 06, 2016 at 2:03 pm, Tony Lawrence said:

    Dekilah makes great points. I would add that its important not to personalize things. Don’t make or take what strangers say or do personal. Also keep in mind when you aren’t paying models you are asking them to work with you for your concepts for photos.
    Models can’t pay bills with my work. Consider offering some cash if its a really important project. If that isn’t possible try to find a MUA.

    Last and this is critical to always keep in mind. Sites like Modelmayhem and OMP are full of amateur models who may only want to try modeling for a few weeks at most.


  41. April 06, 2016 at 1:56 pm, Merlin 702 said:

    For me, Backpage is a complete non-starter. 90 percent flake rate. Even to the point of them contacting you an hour before the shoot, saying they are on their way,and never showing. Backpage , never again as far as I am concerned.


  42. April 06, 2016 at 1:38 pm, J. Galt said:

    Just my 2 cents worth, but I’ve found that traveling models are more reliable than local models. The traveling models are stuck in your city with nothing much else to do – while local models often get last minute offers for other local activities (like to hang out with their friends, etc.).


    • April 10, 2016 at 4:04 pm, Dekilah Divine said:

      I think it might have less to do with the idea that they are traveling vs. local and more to do with the fact that most traveling models are professionals, while you’ll come across many more less serious, casual hobby models locally. But, as a local model who is also professional, I can assure you that there are local models who are just as dedicated as the lovely traveling models.


  43. April 06, 2016 at 1:13 pm, Alexander Shamota said:

    Good article … all of my resources goes into gear in order to get the best results in a shoot and I would not even think of booking studios, stylist, HMUAs etc in order to do a shoot with a model I’ve never worked with before. Even if she shows up how can i know she can give me any poses or expressions I may want unless she has a stellar portfolio. No IMHO it’s best to do one or two test shoots with a model to establish her punctuality and work habits before investing in a crew, wardrobe, props etc. for some elaborate concept.


    • April 08, 2016 at 3:19 am, Peter Moeller said:

      Agreed, Alex.


  44. April 06, 2016 at 1:11 pm, Dinar said:

    Flaky Models are a huge problem, these are shameless people with no work ethics, and sadly they are the majority on MM or Craig’s list etc… I try to filter them out as much as I can,
    For example, if an interested model responds, I would ask her to call me lets say “tomorrow at 10am” so if she has not called by noon, or e mailed to re schedule the call than she is out ! !


    • April 08, 2016 at 3:21 am, Peter Moeller said:

      I’m doing that = she has to contact me or she is out. But still had one or two flakes who even said “I’m on my way” to never show.

      Paying for experienced models in my experience brings flakes to “0”, nothing else.


  45. April 06, 2016 at 1:07 pm, Sharkymike said:

    How about having MM put in reviews section for each model. That would save lots of us time and energy.


    • April 07, 2016 at 1:59 am, Allan said:

      This has drawbacks, since it could be used for muckraking. There would likewise be reason for reviews of clients of models. If you gave a model a bad review, he or she could give you a bad review for the sake of damage control. It could often result in mud-slinging matches.


      • April 08, 2016 at 3:11 am, Peter Moeller said:

        What can a model say about a photographer she didn’t work with? Nothing! Of course MM would have to moderate the reviews.


        • April 08, 2016 at 3:48 am, Allan said:

          Good point, but I was thinking of models who do show up and ruin the shoot. Though a model who didn’t show could falsely claim that she did and make false claims about the client.


          • April 10, 2016 at 11:34 pm, Peter Moeller said:

            Fair enough… unfortunately there is this type of people out there, they are always in the right and it is always somebody else’s fault…

          • April 11, 2016 at 5:28 am, Allan said:

            They are right for exactly three hours or less and after that they get to argue with the $0 I pay them for the future sessions I don’t hire them for 🙂

          • October 11, 2017 at 3:37 pm, Dinar said:

            Again, It’s called Psycho, that’s what it’s called when a Model ruin the shoot. 90% of these flakes are like that.

          • October 14, 2017 at 9:06 pm, Allan said:

            Making it about their sanity is letting them off lightly. It’s their attitude toward their job and their inability to control their emotions. It takes many forms but it all comes down to mindset and intelligence.

