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Top Tips On How To Work With Models From Photoshoot Regular Joceline

John Duder has been chatting with Joceline - an incredibly popular model from the UK who's sat down with John to give photographers a little bit of advice on working with models. (Please note: some images are NSFW)

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Joceline is tall. This makes getting good perspective for full length shots easier… Picture © Chris Mills

Joceline is tall. This makes getting a good perspective for full-length shots easier… Picture © Chris Mills

 

I’ve been photographing Joceline for a number of years, and I think I knew from the first moments when we met that we were going to shoot a lot of pictures.

Since then, she’s become one of the UK’s most successful 'accessible' models - she will work with photographers of all abilities, and while her rates are higher than many local models, she certainly isn’t in the 'won’t get out of bed for less than £5,000' category. She sometimes gets up and travels appallingly early, finishing her working day late at night and in another city.


I feel incredibly lucky that she and her husband moved to a town little more than an hour’s drive from where I live. It seemed very natural to sit down for a chat when we met, before starting to take pictures...

 

Joceline in her conservatory. Gentle diffused daylight is always flattering ofr portraits

Joceline in her conservatory. Gently diffused daylight is always flattering for portraits

 

You make a proper living out of modelling and have done so for a number of years... what’s the secret?

I probably can explain that, because I think about it quite a lot. I see a lot of models, I work with a lot of models, and I’ve noticed that the average model sticks with this career for about two years. When I look back at my first two years as a model, I felt wildly successful because I had shoots. But, by comparison with how my career is now, I didn’t have very much success at all, because often I didn’t know where I was going to be working the next month, I’d be waiting for shoots to come in and now I’m booked up about nine months in advance, which obviously gives you a lot more security.

I think the key is probably sticking with it. Sticking with it, and continuing to enjoy it, because if you can’t, I can see how it would be a horrible job. If models stop enjoying it they can feel very compromised because they’re going and taking their clothes off in some cases, and producing pictures they don’t like. For me, I have continued to absolutely love that collaboration working with photographers, I love the long-term relationships I’ve got with them, and I love creating the work. And, if you don’t find yourself enjoying it, change the focus of your work until you find the stuff you do enjoy.

That’s probably quite important, because there are quite a few different niches, and you cover quite a few of them…

I do cover quite a few, indeed [giggles]

 

A very different look – a man’s suit and a tie, plus some subtle makeup and hairstyling magic (which Joceline does herself – no MUA required)

A very different look- a man's suit and a tie, plus some subtle make-up and hairstyling magic (which Joceline does herself – no MUA required)

 

Most models don’t have your breadth of ability...

I’m lucky in that I’ve got quite a lot of things I really like doing, and as a result, I’m hopefully good at them. Certainly, the more niches you can cover, the more employers you potentially have. In about the middle of my career, I found myself getting increasingly large numbers of the same kind of shoot, and I remember starting to feel a bit trapped. I had to make a conscious decision to turn down some of that work and prioritise other shoots in order to make sure I wasn’t trapped. At the time, it was art nude in point shoes - seven out of ten shoots were that! I was just doing the same thing over and over again and I didn’t like it so I changed it.

"As a model, realising that you can change the focus of your own career [matters]. If you let other people define what you shoot, you’ll keep shooting the stuff you’re already doing."

At one point, Joceline was the go-to model for nude ballet poses. But doing the same thing all the time is boring for models

At one point, Joceline was the go-to model for nude ballet poses. But doing the same thing all the time is boring for models

 

I think there are other aspects to being successful, and I’d like to draw them out. For example, you have a tendency to arrive between spot-on time and twenty minutes early, so you are very reliable. What other characteristics that may not come naturally to everyone do models need?

I think properly listening to your photographers and understanding what they’re looking for is quite important. So, if I’m working with someone for the first time, spending some time looking at their work beforehand so you can try and turn into what they’re, probably, going to want from you. In common with many other customer-facing roles, remembering to stay focused on who you’re working with rather than on yourself is probably good advice.

