Modelmayhem.com is a social networking site for models, photographers, makeup artists, etc. I’ve known of its existence for years but never really poked around in there too much. Recently, an artist/photographer acquaintance of mine said I really should make a free account on there to promote myself as an art model. I thought the site was more for, y’know…fashion models, not so much life models, but he insisted that getting on there would probably help my career so okay. I’m on there now and have been having a look around.
I find it…depressing.
First off, I’ve learned to double-check people’s gender because a lot of male photographers use a picture of a woman’s face as their avatar. Because why bother taking a self-portrait for that when you could just decorate your profile with a photo you took of some chick, right? Everyone knows chicks are just decoration and that it’s totally not-weird to make people associate your name and identity with the face of an entirely different human being.
Secondly, a lot of photographers post photos of models without crediting the models at all. Which is rude as fuck because it prevents people who like the model’s look from being able to easily track them down and offer them gigs, and also gives the impression that the photographers think that it’s their own talent – and only their own talent – making the photographs good. Like they somehow manufactured these images of out of thin air and nobody else contributed at all.
And so many dudebro photographers’ galleries are full of pics with no particular artistic vision or skill involved beyond pointing the camera in the right direction and making sure it’s focused. Like…so many of these pics where the model is uncredited are just straight-on, full-body pictures of a hot woman standing around. And people are commenting “great shot!” on these photos and the photographer is like “thanks!” and nobody seems to be acknowledging that the model is literally the only thing making these photos at all interesting, not any big talent on the photographer’s part.
Does anyone remember the kids’ story Charlotte’s Web, in which Charlotte (a spider) makes friends with Wilbur (a pig)? My memories are hazy and I’ll be paraphrasing but at one point, I believe Charlotte saves Wilbur from the slaughter by spinning a web above his pen that says “SOME PIG.” A group of people notices the laudatory quote in the web and they’re like “well obviously the pig is special so we can’t kill him.” One person pipes up “Isn’t it the spider that’s kind of amazing here? After all, she figured out how to write human words using her butt.” But everyone else was like “Well that doesn’t make any sense. It’s clearly the pig who’s the special one. The spiderweb says so.”
You see where I’m going with this, right? Some photographers are, well…pigs. 😛
As a life model I already am assumed to be simply raw materials for people’s art, and I’m mostly okay with that – especially since I primarily get drawn or painted, so if someone’s work is beautiful it really is mostly because of them. Photography feels like a whole different thing. In my view, a front-on, full-body photo of a pretty person is pretty because of the model. The model showed up and was pretty, and the photographer just managed not to fuck it up.
When there’s an interesting composition or interesting cropping or the photographer played around with depth of focus to really good effect or there’s some other thing about a photo that looks like an intentional choice, then the photographer is displaying talent. TBH though, a good model has lots of ideas of their own and knows how to pose well, so awesome photographs may well be more collaborative than you think.
tl;dr: MODELLING TAKES TALENT. CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE.