Monday, 31 March 2014

"When The Model Doesn't Show Up and You Make It Work" by Alexandra Gunnoe

I knew the first shoot went too well.  Everyone was professional, friendly and on time.  It set up my expectations for smooth sailing from there on out, but now I know better.  Don’t get me wrong, this 1940’s inspired shoot ended up great.  But I damn near had a nervous breakdown when I first heard the news.

First off, I know there are stereotypes about models being flaky.  I’ve had the fortune to experience mostly otherwise in my past.  I feel like if you create an excitement about the shoot and have a genuine bond with those you’re working with (as well as call and/or email them neurotically the week of), they will show up, right?  Apparently not.  Now remember, the location is in the country, and most models are coming from Bristol or London.  So when the model emailed me an hour before the shoot I didn’t have a lot to work with.  My fabulous MUA and hair-stylist, Nina Spinks, came all the way from London and she had already arrived to the location when I found out the bad news.  So I obviously couldn’t cancel, that would be messed up.

Let me also mention that I had just returned from Seattle the night before.  It took me 21 hours to get home and I wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders.  My first instinct was panic.  I sat with that for a few minutes while I listened to suggestions like shoot myself, acting as photographer and model.  Can you imagine?  I hadn’t worked with Nina before and she might think she came all the way from London for me to shoot my own vanity project, getting my hair and makeup done, dressing up and running around posing and composing like a crazy person.
 Luckily my amazing stylist, Kate Sly at Fashion Farmer is 5’10, has beautiful, classic features and was willing to jump in and act as the model.  Not only did she pick out amazing clothes from Vintage Tramp and Hay Does Vintage, she also fit the look I was going for perfectly.  Check out some of the photos we achieved below.  And a big thank you to Candace Penter, who is a student at Exeter College.  She came to shadow makeup and hair (and will be working with us on a future shoot), as well as assisted me on the photography side of things.  Also, thank you to Dan Shears, who is the proprietor of the West of England Transportation Collection.  Without his support none of this would be possible.

So what should I do in the future?  Probably book two models, but I’m hesitant to do that for every shoot.  My strategy right now is to email and call my models in a way that borders on harassment, though I feel like I might be setting myself up for failure that way.  I’ll have to have a long think about it.  No time now, the next shoot is this Saturday.  But it’s comforting to know Kate will be there for each one.  I will be sure to let you know how it goes.  And if you have any thoughts, suggestions are happily welcomed.


  1. I'm getting ready to direct my own photo shoot for my blog. I'm a writer, not a photographer, but I want to have professional pictures created for the fashion category on my blog. I managed to use my connections to secure a photographer, venue, dress, and model, and I reached out to confirm with everyone again today. The model is the only person I haven't heard back from. Needless to say, I'm in a bit of a panic and I immediately started searching the internet for a solution and found your post. I could almost kick myself for not having a second model waiting in the wings, but she was the first one on board to do it and seemed excited. Reading about how you handled it, I am now scouring facebook and linkedin connections to find a potential replacement. Thank you so much for writing about your experience! Sometimes knowing you're not alone can make you feel a little better.

    1. Hi Deanna, thank you for your comment and I'm sorry you're experiencing a panic. Since writing this post I've added to my roster and now know local models who I can call in a pinch. So even if you don't actually book a 2nd model, having a Plan B in mind can be so helpful for the nerves. Hopefully your model gets back to you soon and you won't have to worry at all!