📸 Skai Chan Photography

How to Offend or Piss off Models

Throughout my photography journey, I have met many kinds of models. My models include clients, friends, freelance models and aspiring models. Almost everyone has different personalities and thus it's a long learning journey.

I don't think any genius can handle hundreds of people well, especially when the trade involves dealing with quite a high percentage of people who are self-entitled and self-centred. The logic is that the more people you encounter, there's a higher chance you will do something that displeases one of them. Furthermore, I'm a person of strong principles and I don't give in to people with bad attitude or are over-demanding. I shoot to earn money to continue my photography journey and to create art work - not to bed models. Therefore, don't expect me to have a peaceful journey.

I don't take note but the number of enquiry for my photography services is many times the actual number of portrait shoot I have done. You can look at my entire portfolio and try to multiple it by a number to imagine how many people I have attended to. Many aspiring models in different shapes and sizes have approached me as well.

The stories I'm sharing here are some of the extreme cases of models I have pissed off. Some have worked with me while some have wasted my time totally. Somehow, some people only reveal their true colours after the shoot. Since I don't have the time to go through my email and messengers for the actual conversations, I would just summarize them to the best of my memory. However, do note that since I rarely do commercial shoots with corporate companies, most of the "models" I'm dealing with are non-professional models.

1. She wanted to cut queue

This model was a very pretty and sweet girl who had cooperated with me well. We had good discussion before the shoot and she made great effort before and during the shoot. She was so nice that she could easily make guys' hearts bounce quicker.

The first headache she gave to me was a couple of hours after the evening shoot. She requested for one photograph because she wanted to update her social media on the same night in order to show off that she had done a shoot. That was actually quite immature or selfish of her because she could have harmed the reputation of a very passionate photographer. Most likely, she was assuming that post-production was quick and easy.

Of course, this could have been due to her working with other hobbyist photographers who either didn't do any post-production work or spend less time on it. Or perhaps, the photographers were only working on just one or two photographs instead of a larger number. Many of them are under pressured to even give away all the raw files to the "models", which unofficially admitting that the models are better in post-production than them.

For people who know my working style, I would go through my work many times over a few days and not just vaguely assume that I have done my best after rushing through the entire album at one go. No, a tired brain won't make the best judgement.

I also try to keep the feel constant throughout the album, such that the colour tone and exposure would be similar. If I were to deliver the photographs on separate days, the first and second batches may not be the same. This will affect my reputation.

Well, I gave her a sihouette photograph since it wouldn't affect the quality of my work drastically. She was quite happy since she was able to update her social media, regardless of the quality for sure.

A few days later, she started hinting to me about the photographs. I revealed to her that I had another shoot before hers and thus I would have to finish the earlier album first before I could start working on hers. On a side note, she was the one who had postponed the shoot, or otherwise, we would have done our shoot earlier than my previous model, and I would definitely be working on her album first.

She then requested me to skip the previous model's album and work on hers first. As principled and dumb as I was, I rejected her directly. I could have either lied to her that I would agree with her demand or simply do it and lose my conscience. I didn't regret sticking to my stand.

This soured our relationship and we didn't talk again after I sent her the finished album. I lost a very good looking and slim model who was more open-minded than me just because "I didn't allow her to cut queue".

2. I don't give Raw files

This foreign model contacted me for a collaboration shoot. She wasn't a real model but had done some shoots, probably as a hobby. She's plump and slightly below average-looking but her boobs were huge for glamour shoots. Her portfolio looked terrible.

I hated rejecting people. I thought it was a good opportunity to practise photography on a difficult (in looks) model and that she seemed to be very open-minded and thus able to work on special themes to attract more clients or to show my creativity to more people.

Although I wasn't a very experienced photographer during that time, I was able to feel that she had a challenging personality. Obviously, she was over-confident and self-entitled. Her portfolio kind of swayed me as I knew those photographers who had worked with her before would have given her many misconceptions and self-entitlement.

I gave her a chance by letting her prove her character. I made her go through my terms and conditions on my website and somehow, she was happy with it. After some conversation, I reminded her about the existence of my terms and conditions, and she admitted her she didn't really spend much time to go through them previously. She finally decided to take a proper look.

After that, she lost her sane, like as if I had murdered her parents.

It was due to my terms that I would only give the model a few edited photographs for collaboration work, which she thought was ridiculous. This was, however, the industry practice because the post-production work for a professional portrait photograph that involved advanced editing would take very long, depending on how stubbornly hardworking the photographer or retoucher was.