It’s really easy to enjoy talking about yourself and the subjects you’re interested in, but when someone’s invited you into their studio or their home and is paying you, trying to remember that you’re not just offering them a product, the modelling, you’re also offering them an experience, and making it a positive experience for them rather giving them the bare minimum of your attention is probably wise. I would also say put your smartphone away!

 

Simple props can make a picture like this

Simple props can make a picture like this

 

What advice do you have for photographers?

Oooh! Wow… I have so much advice for photographers! If you want models to like you, don’t ever try to shoot anything that the model’s not comfortable with. Look at her stated levels on her portfolio, look at what she advertises doing, and don’t try to shoot her beyond those levels. Don’t do an internet safari trying to find the most explicit shots she ever did and try to make her replicate that because chances are, if she’s not advertising it, that was a horrible mistake that she’s living with and hating, and you trying to recreate that is probably going to cause a very bad relationship. That sounds an unlikely thing to do, but unfortunately, it’s not at all unusual.

Treating your model like a whole human being and not just a set of body parts is a good piece of advice – and obviously, the majority of photographers are wonderful at that, of course.

However, in every year there’ll be two or three photographers who kind of treat the whole thing like a kind of peep show, which is, as I’m sure everyone can imagine, pretty awful.

 

Bright light and an old lens give massive flare from Joceline’s blouse. Costume shots are often great fun, and are a million miles from a ‘guy with camera’ style

Bright light and an old lens give massive flare from Joceline’s blouse. Costume shots are often great fun and are a million miles from a 'guy with camera' style

 

Ahhh… That’s the 'guy with the camera' isn’t it?

Yes, it is. It’s like they’ve found a life hack: they’ll become an amateur photographer as it gives them access to naked girls!  And, they don’t realise that with that privilege, there comes a responsibility to employ someone and treat them decently.

Also, I’d say that the other most important advice for photographers is just to communicate clearly. That includes pre-shoot communication as well as during the shoot as a lot of models are quite young so they’re probably going to be relatively nervous, especially if they’re going to be alone with you.

The more information you can give them about your expectations of the shoot, the more comfortable they’re probably going to feel. And, the more of it you can do in the pre-shoot communication, the better as it means the horrible, awkward conversation when one of you's naked isn’t going to have to happen! That’s the really great thing, that you don’t have to be negotiating things when one of you is naked and you’re alone in a room together – I think that’s probably good practice! I know it sounds so obvious, talking to a decent human being and a good photographer, but unfortunately, it’s news to some people.

 

I know some of the model-photographer websites have a guide to levels - it’s worth reading that isn't it?

Yes, yes it is. A lot of the language used to be quite euphemistic. However, I think we’ve become less so as the internet modelling world has grown - as a community, we’ve become a lot more frank about it.

 

Touring models travel a lot – this gives them a chance to work in a great variety of locations and spaces. Here, the stairs outside SS Creative Studio in Birmingham contrast with Joceline’s dress

Touring models travel a lot – this gives them a chance to work in a great variety of locations and spaces. Here, the stairs outside SS Creative Studio in Birmingham contrast with Joceline's dress

 

Practicalities – lifestyle guidance for models?

I think one of the really great things about modelling is that it’s quite a flexible career, so you can create a career based around your other responsibilities, to an extent. I’m a touring model, I like travelling and I like going to where the photographers are; I suppose to make my product as easy as possible to consume. Some models shoot from home and have all the photographers come to them – and if you’ve got young children, or you don’t like driving, that’s great. So I like the fact that modelling can be whatever type of career you want. For me, I tour exactly 50% of the time, so I go away from home two weeks in four, I work every day, then I come home and take some time off and I do shoots form home in the remaining time.

