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phompen

Session With An Amateur Model

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Hello, I would like to get some informations from photographers at Bangkok, who have ever worked with an amateur model in Thailand

I've worked with some amateur models in europe, but never here

My first question is where to find them ? I have found a website, but it's more for top models (fashion, magazines ... )

I've asked to several beautiful ladies in few massage parlour (thai traditionnal only)

and all the time they refuse, and I have noticed it was NOT for nude shots

I've found some models thru the facebook of some thai photographers

but a lot of girls seem to really work as models

and I'm searching more an amateur model

Else if you have ever made a photo session, have you paid them or offer them something ?

I've thought to give 500 bahts for one hour of shot, I think for an amateur model it should be correct, no ?

In the case of nude shots (no porn), 1000 bahts would be correct ?

Are usually the taxi fees included in the price, or it has to be paid separatly ?

How about to sign a model release contract if I plan to sell these pictures later ?

It has to be both in english and thai ?

I know it overpass a bit the amateur domain, but we never know about the future...

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Hi ookla

While I don't live in Bangkok, I do live in Thailand and also do photography.

First, I looked at your work on Flickr. Some nice images with good technical quality. What was missing though, was anything involving models - or at least any that I saw. You indicated that you had worked with some amateur models in Europe. If you have images of them, you might need them for my suggestions below.

Here are my suggestions. First, and this one applies mostly for the times you approach someone directly, if you don't have them already, get a business card made (even if you are only an amateur) and get a small portfolio together (10 of your best images would work) that you can show the folks you approach. That will let them see that you are not just a GWC (Guy With a Camera). I carry an iPhone and I use it for my portfolio plus I can call up my website there to show them that as well. Decent quality business cards are cheap in Thailand. If you leave a card with them, they may look at your website and decide they want to shoot with you after all.

Second. As for a website, if you don't have one already, you can set up a portfolio for free at 500px.com. Even if you don't set up a site there, I highly recommend checking it out to see some high quality and inspiring photography from all over the world. You can also set up a basic 20 image portfolio on ModelMayhem for free.

As for finding models, I recommend looking where models hang out. Over the years, I have had excellent luck at ModelMayhem. I have found everything from super experienced models to amateurs just starting out. And I have managed to shoot TFCD with all levels. I do cover their expenses - taxi, etc. I have never paid a modeling fee for any shoots I have done in Thailand, though I would not be averse to doing so.

As for what you pay for a modeling fee here, I have no idea. If it is someone working on a TFCD basis, then there will be no fee. As you move up the experience scale, the fee will also move up unless you work out a deal with the model for some other arrangement. I have shot experienced models for free where they wanted to update their portfolios and liked my work. Anything is possible.

As for a model release, ALWAYS get one if you can. You never know when the image may turn out to have come commercial value and without a release that value will continue to be close to zero. Should you get it in both English and Thai? If possible, yes. Chances are you will not be shooting with a model that speaks only Thai unless you speak Thai but having dual language contracts is a good idea either way.

I am curious about why you seem to limit yourself to amateur models? You can get good images with amateurs but they will generally take more coaching than an experienced model and so you can get more shooting done with an experienced model.

This is just my $0.02 worth.

David

Edited by Genericnic

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One post was hidden as it contained advice that is illegal in Thailand. I would suggest getting legal advice before shooting nudes in Thailand, as many countries have very broad views on what constitutes pornography.

Edited by cdnvic

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One post was hidden as it contained advice that is illegal in Thailand. I would suggest getting legal advice before shooting nudes in Thailand, as many countries have very broad views on what constitutes pornography.

In Thailand, the nude is OK, while the porn is NOT, it's not so easy to make a difference sometime, but I think it's ok as long it's stay as erotic/art domain, I see many thai photographers in this domain, but never in a hard porn, so I think I'm able to do the difference

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Genericnic thank you for your reply, I will answer as soon as I wake up, now it is 6am and I really need to sleep, I answer very soon

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I'll be totally candid with you. As a professional photographer working in Thailand for 10+ years I advise.. no I plead and beg.. my models to stay away from amatuer photographers. If you somehow think you can pay a Thai girl of model quality baht 1000 to pose nude for an amatuer and to sign over their rights.. you're so far off base it's incredible and you really have no idea of the culture and how Thai's look at nude photography (specifically the model) or the stigma attached to farang photographers in general. It takes years and years of a solid reputation before any model of merit will pose nude for you, or as much experience where you can convey to the woman in a short time the confidence to do so.

Do you know that once a model is known to have posed nude she will no longer be able to model for other jobs such as car shows, catalogs, malls, etc? No reputable agency will knowingly touch her. Thailand isn't the west, and even in the west once a model crosses that threshold it most often really affects their career.

The other poster was spot on with his question, "why not professional models?" My guess is because professional models are expensive and their agencies are very strict with releases and what they allow you to do with the images. You somehow think you can come here and pay a few santags to a local girl so you can sell them to a website or whatever your plans may be. I do modeling workshops often, but they're strictly controlled and I refuse more clients than I accept.

