How to Tell If Someone Truly Appreciates a Photographer's Work

Since the beginning of my portrait photography journey, I have encountered many people approaching me. They include models, model-wannabes and clients.

The first encounters with them were usually filled with enthusiasm (from them). However, reality wasn't as beautiful.

For examples, models who exclaimed that they were super impressed with my work would only be available a couple of months later. Then, they would start uploading work they had done with hobbyists. Clients, upon hearing about my photography rates, would then "walk off'.

After so many years of dealing with people and wasting my time, I had managed to come out with a list of observation to judge the real enthusiasm of people approaching a photographer. These are not 100% foolproof but at least can help to reduce expectation to avoid being extremely disappointed eventually.

  1. Follows the photographer in social media
    If someone truly appreciates the work of a photographer, she would obviously follow his work through his social media in order to see more.

    I had encountered someone who claimed to have followed my work for long but I checked that she's just a new follower in my Instagram. It was probably a white lie to impress me but a lie was a lie after all.
  2. Interacts with the photographer's social media posts
    If someone really likes a photographer's work and, somehow, wishes to work with the photographer one day, she would have tried to get into his good book, or at least shows her appreciation. A simple thing she can do is to click the like button on his posts, which isn't difficult.
  3. Willing to pay to work with the photographer
    The most direct indicator of appreciation is the willingness to pay in order to get to work with the photographer. If someone really wants to work with the photographer badly, she won't mind paying higher than the easily available low rates from many photographers (market-spoilers).

    Given the situation of mobile phones, while low-end phones can be bought for as low as less than $200, many consumers are still willing to pay $1000 to get the latest high-end phones.

    While many reputable professional photographers charge around $150/hr for Actual Day (AD) wedding, some famous ones quote much higher and some "photographers" do offer $30/hr. It eventually depends on how much the client is willing to pay in order to work with the photographer she "appreciates a lot".
  4. Initiates chat with the photographer in private
    If a person is really keen in working with a photographer, she would have approached him directly in private for discussion. Obviously, if the urge isn't there, the person will have endless excuses to not contact the photographer and the only real reason is that his work hasn't attracted her enough.

    One of my friends uploaded a photograph I took for her onto her Facebook profile and she attracted a lot of compliments. One female friend of hers commented that she wanted me to photograph her but she stopped short of approaching me although I was credited in the post and she could have really approached me.
  5. Offers her contact number
    The urge to work with a photographer will persuade her to give her number to the photographer for quicker and easier consultation. In Singapore, most people are using WhatsApp and it requires the telephone number of the user.

    If the person refuses to share her number with the photographer, there's definitely the lack of trust like as if the photographer is a pervert who will pester her once obtaining her number.
  6. Replies promptly
    The speed of replies speaks well of how committed the person is in working with the photographer. Everyone's busy, so is the photographer. If the person replies the photographer slowly, it certainly means the shoot isn't the top priority.

    A more polite way would be to approach the photographer only when the person is available.

    One problem with slow reply is that the discussion may take forever and my experience proves that the shoot will likely not commence, which is a waste of time for both parties.
  7. Replies enthusiastically
    The tone may relate to the speed of replies. As a matter of fact, the tone is a separate point to judge a person's urge.

    Unfortunately, most people who approach photographers will initially sound very enthusiastic; however, most of them are just a sudden spark and will end shortly. A person may want to work with a photographer badly today, but she can easily change her mind a few days later.
  8. Willing to push beyond her boundaries
    This is one reasoning blacklisted photographers use to make young model-wannabes to do sexy shoots, but it's actually a valid one. However, nobody knows the actual intention of the photographer.

    Most good and experienced photographers would want to do shoots that are more creative or uncommon. With that, many concepts may require revealing some skin or at least not being wrapped up.

    Unfortunately, most of the model-wannabes have confused between wanting to become a model or influencer; they actually want to be the latter. Therefore, most of them mainly need photographs to be uploaded into their social media accounts or blogs - they don't see the need to be versatile in modelling. As a result, they would prefer to go for Garden shoots, requiring less time for discussion and almost any outfit that can cover themselves well. They mainly want themselves to be captured in their sweetest smiles.

