The Politics of Fashion Photography Part 23 Model Casting

Model Composites

Why Model Casting is like Editing Film

For those of you who read my article about editing film (digital images) and how mind set dependent that is, you might find this article interesting.  I am just in the process of casting for a Fashion Campaign and I stopped the process for a moment to think about the challenges of doing so and share some of my immediate impressions with you.

The first thing I noticed and you may find this really amusing, if the model comp is showing nudity and in most cases they do and the shoot does not require any, it might be best to cover the breasts while casting. As an avid breast lover, I find it literally impossible to cast with any semblance of objectivity, when I have an incredibly beautiful pair of breasts starring at me in the face.  So what do I do? I stare directly at the face and do my best to stay centered and focused.

Model Casting

When it is fashion, always try to find a girl with the most internet and editorial exposure, no matter what the budget, as this will aid in the viral buzz surrounding the use of this model for the campaign when it comes out.  This will please everyone concerned, from the client to the ad agency, model and the whole food chain.

Try to cast outside of the norm as much as you feel is possible.  Why? You want someone with stopping power.  As you are the one who will make the preliminary decision to send off to the art buyer and art director and perhaps the casting director, make a choice that will leave an impression.  They are counting heavily on your input.

Make sure that you make a pre-choice choice and leave it for a short while and come back later to reassess your choices.  You would be amazed how much your frame of mind will affect your choices.That is where it really reminds me of editing film.

Only use agencies that you would consider for editorial spreads, as they are generally where you will find the most credible models.  Don’t compromise here.  It is important for your reputation to produce advertising work that looks like what you are showing in your editorial portfolio.  That is only my opinion of course.

I have to get back to my casting, but remember this, that casting is an objective as well as subjective process.  It is a balancing act and needs to be taken very seriously.  Your model will be the focal point of your campaign or editorial.  Choose with the utmost diligence…or not.  If I have any further thoughts I will add them later.

About Benjamin Kanarek
Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…
  • ronald tucker

    Casting experienced professional models is the the only way to go…this is why Viictoria’s Secret only uses models from the Ford Agency and Elite Model Management for their print, TV and internet ad campaigns.

  • Anthony M.

    Benjamin, how do you know if a model agency is ‘respectable’ or not? Do you stick to the names we all know (IMG, Next, Premier, Ford etc…) or do you venture into new territory from time to time?

    Also, what do you look for in a model when casting? I mean other than beauty how do you know she can give you what you need?

    • I only work with agencies that are known in the milieu. I will of course look at agencies that have solicited me and look at their roster. But once doing so, I generally know if the talent they are representing will work for me. As to knowing what the model is capable of doing, that depends on the notoriety of the model. If she is someone that hasn’t left enough impressions on the scene and if possible, I will get her in for a face to face casting. Otherwise, I will speak with the booker to get their impressions of her assets and limitations.

      • Anthony M.

        Thank you Benjamin when starting a career in fashion, is it not advisable to start working with smaller agencies and work my way up? I remember you writing that bad business associations can damage careers pretty bad. So when you don’t have access for Ford etc… What should one do?

        • Set up meetings with the credible agencies and start testing with their models.

          • Anthony M.

            Will they let Photographers they probably never heard of test with their models? I thought they’d be very cautious about who gets to test and who doesn’t?

            • It is up to you to convince them that you are trustworthy and worthy.

              • Anthony M.

                Thanks! 🙂

  • Rosemary Taglialatela

    Good info Ben, as usual. I have that frame of mind really does play a part and taking sometime and having a second look at this will really help one make the right or best choices.