Please look elsewhere. Thailand doesn't need more "amatuer photographers" running around with their first entry level DSLR trying to pay a few baht to capture the local women nude like a monkey in the zoo.. If you want to build credibility as a glamour photographer that's something else altogether.. but that's not what you're asking. And please don't get me wrong, I support amatuer photographers 100%, probably more than any other pro I know in Thailand. I make things possible for them and show them things that only years of experience will allow. But before I help them venture into an area that will possibly ruin a local girls life, or endanger their own, I make sure they understand the culture and have the right ethics so these things don't happen. Two days in Thailand and every question you asked would have been more than apparent.

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I removed some posts where the poster kept insulting both myself and others. (along with replies to it)

Please, let's keep this civil, and within the rules.

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As suggested, I would just head to Model Mayhem. If you have anything decent, models will probably come to you. If you don't, then perhaps you could contact some and mention you'd be willing to pay them for their troubles. The "problems" of being culturally unaware are self-correcting as far as i'm concerned. If you don't know the culture here, the Thai girls here obviously do, correct? Having said that, paying somebody for their services with them knowing full well of the potential cultural consequences, is up to them as adults. The problem I see in this discussion, is when you try to "protect" certain people, you are really saying you are somehow above them and need to look after them, demeaning them in your own way. They are adults who can take care of themselves.

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I'll be totally candid with you. As a professional photographer working in Thailand for 10+ years I advise.. no I plead and beg.. my models to stay away from amatuer photographers.

@BangkokImages, I say this with no disrespect but based on the 13 "Glamour" images on your website, I am curious as to who your models are. All 13 images appear to be of a western model. And, having looked at the high quality of the other images on your website, I was very surprised at the somewhat cliche nature of the glamour work.

Do you know that once a model is known to have posed nude she will no longer be able to model for other jobs such as car shows, catalogs, malls, etc? No reputable agency will knowingly touch her. Thailand isn't the west, and even in the west once a model crosses that threshold it most often really affects their career.

The other poster was spot on with his question, "why not professional models?" My guess is because professional models are expensive and their agencies are very strict with releases and what they allow you to do with the images. You somehow think you can come here and pay a few santags to a local girl so you can sell them to a website or whatever your plans may be. I do modeling workshops often, but they're strictly controlled and I refuse more clients than I accept.

@BangkokImages, I think the above quote was in response to my advice to @ooka about considering professional models. If you reread my comment, you will not find a recommendation for using professional models that work for agencies. Indeed, I would recommend never using agency models unless a client requires it or requests a specific model that is represented by an agency. Most quality models I have known are moving away from agencies unless they are in high fashion which is still pretty much in the stranglehold of agencies. Those that are moving away are doing so for a number of reasons such as more opportunities to work and the ability to control how, when, where, and with whom they work. The agency model is primarily a pre-internet model that is going the way of snail mail over email. Of course, Thailand (and SE Asia in general) is slower to adopt the new model but it is occurring as we speak.

David

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As suggested, I would just head to Model Mayhem. If you have anything decent, models will probably come to you. If you don't, then perhaps you could contact some and mention you'd be willing to pay them for their troubles. The "problems" of being culturally unaware are self-correcting as far as i'm concerned. If you don't know the culture here, the Thai girls here obviously do, correct? Having said that, paying somebody for their services with them knowing full well of the potential cultural consequences, is up to them as adults. The problem I see in this discussion, is when you try to "protect" certain people, you are really saying you are somehow above them and need to look after them, demeaning them in your own way. They are adults who can take care of themselves.

1. I don't agree the Thai girls who often end up posing are as aware of the culture and consequences as you might think, quite the contrary actually. Most end up being very surprised.. well.. mortified when the actual situations becomes known to them. Sure, they know many parts of Thai culture better than we do, but this is an area I deal with often and I'm personally convinced they often just don't know.

2. Everything is up to everyone as adults. That doesn't negate our responsibility as photographers, or in many cases older adults, to wash our hands of responsibility. What you're saying in essence is "buyer beware" and where's the personal or professional ethics in that?

3. "Above them" as in being more fully aware of my own profession, a profession which is not theirs and their culture is only a part of.. then guilty. But in feeling superior? No. That's a bit insulting seeing you don't know me. If you knew me and you still felt that way then I'd consider your opinion.

4. Demeaning them by being ethical and not knowingly being part of hurting them? Okay, guilty.

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@BangkokImages, I say this with no disrespect but based on the 13 "Glamour" images on your website, I am curious as to who your models are. All 13 images appear to be of a western model. And, having looked at the high quality of the other images on your website, I was very surprised at the somewhat cliche nature of the glamour work.