My record was spending around five hour on a photograph of a plump model with bad complexion and very unbalanced body tones. It involved stitching of photographs and almost full body "surgery" and many rounds of vetting by the makeup artist.

Of course, many "photographers" these days didn't follow the rules.

This model then started bragging that she had worked with two commercial photographers from Singapore. She claimed that they would send her all the raw photographs, which I believed was the truth. This solved the mystery to why her portfolio was horrible.

We stopped talking after she was done with her ranting. I was glad that I didn't promise her to do any shoot. My prejudgement was correct.

However, I started wondering why would the two commercial photographers work with her and give her the raw files.

  1. Commercial shoot was one of the top markets for photographers. Given that they were able to get into the commercial market, no matter what, they should have certain experience and skill. Together with the frequent interaction with professional models, they would be able to get good quality professional models to collaborate with them. Why would they want to do collaboration with a girl who was plump and wasn't good looking?
  2. Given that the two photographers were very experienced, why would they give her the raw files, which she would add weird filters to them and post them online as their masterpieces to tarnish their reputation? Well, she posted the self-edited photographs online and credited to the photographers and everyone would likely to be horrified by "the photographers' photography skill".
  3. Lastly, since the two commercial photographers didn't need the photographs for their portfolios, why did they even want to do the shoot with her? Could it be that they were enjoying the processes of the shoot with the huge boobs and lack of clothes?

Thanks to this model, I got to know the existence of one of the two commercial photographers. Years later, I did see aspiring models crediting him to some outdoor photographs (more clothes, but probably some more interesting ones were not uploaded) and they appeared to be taken by just a DSLR with faces not properly exposed (eg. in shadow). Given his knowledge and equipment (likely more expensive than mine), he could have done much better. By chance, I got to see a couple of his studio work in Facebook and they were decent. He was probably making minimum effort to do the shoots for the (lack of potential) models for certain personal reasons.

Back to the model, yes, somehow I offended her just because of my terms and conditions, which was my standard for all professional models and friends who wanted to do collaboration. She could have just "cancel" (I didn't promise her) the shoot instead of creating a big scene, which spoke well of her character. I pissed her because I refused to send her the raw files that she would use to add horrible filters (some "models" call it professional editing) to them and upload online to ruin my reputation.

3. She went back on her words (terms and conditions)

We started off as online friends. She was pretty and had a god-like figure. Although she was quite a lazy person, she still managed to cooperate with me during the planning phase probably because she had gone through and agreed to my terms and conditions.

I did three shoots with her within a month. Through my observation of her, she was rather immature in certain ways, which had also affected the quality of at least one of the shoots. She was very happy with the photographs and uploaded them to her Instagram and even to a live-chat platform. Many of my friends had also complimented on the photographs, although I knew well the photographs could have been done much better.

Over time, as we got busy and didn't keep in touch - I shot with her for the sake of getting good photographs (using her looks) and not to bed her.

Many months later, she contacted me and demanded me to take down all the albums. She didn't give much explanation, except that her mum had found out about the photographs. Since she had displayed her immaturity a lot, I thought it was pointless to go on and thus I tried to be fair and told her she would have to compensate me for my time and effort.

Her response was that my work sucked.

I got her mum to contact me to find out more about the issues with the three very decent albums. Two of the albums were lifestyle style, which the model would have taken during her outing with her friends; of course, I made the photographs look more professional and had post-production done to remove her flaws.

The problem was that her mum was a very old-fashioned and conservative lady from China who didn't want her daughter to be involved in any modelling-related stuff. Of course, that wasn't a valid reason for the lifestyle photographs. Well...

I had lost a pretty model with hot figure.

4. I tried to distract her from her guilt

I was discussing with this model for a tattoo shoot. It would be showing quite a big amount of skin and somehow, she trusted me although we hadn't met before.

We were on good terms and she grumbled a lot about her figure often. Yes, she was chubby but I assured her that posing, props and lighting would help her look better and the post-production would be a magic touch.

I was actually anxious in getting the shoot done so that I could do advertising to get more clients who wanted to have their face and tattoos taken professional together.

She postponed the shoot due to some personal reasons. In order to make her feel less guilty, I told her it was good since she could make use of the period of time to work out her body more. This triggered her hot temper.

