The importance of the model for a successful campaign

Tip 17 for Better Shoots by Heidi Rondak

“A good team is half the battle”

PART 1: The importance of the model for a successful campaign

In this chapter, we’re focussing on the team and its importance for your photoshoot. We can agree that we need a professional photographer (at least I hope you do) and this is why I’m just going to elaborate on the roles of professional models, make-up artists, hairstylists, and fashion stylists with the next three posts. This article is explaining what you need to know about models and why your campaign can be more successful when it’s photographed with a professional one who is signed at an agency. 

Why you should back on agency models

Model agencies represent models from all over the world. They scout new faces according to relevant trends and based on their experience in the field, push their development by placing them into test shoots where they can practice on set and get new photo material to show on their sedcards. Agencies also provide the client with current so-called polaroids that show the model in neutral clothing or underwear with no make-up on. This can be crucial when it comes to judging the actual haircut, fitness, or skin condition for a possible booking and it can even replace a casting. With a model agency, you most certainly get a professional model and are assisted in the case of sudden cancelation, e.g. when the model gets ill last-minute. For all these services (and more, e.g. when the agency is part of an association like Velma) model agencies charge around 10 – 25 % commission on top of the regular fee for the model. This doesn’t only affect your cost. Models also pay a commission to their management to be protected from dubious clients and photographers and to get more exposure and better marketing. Therefore you mostly get to sign a booking contract prior to the shoot or you agree on the terms and conditions of the agency by confirming the model. Of course, there are highly professional models without an agency on the market too, but to stay realistic you can sometimes find yourself in unpleasant situations during or after the shoot when co-operating at your own risk. With an agency model, there’s at least a friendly ear for your complaints if the worst case occurs and you’re not happy with her or his performance. However, it’s more probable that you can work with a model who’s not vain and therefore doesn’t demand a say in the final selection or denies you the right to use the images after the shoot even though everything was produced according to the brief. On the other hand, if the result or the usage differs from the original plan the agency makes sure that the model is getting paid for that. As you can see, booking models through agencies is a lot about fair play. It also makes it easier for you to communicate what you’re looking for and what you like or not because this can be uncomfortable considering the fact that you’re talking about the appearance of a person. 

How to work with testimonials or influencers

If you consider an influencer for your campaign you might have to deal with her or his artist management instead of a model agency or otherwise discuss everything with them directly. As in case of a testimonial instead of a model, it’s very much about their personality and image you should be aware of the fact that you’ll have to adapt to what they stand for and how they like or don’t like to be seen. Eventually, it can be worth the effort, and your campaign’s outcome might be extra-positive. As a matter of fact, famous people usually know very well how to move in front of a camera. Therefore, it’s just important to kindly communicate about the expectations and liabilities of both sides beforehand and absolutely specify a contract containing all that. 

How important is the model’s fame?

Speaking of famous people there’s also the possibility to book a model that’s widely known or semi-famous. You will get extra-ordinary photo results due to their great experience and very developed attitude. But at the same time, that is to say, that they’re high-priced, their schedule is tight and you’ll probably have to fly them in from somewhere. In some cases, you’ll also have to compromise a bit just like when working with an influencer, e.g. when they want to bring their own make-up artist. However, in the fashion world, a model’s number of Instagram followers has been a criterion for a long time already and its importance should be considered in any case. Slowly, the industry is also raising awareness of the fact that not only the quantity (in terms of followers, etc.) but also the qualification of a model or influencer is crucial for campaigns – meaning that the famous person you shoot with should actually fit the ideals of your brand. It is then your decision whether it’s beneficial to work with a model that’s associated with another brand as well or rather with a new face with high potential. In some cases, the latter can turn out to be real lucky finds who will just start their international careers. Remember when Peter Lindbergh photographed Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell Cindy Crawford, and Kate Moss they weren’t famous yet. 

Kate Moss by Peter Lindbergh

Invest in booking an experienced model

Working with a complete newbie saves you money but, nevertheless, it requires a good amount of luck. If you have a budget for an experienced model it will probably be a worthy investment. Here’s why: a model who has been on set with different photographers, clients, etc. is well able to grasp the look and feel of your concept and interpret it correctly due to a trained physical feeling. She or he also knows the procedure in a shoot as well as the extents of different productions, like e.g. what a lookbook or campaign actually requires. Furthermore, they don’t get too insecure when receiving many instructions or even criticism – while some of them are really shy in private they are all the tougher in front of the lens. Professional models can be real actors. They know their bodies and facial expressions and how to use them which makes them changeable – a sought-after feature when it comes to casting models. If they’re also talented as dancers you can consider yourself lucky. 

However, independent from a model’s level of shooting experience the secret of success, in my opinion, is to find someone who’s expression is present and intense. A careful look at the model’s book is crucial here. Do you see a spark in their eyes or rather the absence of it?

Go for the right model look

Like already mentioned in my very first tip the model represents your target group. So the first criteria when choosing the right face for your campaign should be whether the model’s look is accurate to what your brand stands for. Beyond that, there are altering trends defining which types are considered as ‚modern’ and ‚hip‘ for a while. Going with those is suggesting that your brand is flexible, fresh, and up-to-date. If it’s, against this, rather traditional, or conservative, trends aren’t of big importance for your target group. You better go for a classic look that communicates stability and timelessness. Breaking with your customers’ habits (and trust) can be a powerful (and a bit risky) tool when you decide to gain attention or even change the audience. 

In general, a model should look groomed and preferably have a clean complexion especially when you put emphasis on natural make-up and retouch style. Also, pay attention to the vital statistics which model agencies always provide with each model. For example when shooting under- or swimwear a very skinny model doesn’t bring off the product as well as one with more curves. Always be prepared to switch to plan B e.g. when the hair structure or facial features turn out to be different than expected. You can consult the hairstylist and make-up artist before and during the shoot and find the best solution asserting your model’s type perfectly. As a result, this will underline her or his authenticity just like your brand’s.


If you enjoyed reading this article, or you found it helpful in one way or the other, I would love to know (reach out)! You are also welcome to support my work and writing by donating whichever amount this is worth to you. I will thank you with lots of telepathic love and more interesting journal entries. Cheers!

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