Over the years I have spent quite a bit of time at the various Panera Bread stores in the Pittsburgh area. With their free WiFi and great food, they make a good place to work when I need to get out of the house, or if I need to meet a potential client. And sometimes it is interesting to just sit there and observe people. They study, conduct business, meet friends, or just take a break. Many Paneras also have a semi-private room if you need to have a meeting. All of which can make for an interesting photograph.
So I decided to set up a shooting using one of the semi-private meeting rooms. There is no rental charge for the room, but you are expected to purchase $50 of food and drink. From the outset I figured this would be a multi-model shoot, and the $50 food and drink charge would provide refreshments and snacks for the models, which would be a nice perk (for them and me). The theme of the shoot would be the different things people do at a place like Panera, and how they interact with each other. I reserved the room, and then set about lining up models. Then the fun started.
Ideally, I wanted to line up three models for the shoot. Now, I have a variety of models that I've worked with in the past, and several more that have contacted me about working together. So you wouldn't think lining up three models would be that hard. But all three models needed to be about the same height (so they wouldn't look out of place), and models can be anywhere from 4'11" to 5'11". So I decided on 5'5" as my "ideal", and tried to recruit models from 5'3" to 5'7". Of course this excluded two-thirds of the models I know. As it turned out, most of the models I contacted (who did meet the height requirement) were unavailable. In desperation I started contacting models on OneModelPlace and ModelMayhem, as well as posting a casting call on ModelMayhem.
This was my first time using the Model Mayhem website to recruit models. I've been a longtime (since 2004) user of OneModelPlace, but lately it seems that there are more local models on ModelMayhem. In addition, photographers seem to get more bang for their buck at ModelMayhem. On the flipside, I've also heard that there are more model no-shows there. And my experience on this shoot certainly seems to back that up! Of the three models I lined up for this shoot (all from ModelMayhem, two canceled the morning of the shoot, giving me less than 5 hours to try and line up alternates. So what started as a multi-model shoot ended up with just one model.
That one model was Judy. Judy is a student at the Oakbridge Academy of Arts in New Kensington, and is new to the modeling business. She was punctual, easy to work with, and took directions well. Although we got some great photos, there are still some multi-model themes and poses that I didn't get a chance to try. Most likely I will try to set up another multi-model shoot at Panera before the year is over.