She started accusing me of insulting her depends all the facts:

    We had been talking for quite some time and she should know my character or at least, I had been been very encouraging.
  1. She often grumbled honestly about her body and thus it was not a secret, which she ownself had acknowledged it.
  2. She was in the wrong initially for having to postpone the arranged shoot. She should feel guilty and less sensitive to words.
  3. I was trying hard to make her feel better for postponing the shoot.

We didn't keep in touch after this.

5. She said no to WhatsApp

This model approached me via my personal Facebook account. She was quite good looking and open-minded. She seemed to have made the effort to go through my work, my writing and my terms and conditions. We chatted quite a lot on photography and modelling stuffs and she also complimented me a lot. I initially thought we would be working on a long term basis, given her looks and her appreciation for my work and my personality.

At that point of time, my creative and experienced Japanese makeup artist friend happened to be flying over to Singapore again. It was a great opportunity for the model because not many makeup artists in Singapore are as creative as her, which could help the model a lot. From my experience, most HMUAs were able to doll up a model but not many could style the model.

I asked the model for her WhatsApp's number for the reasons:

  1. Most people in Singapore used WhatsApp
  2. Somehow, Facebook messenger was causing my web browser to slow down
  3. I had been connecting with the makeup artist via WhatsApp
  4. It's much easier to create group chat in WhatsApp

She turned me down to my great astonishment. From my experience, anyone who wanted me to shoot her would have given me her number instantly. Furthermore, this model was the one who approached me and later, gone through my "huge" website to understand me and my work; and by right, should have the trust in me. She probably assumed I would start calling her on her phone every night to harass her.

Given that we were chatting like long-time friends, I tried to smoothen the awkwardness by being playful and tempted her that she would lose the chance to work with a very creative Japanese makeup artist.

She flared up.

She was in a very harsh tone and emphasized that I wasn't paying her. She kind of made it sound like I was the one who had approached her.

We didn't talk anymore but she didn't remove me from Facebook friend list.

Some time later, she seemed to have taken part in a pageant and a few of the contestants, included her, had a brief disclosure of their mental illness.

6. Too honest

This model used to do a lot of paid shoots with hobbyists and thus she was taught the old fashion kind of supermodel poses. She stopped modelling for a few years but got in touch with me for a shoot after making friends with me. By the time, her figure was extremely different from her modelling days' and it was a challenging work.

She was a very nice girl. She was soft-spoken and generous. We chatted a lot about her previous modelling career during the shoot and also about a few of the popular photographers (doesn't mean good photographers). Somehow, she also quite trusted me and definitely treated me as a friend.

Due to the fact that the theme was very sexy, I didn't want any photograph to look sleazy to affect the model (although she already had lots of old sleazy photographs in the internet) and my reputation. I decided to seek opinions from experts. I took the trouble to trouble my friend, an ex-commercial makeup artist, to go through all the final photographs and she gave me very honest feedback. Some of the photographs were sexy and the lighting was good, but the poses might give some artistic viewers a "cheap" feel. Of course, they were generally okay if you don't set an extremely high standard like my HMUA friend.

After sending the model the photographs, I tried to explain to her about the flaws of the photographs. I tried to be very caution with my explanation but she took my word "cheap" out of context and focused on it. She totally lost her cool.

Luckily, somehow we were still in touch.

7. Testing her patience

This model had limitation in the themes, such as no shooting in swimwear. She was quite sweet looking, except with a flaw on her face that actually made modelling difficult. However, she was very good in dolling herself up.

She trusted me initially and the trust deepened after the shoot - she knew I wouldn't take advantage of her. We stayed as friends and went out together once. After all, she was attached and we made clear that we weren't each other's type in term of character. She admitted that she was only using me because of my ability to produce good quality photographs for her.

After I saw her upload a photograph of a shoot, which she was in an outfit that looked similar to lingerie and was taken inside the pool, I was very upset that she did something much more exposing and sexier with an unknown amateur photographer. She told me the intention was to do an underwater shoot, but nevertheless, she was using a very suggestive outfit instead of a dress or gown (quite commonly used).

From then on, whenever we talked about photoshoot, I would mention about that sexy shoot. I would also talk about bikini shoot although I already had enough of the genre and had done sexier shoots than bikini. While I was always joking with her, I felt very upset due to the unfairness - she treated a stranger "better" than me.

A few years later, we happened to chat when she was probably not in a good mood. Finally, she got fed up of me mentioning about her sexy shoot and she exploded.

We stopped chatting ever since.