        • April 08, 2016 at 4:12 am, Allan said:

          I hired a model from MM who’s behavior was just out of control as far as following instructions. Some kind of emotional issue. A friend told me I should do a review of her on MM. I told him I didn’t want to get into it, since a model who didn’t even follow basic directions at a paid session would not hesitate to bad-mouth me online if provoked and I would just end up damaging my own online profile. This would also give future flakes ammunition to use against me online. It would be nice to give other prospective clients a heads-up about bad models but in practice I don’t think clients believe such reports anyway. I’ve even told people I personally know about bad models I’ve hired and they kept on hiring those same models anyway.


          • October 05, 2016 at 2:30 pm, Dinar said:

            “Some kind of emotional issue” ha ha ha….. It’s called Psycho. Not unusual though.

    • April 08, 2016 at 3:10 am, Peter Moeller said:

      That would be excellent. If a model doesn’t show several times, everybody reading the reviews is warned.


    • April 16, 2016 at 5:16 pm, Allan said:

      There is a feature on MM for putting yourself on the “Credits” list on the model’s profile. This also allows you to “Add Praise” in a text box, though perhaps that is not the place for negative comments. However, if you list yourself in a model’s Credits, other potential clients can privately message you to ask about your experiences with the model.

      However, I just tried using this feature with one model I hired previously and I did not appear on the model’s Credits. When I tried to post it again, I got a message saying I had already posted my credit on that profile. So that’s not working.


  46. April 06, 2016 at 1:00 pm, Lonnie Juli said:

    I think Dekilah and Charlie Kaye have some very good points.

    I have had the great good fortune of working with dozens of reliable, professional and creative models. Most models are generous with their time and talents.

    I’ve also had my share of flakes. It’s the randomness of the disappearing models that is so hard to comprehend.

    Despite good communication, fastidious scheduling and even test shoots and auditions/look-sees some models just disappear. I never book models who are slow or sloppy about responses. I encourage escorts/chaperons if the model wants that. I’m always surprised when someone who was enthusiastic just evaporates. I’ve had models call or text to say they’re on the way and then just not show up.

    Here’s some advice to models who get cold feet or had too rough a night… Just call. Please. I may still have to pay for the location and staff but at least the Makeup and Hair folks won’t have to travel or can leave if they are already on set. Or I can send my assistant and the stylists to lunch for the two or three hours we expected you. We won’t hate you. I won’t yell at you. I’ll be disappointed but I’d rather not shoot with you if you’re not into it. It happens. I also don’t want to spend the rest of my work day worrying about if you’re okay, or lost, or sick or hurt.

    It’s hard enough to make a living as a model. For every wealthy supermodel there are hundreds of hard working models putting all their efforts into every shot, every idea, every appointment. If you cannot get your act together enough to show up, maybe it’s just too hard for you to be a model. An attractive person can always get their picture taken. Being a model is so much more.

    I shoot a lot of nudes but from what I hear it seems like my flake percentage is on a par with the rest of my colleagues. I’m not a big fan of the “backup model” concept as my goals are usually specific for the subject of the images. I’d just like to know how I can schedule the rest of my day if a model is a no show.



  47. April 06, 2016 at 12:42 pm, Paul said:

    Great points Dekilah. I think the biggest pain w.r.t. Flakes is what you say, someone flaking when you invest a lot of time and money in a shoot. One step beyond flaking, is after the shoot, when I have had a model say she wants all her photos destroyed, and just because she is no longer interested in modelling. How would you suggest handling this situation.


    • April 06, 2016 at 12:47 pm, PiedmontPhoto said:

      You are the copyright owner therefore the one who decides what happens to the photographs. I always have them sign a model release before the session and it eliminates any grey areas, like this, that may arise in the future.


      • April 06, 2016 at 12:55 pm, Paul said:

        I get a release signed as well but even after explaining all this I still get the subtle threats. I did say one time that I don’t want to waste my time and the creative shots we gained by tossing them, and she said what time? Oh boy I had to leave before I blew. Some flakes are dangerous….but generally speaking I have a fabulous bunch of girls to work with, and I work with them as a team, which solidifies the relationship.


