Looking back at this post from 9-10 months ago, I still think everything is true but I'd like to add some other details I've learned since.
Geographic Location and available Recruitment Pool.
A geographic location has huge effects on the recruitment pool bad and good. Some areas are bad and some areas are good. When its good, such as supply of models (good for photographers), that means there is a nice size amount of models available in the freelance world for paid work or/and TF work. When its bad, its the other way around where even paid models in the area are not existent and at times the only option for photographers is to recruit from outside of the area for models and can cause for increased in costs for the photographer/art director for the shoot.
When supply & demand is weak for the photographers that means its likely strong for the remaining pro freelance models as their demand is higher no matter how they look or lack in skills, but the ones that have a better more marketable look and skills those would obviously out shine those models that aren't in the market, or heck may decide to move a bigger and better market like LA, NYC or Miami.
And sometimes even when photographers have a weak market and models have the upper hand in having demand power in supply & demand they can have issues too by lack of photographers interested in shooting people or more specifically models. Especially paying the models, hence why a great looking and highly skilled model will jump ship to a much better market for they can have a bigger piece of the pie than non-existent pie in a market. And more experienced photogs and models know the rare instances of paying a model is when the chances of breaking even if likely (i.e. from stock, self selling items like posters and 8x10s) or portfolio expansion that will highly impact a photog's portfolio may make that investment. I for one is a great example, I would hire for fashion models as because they is my #1 goal in my photography career, but sadly fashion models in the US are mostly based in NYC only, my only choice is paying them to travel to me or I travel to them. But outside of the NYC area not many fashion models exist, most are nude, bikini, glamour/boudoir, sexy type models, which is nothing wrong with that its just not my career goals but I still don't mind shooting those just for fun once a while.
Running the system I recommended previously may only work when the supply and demand is strong for photographers only, meaning when there is so many options in recruitment of models and you need to subtract X amount to figure out which is best to spend your hard earned money the system recommended can be used. But for markets in geographic areas where the supply and demand of models are slim, it simply will not work in most cases. Because the system's purpose is to help eliminate and help choosing the best possible model(s) for shoot(s) and in an rich environment with supply and demand leaning towards the photographer's side where there are "too many models".
Generally there is no such thing as "too many models" but when there is lack their of models it does hurt everyone in the creative community that need models in that geographic area. And as the more models we have available, as creatives have more abilities to mold them into creating the best possible art. Such as if you're in a market with little amount of options in level of skills and looks, may not be what you as the creative is looking for and only option is to work with them and make it work or hire outside of the area and take on the additional travel costs for that model talent.
So... What now? The system for a weak talent pool market.
So what to do, and what system would you do if you're in a market that has little to no talent pool to recruit from. Well it depends on many variables and resources you have available. Obviously the bigger budget you have the wider and more possibilities you as the art director and/or photographer have. Heck, if you got the cash to invest into outside talent I'd highly recommend it, but obviously most people who shoot models don't do it unless its for client needs or self eCommerce use to break even the investments. Most photographers shooting models are doing photography on weekends and doing it for a fun hobby or/and potential future career, or even just part time job to work on expanding the portfolio and advertising materials to be able to advertise your photography business to those target demographics, or heck even stock. In rare cases some full time pros will do a personal project shoots with models.
Here's a list of quick options to do in a case where your talent pool is minimal or lack looks you need for your vision. Quick options are bold and underlined.
- Hire outside of the market and pay the extra costs for traveling to the talent. But I recommend freelance pros, NOT AGENCY if you have a strict budget and its for a personal project for yourself (or business with minimal and slow returns). Go to an agency if it is a client that can afford the extra costs which can range highly on their needs, time restrictions, skill level of model, geographic areas, etc.
- Can't hire for whatever budget reasons? Offer TF opportunities + travel costs covered, depending on your portfolio models from outside of the area may be willing to do the shoot with the travel covered. Just keep in mind, don't make a short shoot if they're driving 1-3 hours, make it worth their wild for that long trip so do a lengthy shoot to help both you as the photog and the model for both of you can get as much done as possible without costing another trip, as well increase more final shots for everyone involved.
- Most don't want to do this but you may have no choice. Travel out of your area with the talent pool issues and try slightly bigger markets or much bigger markets. If you do, you must RESEARCH, RESEARCH and RESEARCH! If you lack the cash to test locations via location scouting, try to do some tourism traveling just to see and feel the area if it is the right fit for X concepts (depends on type of model photography you're shooting). If for instance you got X amount for vacation (non photography related) go to enjoy yourself but keep the eyes open and pre-visualize shots in possible locations while you're on vacation doing the normal tourism thing you may be doing. And sometimes this is not possible, you may need the hopefully friendly model and ask them very nicely for a bunch of pics (if none already exist) of the potential locations you found online, or if they want to walk around and scout some spots that is another option. Of course another option will cost more money but paying for a hotel/motel room the night before and then scouting before the shoot, depending the type of shoot it is this may or may not be possible, if its natural lighting only and leaning more towards the evening then you can do this but if its morning natural light you want then you'd want to go to the hotel/motel very early the day before and then study the potential spots or possible new spots.
- The other option I am right now doing since the decline in my area has been getting worse since I started (and no its not me) is building a talent pool from scratch. Now some of you may assume "not another modeling agency", you are correct, it is NOT another modeling agency. It is a community based organization to help encourage locals in my region to TRY modeling, either for fun or part/full time job. Now you can try this yourself as this concept can vary from different type of people in many different ways but I want to run it to help the area's talent pool issues, but with a twist because it is a community. The twist being it'll be supported by sponsors and partnerships with local (in the region) small businesses, but more specifically small businesses related to help models become or maintain their modeling look. Such as places with tanning, nails, hair, makeup, massage, yoga, fitness, fashion retailers, etc.. about everything where a person maintains their internal and external body image and health. Now you can use this and run with it if you like it for your region. Heck use the naming scheme too such as I named the community as "NEPA Modeling Search", NEPA is the initials of the region (North East PA). Now everyone will assume its a modeling search of 1 model, assume its like America's Top Model Search, but as I already explained it is not. This can be a great option for your fellow photogs too seeing and suffering from the talent pool issues you are having by featuring photogs you respect, have good rep in the area, shoot models, and see they can produce quality work. Feature them on your website/blog/social media for the community. If interested in asking me questions regarding this comment here or send me a private message on the organization's facebook page (Search "NEPA Modeling Search").
Additionally to #3: For those who followed this blog ever since its creations years ago then you'd know I did and attempted few state-wide (in PA) "TF Tours" to some other areas outside of my normal area to primarily help improve my overall portfolio, as well improve my overall skills in photography, but most importantly environmental portraiture as that was the area I wanted to lean my work towards than studio which as you may have noticed is where I started off oddly enough.