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

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

It seems like this is the week I’m using the blog to answer reader questions. To be sure, I enjoy hearing from readers of Shutterbug and this blog, so if you have any comments, suggestions or questions, just click Contact and send me an e-mail.

The title of today’s post is a question photographers often ask so I thought I would use this pre-holiday post to answer it. As any photographer who’s worked with models can attest, no shows are a fact of life.  Occasionally a model will send an e-mail or call the day before requesting  we reschedule. But often around the time the model should be walking in the door I’ll get a text or e-mail saying they can’t make it, while other times they simply don’t show up. No e-mail, no phone call, no text.

The possibility of no-shows is always there, especially with new models you’ve never worked with before. In fact that happened to me this past Saturday. That’s one reason I used to schedule a brief interview with new models in advance of a shoot at a convenient Starbucks and I’d even buy the coffee. But get this, more than half of the models don’t 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 soothing cup of Earl Grey tea.

I’m sorry to report that I have not yet found a foolproof way of prequalifying a model’s dependability. I tried e-mailing information forms and that worked ten years ago but not now. Don’t know why. Referrals don’t work either, 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 idea.

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

Once when shooting at my friend Jack Dean’s studio he volunteered his young daughters as substitute models and both were extraordinarily charming and did extremely well as models. My photographs of them ended up being featured in an issue of Shutterbug. Another time, Jack loaned me a mannequin (above) that he used for practicing lighting setups and which is the featured photograph of today’s post. Many thanks, Jack for all the help you’ve given me over the years.

Available Light Glamour Photography





All of the models that appear in my book “Available Light Glamour Photography” are real flesh and blood. New copies of the book are available from Amazon for $24.89 with used copies selling for a bargain price of $8.98.  Some Amazon vendors are selling new copies for $9.99, as I write this.