In recent posts I’ve described how we’ve been structuring photoshoots towards the requirements of aspiring models down at the Kings Cliffe Studio. This project has now come to fruition, and together with model Sian and artistic director Spike I’m pleased to announce the launch of ModelRoute. The idea behind our initiative is to offer new models, or those who would like to try modelling, a comprehensive portfolio photoshoot in safe and comfortable surroundings. For a potential model there are currently two ways of trying to achieve this; either hire a professional photographer (which can cost serious money for a comprehensive package) or find local amateur photographers and arrange a shoot. Either way can work, but equally there are pitfalls. A pro will produce high quality images, but to create a portfolio of different styles, settings and themes takes time and that means money. A lot of money. Around the price of a second hand Ford Focus in some cases.
Finding a local amateur photographer sounds easy in theory – models can join sites such as Net Model, Model Mayhem etc and search for people willing to work with them. This can work well, and indeed a large number of people use these sites to advantage. However, there is a downside as has been highlighted in the media all too often. Most aspiring models are younger girls, and they can all too easily fall prey to the less desirable element of society who use photography as a smokescreen for less than honest intentions. It’s all too easy to lure these girls to a shoot, and then try to pressure them into posing topless, nude or worse – several cases have made it into the media, whilst on a more personal basis I’ve spoken to girls who have been placed into awkward and uncomfortable situations either before or during a shoot.
Of course, the problem exits at the opposite end of the spectrum as well. Because of the aforementioned media cases, genuine photographers trying to get started with a model portfolio can find it difficult to get models to work with them, because unless you have a portfolio and preferably some references, many models will understandably shy away. The Daily Mail and Daily Express’s constant ‘All Men Are Bastards’ subtle approach to journalism doesn’t exactly help matters either.
It was from a discussion with Sian on this topic that the ModelRoute initiative was born. Although I had no experience whatsoever when we first met, I was able to work with her on the basis of an open and honest email explaining why I’d like the opportunity to photograph a model, and the rest is history. Now I know why my mother always banged on about the necessity of good manners. Apparently the usual approach by a photographer is a simple one-line ‘Fancy a shoot?’ After working with Sian I wanted to work with other models, but for some reason the ones I approached didn’t even bother to reply to my requests – manners cost nothing! I can understand a rejection on the basis that they’d prefer to see more of my work, but not responding is just plain rude.
Sian came up with the solution; she’d approach models herself and offer them a shoot with me at her studio (a huge advantage) and include hair and make up into the bargain, plus advice on posing and posture to those new to modelling who wanted it. With the invitation coming from one of their own peers, models were much more likely to respond and would feel better at the shoot by having another girl present. Certainly the initial response was promising, as models we contacted immediately felt that they were being offered a genuine package.
To try the idea out, we contacted Kaz back in September who Sian discovered on Model-Net. The shoot was good fun and relaxed in a pleasant environment, so we decided to take the idea further. Spike now got involved and over several weeks he single-handedly built a quality photo studio above the recording studio at NRS. Backdrops, lighting, a private changing area and wardrobe area were installed, whilst test shoots took place to try everything out as we progressed.
By the end of October things were looking good, so we brought in Megan for her photoshoot so that everything could be tried out. The session ran well, although a few technicalities needed attention before we introduced the service to Mistress Nightshade who launched the new set-up with a fantastic shoot. Everyone was happy with the outcome, and we realised that we had achieved something.
Attention now turned to presentation as the product was essentially in place. Spike thought up the name and created the fantastic logo plus the strapline:
The name is unambiguous and clearly states what we are about. With the name a website could be built, this was set up on Facebook for maximum appeal and it is an effective tool for getting a message out quickly. To celebrate our opening we have produced the 2011 Model Sian calendar, with the intention of furthering the development of ModelRoute through retail sales. The calendar also acts as a marketing tool, showing the creative and artistic level that we work to with our models.
Phase 1 of ModelRoute is now established, and I’m delighted to say that we are fully booked every weekend through to Christmas already, with a few weekday evening sessions still available. Our Sunday sessions are popular as we offer both studio and outdoor location shoots over a four-hour period, so a model gets the full comprehensive package. Evening shoots are just studio based and are an ideal introduction for those wanting to try us out. As all shoots are currently free to the model, they offer a truly unique opportunity not to be missed.
It has been pleasing and flattering to be contacted by models who saw the website or were recommended by those who have used us already. When the product speaks for itself, you then realise that the effort and hard work has paid off. Phase 2 for ModelRoute is now in the planning stage, as we hope to start working with local businesses on a personal level. More on this later. In the meantime, please visit our website, remember to ‘like’ it and why not purchase a calendar? Not only is it a piece of fine art in itself, the proceeds from sales will allow us to develop our unique service and help more aspiring models achieve their dreams in style and safety.