I think in terms of lifestyle, it can be an all-consuming job, so certainly when I look back at my early career I didn’t really take time off at all. I kept thinking this is going to stop any time – people are going to stop booking me so I must take the work while I can. I guess the advice I would give to models is that if you want a long career, it’s very likely within your reach.

I remember turning 30 and thinking this is probably the end, and I’m 42 now so it wasn’t.

If I knew that then I’d have been kinder to myself: but I didn’t know, and so I worked myself into injury and sometimes not great mental states. So I would say to models, even in your first couple of years, have some boundaries and have your set days off in the week, or however you need to work it, because it’s a job that can suck not only all of your time but all of your energy, too, and not leave much of either for relationships.

 

Do I really have to answer all those emails today?

Do I really have to answer all those emails today?

 

So photographers need to be aware that models need time off and may have got up at stupid o’clock to be in Birmingham at 10:15 in the morning.

As we’ve all got smartphones over the last few years, people can be quite impatient about getting responses to email, for example. One thing that I certainly can’t do during my working day that other people can answer work emails; I feel like I’m contractually obliged not to. Someone's paid for my full day, and I’m going to give them my full day. With driving either side of the shoot, I have to fit all my admin into 8 o'clock and later and sometimes, I also have to pack a case, wash my hair and restyle it so if photographers can be a little forgiving towards touring models and realise that our working day doesn’t include admin, and we have to fit that into the time we should probably be sleeping, that would be lovely. Again, most photographers are very understanding of that.

As an amateur photographer, you may shoot once a month, and I think it might be hard for them to understand what it’s like when you’re shooting every day, the kind of pared-down administration you need to do. Sometimes when I work with quite inexperienced photographers, especially if they’ve taken up photography in retirement and have a fair amount of time they can forget that what I’m doing now is like what they were doing in the very heart of their career when they were most senior, most stressed. Because it’s their hobby they can forget it’s not my hobby.

 

Shot at SS Creative Studio in Birmingham. One day when the temperature was definitely a little below Joceline’s Optimum Posing Nude Temperature of 24 Centigrade…

Shot at SS Creative Studio in Birmingham. One day when the temperature was definitely a little below Joceline’s Optimum Posing Nude Temperature of 24 Centigrade…

 

I think I’d like to extract some practical tips for photographers… What sort of temperature do you like shooting at?

[Silvery laughter] I think it should be about 24 degrees. [More laughter]

That’s quite warm…

I know it’s quite warm for a fully-clothed person who’s running around with cameras, and I realise that if it’s comfortable for me it’s too hot for photographers. I hope photographers realise that if they’re comfortable, the model’s probably freezing.

 

There’s another thing that often comes up, about breaks. You, like me, are quite tea-driven… And biscuit driven…

My feeling is that if someone books me for four hours, and if what they want to do is get four hours’ worth of content, that’s their right. But whether they’ll get such good content is a whole other matter, and I would argue that if you are capable of prioritising quality over quantity, a twenty-minute tea break in the middle of that four hours will do you a lot of good. One, because the model will have a little bit of time to relax, but also because of the trust that you will build by doing that, treating her like a human being, and actually having some time to connect with each other will probably show in your work. So, just from a selfish point of view, it’s probably the right thing to do. I wouldn’t refuse to work with anyone based on them not doing that, but I do think it’s best practice.

 

To ensure that you get consistently creative poses from your model, make sure that you take regular breaks and offer refreshments. Time ‘lost’ will be amply repaid in far higher energy, creativity and productivity during the session

To ensure that you get consistently creative poses from your model, make sure that you take regular breaks and offer refreshments. Time ‘lost’ will be amply repaid in far higher energy, creativity and productivity during the session.

 

I think that when you’re a photographer of people, it seems to me that the connection between the photographer and their subject is quite an important one, and probably the best way of fostering a good relationship is not to start snapping away the minute your model walks through the door. I understand it can be an expensive hobby, and I know why new photographers often are quite rushed and panicky to get as many different things as possible and I’m sympathetic; it’s just that as they mature I would expect to see them relax and slow down a bit. It certainly makes for a much nicer experience for the model – and that means the model will tell other models that you’re a nice person to work with. We talk a lot about photographers.

