Thursday, October 29, 2009

Model Mayhem's Mayhem

Been too long since I've updated: A combination of being busy and being lazy. I'd lay the blame about 50% on each of those factors.

I've been spending some of that lazy time on Model Mayhem lately. Nothing Earth-shattering about that. It's just that MM isn't a forum I've invested too much time with in the past.

Generally, I perceive MM as more a social networking site and less a photography forum. It's like MySpace or Facebook with a model/photographer theme. Nothing inherently wrong there although I spend very little time on Facebook and I deleted my MySpace account about 6 months ago due to my complete lack of interest.

So why MM? Well, once you get past the many recycled subjects, there's much on MM to amuse, entertain, and occasionally enlighten. Some of the recycled subjects, btw, remain amusing regardless of how often they are recycled.

My first post on MM, a thread that I started, got shut-down and locked fairly quickly. I don't even remember what it was about but it caused a stir and I don't really remember why. Maybe it's just me? Whatever. Anyway, I didn't intend my post to be controversial but I guess some people thrive on controversy and, to be honest, I'm not exactly allergic to it nor do I run from it.

Of those recycled subjects I mentioned, the lion's share of them are either about models flaking, models with "demands" in their profiles, models not responding to messages and emails, GWCs, diva models, models' boyfriends, model escorts, model nudity, and scams. As you can see, the common denominator in many recycled threads are models.

There's an obvious love/hate relationship between models and photographers, assuming MM is representative of these two groups as a whole. While models and photographers need each other, leastwise if we're talking "pretty girl shooting," this symbiotic relationship is often strained.

The folks who populate MM are a varied bunch in terms of experience. You have everything from brand-spanking-new models and shooters to those with much experience. The newbies, no doubt, account for many of the forum's subjects being recycled over and over and over. Yet, those who have been around that forum for quite a while still take the bait and participate in those threads. Go figure.

As for pro models/photographers versus serious hobbyists, not-so-serious wannabees and GWCs, I'd say the 80/20 rule applies with 20% of those who participate being pros. For the purpose of this update, I'll liberally define pros as being those who earn 25% or more of their total income from modeling or photography, regardless of whether they're any good at what they do.

There are some amazing portfolios on MM. Some truly stellar work! Often, they're stellar due to post-processing, sometimes due to the photography and, least of all, a combination of both. I'm not making any post-prod versus production judgments here. I'm just saying. And, of course, for every stellar port there are 10 or more that suck. Again, I'm just saying.

I don't know how long before my interest in MM wains. I'm easily amused so I might be taking part in the games there for a while. When participating on forums becomes tedious, boring, or sans any real knowledge gains, I usually back off. So, predicting how long I'll remain interested in being an active, participating MM member is difficult.

I'm not on MM, like many, to prospect and mine the TF potential of the many models who are MM's members. TF, of course, means "Trade For." You can fill in the what, e.g., Trade For Pics, prints, CDs, whatever. Anyway, I'm not much of a TF kinda guy. I guess, for me, it's like working in a candy factory: I love candy but, if I made my living making it or selling it, I probably wouldn't be as interested in eating it. The idea of spending my off-work time doing what I do when I'm at work isn't overly appealing to me unless, of course, there's some special reasons to do so... if that makes sense.

The pretty girl at the top is Lupe from two days ago. She is so much fun to shoot! She knows exactly what she's doing and contributes a lot of ideas to the work. She also brings enthusiasm, a winning smile, and an all-purpose positive vibe to a set. Plus, she's beautiful and sexy as hell. It doesn't get much better than that.

Lupe shot with a Canon 5D and a Tamron 28-75: ISO 100, f/8 @ 125. I lit her with two Profoto Acute 2 heads: The key modified with a 42" silver-lined umbrella, just to my right, and the other modified with a small, white, shoot-thru, boomed from behind, up high, angled down, camera left.


MacGyver said...

