Are Your Efforts In Danger? Nope.
A trend I’ve noticed, and I’m not the only one who has noticed it, has been models showing up on the other side of the camera.
From big-name fashion posers like Kendall Jenner or Gigi Hadid to those who are much less celebrated – and who don’t have through-the-roof Instagram followings the way Jenner does – more and more models, the famous and not-so, seem interested in becoming model-shooting photographers themselves. In fact, some of them have already jumped on the photographer wagon. I wouldn’t say it’s a BIG trend but it’s big enough of one to notice. It doesn’t qualify as a “the inmates are running the asylum” sort of thing but at some point, down the road, traditional and near-overall male dominance as model photographers might come under siege, if it hasn’t already.
The Fun Factor
There are a few likely reasons for this ‘models shooting models’ trend… an obvious one being that some models have discovered that photography is truly fun and shooting models can be even funner. (Pardon my use of a non-word word.) I’m certainly not opposed to models having a good time, working or playing, with or without cameras in their hands. (Not that I’ve met too many of them whose life-styles seemed overly devoid of those things, fun times that is.)
For me, shooting models most always includes good times when shooting. And I always try to do what I can to insure the ‘victims’ in front of my camera are enjoying the experience as well. It’s a factor that often helps to insure a successful shoot. Sure, shooting models has been my job for a lot of years but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t also qualified as personal entertainment, sometimes in memorable ways, simply because it’s also been work.
The ‘Shelf-Life’ Factor
Another probable reason for models deciding to get on the other side of the camera – Kendall Jenner’s continuing successful modeling career notwithstanding – is an awareness of their modeling ‘shelf-life.’
It’s no secret that, for most models, their level of demand is tied very closely to their physical primes. Once they start getting older, or they’ve enjoyed too much time in front of the camera (in other words, they sometimes become ‘over-exposed’), their demand begins to wane. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist – and trust me when I tell you I’m no rocket scientist – to figure out the same doesn’t generally hold true for photographers. Take me for example: I’m a geezer. A white beard. An old fuck. (Well, old-er.)
But my age, simply on its own, doesn’t seem to get in the way of my marketability as a model photographer. It’s the quality of my work and my work ethos that still lands me jobs even though I now consider myself semi-retired, and have become less interested in working and more interested in shooting things other than pretty girls. You know, as a hobbyist. Obviously, the ability to go on and on landing modeling jobs doesn’t hold true for most posers as they age. Again, “super-models” of Kendall Jenner’s caliber are the exceptions to that rule.
The Digital Factor
It’s no secret that digital photography has, in some ways, perhaps many ways, made the technical parts of photography easier and easier. It’s now simpler than ever before to make good photos – certainly from the perspective of exposure and that stuff. Most digital cameras will do a lot of the technical ‘thinking’ for the photographer. Add to that all the simple-to-use post-production apps and treatments available to all and you have a perfect storm of better and better looking photography from photographers with less and less skill and experience. Methinks quite a few models have figured that out. Course, if the model picking up a camera is a super-model, they’re likely to have a lot of help from other creatives, e.g. art directors, experienced assistants, and more.
Are There Advantages for Models Turned Photographers?
Absolutely! First off, if the model-turned-photographer has been something of an ‘in-demand’ model – and I’m not referring to super-models – it likely means they have a lot of model friends and acquaintances they can call-on to be their free ‘guinea pigs’ as they learn their way around the camera. That’s a big deal! We all know, or should know, that practice is the surest way to get better as a model photographer. (Or any sort of photographer for that matter.) Potentially having an abundant source of willing test models will go a long way, at little to no expense, towards honing a newbie photographer’s new-found craft.
Models also have a built-in understanding of other models, i.e., they fully understand what it’s like to be in front of the camera and can more easily ‘relate’ to their subjects. Most men pursuing model photography, as a hobby or a full or part-time career, don’t have that advantage. What it means is that the model-turned-photographer will often have an easier time building on-set rapport with their subjects and quickly building rapport is a huge part of successful model photography.
Finally, models-turned-photographers, assuming they’ve been ‘around the block’ in the modeling biz a few times, likely have plenty of connections and contacts in the biz. They’re not cold-calling potential clients. That means they can get their work in front of the right ‘eyes’ easier than the average bear… the average male bear just starting out, that is. Plus, some clients see advantages, marketing advantages, to hiring well-known celebrated models like Kendall Jenner to shoot their spreads. It’s all about bringing more attention to their ad campaigns. Hollywood does something similar all the time when they hire famous actors to direct movies… and they’ve been doing that for a long time.
Is This Cause for Concern for Male Shooters?
I don’t think so. Certainly not for guys shooting glamour, nude, and tease either as a hobby or career. For those genres, the quality of one’s work will generally trump other factors. Most glam, nude, tease clients are looking for results. Period. Most of the advantages I’ve listed for models-turned- photographers, at least as they pertain to whether or not the inmates, i.e., the models themselves, might suddenly start running the asylum won’t add up to much if the work performed by them doesn’t meet a client’s needs and expectations.
In my opinion, the one major advantage some models-turned- photographers have over many other shooters is the last one I mentioned. The one about having established contacts as a result of their modeling backgrounds. Beyond that, as always, it’s all about the results of one’s work… as it should be.