"You probably don’t want to be the one that everyone says: 'He’s really hard work. Take lots of things to eat because he won’t stop!' I don’t think anyone does their best work when they’re a bit scared of you."

Many moods – Joceline smiles a lot, although this isn’t always what’s required in her pictures. A good professional model will create the mood that you ask for. Make sure that you communicate clearly, both before booking, and during the shoot

Many moods - Joceline smiles a lot, although this isn’t always what’s required in her pictures. A good professional model will create the mood that you ask for. Make sure that you communicate clearly, both before booking and during the shoot

 

Now I know that there is a right answer to this question because I’ve met him. Who is your favourite photographer?

I think I’m meant to say, my husband. I love my husband, he is a very excellent photographer, but actually, he probably isn’t my favourite photographer because it’s quite hard to concentrate when you’re married – a lot of other life stuff gets in the way. So when we shoot together – it’s often at our house – it’s very easy to be distracted by the post coming or phone calls so actually, I think that our easiest, best working relationship was before we were married and cohabiting. But he’s my favourite person, obviously. I suppose I have quite a large group of favourite photographers. Sorry, Hywel.

 

The final question – if there’s someone reading this who hasn’t photographed a model, doesn’t have a portfolio of model pictures, has realised they should join a website like Purpleport, should they be looking for a model who does time for prints, or are there better ways to get your portfolio kicked off?

I really think – and of course, I have a vested interest in saying this – but I don’t think the blind leading the blind is a great way to kick-start your portfolio. So, I think go for the most experienced, the most high profile, successful model that you can find. Yes, it will cost you more, but what they bring you in terms of styling, what they bring in terms of wardrobe, experience and network you'll reap rewards from. You’ll get the benefit of them knowing all the studio owners and being able to recommend the best studios, and even more models. Plus, they’re very likely to be able to put you in touch with people who offer tuition. It’s always worth booking a busy, successful model. Also, studios can be the same – they can recommend models and tutors if they don’t provide that themselves. They’re invaluable as a kind of hub for putting us all in touch with each other – a good studio owner is so helpful.

Joceline, Chris Mills (ChrisM8) and SS Creative Studio are members of Purpleport.com and can be contacted through that website.

 

Nik Efex mono conversion of around ¼ of a frame, taken in Joceline’s conservatory with natural light

Nik Efex mono conversion of around ¼ of a frame, taken in Joceline’s conservatory with natural light

 

About Author: John Duder 

John Duder has been an amateur photographer for fifty years, which surprises him, as he still reckons he’s 17.

Over the last year and a half, he’s been writing articles for ePHOTOzine, as well as being a member of the Critique Team. He also runs lighting workshops and provides one-to-one photographic tuition.

He remains addicted to cameras, lenses, and film.

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Comments


28 Jun 2019 10:52PM
Another great interview John, you are rather good at it.Smile
mistere Plus
6 4 3 England
29 Jun 2019 9:00AM
Another good article John. Excellent advice from Joceline, for all photographers, not just the amateur or beginner. Respect and consideration, very important when working with people in any profession but even more so when working with models. It makes a big difference and, in my experience, is both appreciated and rewarded.
dudler Plus
15 877 1496 England
29 Jun 2019 10:50AM
Thank you, both.

As with making pictures, Joceline facilitates the process of drafting an article...
JuBarney Plus
8 33 4 United Kingdom
3 Jul 2019 6:08PM
A smashing, interesting article and love your shots
Ju
dudler Plus
15 877 1496 England
3 Jul 2019 8:05PM
Ju, it's one of the big advantages of working with someone like Joceline (though there's nobody like her, really) - she makes it so easy to get the pictures, because she's just lovely in mind and soul as well as face and figure.

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