For a photo shoot’s Producer, there are many details to work out regarding logistics, timeline, and client expectations, but one of the most important elements is the talent. Booking models means having a thorough understanding of your project and the contexts in which the final images will be used. If this is new territory for you, here are the most vital questions that you should ask your clients in order to deliver them the best possible results.
1. What look do you want?
The talent is a major aspect of any shoot, which means that your client has already put some thought into it. Most likely, he or she has formed a mental picture of what the model(s) will look like. To avoid unnecessary back-and-forth during the casting process, ask directly: what are the desired age range, gender, hair color, body type, height, and ethnicity? If your shoot showcases a certain part of the body (wristwatches, footwear, etc), be sure to ask specific questions about this area of anatomy.
2. What are the usage formats?
“Usage” refers to the formats, length of time, and geographical area in which images, or other creative assets, will be used. Formats include billboards, consumer print publications, direct mail, product packaging, promotional materials, video (either in commercials, in-store videos, or many others), trade publications (aka “industry-specific” publications), and more. You must know, in advance, in which of these contexts your photos will be used in order to negotiate a proper rate from the modeling agency.
3. What are the usage territories?
Some ad campaigns and product sales are limited to an exclusive country or region. The more specific you can be with the modeling agency regarding territories, the lower the cost will be for you and your client. For American agencies, the three most common territories in usage contracts are United States, Canada, and All Remaining Territories (otherwise known as ROW, or “Rest of World”). Of course, if your campaign is only for a local area, be specific, and put it in writing. Keep in mind that if you’re using talent shots on packaging of a product, your usage must cover all areas in which the product will be officially sold. Also remember that most websites are accessible to the majority of the world, so any content intended for web usage, by default, is worldwide; that’s why they call it the “world wide web.”
4. What is the usage time period?
A clearly-defined usage period is a must. If your photos are being used beyond the dates listed in the usage contract between you (or your client) and the modeling agency, you and your client are vulnerable to lawsuits. As Robert Frost said, “Good fences make good neighbors,” so make your fences strong and precise. Some clients opt for a “full buyout,” which can mean perpetual use, in any context, in all territories. Other times, when they refer to a “full buyout,” they simply mean “all” of one aspect: all formats, or all territories, or infinite length. Be specific to make sure you’re on the same page.
5. What is your budget for talent?
Like most business ventures, a commercial photo shoot has a budget for the entire project; however, some clients have a specific idea regarding how much they want to spend on models. If they do, knowing this information up front is invaluable. Some models and agencies will be eager to work within your budget, and others may reject your shoot straightway if the compensation is not up to their standards.
At first, booking models can be a daunting task. Having the above information, however, will help you save time and enable you to concentrate on the most important part of your shoot: the images themselves.