8. I didn't want to shoot her (for free)

This model was an expert in using words to please people, making herself seem angelic. She looked quite good and tall and sounded quite open-minded. We did a shoot together and it was all good, including the experience and the result. The initial interactions with her made me assume she was a gem.

She even told me that her mum had gone through my entire website and told her to only shoot with me probably due to both the quality of my work and my character, so that she could stay safe while getting professional photographs. She agreed to her mum's statement. While I was overjoyed and almost floated by the flattery words that had acknowledged the years of my great effort in creating good art work and not taking advantages of models during shoots, I was experienced enough to take it with a pinch of salt.

For sure, young girls were fickle-minded. Besides, I wouldn't encourage any model to simply stick to a photographer, or otherwise, she might not be able to learn a lot, since not every photographer would know everything. I didn't make any promise with her since I knew I might not have the time.

A few days later, she suddenly informed me that she would be doing a shoot with another photographer who had agreed to shoot her some time ago but he was too busy until recently. Although I was glad that I was right about the over-promising of young girls, I felt it was irritating to listen to empty promises. Well, I only wanted to do photography in peace and not listen to fanciful stories/promises. I didn't have the time to feel angry or get deceived and I wanted to stay away from the nonsense. I started ignoring her soon.

I was right to disconnect with the model.

While I was curious what she would do next, she used threats in her replies, which I ignored as well. She was probably pissed off. She started sowing discords between our mutual HMUA friend and I during their shoot. Previously, I thought the model was eager to learn about modelling and thus I shared with her the constraints that I had faced during some of my latest shoots, so that she could avoid them in near future. I was surprised that her memory was so good that she remembered many details, but her anger over me made her deliver my sharing to the HMUA in a twisted way to make me sound like I was blaming the HMUA for all the shoots.

I pissed the model off because I didn't want to shoot her (for free) due to her immatureness.

9. Backstabbed by HMUA

(I didn't have evidence for this but it's likely the case)

This model was nice and cooperative, but a little weird. We were supposed to do a shoot that I had in mind since years ago but it was drizzling during the makeup session. The HMUA then suggested we should do an indoor shoot instead although the rain had stopped. I noted that it was quite late already and with the unforeseeable weather, I decided to follow their advices to change the entire theme.

During the shoot, the model found out that I was quite disappointed because it was the second time I had failed to do it, having the previous time failed because the makeup delayed it. She promised me that she would get a more suitable outfit to do the original shoot since she's travelling overseas soon and she could shop for it.

All was good for the shoot and our friendship deepened.

However, when I tried to remind her (in a friendly tone) to shop for the outfit in our WhatsApp group chat and she stunned me with her reply "That's if I want to...". She wasn't kidding and it's very weird that she replied me like as if I was forcing her. She was probably having a bad day. I decided not to trouble her again and see if she would remember her promise.

I explained privately to the HMUA about the entire situation and we discussed about the response. I told the HMUA that I wouldn't work with the model again if she didn't keep her promise because character mattered most to me. The HMUA agreed with me. We also talked about it in front of her husband when we got together.

However, the HMUA was very desperate to use free models with long hair for her hairstyling portfolio. Therefore, she was tempted to use the model. Some weeks or months later, she went through our group chat and tried to speak up for the model, saying that the model didn't promise me anything. Then, I reminded her that the model promised me face to face during the shoot after she left. I could feel that the HMUA was trying hard to find a reason to make use of the model but was afraid of offending me. I assured the HMUA that she could go ahead and work with the model. I wasn't pissed off with the model anyway, but I was simply waiting for her to keep her promise.

Months later, I offended the HMUA unintentionally, which I believed her grudges towards me were piled up over time. I didn't realise anything was wrong until one of our models, who happened to be my friend, approached me directly to "sort things out". I was stunned. I confirmed that the HMUA was intentionally trying to sow discords between me and this upfront model. I expected the HMUA to have done similar things to sabotage my relationship with other models as well.

Soon, I checked back the Instagram account of the model and realised she had unfollowed me.

We were friends in Instagram for quite long before the shoot although we didn't chat. After the shoot, our friendship should have been deepened. It made no sense that she would disconnect herself from me just a few months after the shoot, except that the HMUA had backstabbed me again. The HMUA, however, was probably keeping in touch with the model privately for her hairstyling portfolio.

I didn't have evidence since this model wasn't as upfront as another model who would approach me directly to clarify things. However, given the track record of the unique way the HMUA did to sow discords, it's highly possible that the model was pissed off with me due to similar tactic.



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