BBImagery and Tess Garland Headshot

Tess Garland (click to enlarge)


We welcomed Tess Garland to the studio recently to work on some headshots and dramatic images. Tess has the most incredible eyes as you can see from the photos, but rather than discuss this specific session, as I normally do in these blog posts, I thought I would give you an insight into how I cast for my sessions and then in a follow-up post (maybe with the next model), how an actual session develops.

1. Inspiration

There’s a big difference between inspiration and imitation.

I know what I like and when I browse forums on Tumblr or a community on Google+, I come across images that strike me for one reason or another. I usually like (+1) or repost the image on the site so the original photographer can gain a wider audience, I also copy it to an inspirational or theme folder. Model Mayhem has a feature for this called “Lists” and on Tumblr, any photo that you like is shown on your stream.
From time to time I run through my inspiration folders and try and narrow down what I like about the image – is the pose something special, is the lighting unique, maybe it’s not something very specific, maybe it’s just the overall ‘feel’ of the image. I write notes down about the image and I write notes about images that pop into my head around the same theme e.g. “What if the body was turned more, shadow on left side, hat tipped..” When I feel I have enough images and notes around a certain theme, I put together a casting.

2. Casting

JacquelynK in white shirt and suspenders.

Inspiration can come from your own previous work.

Let’s take this month for example. I have three castings on three different themes. I found a bunch of images where fabric was the important element so one of my castings is for a model to work with me around the subject of fabric. Another is a particular favourite of mine, dark or dramatic glamour images, typically in black and white. The final theme this month is something that’s a carryover from my session with Jacquelyn (see this post). I like the idea of a woman wearing a suit, maybe a shirt and I want to push it further and in a new direction.

I’ve done dramatic glamour before, with Salinda (see below) a long while back and it’s something that has great depth and diversity to it, it’s also extremely popular with models – this month I had 6 replies asking for this theme before I had time to edit my casting to say it was full.

In most cases my castings appear on ModelMayhem, Kijiji and Craigslist. My success with these varies widely but I would say Kijiji and ModelMayhem are about the same and Craigslist is a distant third. Your local area might have a different demographic but I would suggest you try all three and monitor the responses (not just in terms of quantity but also quality of the responders). I keep my casting information short – a brief description of the theme and a  rough idea of the date (“month of June…”).

Model : Salinda.

Dark or Dramatic Glamour. I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again. This is Salinda from way back.

The final thing I add to my casting is a link to a shared folder to my Google Drive  where I dump some images and notes.  If they like the inspiration, chances are they’ll like the end result.

If the first model who responds fits the bill then I’m done. I normally ask the second person to let me know about their availability should the first drop out but I rarely go beyond two. Although I will only work with one model at a time, life happens and model’s change their mind or can’t make the original date. If the reschedule options are too far way, I’ll opt to work with the second model instead.

3.The Ifs and Buts…

Let’s face it, particularly for TFP castings, every photographer and every model have different expectations. So here’s the catch. When a model responds, what exactly are they responding to? I tend to keep the details of the casting short because I don’t want people to have to read a page full of text to try and understand what I’m looking for or what I’m willing to offer. So I put together a short (2-page) PDF which answers nearly every question I was getting asked. I send a copy via email to the model and I leave a copy in the inspiration folder so that I or the model, can refer to it anytime we want and I can ask them to review with without having to resend it.

So what’s in the my PDF? Well,  I was constantly cutting and pasting the following information into every email that went out to a model.

  • How long is the session
  • How much does it cost (it’s free but some models had asked if a fee was involved)
  • How many images do they get
  • Who gets to choose the images?
  • How long does it take to get the images
  • Who is responsible for make-up, hair and wardrobe.
  • Are escorts permitted.
  • What if I am under 18?
  • Does a model release need to be signed?

After a while, you kinda get tired of repeating yourself. My PDF answers most of these questions, asks them for a few more bits of information (“can you do your own make-up? do you have any tattoos I should be aware of, etc.)  and its done. Now each photographer will have a different policy towards TFP, some for example, will hand over the raw files from the session, but my guess is, you’ve found yourself repeating the same information over and over. A simple PDF, dropped into a shared folder which the model has access to can save a lot of bother down the road.

For those of you interested, here’s my PDF, you are welcome to take a copy and rework it for your own means :  TFP Sessions2013-2014-2

So now we’ve got our theme, we’ve got our model, and we both have the same expectations thanks to the PDF. In Part 2 I’ll look at how a session typically runs but for now, let’s go back to Tess and my session with her. If you liked this article and found it useful, please use the sharing buttons below to help get the word out.