1. If you contact someone asking to work with them, do not assume that they will work for free.
Just like requesting goods or services, you can’t just ask for a mocha latte and walk out the door without paying.
If YOU contact THEM, you are wanting their service. The ball is then in their court to decide. It’s rude to assume they will just shoot TFP. Ask them politely if they would be willing to collaborate trade or TFP. If not, then move on.

2. Do NOT push people to model or photograph something they aren’t comfortable doing. People shouldn’t have to decline your offer more than once to show you they aren’t interested. No means No.

3. Don’t feel like you are obligated to do something you aren’t comfortable with. Just because you are asked to shoot or model a certain pose or risqué concept, that doesn’t mean you have to. It’s your body.

4. Just because you have great work, a lot of fans/followers, etc etc…doesn’t mean you have the authority to treats others poorly.

5. Professionalism isn’t just about having a good portfolio and experience. It means taking your job seriously, being punctual, being prepared, being kind and respectful, carrying yourself well, and always striving to do your best.

6. Having experience doesn’t necessarily mean you are good at what you do. Using this as a selling/bragging point when your work isn’t up to par actually hurts more than anything.

7. Practice makes perfect. Always try to sharpen and hone your skills. Be strict with yourself and have high expectations for you and your work. If you’re aiming high, trying to improve, and putting in the effort; your work will always get better.

8. Don’t be afraid to learn. Every single one of us started from scratch and had to learn our own way to improve. So go ask advice, watch tutorials, Google, YouTube, blogs, whatever you have to do to gain more knowledge. There’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about, we all went through that beginners phase. And guess what? We’re all still learning.


9. Be confident. There’s only one you, so work your assets. Even if your look doesn’t fit an exact theme, who cares? Don’t conform. Play to your strengths.

10. Always make sure to discuss all details of a photo shoot beforehand to avoid any future misconceptions. preferably in the very beginning stages of set up.

11. Have everything in writing! Make sure you have and sign a model release, ask to have a copy, take mental notes of everything, and store your paperwork someplace safe. Who knows? It may come in handy in the future if things take a turn for the worse.

12. Which reminds me, fully READ any paperwork before signing. If you don’t understand or are confused, have a lawyer look over it first or a friend educated in law. This applies mainly to Agency contracts, but also be careful dealing with releases. Make sure they state what was agreed upon by both parties before signing.

13. Chemistry is important with any business relationship. You have to be ok working with someone to produce good work, just in general. If you aren’t content working together, then what’s the point?

14. If you aren’t comfortable with a concept, location, the photographer, model, wardrobe, etc…then it’s going to show through in the photos. The camera picks up the tenseness right away. So again, Speak Up if you aren’t ok with something. Otherwise, the photos wont turn out well.

15. Ask before touching. Anything.Anytime.Anywhere. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a piece of clothing on the model or a hair out of place, ALWAYS ask if you can fix. If the model prefers doing it themselves, then respect that and have a mirror on hand. Some models (such as myself) have a “No Touch Policy.”

16. If it’s your first time working with someone, ask to bring along an escort (make sure you point this out on the beginning stages). Regardless of the reason they provide, you’re safety is the top priority.
A. If they have had bad run ins with jealous lovers, then meet them halfway and bring along a family member, model, or a safe photographer friend to act as an assistant.
B. If they don’t like people watching, have them wait in another room or hangout nearby (indoors or outdoors).
If they still won’t go halfway and say you aren’t allowed to, that’s an automatic red flag in my book.

17. Let someone know where you are and the address you’re shooting at before arriving. Just to be safe.

18. Create and bring along a kit with all the little important things. Wet wipes, small sewing kit, hand sanitizer, makeup for retouching, charger, first aid, tampons, etc…and make sure you prepare for location/weather too.
Ex: Recently rained by the lake you’re shooting at? LOTS of bugs. Bug spray, sunscreen, and maybe an umbrella in case.

19. Uplift each other, don’t critisize just to be mean. If you see something that needs improvement, be respectful and point it out in the best way possible. Helpful and constructive critique is the way to go. We all have things we need to improve on and others can see what some cannot.

20. Quality is MUCH better than quantity. Make sure your portfolio is beautiful and diverse, but only feature the best of the best. And have recent up-to-date work displayed there. I feel like we’re all guilty of this from time to time. Lol Nobody wants to skim through 50 photos from the same photo shoot. One priceless vase is better than 2.

21. Stand out. Network. Market yourself and your brand. Social media, websites, posters, events, business cards, whatever is out there! Take advantage of it and be social. That’s the easiest way to get your name out there. 🙂

22. Make sure to contact references first before agreeing to work with someone. This goes for everyone from models to photogs to Stylists. You need to make certain to ask those references the most important questions.
-Do they act professional?
-get images back on time?
-haven’t had payment issues?
-are punctual and don’t flake?
-Any drawbacks?
-Generally good work experience?
-And are they trustworthy and safe?
Although you can never know someone 100%, it’s always best to take every precaution to ensure your safety.

Photographer Credits:

  • Kevin Britton
  • Jim Bob
  • Elizabeth Renee Dodder



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