First of all, don't limit yourself to just one photographer when starting out. It's kind of like being in a relationship with someone you're comfortable with -you stay with them because you're "comfortable", not because you're necessarily happy. If you stay with just one photographer, you're really limiting yourself. You haven't explored enough to know if you're truly happy or not. And from my own personal experience, every photographer photographs you differently. Always leave yourself open to try different photographers, they all have different styles. Some photographers do it for fun, some do it for a job, some studied it, and some are self taught. Some might be great at photography but horrible with photoshop, some photographers take forever to get edits to you, some photographers don't even edit their pictures, and some photographers aren't hardly "photographers" at all and their equipment is about as good as your iPhone photos. But you'll learn this with the more photo shoots you go to. Find a photographer who's style fits what you want to do with your modeling career.
But with that being said, know the intention of the photographer. Look for red flags when connecting with new photographers: can you bring escorts, do they have references? I cannot express enough that you NEED to check references before working with someone new. If the photographer is any good, they will have references. And do not work with anyone who refuses to give you any. Some photographers do not want boyfriends or husbands tagging along as an escort, and honestly, I get that. I made the mistake of taking my boyfriend at the time to a shoot with me, thus resulting in him having a fit about the outfit I was wearing and making me extremely unhappy and uncomfortable for the rest of the shoot. I left in tears. I'm sure you can guess the pictures didn't turn out well since I wasn't focused on the shoot anymore. Sometimes taking significant others can make you LESS comfortable at a shoot. I digress, but you should still be allowed to take an escort with you if you please, like a family friend, an aunt, your best friend, etc. So if a photographer still doesn't agree to this, be wary. It is your right as the model to feel as safe and comfortable as possible- don't let someone make you feel uncomfortable because your pictures will scream it.
Look out for the too-good-to-be-true photographers. I could write all day about the amount of "photographers" I've had contact me with what seem like too good to be true photo opportunities; for some reason these sketchy people always seem to have a way of talking it up-- making it seem like a once in a life time opportunity just to lure you in. But in the end they always ended up being really dodgy about the situation (like not giving me references, saying I couldn't bring an escort, not telling me what is going to be shot during the shoot), or I found out it was going to be published on a porn related site, and so on. If it seems too good to be true it probably is, especially in the modeling world! This is where references come in handy. There are a LOT of pervs out there who claim to be photographers....
Also beware of going to a photographer alone even if you've shot with him 10 times before, it only takes one time to drug you. I'm not even over exaggerating, I was recently talking to a photographer about how he knew some models that went to a very well known and published photographer- and he ended up drugging and raping several of the girls, even some who have worked with him many times before. He's in jail now, thankfully. If you do need to go to a shoot alone, go prepared, and do not let your guard down. I don't take open drinks from anyone. I usually bring my own or if they offer me a bottle of water I will accept if it's unopened. Do not get in the car with strangers either, if you have to meet for a shoot then meet in a public place and drive separately to the destination. Always give an address and an estimated time you'll be done shooting to someone you trust.
Know your comfort level with a photographer. Know your comfort level with yourself. If you don't want to do nude shoots then don't let a photographer talk you out of your clothes. If you're doing implied nudes and something shows in the pictures, you need to trust your photographer enough that he will not be posting that picture anywhere and it will be deleted. One way to ensure this is to write a modeling contract. I'll get to that at another time. If a photographer provides you with a contract, read it carefully. You could be giving up all rights you have to the photos and basically saying it's alright if they're posted on places you don't want them to be.
Just a side note to doing nude modeling, don't let anyone talk you out of your clothes for free if you do decide to do nudes. Strippers don't strip for free, neither should a model. There are several types of nude modeling, not all include an erotic nature. Again, I'll post about how much certain types of modeling should make.
Comfort doesn't just end at feeling safe. I won't even waste your time trying to tell you the amount of times photographers studios have been so cold that I found it extremely hard to focus on shooting. Work with someone who becomes a friend- someone that understands that you may need to sit down for a moment because your feet hurt from wearing heels, or you can say you're too cold and they turn the heating on; someone that you can joke with and doesn't make modeling seem like a chore. Unfortunately, when starting out you might not have a huge choice of who you will work with, luckily the more you shoot with though, the more you can choose from and weed out the good photographers from the latter.
Eventually you'll be able to establish yourself and you'll know what and who you want to work with. You might find out that you pose better in silence and thus it is distracting to work with chatty photographers. You'll learn if you want to work with photographers who have paper backgrounds as opposed to cloth, or possibly you like to work outside more that you do in a studio. Some photographers only do studio photography, so manipulating the lighting outside can be much more difficult. Look for photographers who are fluent in many different styles. You'll learn what photographers capture your good side better than others. Maybe you'll decide you like natural photos instead of photo-shopped pictures. Do the photographers have props and outfits or do you need to bring your own? And lastly, don't forget to find a photographer that will understand and influence some great concepts and themes for images. Hopefully you and the photographers you choose to work with can create some great original images. There are so many things for models to take into consideration when choosing photographers.
Personally, I have several different photographers I go to for different image styles, so depending on the theme of the shoot I want to do I can choose who will be easiest to work with on that particular project.
Personal tips I've found work best for me when choosing photographers:
- Work with photographers who have studied photography, OR they do it as a profession. These are the photographers who will typically have the best skills with lighting, helping you pose, and photo shop, just to name a few.
- Go to photographers who help you, especially if you aren't great at coming up with themes or you don't know how to pose.
- Don't work with someone just for the money.
- Do work with someone because you love how the pictures turn out
- Contact references.
- Don't be afraid to move on from a photographer. There have been too many to count that I didn't get on with and I just had to move on.
- Sometimes you can't be in control of everything. If you're getting paid to do 2 hours of lingerie in a studio even though you like to work outdoors, then sometimes you just suck it up and do it for the money.
It is so important to know and trust who you're working with. If you ever feel uncomfortable you can tell them no and leave. Your life and morals are worth more than any money lost. The best advice I can give to another model is to always be skeptical, never believe someone has your best interest in front of their own.