What Do I Do When Models Don’t Show Up?

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

“Ability is a wonderful thing, but its value is greatly enhanced by dependability.”— Robert A. Heinlein

The title of today’s post is a question that photographers often ask so I thought I would use today’s post to answer it.

As any photographer who has worked with Internet models can attest, no shows are a fact of life. Occasionally models might send an e-mail, text or call requesting a reschedule but other times you get a text or e-mail around the time the model should be walking in the door saying they can’t make it while more often than not they simply don’t show up. And it doesn’t matter if the model is being paid or if it’s a TF shoot.

This is not a new problem with models but seems endemic in today’s society. Information on this trend is easy to find in articles in USA Today to a post on LinkedIn where Amanda Bradford, CEO and founder of The League said, “Among younger generations, ghosting has “almost become a new vocabulary” in which “no response is a response.” Now, “that same behavior is happening in the job market.” And as has it been going on in the on-line modeling world for some time, it’s now being experienced in all sorts of work situations.

The possibility of no-shows is always there, especially with new models you’ve never worked with before. That’s one reason I try to schedule a brief interview with new models in advance of any shoot at a nearby Starbucks. But get this, more than 30% of the models never show up for these interviews; No e-mail, no phone call, no text. And while that’s disappointing, at least I’m in a pleasant environment and can have a cup of Earl Grey tea.

So what do I do about a no-shows? The sad but honest answer to that question is nothing. After spending time charging camera batteries, assembling softboxes, installing backgrounds making my in-home studio ready-to-shoot and doing some testing of the first lighting setup, I just sit and contemplate life, the universe and everything.

How I made this shot: Back when I first started photographing models, I had an arrangement with a local modeling agency to photograph any of their new clients who wanted additional experience. None, repeat none of these models ever failed to show up. Kim, above, was one of the first models I shot for them. She was photographed using only window light (no reflector) in my former home’s living room using a Contax Aria 35mm film camera and a Zeiss 85mm Planar 1.4 lens. Film was Tri-X; exposure unrecorded. Shortly after this image was made all of my model shoots went digital.

If you think today’s post title is click-bait, I apologize. That was not my intention. I have not found a foolproof way of pre-qualifying a model’s dependability. Referrals don’t work, even having worked with a model before doesn’t seem to matter. If any photographer out there has come up with a way to minimize or eliminate model no shows, please click Contact and send me an e-mail. In return, I’ll send you a nice gift and may do a follow-up post to share your good idea.

I’m taking registration for a series on 1-on-1 Photography Workshops to be held in my home studio. To schedule a time, click the Contact button above or e-mail me directly at joefarace at gmail dot com.


You can learn all of my tips, tools and techniques on shooting available light glamour photography in my book surprisingly titled  “Available Light Glamour Photography”. New copies of the book are available from Amazon for $17.43 with used copies costing only $9.47, as I write this.