The best way to obtain the services of a model, if the work justifies the expenditure of money for model fees or if it can be afforded, is to go to a model agency and hire a professional.
At the agency files show pictures of hundreds of models, all kinds of characters, men, women and children and young girls. The abilities and photogenic qualities of a model are easier to judge accurately by studying pictures than by interviewing the model in person. So it is better to consult the files of a large model agency for the talent required.
Even the amateur, if he has his heart set on producing really good pictures of living models, would do well to consider hiring a model from an agency. He will have to pay her for about two hours of work as much as the average working man earns in eight hours, but the result will almost certainly be far better pictures than he can hope to obtain with amateur models. If that were not the case, photographers would not spend sums running into thousands of pounds annually to hire professional models. If amateurs were as good as the trained professional, there would be no room for the professional model.
Those who have no access to a model agency or who feel the expense is not justified need not despair. Good models of all kinds can be found in every city, town and village. It is only necessary for the photographer to seek them out, get them interested in posing, and find out by making test pictures which of them have the photogenic qualities he needs.
Character models of all kinds, including the glamorous girls who are always in greatest demand among photographers, can be found in the amateur theatrical groups. These amateur actors are willing and even eager, almost without exception, to be amateur models as well. And they are likely to have the unselfconscious qualities which make them at ease in front of the camera... a most important consideration.
For graceful girls with beautiful figures the most likely place to try is the local dancing school. Here the photographer is almost certain to find suitable models for bathing suit and figure studies among the dancing pupils. Poise and confidence are drilled into the dancing students from childhood, and the exercise of dancing practice gives them not only gracefulness, but the highly essential control of the pose.
They are also taught to control their facial expressions, and especially to be able to smile on command. False modesty is no part of their make-up; the dance student accepts naturally the sort of scanty costume that other girls would find embarrassing.
Dancers, too, will often pose in return for no other fee than a set of prints. It helps a dancer to check her technique to see herself in pictures, and if she ever becomes a professional she can made good use of them. But do not think of dance students only in terms of dance pictures; they are likely to be good models for any kind of photography.
Not all pretty girls make good models, so the photographer would do well to scrutinize the prospective model closely, with the following items in mind, before he commits himself to photographing her. Has she good teeth and pretty eyes? These are the features most difficult to retouch. Does she smile easily and naturally? A pleasant smile is a model's greatest asset. Has she a good bust line? This is an element of importance for bathing suit shots. Are her ankles trim? Trim ankles usually indicate a girl who will pose gracefully. Does she use her hands in a delicate way?
This is an important element in registering feminine charm on film. Is her posture good? The girl who habitually holds her head up and carries herself confidently will require less coaching before the camera than the one who slumps.
Is she self-confident? Humility is no virtue in a model. The best model is aware of her appeal, proud of her beauty, and happy about displaying it for the camera. Can she face bright lights without squinting? Note her reaction to sunlight; beware if she wears sunglasses.
Finally, does the idea of modelling appeal to her? Unless she is eager to co-operate, it is better to forget her. She should not be coaxed; no matter how beautiful she may be, she will be hard to photograph unless she co-operates whole-heartedly.
To determine the real extent of her interest, the photographer should give the prospective model his telephone number and wait for her to call for an appointment, rather than call her himself. This will weed out any whose interest is too mild.
When a satisfactory model is found, she should sign a model release if the pictures are intended for publication.
The form approved by the Institute of Incorporated Practitioners in Advertising and the Institute of Incorporated Photographers contains the following details: name of photographer; negative series number; name of advertising agency or client; order number; product or service; and date of sitting.
A copy of the form must be supplied to the advertising agency/client with the photograph(s).
If the model is under legal age, the parent or guardian must also sign the release to signify their consent.