Being a product photographer can be a very lucrative field. However, there will come a point where you will be asked to cast models along with the product or products you are shooting to create an environmental/lifestyle feel for your images. Your client wants to show potential customers the product in action so that those same customers can picture themselves in similar situations.
Granted you can cheat certain shooting situations with items like headphones, phones, cases, or small electronic devices. Within these types of photos a full shot of a model is not completely necessary and as a photographer you can probably cast your friends for gigs like this and go out for a bite after!
However there will come a time when you need to find an appropriate model for the brand that you are shooting for. There are many factors that come in to play with regards to project and scope. If you client’s budget allows then hiring a reliable model from an agency works very well, however a strong suggestion is to work with someone you know or have worked with in the past in order to avoid the dreaded “no show” or last minute excuse. It happens to the best of us.
As a photographer I suggest that you work with as many people as possible whether they are models, actors, entertainers, or even clients. I have used many models I have worked in the past for multiple projects repeatedly as well as going into the future. You need to keep your communication skills open and stay in touch with anyone you shoot. Maintain your relationships and try not to burn any bridges. There have been situations where models have backed out last minute and I had to get someone I’ve worked with prior to fill in on short notice.
I have used Domenica Rossi for many photo shoots, she has a wide appeal, and works very well in multiple situations. I submitted many models to this particular client and they chose her immediately. The scope of this project was intermediate as they rented a location, shipped me the items, and gave me a creative brief.
When casting for a lifestyle or product shoot you need to ask your clients for references as to the look they are going for (unless you have creative control – then by all means go crazy!) Many clients like a wider appeal so they can reach a wider audience. Certain brands want to go for a “feel.” For example I used Emma here for a bedding company shoot because she has innocence about here and didn’t distract from the product but enhancing it. For this shoot the client gave me enough budget for model and location. You need to keep a time frame, creative briefs, final deliverables, in mind when quoting a rate or accommodating your client’s budget.
It has often been said that photographers and models are a dime a dozen. There are a lot out there but there are a handful of people that are reliable. Even agency represented models flake out sometimes, which is unfortunate. The bottom line is that if you find great people to work with – it makes your job easier.