📸 Skai Chan Photography

Talents You Should Avoid Working With

Since doing a professional photoshoot is a tedious and time-consuming process, from planning to actual shoot and post-production, I would rather work with people who are nice and non-problematic. This applies to both friends and clients.

I have encountered countless of people throughout my photography journey and I hope sharing these would help you to avoid possible problems.

    Types of talents I would avoid:
  1. Doesn't appreciate photography
    If a person doesn't appreciate photography, there's a high chance that she wouldn't cooperate well. Many talents have been approaching me to collaborate and they would usually praise my work so well that I almost float. However, when I start testing them about their appreciation for photographs, they would sing praises for some amateur work too; basically, "every" photographer is a good photographer to them.

    Imagine you have a low level of appreciation for the quality of photographs, you won't feel the need to cooperate with the photographer because every photographer is the same and you can easily get another photographer any time soon.

    One of the most stunning incidents I had encountered was that after doing a shoot with an aspiring model, I noticed that she did an outdoor nude shoot (revealing nipples but censored in Photoshop) with a point-and-shoot photographer. The aspiring model started giving me problems months later by accusing me of things that were clearly stated on my terms and conditions while the detailed concept was conveyed to her.

    I understand that it takes experience for most people to be able to start knowing how to judge quality of photographs properly; I'm still learning as well. After working with HMUAs for so many years, I'm not an expert in judging makeup, unless it's a badly done job. Therefore, I don't blame non-photographers for the lack of ability to judge photographs; however, there should be a basic level of skill, so that you can really appreciate a professional photographer.

    Unfortunately, the reality is the most talents who have approached me are simply wasting my time - we won't get to shoot regardless of how good-looking they are.
  2. Low EQ / IQ or lack of common sense
    A certain level of intelligence is absolutely necessary to help to understand each other and treat each other with respect. If someone doesn't even understand my real (good) intention, she won't appreciate me. There's also a high chance that she may misunderstand or misquote me and end up having conflicts. Some people who have kind intention may also have low EQ that she may start offending the entire team unintentionally.

    I have dealt with quite a number of talents who have rather low EQ that they ended up being offended by me when I totally didn't mean any harm. To sum up, I'm a straightforward and upright person who wouldn't even want to reply to anyone whom I dislike; and thus if anyone were to take offend with my words or intention, it's obvious something is wrong with her. Having low EQ is likely to lead to many problems as listed in this article.

    There was once I had discussed with an inexperienced HMUA over a glamour shoot with an open-minded model and we agreed that we should try to "utilize" the boldness of this model. During the shoot, I explained and demonstrated to the model about my idea but I made sure she could have a clear mind before agreeing to my proposal. I gave her time to consider, without pushing her. Soon, the HMUA came over and instead of explaining our plan to the model like how normal HMUAs would do, she faced me and lectured me to "speak up". That certainly placed me in an awkward situation. Imagine someone approaching you on the street suddenly to lecture you about "why did you take upskirt video of a girl", what would the passers-by think and what would your female friend next to you think? It was just a ridiculous situation.

    People with extremely low EQ may also suggest editing the photographs for the professional photographer "out of kindness", which indirectly implies that they can do similar or even better post-production work than the professional photographer who has years of experience in photography. It's akin to insulting the professional photographer.

    Another common issue with such low EQ people is that they would add filter to the final photographs before posting the photographs on their social media, which badly hurt the professional photographer's reputation. Viewers may simply think the photographer is immature in his work. I had seen some photographs on a girl's Instagram and I thought the photographer was extremely bad in his lighting, until I realised the "model" had added some filters to the photographs.

    I have also worked with a "model" who cropped and edited away my watermark before posting them online with her weird filter. When I confronted her, she claimed the copyright of the photographs belonged to both of us and thus she was free to do any editing to the photographs. She had read and agreed to my terms and conditions before the shoot and it had clearly stated that the copyright belonged to me and nobody was allowed to edit the photographs. She wasn't uneducated for sure, else MOM wouldn't have granted her her employment pass or work permit.

    It's a common sense to not edit the photographer's work; it's basic respect.

    If I can sense that the talent has this (low IQ/EQ/common sense) problem from the start, I may skip her no matter how talented or good-looking she is, so as to avert any big problem in near future. It's better to stay as a stranger than to gain a new enemy. Unfortunately, it takes time to judge some people.
  3. Insecure
    There are many talents who are insecure. They are lack of trust and tend to be very inflexible. To sum up, there are two things that they cannot do - this and that.

    Basically, working with such people is taking a gamble (if they are generally nice people) and training of tolerance. I've experienced it too many times that, unfortunately, I'm running out of patience.

    In order to create good work, mutual trust between the team has to be strong. At least, the model has to trust the photography fully, so that her expression and body gesture can be natural.
  4. Not open-minded
    Being open-minded or not isn't the person's fault. However, for professional photography, the talent has to be open-minded, including both the model and HMUA. This is because many interesting concepts require at least a certain amount of sensuality, such as showing skin.

