© Don Gallion, IFPO/IFMO
San Angelo, TX
'I suggest that every photographer use a female assistant' Don Gallion
Don Gallion has photographed over four hundred models for fashion layouts, calendars and advertisements. He has photographed billboards and posters for the Texas Department of Public Safety; the program books for the Miss Texas pageant; Toyota Corpora-tion Executives and promotions; Outdoor Magazine; Texas Narcotic Officer Magazine centerfolds; cover of TV Weekly; three calendars, and Today's Photographer swimsuit issue. He has won the regional KINSA Award (Kodak International Newspaper Snapshot Award). He is also an accomplished police crime scene photographer.
There is an old adage that goes, "kill two birds with one stone." I certainly embrace that idea and recently took advantage of such an opportunity during a photo shoot.
I had been hired to photograph a swimsuit calendar when inspiration for a magazine layout hit me. I knew immediately this was a natural two for one project.
Knowing I had to hire models and travel to a beach location for the calendar assignment, I approached five leading fashion magazines with a swimsuit layout proposal. A few days later I followed up by letter to the editor and art director of each magazine. This gave me the opportunity to contact them again and re-enforce the proposal. I also included additional sample photographs.
Three weeks later, I received a call! One of the magazines, with a circulation of more than .......????? liked my proposal and want to discuss the layout. By the end of the conversation, I had the assignment! Bingo! Twice the benefits-which translates into double pay- for a single project! The challenge to make it work was all mine.
Before planning any shoot especially a multi-purpose project, a number
of things must be considered. First, I suggest that every photographer use
a female assistant. My wife fills this position for me. She is my manager,
travel agent, model coordinator and assists with preparing camera and lenses.
She is truly my first mate.
Next, always use a checklist. Over the ten years of shooting swimsuit layouts, I've followed a checklist. It is a reminder for everything from the most important questions to the smallest gold reflector that may be needed.
Finally, develop a plan for model selection. Although you may have a process that works consistently, there are variables for each assignment that may influence your selections. For example, if you're shooting swimsuits in early spring, you may want to select models from the southern most coastal regions who already have a natural tan to reduce make-up and wardrobe problems.
When "shopping" for potential models, you should first consider the model's look. Can she can fit the part? For most assignments, a natural look is needed. Availability is next in importance. Only available models should be interviewed. The model's fees including travel, her willingness to shoot the layout, contract obligations and agency permission must be considered and resolved early in the selection process.
Teamwork pays. As soon as the models are selected, I hire a hair stylist
and makeup person. I work with two or three on a regular basis who understand
me and the way I work. I would never risk an unknown on an actual assignment.
When choosing the wardrobe for the shoot, it is a good idea to get input from the models. Each one knows which colors flatter her and the ones that do not. Involve them in the planning. They will work harder to make the entire shoot successful. Team effort is required for the success of any project of magnitude.
Once the team is selected, I stay in touch with the editors about the layout. I reconfirm the type of film and other specifications. My layout assignment required a particular "chrome" film to be used.
I am a strong believer in team effort. However, remember that the photographer is always the captain. The final decisions are his or hers to make or break the project - a huge responsibility.
The final selection
After nearly six weeks of interviewing potential models, I settle on five - a mix of freelance and agency models. I only need three, but five means I am prepared for last-minute problems. Three weeks before the shoot, one cancels. There is no time to replace her, so we're down to four. One week later, a second cancellation becomes official. We're concerned that we are now down to three models, the minimum number needed for the shoot.
That same week, a third model is reported to have fallen and skinned her wrist and knee. Her manager assures me she will be making the trip and should be healed by departure date. I've known this manager for several years and can trust her. At this point I am very concerned but decide to "stay the course". It was a good decision.
My first mate and I depart for Corpus Christi in the early morning hours
ahead of the team. The models are all booked on a later flight so they can
meet and arrive at the same time. If all the models travel together, no
one arrives "first," thus avoiding jealousy and other problems.
I always meet the team at the destination airport. As usual, I breathe my first sigh of relief when everyone has arrived.
Later that evening, we hold fittings and inspected the injured model's scratches. According to my checklist, everything is falling into place. All systems are go!
In order to get hair and makeup done, the models will rise at 3:30 a.m.
on the day of the shoot. I get to sleep an hour later. At 6:45 a.m. we are
on location, waiting for the sun to rise. While we wait, we discuss the
layout idea, moods and poses. By 9:58 a.m. the first session is over. The
next one is scheduled at another location for 3:30 p.m.
There's no such thing as a perfect shoot - but this one was close. Practically everything worked according to plan. No problems.
The following day when the film is picked up from the lab, we know the shoot is a success.
I call everyone to let them know they did an excellent job and to thank them for their team effort.
The International Freelance Modeling Organization (IFMO) comes in handy
when trying to hire models. As a member of IFMO, you are part of a worldwide
organization which, combined with the International Freelance Photographers
Organization (IFPO), serves more than 100,000 photographers and models.
An IFMO model consultant is in a perfect position to recruit new faces,
thus helping the model build her own portfolio and helping build your model
consulting business as well as increasing the number of models from which
you have to choose when casting a photo shoot.
Finding models to photograph can be a challenge for an "unknown" photographer. Young women are skeptical of a man asking to take her picture. With membership in IFMO, there is an eight-year-old, worldwide professional, respected organization to back up you and your credibility as a model's photographer.
The IFMO was started in response to IFPO member comments and suggestions. It is a business opportunity for photographers and videographers interested in working with models, as well as much-needed exposure for the freelance model. IFMO's "Exposure," a pictorial directory of freelance models, is published yearly. Every model who is a member of IFMO has at least a headshot in the directory.
Consultants report dramatic increases in income due to IFMO recruiting commissions and income from photographing aspiring models. IFMO members, however, are not required to recruit models.