This article is specifically geared towards new models, particularly those that use social networking sites such as Model Mayhem to get access to people to shoot with. If you are new to Model Mayhem, you are going to get quite a few messages from other members about the possibility of setting up a shoot.
Whenever someone inquires about shooting with you, and this actually applies to both new models and photographers, there are a few things to consider based on their original interaction with you to see if they are "for real".
1. They do not use text speak. The original message should not read along the lines of "Hey u. I luv ur work. Want 2 shoot sumtime?" A vague one-liner written in "text speak" usually means that the person did not even take the time to send you a proper message, introducing themselves and what they do. This translates to not caring, and generally, although not always, means that this is the attitude that they will take towards your shoot, if it ever even happens.
2. They give a description of the concept or project. When I say "description", I don't mean that they have to write a long and detailed essay about every aspect of the shoot. However, they should at least say if it requires nudity, special props/wardrobe, elaborate makeup, or intended usage. How else is someone supposed to say "yes" or "no" to a project or a shoot proposal if they don't even know what is required?
3. They have worked with many Model Mayhem members if they have been a member for a while. Let's put it this way: if someone has been on Model Mayhem for 4 years and in that whole time they have managed to only work with 5 people and only have 4 photos in their portfolio (no website/other portfolio links), then chances are they are not that serious about shooting. This might mean that they rarely ever shoot, may have flaked on shoots in the past, are not active on Model Mayhem, or there might be some other reason why they do not get that many shoots. Whatever it is, don't have your hopes too high.
4. They are up front about compensation. Whether they are looking for TFP or want to hire you, they let you know by indicating what they want. If they want to hire you, they tell you how much they can afford to spend and what they are willing to pay you (it's up to you to decide if you want to work for the amount that they offer). If they would like to do TF, they also let you know up front.
5. They do NOT promise you big things that will result from working with them. Just remember that the only things that are guaranteed are death and taxes. Even if you work with one of the best shooters or models in North America, you are still not guaranteed publication or fame, which is even more unlikely. What is worse than a one-liner that says, "Hey u. I luv ur work and want 2 shoot w/u."? The answer: a one-liner that says, "Hey, sup babe! Ur so sexi. Let's shoot so I can make u my star."
6. They do not write you anything sexual (or at least not before they get to know you very well in real life). That can be very creepy coming from someone who allegedly wants to shoot. Makes you wonder if there is a hidden agenda somewhere.
I hope that the above points will help you spot the B.S. before you waste any of your precious times writing email after email and have nothing come out of your efforts. I do, however, wish you all the best in your modeling and photographic endeavors.
If you feel that you have something to add to this list, please do so using the comment section. If you disagree with me, you are entitled to your opinion, and I would love to read what you think.