Sorry, dumb lighting question:

Is there much of a difference in lighting with a shoot-thru vs. regular umbrella (besides being able to get the shoot-thru closer to the subject to soften the light even further)

It seems like you often use the regular umbrella to modify the main light and the shoot-thru for the rear so I was just curious.

Does the smaller shoot-thru give more of a defined edge light on the model? I've tried strip softboxes for edge lighting my models and haven't liked the results much. said...


I've given up on MM. I am honestly disappointed but the number of no-shows and head-cases have far outnumbered the good shoots.

The best part has been the excuses for not showing up - if they even call at all.

Nope, there are too many attractive people without common sense or common courtesy there to make it worth it - even for free.

I hope you're doing well!

jimmyd said...


Yep. You pretty much nailed my reasons for using a small shoot-thru as an accent light and the normal umbrella as a key. It's not so much the shoot-thru is better defined but it does stay better controlled, helped along with the small reflector on the head, pointing at the target. A reflective umbrella spreads light everywhere. There's very little control with it. But there is a some amount of control with shoot-thrus. Don't give up on softboxes tho... right tool for the job and all that.

@Bob Marcotte

I'm doing fairly well. And yeah, the biggest complaint on MM is the flake rate. Since I don't generally do TF and when I do go after models on MM it's usually a paid gig, I don't experience the problem enough to make me crazy.

RandJ-Photo said...


I took the bait and looked at the forum on MM.

Five minutes, seven threads, I'm out of there.

But I've had good luck arranging for models through the site. Over teh past three years I've made initial contact with around 25 models that showed for auditions. Seven or eight I've booked for small jobs or classes or some of my buddies classes.

A couple of the models have become friends and we continue to get together for projects.

But waste time in those forums?


jimmyd said...


Well, there's bored, there's very bored, and there's wasting time on the forums in Model Mayhem bored.

Sometimes, I'm *that* bored.

Javier G said...

LOL what areas are you spending time on? I only visit the photography and lately the retouch areas. I like it because sometimes they get interesting stuff together, opinions on new gear or new retouching techniques.
How ever, yes it is sometimes filled with recycled topics. I personally don't really use MM for models since there are like 3 listed in my country lol....

jimmyd said...

@Javier G,

Did I mention I've been lately participating on MM's forums cuz I've been finding them amusing and entertaining? Yeah. I did. And that's pretty much it. In fact, after a bowl of most-excellent herbal medication, MM makes for a very funny sitcom! Or, sometimes an even funnier "drama." :-)

Von R Buzard said...

Great post
I browes MM every now and then, most of the time I'm dissapointed in what I see.

I posted on my blog about TFP and linked it to my MM profile. The replies I got were just awful, you'ld have thought I said something about their Mothers

I never use their forums anymore but I occasionally do search to see if I can find some new talent...rarely do

Don't get me started on OMP

Mac said...

MM is like a car wreck - you just have to look.

Ashley Karyl said...

You probably know my thoughts already on MM Jimmy, since you've been reading a certain book recently. Overall I think sites like that are more hassle than they are worth given the unreliability of the people involved. For some people who are just starting though, it may be a way to dip their toe in the water.

Anonymous said...

What disgust me from MM forums and many photo forums is the "Dog eats dog" just take a look at how some bash the photographer who shot Ivanka´s wedding :/, this "vulturic" culture among photographers is totally disgusting because they seem to feast on negativity... And in the end they receive nothing from that kind of obscure interaction...I mean if the dudes got the gig to shoot Ivanka´s wedding surely they are doing in a great way.

This is what I don´t like from forums, wise asses that think they are better than other shooters, that feast on the photographers that for one or another reason have problems (like high end shooters with finnancial problems) or anything in that line.

The sad part is since the gigs aren´t coming that fast I have to ocuppy my time in something... and as you said there is bored to the point of posting in MM...