    Of course, pushing beyond boundaries doesn't mean a model-wannabe should accept nude shoots immediately. From my personal view, if a model-wannabe has the correct vision, she should at least be willing to work with bikini shoots, given that the photographer can produce great work and has a decent vibe.

    I have both good and bad luck when it comes to model-wannabes approaching me. While most of them are looking for casual shoot, which won't benefit a professional photographer much in his portfolio, I do have encountered some very trustful ones who have done art shoots with me. Most of these wonderful people haven't met me before and are new to modelling.
  9. Arranges time to shoot soon
    If a person is serious in working with a photographer, she would have made time to do the shoot.

    Many model-wannabes have complimented me on my work and try to book a shoot with me for a couple of months later. Most of them don't return although they have boasted about their commitment. Therefore, I'm very used to take a pinch of salt for the promises.

    By the way, I always see these people uploading new posts of work from their photoshoots with hobbyists after that.
  10. Sacrifices her other activities
    While the person should arrange a date and time to do the shoot as early as possible, some model-wannabes do cancel their activities for the sake of setting up the shoot soon.

    In contrast, I have encountered people who call off the arranged shoot because of their new driving lesson, piano lesson or even holidays. Basically, they make me block off the date and time and I have to turn down other clients' requests, having to end up with free timeslots due to their change of mind.
  11. Cooperates well with the photographer
    If a person seriously thinks a photographer is good, she would have trusted him in the entire shoot, including the planning. Photography isn't only about clicking the shutter button, but also deciding of the styling (hair, makeup and outfit), background, lighting, props... etc.

    Usually, the model has to use her existing wardrobe. She should trust the photographer in selecting the most suitable outfit and thus she has to cooperate to show them to the photographer.

    In many cases, model-wannabes are lazy to even show the photographers their outfits. They kind of trust their own sense of styling more. Some are, in fact, control freaks.

    There are other factors that would contribute to the quality of product from the shoot, including the day and time. It requires lots of cooperation between the entire team. Somehow, some people may have to make sacrifices, such as the time.

    A person who truly appreciates the photographer will definitely try to cooperate fully.
  12. Able to identify amateur work
    Being able to tell the quality of work is extremely important. The person doesn't need to be a good critic, but at least, she must be able to judge if the work is amateurish.

    There are many people who approach me and compliment me on my work every now and then. However, they tend to think highly of some amateur work as well. Some are admirers of photographers whose work look quite good, except that the presentations were more towards sleazy.

    To conclude, if a person thinks an amateur work is nice, it means that she has basically grouped most photographers in the same category. Does she really appreciate the work of the photographer and is willing to cooperate fully with him? Will she cancel the shoot since she can easily approach another photographer in the same "category"?

    This is another reason why I wouldn't spend too much time and effort to entertain such people. I don't fault them since everyone starts from a newbie (in judging photographs) but it's just too risky (possible waste of time and energy) to get involved with them.
  13. Uploads the photograph without editing it
    Photography isn't only about the actual clicking of the shutter button but also the post-production work. A photographer decides the type of lighting to use and then further enhances the photograph during post-production to adjust the colour tone, including the saturation, contrast and other settings.

    Unfortunately, the availability of phone applications has made editing extremely convenient. Many noobs would simply apply the "filters" to change the entire mood of the photograph.

    For example, I usually go for soft light and I will apply a set of settings in Photoshop, before making other changes to suit the mood I want to create. Creating soft light will require bringing along and setting up of more heavy and bulky equipment during the shoot. The soft overall feel of the photograph can be easily destroyed by arrogant and inconsiderate control freaks who simply click a few buttons using the phone applications, such that the soft light used may appear to be harsh light.

    Well, if a person thinks she can do better post-production work than a professional photographer, she doesn't truly appreciate the photographer's work in the first place; it's an insult.
  14. Returns to work with the photographer
    This is obvious. If a person thinks the photographer is really good, she would have tried to work with the photographer again.

    However, the fact is that most model-wannabes would simply work with any hobbyist photographer who is good at words. Well, it's obvious that it's either they don't care much about quality of photographs or they simply can't judge it.


You may be interested in:
- Good models, bad models
- How to judge a model
- Top ridiculous things TFCD models do



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