Proving Credentials

There’s a couple of things that really wind me up when it comes to model photography and modeling (and by extension, this is one of the reasons I jacked both in).

1. The requirement to ‘prove’ your credentials as a model. When I was shooting models commercially, there was no requirement for any model to ‘prove’ their credentials. If they were with an agency, and the agency thought they could do the job, then we were happy with them. And we paid them nearly a thousand pounds a day. We shot models who had five years of commercial experience, and we shot models who were on their first job. No experience was not a problem. It was our job as a photographer to coach them through it. And if we couldn’t get usable images out of them it was our problem as photographers. We were failing the models – not the other way around.

In the amateur scene this is all turned on it’s head. Models with more experience get more money and more bookings. The photographers just don’t have the same ethic. If they don’t get the results it’s always the models fault. The pressure is on the model to work for months, years even, for no money in order to then scrape measly amounts of cash from tightfisted shit photographers who don’t even really give a fuck about how the model looks – just about their experience.

2. Models without the experience, who say that they are pro, are derided by amateur photographers. They are mocked mercilessly online by people who, quite frankly, don’t appear to have much of a clue. People forget that all you need to be ‘pro’ is enough income coming in to satisfy you. I’m a professional writer and photographer. Am I earning as much as other professional writers and photographers? Nope. Doesn’t matter. I’m still a professional. I have a professional attitude and an income from my work. It’s the same with models. A model can be professional on two shoots a month, or they can be professional on four shoots a week. If they have the right look, the business acumen, and the attitude, then they’re a professional model.

3. The same shit photographers who rely on models cycling through a programme of set poses are the same shit photographers who also require photographers to ‘prove’ your credentials. If you’re not doing what they consider ‘cutting edge’ work (which is generally a bit safe and seems to involve coloured gels on your lights) then you’re doing it wrong and you’re lying if you say you’re a professional. You’re required to prove everything. I get so much shit in my line of work as a photography journalist because people think I don’t have the qualifications to back up what I say… but the fact is that I was shooting between 50-250 images *a day* for publication in catalogues before I went into journalism. I bet most photographers couldn’t do that. Sure, I’m not the most creative person on the planet – but I have never, ever claimed to be. I do catalogue photography really fucking well though. And I can pose a model for those shots – I don’t need to rely on the model posing for me.


(Crossposted from Facebook. I actually meant to conclude with a thing about the patriarchy and the power balance between male photographers and female models.)