Home » Articles » For Models: How Not To Get Burned On A Trade Shoot

For Models: How Not To Get Burned On A Trade Shoot

By not, written 1526066921.

Trade shoots (like everything in life) can sometimes go wrong for reasons that are beyond our control. Though this can be frustrating there are some problems that can be easily avoided.


Here are some things to consider before attending (and arranging) a shoot.

Understand shoot styles

For example: The shoot style glamour can be confused with meaning evening dresses and jewellery whereas actually it means sexualised "lad's mags" type images.  

Whatever shoot style/styles you decide to do make sure you understand what is involved in the shoot before you attend. If you decide to shoot glamour then nail down how far you are you willing to go before the shoot. This doesn’t just mean  how much clothing you'll have on, but which poses you'll shoot and which camera angles will be used. You might be fine about being picture smiling with your hands on your hips in a bikini, but rather unhappy about being asked to lie on your stomach and grab both ankles while the photographer aims the camera between your legs.  

Don't leave any room for disagreement about the shoot during the shoot, or leave yourself vulnerable to pressure or coaxing into something you are not comfortable with. Decide what your limits are in advance, communicate them, and get it all agreed beforehand.


If you're tempted to believe that a photographer is safe to work with because his images are good then just repeat "Roman Polanski" to yourself until the temptation goes away. 

Remember that public references can be deceptive too. Unless you're taking an escort/chaperone to the shoot make sure you contact several people the photographer has shot with and ask them how things went during their own shoot.

Don't assume that because you're a male model shooting with a male photographer that you will be safe. Or that a female photographer has to be safe for a female model to shoot with. I've heard horror stories about both.

Pick the right photographer and agree the style of shoot

Just looking for a portfolio with good images isn't enough. You have to know the type of images you need to serve your business purpose for shooting as a model (assuming you're not just shooting for fun) and the type of images a photographer shows skill in taking. 

For example: If you need images for a portfolio to show an agency then look at the shots on agency websites. Put together a mood board to show photographers and look for people who know how to get these kinds of images.

Agencies generally want 1/2 and 3/4 shots. So if you spend hours on a shoot where you're a tiny figure in the frame then you're wasting your time. If you're putting together a fashion portfolio and shoot with a photographer who only knows how to shoot glamour then you might have a disaster. You generally try to shoot fashion to make the hips and derrière smaller whereas fo glamour poses and camera positions are often designed for the opposite effect.

Review portfolios cynically. If someone has been shooting for 20 years then they can be a bloody awful photographer and still have about 15 good images, just out of luck. Be wary of people whose images look like they might have come from a studio day where a good model and a studio owner may have set up the lights and done all the hard bits. And remember that a good natural light shooter may be helpless in the studio, and vice versa.

Look for someone taking the right kind of images and contact the model in the image. Ask whether the photographer set the lights up himself, how much direction he provided, how good it was, and how long it was before she or he got images if it was TFP.

Agree on number of shots, time-frame, and format

How many shots you are going to get? When will you receive them? And what form they will be in? Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who don't confirm these details before a shoot.

You'll probably want PNGs or JPGs. You can ask for them in both port size (large) and social media size (small). That's because ideally images are sharpened after resizing, not before. I'd suggest that five to eight retouched images in four to eight weeks is about right. But this might change for some genres where retouching is a lot of work.

For example: One really good beauty shot might involve more work and skill than several competent fashion shots.


Here are some things to consider after you attended the shoot.


Firstly, don't give feedback until you have your images (and they are good enough). If you do then you've lost your bargaining power.

Negotiate for a role in choosing which images you get from a shoot. Photographers often expect models to have no role in choosing the final image. You don't have to put up with this! You can ask for a contact sheet from the shoot and to choose your own images, perhaps with some degree of negotiation from the photographer.

Watermarks, logos, etc

Never let a photographer put his name, etc, on your copy of the images from a shoot (may want to use in them in an agency portfolio or any equivalent). Aside from being distracting, an agency or other commercial entity just won't put up with this. Nail this down before you shoot, unless you just want images for PurplePort or your social media.

Your obligations to the photographer

Don't edit a photographer's image (even those you receive in trade) without permission! If you want to retouch your own images then a lot of photographers will be fine with that, but always ask first. Editing without permission is actually a breach of copyright - you really don't want to go there.


I'd like to thank all the models I shot with last year who had to put up with late images when I had a suspected major medical problem and my damn camera went crazy - Thanks!