Saturday, February 28, 2009
Saying no sucks
One of the most difficult things I do in pursuit of my photography is saying no to people who want to model but, for one reason or another, just aren't suitable for any of my projects. I've only done it a few times, but it sucks every time. This morning was one of those. Understand, there are no model agencies or regular professional models in Interior Alaska, so virtually every model I work with is a hobbiest/amateur with little experience. There are a lot of really good things about that, but I'll save that for another post. The bad thing about it is that many of them aren't interested in modeling more than a couple times, so I'm continually trying to find new models to work with. One way I do that is by encouraging people who are interested in modeling to contact me to talk it over. When they do and I have to say no, it's never pretty. I always feel like I've encouraged them to put themselves out there then kicked them in the gut. The model I said no to this morning asked "Why would you do that to me!? I'm not ugly! Everyone says I'm beautiful and I should be a model! Why won't you at least give me a try?" That's a good question. I have given models I had reservations about a chance before. I don't rule out potential models based on body type, height, weight, gender, race, age, or any of the other usual things that we tend to judge people on. I find beauty in just about every human I meet. So why wouldn't I give her a chance? I explained that the only reasons to date that I have turned down potential models are 1) having an attitude I didn't think I could work with, 2) having skin so bad in so many places that I didn't think I could pose, light, and post process them sufficeintly to produce good images with them, or 3) just having no artistic appeal to me (they weren't ugly or even particularly unattractive, they just didn't move me in any way). She fell into the third category. I know that was painful to hear, and I really wished I could think of a nice, harmless white lie to tell her, but I couldn't. I told her the truth as gently as I could, she hung up on me, and I felt like a prick all day long. I suppose I could have shot her, given her a few prints, archived the images and moved on, but that would have been a waste of her time and mine. I think I did the right thing, but it still sucked. So, if you're thinking of photographing models, keep in mind that it has it's down sides. Unless you're prepared to shoot anyone who asks, you will have to deal with crushing someone's dreams occasionally, and it makes for a shitty, shitty day.