Every picture has a focus. More often than not, that focus is on a person. Even photographers who take pictures of nature at times need a model.
Some photographers need models for a specific job, while others want to build up their portfolios. Where can these photographers get models without much hassle and a lot of money?
Many people want to be models. Nowadays, almost everyone is, in a sense, a model as they all post pictures of themselves on social media.
So how can a photographer tap into the rich supply of “wannabe” models to photograph them? Here is a guide on how to find models for photography.
How to Find Models for Photography
There are several ways to find models. They include:
- Using friends and family
- Recruiting in the street
- Using fashion agencies
- Searching for aspiring actors and dancers
- Looking at model websites
- Taking advantage of social media
Photograph Friends and Family
The easiest place to search for models is within one’s own circle of family and friends. Calling on friends to model for you is a fun and comfortable way to increase your skills.
Benefits from using friends and family include:
- Practice taking photos in a comfortable environment
- Learn how to direct a subject
- Build up your portfolio, so later you can reach out to more professional models
Most likely, a photographer’s friends and family will be amateur models. But this provides a great opportunity for a photographer to practice taking pictures of people.
They can learn the poses that work best with models. They can also improve their skills at directing a model to change poses and angles.
After taking several pictures, they will be able to build up their portfolio. They will also be more prepared to work with professionals.
Overall, working with friends and family is an excellent springboard to launch into a model photography career. It allows photographers to improve their skills in a comfortable environment.
Ask for Recommendations
Go beyond photographing friends and family, and ask if they know anyone who might want to model for you. This is a great way to grow a network.
A lot of models come from the recommendation of a friend. Ask friends if they know anybody who is currently a model or someone who wants to be a model. Or ask if they know anyone who might be interested in your project. You never know who someone will recommend.
Also, models are more likely to agree to do a project if your friend vouches for you. So ask your friends for a recommendation and an introduction.
Scout for Models in the Street
Another way to find models is to recruit someone from the neighborhood. This is an easy method for outgoing people to find models for photography. Shy people may have to work up some courage to find a model with this method.
Finding models this way can be borderline creepy, so there are some necessary steps to assure them that you are legitimate. Have business cards in hand. Business cards will show that you are a legitimate business. Make sure they have your contact information.
If you spot individuals around town that you would like to photograph, politely approach them and ask them if they are interested. Leave your business card with them. Ask for their contact information without being pushy.
If they are nervous, set up a photoshoot somewhere outside and in public so that they feel more comfortable. After building a rapport, they will probably be willing to do more photoshoots.
Use a Fashion or Modeling Agency
There are fashion and modeling agencies in almost every large city and some small cities. They usually have newer models that do not have extensive modeling experience. If a photographer with a small budget needs a model, these newer models are the way to go.
Find out what fashion and model agencies are nearby. Contact them about your photoshoot. They will send a selection of models you can choose from.
There are pros and cons to using a modeling agency. The benefits include that the models are more accountable and reliable. So you are assured that there will be minimal last-minute cancellations.
However, newer models have less experience in the modeling world. So a photographer will have to step up and provide sound direction.
Most agency models are limited to fashion and beauty photography. So if photographers need a model for nude photography, they will not find it at a modeling agency.
Another inconvenience is that an agency will be more engaged in the process than with other channels. It is more involved in the hiring process and the rates. They also expect a cut from every job the model does.
So while an agency provides a better selection of models, it is a business that will be more involved than an individually represented person. Each photographer will have to consider whether going the model agency route is worthwhile.
Search for Aspiring Actors and Dancers
There is a plethora of aspiring actors and dancers. The best part about aspiring actors is that they usually need the money and will model cheaply. Also, they may need headshots for their own portfolio and more experience. So modeling is just as beneficial to them as it is to the photographer.
Another benefit of using aspiring actors is that they are not very shy. They are more comfortable with the camera and can be very expressive. Also, it is easy to find them.
If there is a local theater, look at the website for upcoming events and participating actors. Find out if there are any acting schools or classes in the area.
As for dancers, look for a local dance company. Reach out to the instructors there. Often, the dancers will have a headshot on the dance company website. That makes it easy to see if anyone is a match for your project.
Finding models from aspiring actors and dancers is a mutually beneficial alliance. You can offer them free headshots in exchange for a photoshoot. They are also a good addition to your network.
Another way to find models to photograph is on a model website. Photographers can find models looking to expand their experience. Connecting with newer models gives the model an opportunity to gain experience. It also provides the photographer with a cheaper way to take photos. That makes it a win-win situation.
For this method, there are two recommended options. First, put out a casting call. Second, browse through the website. Use the filters to find a model that conforms to specific parameters.
If you put out a casting call, make sure to include the following:
- The compensation
- The look you want
- If you offer wardrobe, hair, makeup, etc.
- If you require or expect something specific
The second method of browsing through the website is more time-consuming. But it might allow you to find the perfect model for your project.
Keep in mind that the models will want to see your portfolio before working with you. Always have your portfolio in hand so that the models can see how you shoot and your style of photography.
Another step in how to find models for photography includes taking advantage of social media. Models are active on social media.
They share a lot of pictures of what they have done. They also network to find more work. Use the following platforms to find models.
Models post a lot of their work on Instagram. This makes it easy to see how much experience they have and if they would be right for a project.
On Instagram search for tags like:
Those tags will help identify different models. Then you can reach out to them and ask if they are available for a project.
Be polite. Send a link to your website and explain what kind of photoshoot you would like. They might not be interested, but it does not hurt to ask.
Photographers and models network with Facebook groups. Almost anyone is allowed to join these groups. Look for one that is local.
If a group is rather large, it might be hard to find a model to work for a specific project. But do not dismiss this idea. Several photographers have found the perfect model via a Facebook group.
Search for “models in (your area)” and see what comes up. Often a photography group will appear and will have some great ideas on how to find models.
How to Find Models for Photography Suitable for a Project
This guide has mentioned several ways for a photographer to find models without much hassle and a big budget. Unfortunately, when photographers do not have a big budget, they usually have to work with inexperienced models.
This is not a huge problem and actually affords a photographer the opportunity to improve their directing skills. However, since the models are inexperienced, how can a photographer ensure they are suitable for a project?
Here are a few suggestions:
- Before hiring the model, go through their portfolio. See what kind of style they have. If it does not match the style of the photographer, they could struggle to produce good results.
- Meet up before the photoshoot to get to know the models and their vibe. A meeting will also help the model build trust in the photographer.
- Make sure you get the model to sign a release for the photos.
If you enjoyed reading this article on how to find models for photography, you should also read this one about how to prepare for a photoshoot.
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