Sunday, January 2, 2011

Paralysis and No-shows

I have time to write in my blog today, although it was a little bit unexpected.  That's because I had a photoshoot planned which ultimately got scuttled by a model no-show - the veritable "flaking out" phenomenon.  Maybe she didn't really flake, but we had scheduled the shoot one week back, and I set aside time accordingly.  She had not returned a follow up email I sent earlier this week, but I knew she was travelling so didn't see that as cause for alarm.  However, when I called her yesterday evening to confirm, she did not answer the call and did not return it.  At that point I became paralyzed - were we on or not???

(By the way, these photos are just here for your enjoyment. This model has nothing to do with this topic.  :)).

What is someone in her position thinking?  Well, I should say that I'm willing to consider the possibility that she had an unfortunate occurance in her life, and due to the dire circumstances was unable to contact me to set things right by properly cancelling or postponing.  So I will allow for that possibility.

That said, I will go ahead and share my thoughts on this subject.  Maybe it will give some model, who might read this, pause before she could consider bailing on a modeling appointment without providing due notice.

Before every shoot, I spend a lot of time preparing.  (See my entry elsewhere in this blog):
I run over ideas in my head for what this shoot might best be, where we should shoot, line up props and wardrobe, etc.  If we're going to shoot indoors, at my home studio, there is a great deal of work associated with getting my place ready.  I carefully clean that area of the house (including any rooms we might end up using), move furniture around to make room for the shoot, set up the backdrop, pull out the lights and lightstands, connect the wireless triggers, on and on. 

If we're doing studio shoots, I've found that it takes me two or three hours to get ready for that.  I can't just wait for the day of the shoot to prepare, as it will be too rushed and that will cause me to mess something up, or just impede the creative thinking process.  No, I like to get things ready well in advance, and as I'm preparing I jot down little ideas for variations on a theme of our planned shoot.  Sometimes, days or weeks before the shoot, I will go to the store and buy props or wardrobe specifically chosen for the shoot.  Some of those items I will eventually return to the store, so it's not as much a monetary thing as a point of spending a significant amounts of time getting the items.

For location based shots, the amount of time spent is no less.  The only difference is that in some way, I can "reuse" the time spend scoping out a location.  I'm referring to my investment in time to actually go to a location ahead of time and do some investigation work.  Where is the light coming from at different times of the day?  Will passers-by be a problem, and what time of day will that be a minimal distraction?  Will I need to bring any portable lighting?  Will there be potential issues with getting the right to shoot there?  How about parking and getting to the actual shoot location?  Where will the model be able to change clothes?  Is there a rest room somewhere nearby?

As I mentioned, this pre-work can be reapplied later with a different model if the chosen model happens to not materialize on the day of the shoot.  However, as I've said elsewhere, my thinking at this point is highly tuned into the specifics of the model in question.  Everything under consideration is being evaluated from the standpoint of the model being planned for that day.  So my vigilence is heightend and tuned towards the particular model and what we'd hoped to accomplish on that day.

All this says nothing about whatever plans I might have made for myself, my friends or my daughters had I not planned to do a shoot that day.  Nor does it address the opportunity lost should I have had the chance to book the date with a model that really did follow through with the appointment.

I frequently see models mention in their profiles that they "won't flake", as if this is a special talent or ability they uniquely possess.  I've been fortunate that today's occurance is really the first time this has happened to me, but it's a bit of a sad state where a model has to highlight her professionalism by pointing out that she will not "flake".  Well, I guess that one word speaks to the whole point - professionalism. 

All of us has to make a decision for ourselves - are we going to behave in a professional manner, or are we here for something else?  As for me, I know my answer.  Hope you do, too.

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