Avoiding model flakes is something all photographers would like to do and this article will help you identify some of the red flags you may encounter.
First, I want to define what I, and most people, consider flaking: model flakes are models who do not show up to the shoot or who cancel at the last possible second (as in day of the shoot) without a legitimate excuse. Models who cancel with a legitimate excuse are generally not considered flakes.
I think in order to cut down on your flake rate, you need to examine your situation. Sometimes there were no warning signs before a model flaked. But often if you check references or at least ask around, look at how they communicate, and read their profile, then you can catch some red flags common to many model flakes. Again, sometimes there is nothing you could have done. And it is not your fault. Models should not flake, but it does happen and if you can do things to avoid it, you should. These tips are from my own experiences working with other models, from forums, and from photographers I’ve talked to over the years.
Some Guidelines to Avoid Model Flakes
Keep in mind that these are guidelines, not hard and fast rules, a model who doesn’t fit one or even two of these guidelines may still be okay, but the more warning flags you see, the higher the chance of a model flake in most cases.
Potential Reasons for Model Flakes
The second thing you really need to consider is who models are. A lot of models are young women. Women between the ages of 18 and 25 can be going through a lot of life changes and some of them are not used to being held responsible and accountable. Some of them party, some are not good at keeping schedules, some have demanding boyfriends who they are very attached to and trying to keep happy (whether you think they should or not), etc. This is pretty normal for this age, the ones who are super responsible are the exceptions. They also may be in college and trying to study and cram for classes. They also may not have reliable transportation. Most models who are serious about modeling will be responsible and will find ways to cut down on the chances that they will not be able to show up, but there are a lot of girls who are new to modeling or not quite as serious.
What NOT to Do
So many times I see discussions about model flakes and I see generally poor advice being thrown around.
A common “solution” that always seems to come up is charging models some sort of booking fee. This is quite ineffective if you’re looking for quality, somewhat experienced models. It makes us feel un-trusted, it makes you seem pushy, and most of us simply don’t have the extra cash to give you. On top of that, we feel like we’re being punished for the few bad eggs.
Don’t take to social media or your profile with rants about it or shove it in the face of your potential models that you won’t tolerate flakes. Any model with any sort of real interest knows that flaking is horrible and a lot of us are even scared to call if we get sick or injured for fear we’ll be labeled a flake.
How to Handle a Pattern of Model Flakes
I covered this a bit in my first paragraph, but try not to get discouraged. If you have a lot of flakes, it might be time to examine what the cause of that might be. It might just be a string of “bad luck” and may have nothing to do with you. It might just be that you are choosing the wrong models. Try looking outside of your usual range (age, look, area, etc) and see if that helps. It might help to ask good models you have worked with if they have suggestions of reliable models for you to work with as well. Similarly, try finding local groups on FB and MM and see what models people seem to work with regularly. That would be a good place to start to find reliable models.
Dekilah has been an art model since 2009. She has worked with over 100 photographers, ranging from the newest of the new to hobbyists and highly-skilled professionals. She is also very active online and in person reaching out to newer models and photographers to help them learn to communicate well and to avoid common issues in the modeling industry. Her website is www.dekilah.com
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