For many years the best places for photographers and models to be able to find each other and collaborate online was Model Mayhem. Craigslist also worked, but we generally don’t speak of it anymore! That’s the new void that FStop.FM is trying to fill right now but by updating it with an interface that lots of us are familiar with: Tinder.
Usually when a model or a photographer has an agent or agency, that’s a really big sign that they’ve made it. But for the rest of us in the meantime, it’s an uphill battle. Photographers and models both generally need to prove themselves to one another. Some of us look at that as a pain while others amongst us regard and understand the process; but give it some time and that may change.
How Connections Have Worked for a While
Connections in the photography world have worked by interpersonal connections in the case where photographers and models don’t have agents. Sometimes it happens as both the photographer and model grow accordingly. Well at least that’s how it worked for me.
Here’s how those relationships have worked.
One Connection Family
Bec is a model I met years ago at Photo Plus Expo. We’ve kept in touch ever since and for a while our careers went into two different paths. For the past four years or so, we started collaborating together again. She knew that she could trust me because she knew that I run a popular photography blog, we had conversations with one another, I had ideas she liked, and we’ve just had that working trust with one another.
Bec introduced me to Asta. Without Bec’s vouch and meeting Asta beforehand, Asta probably wouldn’t have shot with me.
Asta’s husband Clay saw my work and then trusted me and my vision to work with me.
My College Connection Family
Then there’s Grace. Grace and I went to college together and she was a theatre major. She was a member of the radio station that I was President of–so she knew that I don’t like bullshitting around when it comes to work. Over the years, we’ve stayed friends and have a lot of trust in one another.
Grace’s boyfriend Eli trusts me the most of probably anyone who photographs Grace. We’re both business owners, and he knew the type of work that I can do. So he asked me to shoot his headshots. That connection wouldn’t have been there without Grace.
Both Grace and Natalie both went to college with me. Natalie was in a short film that I served as cinematographer for, so she knew also how serious I am about my creative vision. After college, we decided to work together again and we both grew. She’s absolutely fantastic and brings a wonderful burst to experimental energy.
Natalie’s friend Megan knew she could trust me because she saw the work that I do with Natalie. We’ve shot a few times since when our scheduled sync up well enough.
Colin, another theatre major, also went to college with Grace, Natalie and I. He saw the work that I can do with both of them, knew me, knew that I’m serious and was very happy to collaborate.
The same story goes for Alex
And the same for Justin.
My Comic Con Connection Family
Jordana is an absolute sweetheart that is amazing; and I met her through our mutual friend Mary. We decided to collaborate together a few times and it started when I went from Brooklyn to where she was in Jersey City to her rooftop.
She’s been to Comic Con a few times as well. I don’t go anymore.
Kita St Cyr and Jordana both know each other because they run in similar Burlesque circles. Kita trusted me partially because of Jordana but the bigger trust came from Kita’s husband.
Fernando was a fan of Phoblographer for years before I finally met him in person. This helped the vouch to shoot with both of them.
Kristen is someone I photographed a long time ago at Comic Con. We both knew Jordana and I pitched the idea of photographing her again. With Jordana’s vouch, we shot together again.
Without Jordana, I wouldn’t have met Melissa. That’s how I gained her trust.
Melissa’s approval helped Evelyn want to shoot with me. Because of the personal connection, the trust was there.
All of these have major things in common: connections. All of these people wouldn’t have worked with me if I hadn’t made the effort to go out there and form a connection or bond of some sort. All of these people have been to my house, I’ve cooked for some of them, we’ve hung out and socialized, and they know that I’m a human being.
So then why try to mix things up? People these days don’t just go out and talk to others in person because they think that’s weird. I don’t at all. But this is a reason why online dating is so popular now too. With that same thought process, why not try to turn the photo industry into this too?
FStop is at the moment an online service only–which at the time of publishing this review is a major letdown. In the more lonely parts of my life when I decide to cave and get back onto online dating, it’s nice to have an app because I almost never visit the desktop website for OKCupid, Tinder, etc. In fact, 60-80% of you on any given day read this website either on your tablet or phone.
At the moment, it’s free. Photographers and models can get paid through the service and they can also set up their own profiles. In fact, the profile setup is very big on verification. You’ll need a phone number associated with your account and they go even as far as you taking a selfie of you with a picture ID. This is all for extra proof that you are who you indeed are.
Then you can setup a profile with your photos, location, a bit about you, the type of work you like doing, etc.
Now here’s the even crazier part: you can be automatically matched with people who like your work.
Ease of Use
So the way this works is by you going to website and clicking the according check or x. If you hit the check, then it means you want to photograph that model. What you’ll find initially is that you may not want to photograph someone all the way in Florida if you’re in NYC. So you can then define your parameters like body type, experience, etc. This interface may be different for models.
If you want to see more of their profile, you just need to click on their image and see more.
Like Tinder, you’ll only be able to chat with a model after you both approve of wanting to communicate with one another.
If you have email notifications come up, you’ll get loads of them. Don’t worry! Unlike OKCupid, you don’t have the ability to go review all the people you’ve approved or not. From the model’s point of view, that means safety and no potential cyberstalking of any sort.
Who Would Use This?
Please note that my personal opinion is really just my own; also note that I’ve been shooting for 10 years, have a stable of people I can work with at a moment’s notice and more that would love to have their photographs taken by me. I’m established, and so I don’t really need this. If I want to work with someone new, I can ask someone for a recommendation.
But if you’re just starting out, then I’m honestly not sure why you wouldn’t want to work with anyone that is serious enough to call themselves a model. They’re conditioning their body, they’ve got a hungry but serious work ethic and it just makes sense. Yes, it lets me see their portfolio very well, but discussing ideas with someone over text isn’t like talking with them in person. I much prefer working with people in person.
So what about the people I’ve photographed?
Bec: “I’d be open to it. That kind of connecting can work quite well. But interpersonal always trumps virtual connections in any circumstance”
Melissa: “I might use something like that but I’ve never used tinder so I might need more details as to how it actually works. Before I work with someone I usually need references to verify my safety so I wonder if an app like that would make photographers even less receptive to accommodate this need of mine.”
“Model mayhem has a feedback feature too but I still prefer conversations with other models about how the experience went.”
Evelyn: “While I would certainly prefer an updated alternative to the dinosaur that is MM, I do always require personal references regardless of where I find photographers. I generally only end up working with photographers that model friends have recommended to me. I think that would be a big step forward in the industry.”
“MM is so messy and outdated.”
On the other side of things, I’ve talked with photographers that had this same idea. These photographers are still cutting their teeth in a way and want to sort through everyone and just get to the serious models. But I personally don’t like that, I prefer meeting someone in person to see how our creative chemistry and dynamics work. That’s just me though.
So would I use FStop.fm again? Maybe. I really need a mobile app though and many models do too asa they travel. It can help them find gigs. I’d look at inquiries for models that want to shoot with me because I’ve got that level of skill already. But I may not want to work with all of them.
Still though, I prefer meeting people in person and figuring out whether or not I’d want to shoot with someone.
As it is, I don’t know a single couple that’s lasted for a long time on Tinder and I’m not exactly sure that a service like this could build a career-long working relationship any better than people meeting up in person can. But I’m willing to b proven wrong.