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Safe modelling

How to be safe - simply register with us and get your free model evaluation!Assuming that you are now ready to start receiving offers from the modelling world, you need to be able to sort out the genuine from the fraudulent. If you've begun to receive offers from potential clients and photographers, the temptation to go with the first offer can be overwhelming. Here at Models Connect, we can offer you a practical guide on how to sort out who's who and what's what.

When receiving offers from photographers via email, check the email address carefully: are they using a free email service (such as Yahoo or Hotmail)? While it is entirely possible that a legitimate photographer has a Hotmail account, this should put you on your guard. More often than not, photographers will contact you via a business email address. This also applies to any offers you may receive from agencies (also see the Models Connect advice page on avoiding potential modelling scams )

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If a photographer emails you a vague, non-detailed email, be very suspicious. Normally, professional photographers, if interested in shooting you, will detail their previous experience, credits and references for you to check. If you receive an email like this, you're probably onto a good thing – but still go ahead with a background check.

Think of yourself as an employer and the photographer as a prospective employee – would you expect to be hired for a job without having your references thoroughly checked? Exactly. Do your homework, and check that their references stand up to scrutiny. If he or she has attached examples of their work to the email, make sure these images are accredited to that photographer. It is surprisingly easy to pass off someone else's work as your own, especially courtesy of the internet.

It is especially important that you check on previous clients and / or models that the photographer may have worked with. Not only will this build good industry contacts for you, but it will give you a very accurate idea of what the photographer is like to work for. Models talk, but it's up to you to listen.

When you've ascertained that the photographer is the genuine article – check carefully the terms of the deal being offered to you. Quite often, photographers will offer a TFP (or Time For Print) deal. This is where a photographer and a model come to an agreement where, in lieu of payment for services, the model gets a set of prints for his / her portfolio, and the photographer gets permission to publish the photos for portfolio or commercial purposes.

This, as you may have guessed, is a deal that benefits everyone involved. There are no standard terms for a TFP shoot, but these rough guidelines are generally a given:

•  After the shoot, the photographer will obtain a ‘model release'. This is a legal document signed by the model agreeing to the use of the images taken during the shoot. This grants the photographer permission to publish the photos.

•  The model in turn will receive a licence to use the photos for their portfolio.

•  If a model is under 18, a parent is usually required to attend the shoot and sign the model release form.

You should also be aware that, with TFP deals, a photographer is responsible for location permits, along with meeting costs for studio and equipment rental. With all TFP deals, each participant is responsible for their own transportation costs and arrangements, to and from the shoot, which brings me to my next point.

Wherever the shoot is to be held, always double-check the venue / accommodation booking is confirmed. Be wary of any photographer who seems reluctant to offer up concrete details such as venue phone numbers. Any legitimate photographer will expect you to ask for this kind of information as a matter of course, so don't feel self-conscious about asking for them. You are well within your rights to do so.

When preparing to travel to the shoot, make sure you have enough spare cash to ensure you are able to arrange emergency transport, should things not work out as expected. If you're going to an unfamiliar setting, pre-plan your route ahead of time. Not only will it get you familiar with the location in advance (avoiding any stress-laden moments on the day itself!), but you will be able to get an idea of travelling time and costs.

As a new model, it is also very important to recognise that in the modelling industry, time is money. Even with a TFP shoot, a photographer is giving up his time for you. If you find yourself unable to attend a shoot for whatever reason, notify your photographer immediately. Give them as much notice as you can. Start your career as you mean to go on, and be courteous and professional at all times.

If the shoot is to be held at a venue other than a photographic studio (eg: private home studio, hotel) it is essential that you take a friend or relative with you. Remember that they probably won't be allowed to sit in and watch the shoot, and their travel costs will need to be met by you.

Finally, yes it is stating the obvious, but tell at least one (reliable) person where you are going, and crucially when you expect to be back home. Ring them, or send them a quick text, when you have reached the venue and when you have left. It may sound over-the-top, but it is essential that as a model you take your personal safety very, very seriously.

Prepare and plan ahead – do as much research ahead of time as you possibly can. Don't be afraid to ask questions – this industry can be baffling to a newcomer, and knowledge is power. Most importantly of all, if something doesn't feel right, listen to that little voice in your head. It is trying to tell you something very important.

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