    • April 06, 2016 at 1:03 pm, Lonnie Juli said:

      About fifteen years ago a model wanted to edit the release she had agreed to sign. I just started to unspool all the 120 film we had exposed. I was willing to destroy it all but she decided to sign as originally agreed.

      If you have a release, the images are yours.



      • April 06, 2016 at 4:20 pm, Paul said:

        I get a release signed each and every session, even if I worked with them for years. Good move with the film, but that isn’t easy to do these days. My solution is to shoot TF only with models I have already worked with, my TF days are virtually over, and deposits are non refundable, without a rock solid excuse.


    • April 06, 2016 at 1:37 pm, Badly said:

      You get her to sign a model release that states you are the owner of the photos.


    • April 10, 2016 at 4:12 pm, Dekilah Divine said:

      Hi Paul ^_^ This is really a tough situation and unfortunately I can’t really offer you any specific advice that will work for every session. This is one of those issues that is much better prevented because once it gets to the point of actually being an issue it rarely works out in a way that all parties are actually satisfied. What I can offer you are some things to think about.

      1) Make sure that any model you are working with seems 100% comfortable with whatever you are doing. If a model seems unsure, even if she eventually agrees to a concept and you didn’t pressure her, she is more likely to regret it later. Like I said above, prevention is much more helpful in this situation.

      2) I won’t try offer advice on the legalities of releases, but there is a wealth of information out there. What I would like to point out is that even if you legally can display the photos all you like, you may find that you suffer damage to your reputation due to the “ethics” even if you are legally allowed to display/publish/post the photos.

      My recommendation is to speak to the model about her concerns. Consider the worth of the images for yourself. Assuming you are legally able to use them, is it more beneficial for you to use them and take the damage that may come through word of mouth if the model does raise a fuss or is it more beneficial to remove the photos? Each case will probably be different.


  48. April 06, 2016 at 12:37 pm, PiedmontPhoto said:

    Great article Dekilah and some very sound advice.

    Flaking is just part of the business for me. If I’m doing a paid shoot I generally book through an agency and flaking is nonexistent but if I book an unknown for a TF session through Craigslist or MM, it’s to be expected. I’ve been doing this for 38 years and I’ve heard all the excuses, so models, be honest. Experienced photographers pretty much know when you’re lying and it’s so much better to be honest. I respect a model more for saying she’s hungover than if her grandmother has died for the second time. And sometimes I’ll have a “no show” without any response. As a photographer I understand that new models get cold feet or that gong to the beach with friends is more fun than doing a photo session. If you’re a photographer who is going to do TF sessions, flaking is something you’ll just need to accept. 🙂


    • April 10, 2016 at 3:57 pm, Dekilah Divine said:

      Thank you ^_^ I’m glad you enjoyed the article and I agree so much on your thoughts on being honest. I’m a model with some fairly serious pain issues so it’s possible that I could have a bad flare up. So far it’s only happened a couple of times and I try to avoid booking at times when I know it’s more likely, but I always stay in touch and let the photographer know ASAP.


  49. April 06, 2016 at 12:18 pm, Amayon said:

    Another good piece of advice might be to not acquire your model talent from places like Craig’s List or Backpage. I’ve had spotty luck with those networks. A lot of the so-called “models” in such places are either trolling prostitutes or desperate women hard up for cash who want to shoot NOW.


  50. April 05, 2016 at 1:50 pm, Gary Evans said:

    A great article, thanks for posting. All of the things you mentioned, I have encountered! Your post, and what Charlie Kaye suggested – is great advice!


    • April 10, 2016 at 4:13 pm, Dekilah Divine said:

      Thank you ^_^ I’m glad you enjoyed the article and found it helpful.


  51. April 05, 2016 at 6:47 am, Charlie Kaye said:

    I enjoyed this piece Dekilah. Based on my experience let me add one other suggestion for cutting down on flakes: If you’re booking through MM see how often the model checks her account. If it’s not at least every few days that’s an indication modeling may be an afterthought and not a significant element in her life or career path.


    • April 10, 2016 at 3:56 pm, Dekilah Divine said:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the article ^_^ And that’s probably a good tip, although I’d definitely use it along with others as some models may simply not be active here, but they might be quite active in other places. It just depends on how much time they have and what sites seem the most useful for them individually.


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