What I Do When Models Don’t Show Up

by | Apr 1, 2020

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

As I write this our county is under a stay-at-home order, I plan to post new content here with the hope that, hopefully in the  near future, when this health crises is behind us, that you will find the information useful for your own photography.

Robert A. Heinlein said, “Ability is a wonderful thing, but its value is greatly enhanced by dependability.” Before the virus, the title of today’s post was a question photographers often asked so I thought I would give you my thoughts on dealing with this problem. As any photographer who’s worked with Internet models can attest, no shows are a fact of life. Occasionally models might call requesting to reschedule but other times you might 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 seem to matter if the model is being paid or if it’s a TF shoot.

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

The possibility of no-shows is always there, especially with models you’ve never worked with before. That’s one reason I try to schedule a brief interview with new models at a nearby Starbucks in advance of a shoot. 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 the question is that after trying everything (and I mean everything) is nothing. After spending time charging camera batteries, assembling softboxes, installing backgrounds making my in-home studio ready-to-shoot and testing the initial lighting setup, I just sit and contemplate life, the universe and everything.

How I made this shot: Since much like a Seinfeld episode, this post seems to be about nothing, I thought you might enjoy the background on how today’s image was made.

Back when I first started photographing models, I had an arrangement with a local modeling agency to photograph some of their new clients who wanted additional experience along with some tear sheets from Shutterbug. None, repeat none of these models ever failed to show up.

Kim Goetz was one of the first models that I shot for the agency. Kim was photographed in my former home’s living room using a combination of window light (to her left is the same window/door where she was photographed in the above linked post) and using a hand-held 550EX speedlite to create fill and the shadow on the wall. Camera was a Canon EOS 50D with the now discontinued EF 22-55mm f/4-5.6 USM EF lens set at 48mm. Manual exposure was 1/60 sec at f/5.6 and ISO 400. It was retouched, converted to monochrome using Silver Efex Pro with soft focus added from the Glamour Glow filter that’s part of Color Efex Pro.

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

*If you enjoyed today’s blog post and would like to buy Joe a cup of Earl Grey tea ($2.50), click here.


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 $18.96 with used copies starting at only $15.88, as I write this. The Kindle version is $21.83 for those preferring a digital format.