Beautiful photo!!! I wish I could do that kind of shots with a silver umbrella as key!! :O!!! If you have a tip for that please let us know :D

Wishing you the very best
your friend

Anonymous said...

I just have to chime in. Sorry to be a jerk but....

"I'll liberally define pros as being those who earn 25% or more of their total income from..."

25% is NOT a pro in ANY field. Sorry to say.

jimmyd said...


25% is NOT a pro in ANY field. Sorry to say.

I agree.

But please again note I said, "I'll liberally define pros as being those who earn 25% or more of their total income from..."

Key word being "liberally." In fact, that's a VERY liberal definition.I guess I'm trying to get in touch with my kinder, gentler, more generous side. :-)


You're right. The forums on MM can be very dog-eat-dog! But, perhaps it might serve as a "risk-free" training ground of sorts for some of the newer models and shooters? After all, the dog-eat-doggedness of the MM forums doesn't hold a candle to the same in the real world of pro photography... not that the majority of those on MM would know much about that. (And I don't mean that as a diss.)


Dipping toes in safe waters, leastwise waters where the sharks are relatively tooth-free (in a real-world sense) can be a good thing for new, novice, and hobby models, as well as the shooters (of similar stature and experience) who love and/or hate them.

HMetal said...

It's true, the number of flakes and excuses on MM are ridiculous. I stay pretty much clear of their forums though.

However, I did meet and shoot with/for a local Canadian fashion designer, who supplied 4 or 5 models whom, I believe, were from Model Mayhem.

He too expressed a certain degree of frustration with some of the models from there.

I'm going to stick it out a bit longer only because there are a couple models who I still want to work with.

I suspect, in the end, I'll fall away from it like everyone else has. Sad, because it has great potential. said...

I used MM for a while but unlike the vat majority on the site I make 100% of my income in photography with a few supplemental contract as a web developer.

I stopped using MM because it made no sense advertising to those who àre on the site to obtain free images.

MM has never been a good resource for high quality models as the vast majority are just girls seeking attention and playing at a hobbie to keep up with some friends. I guess it sounds good to call oneself a model because 20 guys will have you over for a visit if you will strip for free.

I find facebook to be far superiour for locating and communicating with talent and other professionals should I need to and it is also friendly to advertising your work on pages such as:

As far as a portfolio goes facebooj, offers easier uploads, unlimited image content (except nudes are not allowed). So as I see it MM is useful only to the photographer who thinks it is necessary to publish their nude work on public sites, and the models who wish an opportunity to share their body with the public but in a slightly more artistic manner than the typical amateur porn site.

The forums are children sharing ideas and anything controversial takes on all of the same characteristics of a elementary school yard.

EleganceAndChaos said...

This is the best explanation I have seen on the difference in light quality and spread between shoot through and bounce mode for umbrellas.

jimmyd said...


Thanks! You're right! That's a most excellent description of the differences between using umbrellas as reflective modifiers or shoot-throughs.

Personally, I've never cared for the look of a shoot-thru as a key or main and I don't use them that way. If I'm shooting with umbrellas, reflective umbrellas are going to be my main and/or fill. BTW, I've never cared much for Brolly boxes. I know some people like them. I'm just not one of them.

I like using small shoot-thrus as accent lights from behind or from the sides. Thereare times I'll use bare bulbs or honeycombed bare bulbs but that's only when I have enough room to get those lights farther away from the subject.

I also like using strip boxes from behind or from the sides. Choosing between the shoot-thru umbrellas or strips is often a matter of how much set-up time I have or my level of energy... or lack of it.

Thanks again for the heads-up to that article!

Anonymous said...

The only problem with that article is that it only addresses using the lights outdoors, whereas indoors they will behave differently (almost opposite) and most photographers will overlook that point.

INDOORS, shoot-thru's look softer because of the additional scatter that bounces around the room and walls and fills the shadows. This assumes a standard 8 foot ceiling in most rooms. In a black painted cavernous studio, it will behave more like outdoors.