If you’re new to modeling in Japan and really want to work, it’s important to get a variety of photos from different shooters to show your range. This shows prospective clients that you can go from aspirational young mother to va-voom shampoo model in the blink of an eye. Knowing your look is as important as showing your range within that look.
So starting out, you’ll probably do a lot of TFP (trade for print) shoots, or tests, through networking with different shooters, either through your agency, social media/friendly referrals, online networking sites like Model Mayhem, or even Craigslist. This is where the warning starts.
The Japanese print modeling scene for foreigners is small, so the number of shooters you have to work with are limited. That said, you have to be careful who you work with. There’s a HUGE difference between working with a professional photographer and a Guy With a Camera (GWC).
The Guy With a Camera is not trying to build a professional portfolio. He’s building a personal collection of shots for… his own personal use. There are a lot of them, everywhere, Japan and beyond, so don’t fall for the usual “Oh hey girl, I’m a photographer let’s shoot” unless he’s the real deal.
There are also legit shooters who will push your boundaries are try to get you to do things you might not normally do. If you want to do nude work, right on, but do it with someone you are certain won’t be selling the image to an adult site for a banner ad.
Here are some red flags to look out for:
No online presence, or a poor online presence. Pro-shooters always have a polished-looking website, or a blog, or an online portfolio of their work. Always ask to see their work before setting up a meeting or responding to an independent casting
The portfolio is of amateur quality, and only of amateur naked models. There are some amazing, completely legit shooters who specialize in nude photography, but you’ll see a list of credits that validate his work: museum exhibits, magazine credits, or professional jobs that tell you that working with him is an opportunity, not a scam.
Craigslist ads looking specifically for inexperienced models. GWCs know that inexperienced models have no frame of reference for what a shoot should be like, so they’re hoping to don’t object when they ask you to do things you might not normally do.
You just know. Trust your instincts here. Be selective in who you work with, even if you’re going through a slow period. It happens to all models and actors. Don’t let lack of work cloud your judgement!© Japan Today