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Modeling in Japan: Watch Out For Guy With Camera

Here are a few tips on how to get portfolio shots from professional photographers, and how to spot the Guy With Camera

By 2 min read 8

If you’re new to modeling in Japan and really want to work, it’s important to get a variety of photos from different shooters to show your range. This shows prospective clients that you can go from aspirational young mother to va-voom shampoo model in the blink of an eye. Knowing your look is as important as showing your range within that look.

So starting out, you’ll probably do a lot of TFP (trade for print) shoots, or tests, through networking with different shooters, either through your agency, social media/friendly referrals, online networking sites like Model Mayhem, or even Craigslist. This is where the warning starts.

The Japanese print modeling scene for foreigners is small, so the number of photographers you have to work with are limited. That said, you have to be careful who you work with. There’s a HUGE difference between working with a professional photographer and a Guy With a Camera (GWC).

The Guy With Camera is not trying to build a professional portfolio. He’s building a personal collection of shots for… his own personal use. There are a lot of them, everywhere, Japan and beyond, so don’t fall for the usual “Oh hey girl, I’m a photographer let’s shoot” unless he’s the real deal.

Craigslist is rife with scammers.

There are also legit photographers who will push your boundaries are try to get you to do things you might not normally do. If you want to do nude work, right on, but do it with someone you are certain won’t be selling the image to an adult site for a banner ad.

Here are some red flags to look out for:

No online presence, or a poor online presence.

Pro-shooters always have a polished-looking website, or a blog, or an online portfolio of their work. Always ask to see their work before setting up a meeting or responding to an independent casting

The portfolio is of amateur quality, and only of amateur semi-naked models.

There are some amazing, completely legit shooters who specialize in nude photography, but you’ll see a list of credits that validate his work: museum exhibits, magazine credits, or professional jobs that tell you that working with him is an opportunity, not a scam.

Craigslist ads looking specifically for inexperienced models.

GWCs know that inexperienced models have no frame of reference for what a shoot should be like, so they’re hoping to don’t object when they ask you to do things you might not normally do.

Trust your instincts here. Be selective in who you work with, even if you’re going through a slow period. It happens to all models and actors. Don’t let lack of work cloud your judgement!

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  • エジプト人 says:

    this is really creepy, I was wishing to join the model scene when I go to Japan, now I’m not sure if I should….

    • Cynthia Popper says:

      GWC are everywhere, not just in Japan. Just be smart and you’ll be fine. 🙂

      • エジプト人 says:

        Well, there is a stigma around modelling in Egypt, so I never got in contact with the profession, so I wouldn’t really know, but everyone here thinks they are a photographer. Is this stigma also in Japan?

        • Cynthia Popper says:

          Women need to be careful anytime they get into modeling. If you’re going to do it, do it right. There’s no “stigma”… it’s just common sense. Japan has a reputation for being a mecca for foreign models. There’s great work to had here, that’s for sure, but like NYC or LA, you should go through the professional pipelines.

          • エジプト人 says:

            Hmm, this isn’t exactly what I meant… In Egypt being a model is frowned upon, How about in Japan? Also what should I do if I have some more questions.

          • Cynthia Popper says:

            It’s definitely not frowned upon here, or in most Western countries either. Hmmm, why do you think it has a bad rap in Egypt? I’ve never heard that before. If you have more questions, contact me through Facebook here. Happy to help :). https://www.facebook.com/CynthiaPopperBlog

          • エジプト人 says:

            Why do I think that? I live in Egypt 🙂
            And thanks for the help 🙂

          • Cynthia Popper says:

            Oh dear… yes I assumed that you live in Eqypt.
            My question: what do you think the reason is for the stigma?


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