    A model can't be just doing only Garden Shoot to impress her Instagram/Facebook followers like as if she's a model. Unfortunately, many aspiring models are subconsciously aiming to become an influencer and they mainly need to upload new photographs regularly - they may not really need very professional work - although good quality photographs can give a better image.

    Not being open-minded can slow down the photoshoot a lot. For example, if the location doesn't have a restroom nearby and the team is set to work on the second set of look with a different set of outfit, an open-minded model may simply find a hidden spot nearby to get changed so as to not waste time. I've also worked with a HMUA who had tried to "protect" the model too much that it ended up making things quite awkward.

    I have heard that at the backstage of a runway, the professional models would get changed even when there's prescence of guys.
  5. Doesn't keep secret
    Many private discussions are needed, especially for talents who are into long term collaboration or simply wish to learn from each other.

    As a photographer, I would do private discussion with both the HMUA and model. Without doubt, I would have to point out the flaws of the model to the HMUA so that the HMUA could work on the physical flaws and also to decide if we should continue to work with the model. I value character a lot and wouldn't want to work with any talent with bad traits. If the talent is keen in knowing and learning more about photoshoot, I would try to share my real-life experience.

    Unfortunately, I was being backstabbed by a "model" who told the HMUA about my sharing. She had certainly taken my words out of context and also used a tone bad enough for the HMUA to hate me. Unfortunately, the HMUA was bird of the same flock, who tried to backstab me by telling other models about unfavourable things that I had mentioned.
  6. Boastful
    People who are boastful are likely to over-promise and very often, it will lead to problems. There are talents who boast a lot about their own skill and even fashion sense. It's just like taking a huge bet if you choose to work with such people.

    There are some boastful people who are just being sugary in their words in order to gain my trust. For example, there were a few aspiring models who had approached me and told me that they would only work with me - not with any other photographer - because they have seen my work and words on my website and trust me and the quality of my work. It's all cowdung.

    No, I don't mean people who are boastful are bad people.

    On a good note, people who are boastful actually have a higher chance to succeed than people who are more conservative, because they dare to try and there's a chance. For example, being a careful and honest person, sometimes I do reject clients' requests just because I'm not 100% confident in taking the project up; honestly, I could have done very good job.

    Nevertheless, I'm cautious with people who are boastful because eventually, the photographer has to answer to the result of the photo shoot and it's frustrating when small details aren't being taken care of.
  7. Bad vibes
    Photography requires teamwork. Often, it includes the photographer, model and HMUA. If any of them gives bad vibes, it's going to affect the entire team.

    I did work with a moody HMUA who's generally a very nice person during good days. However, she pulled a long face often during the midst of our shoots. I wasn't sure if it's because of her tiredness or boredom, but it's very disturbing and distracting to see her gloomy face, especially during outdoor shoots - I wasn't sure if she's trying to hint us to end the shoots as soon as possible.

    Maybe it's just me who's easily affected because I'm someone who wants the entire team to be happy during the shoot.
  8. Manipulative (control freak) or/and scheming
    People who are manipulative are usually people who are over-confident. They tend to, unintentionally I presume/hope, insult the professional photographer.

    I have experienced talents instructing me to do "this and that". Giving suggestions during the shoot is very welcomed but there's a big difference between giving suggestion and making demands and even using words (manipulating the photographer's mind) to get their agendas being done. These tricks work very well on soft-hearted photographers who wouldn't want to offend anyone.

    The most common thing such people (model) would do is to try to control the outfit, given that the outfit is to be provided by herself (the model), which is usually the case for collaboration. It's stated clearly on my terms and conditions that the final decision lies on me, which the models have agreed to.

    Apart from being lazy and over-confident, the model simply wants her choice(s) of outfit to be used for the shoot for her own agenda. This type of "model" would usually exclaim, "I will just bring along some outfits for the shoot." The secret agenda could be that she wanted to make use of my photography services to do some free commercial shoots for them. For example, the outfit could be a sponsored one that she needs to help to advertise.

    In some cases, the "models" would even bring along props for commercial purposes, such as a book that they wanted to advertise for. On my terms and conditions page, I have clearly mentioned that I don't do free commercial work for collaboration because it would harm the photography industry.

    What these scheming people would do is to insist in footing the bill of the meal after the shoot. The rates for professional photography services is far higher than a normal expensive meal anyway. Some nicer talents would then propose to pay for the photographs, which the photographer wouldn't want to earn because it's supposed to be a collaboration shoot in the first place and nobody should be paying anyone.


You may be interested in:
- Cheapo the photography story
- Good models, bad models
- How to judge a model
- Top ridiculous things TFCD models do
- How to tell if someone truly appreciates a photographer's work



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