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WORKING WITH MODELS

By Association Member Paul Churchman.

Introduction

No matter what stage your evolution as an artist at some point you will be drawn to capturing the human form. ~ So all I need to do is grab my gear and off I go right!

Wrong!

It’s always a pivotal moment in any artist's career when they chose to work with a model, professional, amateur, friend or partner, paid or unpaid, it can be a daunting experience so let’s look at the options:

Do I go amateur or professional? Well that all depends on your confidence and what your expectations are, often our long suffering partners or friends are the first callings of any artist but when the time is right for you, you may want to approach a model, perhaps for a specific theme or look you have in mind, well we live in a world which is flooded with potential models.

A recent broadsheet printed a survey where 1 in 5 teenage girls noted “ glamour modeling “ amongst their top 5 career choices, whether this is right or wrong is not for debate here but it does give a reflection of how society creates the hunger for instant fame, this hunger has spawned a whole host of different web-sites dedicated to both the amateur and professional model, as an artist it should be one of the first places to look for potential models, but a word of caution ~ before you approach a model keep in mind the three C’s ~ Communicate Competently & Courteously

There are several methods that can be used to find people to model. Your first option is to hire a professional model. That can be expensive, and may not always be familiar with the type of work you do. The second option is to hire amateur models, or perhaps even nude still life models, the problem here is that the latter will have no inhibitions about taking their clothes off, and may be able to sit still and hold a specific pose for long periods of time, however they may not be the best models to animate themselves. The third option is not to pay a model at all, but find someone with a vested interest in making a portfolio.

A model with enthusiasm to explore different perspectives and techniques has to produce better results than a wooden, but perfect doll, however this does not alter the fact that your model must be at peace with the thought of nude modeling, but a sensitive, respectful and above all else professional relationship with the artist will work wonders here, remember the three C’s The rules are no different for a photographer than a painter or illustrator, he or she must first have self confidence. If you cannot get that across to your model he or she will be reluctant to give it their best.

Whatever the genre or style your striving for, a look that is natural, or a look that has not been posed for at all. Comfort is essential not just physical comfort though that is important, but mental comfort, the model must be able to understand the concept behind what you are trying to do so that he or she can cooperate. Take the time to explain the techniques of flattering compositions, but equally the model has to work on being fluid and graceful in these motions.

A good relationship with your model, built on elements noted above, is essential when you come to evaluate and criticize the work. Your first session will create the tone for future work, but that is when a model will be most nervous, a way of getting over this barrier might be to ask her to come accompanied, and that may make for a lighter more relaxed session, it makes good ethical sense to have a model chaperoned, granted this is not always feasible, don’t see a chaperone as a hindrance but as a benefit in exactly the same way you would a member of your creative team, the chaperone knows the model giving support helping to put the model at ease but also giving you a moral safeguard.

Working with the same model over a number of sessions builds up a rapport, and helps the model learn what works for your own style, as well as what doesn't. He or she has to be able to see the completed image, before this is technically possible or a reality, visualizing your idea is key. As the model becomes more familiar with how you work and experiences the crucial processes of making an image, the model becomes better at generating poses which work for you, and on the whole, helping you to achieve a level of work that makes you successful as an artist and a professional.

The true professional model is a partner in creating the artist's vision and these models can and will break out of the routine they use with amateur artists. This routine is usually a fallback position when the model receives little to no quantifiable direction from the artist. Like any artist they are always trying to perfect their art form and this to me is a measure of the true artist, the collaboration. This partnership allows you to completely concentrate in creating art rather than in directing every minutiae of the model. In this very real sense the professional model allows you to surpass your artistic vision.

Working with a professional model is a completely different experience to that of an amateur. With a professional model you need only explain your vision or objective once and the professional model will deliver that to you with a thousand different variations. You will get all the mood swings you want and physical variations on the pose that you would like. A professional also has a keen sense of situational awareness and can seamlessly blend in and incorporate the set and/or location seamlessly into the pose. Amateur's do not do this because they are still concerned of how they look and do not notice their surroundings. You also receive variations that you would never have thought of. True you sometimes get models that have a set routine they can not break out of to me these are not true professionals because they are not furthering their art. They are just get-ting paid to do the same pose over and over again.

If you talk with any of the great commercial artist, for example (China Hamilton,Ted Preuss and Andreas Bitesnich) you will get the answer that they prefer to work with professional models be-cause time is money. The professional model will deliver in 15 takes what you may not achieve in 8 hours with an amateur. In summary the professional model is a partner that will help you take the art you are both trying to achieve to the next level. This distinction is also valid when talking about the difference between an amateur artist and a commercially successful artist.

The model release

In a society which is becoming ever more politically correct and were litigation seems to be the le-gal word of the moment, you need to protect yourself, your work, remember hiding behind the old " copyright " defence is not always the best way to go, so there has never been a more important time to discuss one of the most essential tools when working with a model, amateur or professional, lets all pay homage to the model release.

What is a release?

A model release or property release is a written agreement between the model or property owner and the artist where the model or property owner has granted the artist permission to use the art-work, drawings, sketches or photographs commercially.
Its not just the bastion of photographers to include a model release in their business mentality, all artists should consider the role of the model release within their field of work, whether your model is a friend, partner, amateur or professional a model release is vital to protect you, the model and the client. They're not complicated pieces of paper, a simple contract between artist and model agreeing where, how your artwork or imagery can be used, there should be no occasion when a model release is not considered.

When to employ the model release, well preferably as soon as you start the discussion process, make it clear to the model that your work is covered by a release and that it not only protects you but their rights as well, as they know where the work is to be used. An often overlooked positive benefit of the model release is that it increases your professionalism reflected back to the model, client or publisher, ~ so you need one ~ where or how do i get one? standard forms are widely available via the internet, here is a good example :

www.alamy.com/contributors/Alamy-stock-photography-model-release-form.pdf

Keep in mind there are different versions for different situations, a standard release form can be adapted to a specific commission or subject, you can simply state on the release that the model agrees for you to use the imagery or artwork and publish it in X, Y, or Z publication, alternatively if its a show piece then state this making sure you don't regionalize the release as this may stop you from having the piece displayed outside the UK for example.

A release should state the basics, name of model, age declaration, project, what you intend to do with the work, images and so on, both in raw format and in a final stage, what purpose are they going to be used for, what region, life-span of the work and payment to the model if offered, re-member payment does not necessarily mean money, PR to the model has value too!, where the work is to be published include advertising or marketing if you believe your work will be carried in the media other than for a specific publishing purpose and ideally some form of photo identification.

The bottom line here is that a model release provides reassurance and employing one can mean the difference between being sued or not.

I have had the pleasure of working with several AEA models and can highly recommend them, these are exceptional professional models with intuitive artist flair. So enjoy!

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