Perhaps because I’m chasing a dream, the creation of art through photography is one of the most important things in my life. To me, it’s more than a job, more than a hobby. It’s more than a way to keep my website fresh and more than a means to update my Facebook page. It defines me as a person. Like Jenson Button is a Racing Driver, like Robbie Williams is a Singer/Songwriter I want to be Andy Craddock (Neolestat) a Photographer. I think the capitalisation is important.
Anyone that drives a car can be a driver, anyone that picks up a mike at a Karaoke bar or joins a local choir can be a singer, anyone that picks up a camera come the weekend and takes a few snaps can call themselves a photographer. But. It takes passion and determination to become a Driver, a Singer or a Photographer, it takes passion and determination to be defined by your trade.
It takes passion and determination, it also takes a lot of hard work, a smattering of luck and skill.
Passion and determination I have. Hard work I have and will continue to put in. Skill is subjective and down to you to, the viewer of my work, to decide whether I have or have not got it. Luck hasn’t been so forthcoming.
There is one other thing a photographer that specialises in people, like I do, needs; Like a Driver needs a car and a support team of mechanics and analysts, like a Singer/Songwriter needs a studio full of sound technicians to mix his sounds and a team of PR people to promote his music, a Photographer needs models.
An excerpt of one review I received said: [Andy Craddock] “does it with a variety of beautiful, but not necessarily professional models”. I like that! I like that because not once have I worked with a model I didn’t want to work with and not once did anyone but me choose the models I’ve worked with. It implies (to me at least) that I choose well.
I used to find models on internet modelling sites, Net Model, Model Mayhem and One Model Place. One Model Place was my favourite, it felt more professional and the models seemed to flake on me less. I let my subscription slide about three years ago and started scouting on the street and on Facebook. Scouting takes more effort, is more hit and miss but one can find hidden gems that the modelling sites miss. I like the challenge of scouting.
To me, Facebook is a functional tool. On one hand it allows me to keep in contact with family and friends and on the other hand I can spend my spare hours at home, wandering it’s streets prospecting for those nuggets of gold hidden away in it’s depths.
The downside of randomly scouting for talent is wondering whether I’ve found a genuine 24K nugget or fools gold.
In my world I find the relationship between the photographer and the model a bit of a balancing act. Even on a professional level models are prone to flaking (not turning up) due to a variety of excuses; dead grandmothers, illnesses, a previous night on the lash and often with no excuse or contact. I’ve heard them all, I even had one model whose grandmother managed to die twice!
There is no commitment between the model and myself other than trust in the beginning. I give her a time, date and place and hope she turns up. Many times I’ve sat there at the allotted time, date and place only to watch the clock tick past the given hour until I’ve given up and gone home with a no show.
I’ve contacted the model later only to find that in the rush to get her monkey to the vets for a suspected outbreak of Ebola Syndrome she forgot to call me. We’ve re-booked a shoot and again she was a no show; a light aircraft crashed in her street or some such.
I have no idea what the real reasons for flaking are. Fear, anxiety, period pain, an outbreak of spots or sheer laziness but I often wonder whether the model looses as much sleep over the no shows as I do? Where a run of no shows damages my faith in people and deadens my soul a little.
If I approach a potential model either in the street or on Facebook it’s because I truly believe she has something I want to work with. I’m not a collector of friends and buddies on Facebook to make me look more popular than I am, I’d rather have twenty people I know I can rely on and talk to than eight hundred that never respond to my posts and updates.
If I’ve scouted you on Facebook or in the street it means one thing; I want to work with you. It means I find you attractive and hope my audience will too. It means I want to work with you, that I think you have the looks to make it as a model and if I can help you on your way I will. It doesn’t mean I want to stalk you or date you, it doesn’t mean I’m looking for another notch on my bedpost and if I were, if I found you ‘that’ attractive I hope I’m professional enough to keep that to myself.
What I do want to do is build a working relationship with you based on trust and friendship that allows me to get the best out of you that suits my needs and gives you the best possible images to either earn you a little extra cash or help bulk out your portfolio.
I’d like the majority of models I work with to become a muse of sorts, an inspiration to me and hopefully I to them. I can be there on both a personal and professional level if need be for the right girls. It is like any other professional working relationship. On the shop floor we talk shop, in the canteen we gossip. The relationship between photographer and model is without doubt a working relationship that needs work to maintain.
To that end, especially for my Facebook friends; consider carefully please. If I’ve sent you a friendship request I’ve probably sent it with a note saying that I’d like you to model for me. If you intend to model for me and have accepted my offer of friendship then hello and welcome.
If you accepted my friendship but don’t intend to model for me please… remove me from your friend list. We’re probably never going to talk, we’re probably never going to be ‘friends’, we’re just going to litter one another’s status updates with inconsequential junk and inboxes with spam.
If you do accept my friendship and do intend to model for me please also accept the invitation to my South West Modelling group and interact with it, join in the discussions, post modelling news on the wall, post pics you want the group (and myself) to see and start discussions of your own. Ask me questions, ask the other girls questions, become a modelling community and lets see our successes grow.
If you talk the talk be prepared to walk the walk… If you don’t or can’t, please don’t kid either yourself or I and please delete yourself from my virtual community so that neither of us waste our time.