David - I'd be glad to address your questions. My "Glamour" work is intentionally very low key while in Thailand so it's not posted, I'm sure you can imagine why. In the last 10 years I've done over 200 paid glamour shoots for locals (private Thai ciitzens who pay me), and about 130+ for tourists (many Russians for some reason), and another 250+ or so unpaid shoots just because something about the model appeals to me. It could be personality, a certain facial feature, being long waisted, maybe I could use them for a software review I'm doing at the time, whatever. My releases are in both Thai and English and signed by myself, the model, my assistant, and one person on their side. They are very strict in nature, where I tell them exactly what the images will be used for. Obviously if they're paying me they retain 100% of the rights. If not, I'll tell them in writing the specific use and I stick to it. 10 of the images in the glamour gallery are images of a western girl as you noticed who gave me complete rights for services rendered. I have hundreds and hundred of those from the states.. she was chosen becaus her body type was closest to the average Thai. Three of the images are indeed of two of my Thai models. (you have to hit the arrow over key) and are images they picked for my website.. other women are also used (along with several other "models") in some of my tutorials.

As far as models I use for my workshops.. some are selected as "posing and lighting dummies" because they pose and work well and are reliable and all someone needs to learn.. so they might not fit your mental image of a model. Others are stunning. So it depends.

If you think about Thailand and the difficulties posed to us as full time residents trying to work in this profession, it should be very clear why I've omitted this part of my work so as not to draw attention to myself. I would bet my life savings (and probably my life) that if I was as open on my site as I am now (who I am, where I live, phone numbers, etc), AND posted lots of Thai women in glamour portfolios.. I'd quickly become the object of attention to the Royal Police. More, if you've looked through my site you'll see I've also done work for the Royal Cultural Center.. a good way to lose that access would be to emphasize glamour work.

I hope I've answered this set of questions. I'll move on to the next.

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@BangkokImages, I think the above quote was in response to my advice to @ooka about considering professional models. If you reread my comment, you will not find a recommendation for using professional models that work for agencies. Indeed, I would recommend never using agency models unless a client requires it or requests a specific model that is represented by an agency. Most quality models I have known are moving away from agencies unless they are in high fashion which is still pretty much in the stranglehold of agencies. Those that are moving away are doing so for a number of reasons such as more opportunities to work and the ability to control how, when, where, and with whom they work. The agency model is primarily a pre-internet model that is going the way of snail mail over email. Of course, Thailand (and SE Asia in general) is slower to adopt the new model but it is occurring as we speak.

David

This is interesting.. but I can see your point. I've noticed the same about them moving away from agencies, but mostly for models who weren't doing that well and wanted to dip their toes into uncharted waters so to speak. Sadly imo. Not everyone can be a fashion model, and looks are so important in Thai society the draw to being a car show model or whatever.. can seem very attractive at first. This is where knowing how most of these things turn out puts us in a position to advise these relatively inexperienced women. The agenices do indeed have rules and requirements and will drop a model in a second if they work in the wrong venue.

An example story.. I'm sure we all have several. I met a rather crumpled young lady on the street back in 1998. I was just getting started in Thailand at the time, in fact I was here to get my MBA and wasn't actively shooting professionally. I saw facial features and a personality I really liked.. so I hired her as a type of housekeeper, assistant, etc.. and soon she was really enjoying her life. I worked the occassional fashion show as requested by my past employers and she soon learned how to be a really good assistant, she took to lighting in a way few do. As you'd expect it came that I photographed her.. and she was very photogenic. I shopped her around on my own and within months she was making a good 50-90k a month working 10-14 hours a week posing for catalogs. She was very pretty, but had a rare sensual bosum look with very white skin and full lips like Angelina Jolie who had become popular during that time frame. She had a great thing going, was making great money, but was spending it as fast as she made it. Another example of how our experience allows us to see and know things a relatively young and inexperienced local has no way of knowing.

I tried to get her legally signed to an agency but she resisted. She didn't like the restrictions. During this time we become close, in the way you'd care about a daugther in law or something like that. Not real close, but close. She started telling me about offers she was getting to pose nude for local magazines and the big money it would bring. I tried to explain to her that the first time she posed.. she'd never work the catalogs again. I don't think she believed me. One day I found she'd posed nude and as distincitve as she was.. everyone soon knew. Her income dried up. Soon she was playing 2-3 Thai men as sponsors.. they found out.. and her next recourse to support the lifestyle she'd grown used to was the bars.

Sure, she wasn't my responsibiltiy.. but I felt a responsibility to advise her and help her do her best. I did. It didn't turn out. But I couldn't help feeling bad, like maybe I could have done more. Or maybe I'm being silly. Who knows. But the point is, it's a tough industry and if you work in it long enough it won't take long before you know more than most of the models about how it works. We can choose to use this knowledge to help, to take advantage.. or to do nothing. I suppose our character dictates which one.

And something else.. I occasionally get questions from expats who have fathered beautiful Amerasian or Euroasian daughters.. and want to get them and their exotic looks into modeling. I've had family members ask. Without exception I tell them to stay away from modeling.. that what it does to them short and long term is destructive and not in their best interests. Am I "above them" for having this opinion born from my experiences? I don't look at it this way. I look at it as they asked. I wouldn't let me own kids work in the industry and I wouldn't advise you to get your kids into it either. Even when all else is fine and legal, the industry causes damage with rare exceptions.

Steve

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