The Photoshop model lottery- What is your model REALLY going to look like?

This is by no means a new phenomena but it is getting worse I think.When modelling agents send out models cards you face a challenge. The photo's can bear little resemblance to how the model actually looks.

Every model wants to look her best to get sometimes extremely lucrative assignments, so the images are 'tidied up' in post.

I don't have a problem with this when it is limited and serves to give a fair representation of what is achievable, but sometimes it goes further, much further.

Changing skin colour and the use of the liquify tool on facial features are beyond acceptable I would say, and not unknown.

Last year I was commissioned to shoot a campaign for a certain client, whom I chose the models in consultation with, referring to a modelling agencies website.

Three of the four models we used were just fine, and looked pretty much as they had been represented on the web.

The fourth bore little to no resemblance, with a complexion which was as far from perfect as one could imagine, pock marked and scarred.

The amount of post involved in getting her skin back to something like ok would have added a whole layer of retouching that simply had not been budgeted for, so the model was sent away with more than a tear or two shed.

How does this come about?

Nearly every representation of women we see on magazines has to a greater or lesser extent, a degree of post production.

So it becomes the norm.

This is all very well but there has to be some sort of starting point - knowing what the model really looks like without make up and without hours of retouching.

When I'm choosing a model I want to be doing exactly that, not choosing a retoucher without even realising it.

Modelling agencies I think should include at least one current shot of the model with limited make up and no post production. It might seem like a big call (and brave call) to make, but I believe clients and photographers would welcome this for the sheer amount of time saved, and I believe it would do wonders for the model agent too.

Somehow I don't think this will be happening anytime soon.

Photographers, producers and clients do have to shoulder responsibility here too.

Often the worst situation to be in is to have a model imposed on you by the client who has solely made the choice from the web.....

There is no substitute for a casting call.

Casting in the flesh gives you a full idea of what the model is actually like, and what they are going to be like to work with, lets face it you are going to be spending a lot of time with them in an often high pressure situation, and though the look has to be right, if it comes down to two models, one whom I feel I can have a good rapport and the other who is potentially difficult, guess which one I will recommend to the client?

With increasingly tight budgets and often really short lead time face to face casting is not always possible.

It often comes down to looking at the modelling agencies website or models card and then insisting  someone takes a photo of the model on their smart phone, and sends it through straight away.

When I receive the shot I will of course share it with the client but I ideally will first share it with the make up artist prior to this, to get an opinion on what is achievable in line with the brief.

This might seem like a performance but this sort of thoroughness and attention to detail will help retain current clients and win new ones.