- 09 Feb 2022
At some point in your photography journey, you will need to find a model. Whether it's a requirement for a client or you want to make a definite part of your portfolio, you need people to photograph! The thing you (and many others) are stuck on is where to find models for photography. Even if you have no ties to the modeling world, there are plenty of places you can start looking!
How to find the model for the photograph:
- - Find local models via Instagram
- - Reach out to local dancers or actors
- - Ask your friends to model for you
- - Contact a modeling agency
- - local facebook group
- - Ask your friends if they know anyone
Instagram is the ultimate social network for photographers looking to find models to photograph. Most of the models will be extremely active on social media and will share a lot of pictures from their past work. This makes it easy to see what stage of modeling they are at and if their look suits your project. You can spend a few hours and check out the many different professional and amateur models you can contact in most cases.
To get in touch with a model on Instagram, you can send them a DM to introduce yourself and ask about their availability. Make sure to be very clear about what you want to photograph and share your thoughts for the shoot. You have to remember that you are a complete stranger to these people, so you want to make a good impression.
Where to find local models on Instagram
There are a few different ways you can start finding local models on Instagram.
The easiest way is to use the location tag.
Go to the Explore page and set the search result to "places". Type wherever you are and start browsing. You'll see a ton of photos of random people, but occasionally you'll see a few high quality ones. Images that appear to be over-drawn or taken by the actual photographer are the types of shots you want to see. Explore the profiles in any of these images and see if this person is actually a local. Sometimes these pictures are just of the townspeople visiting the area.
Another option you have is to see who other local photographers have taken. If you're not already catching up with local players in your area, this is a great opportunity to familiarize yourself. Browse through other photographers' profiles and view models they've worked with for other shoots. You don't want to see engagement or event photos, but more pictures. See who the model tagged in the photo is and try messaging them!
2. Local Actor or Dancer
The great thing about using actors or dancers as models is that they are extremely expressive. They are much less shy of the camera and look a lot more natural in front of the camera. Wherever you look, there are actors and dancers. If you have a local theater, check their website and see who performs in their upcoming shows. As for dancers, look into different dance companies and find a trainer to contact. More often than not, instructables will have a headshot on the website, which will make it easier to see if they are a good match for your project.
3. Ask a Friend
If you can't figure out how to find models to photograph, look no further than the people in front of you. Your friends are the perfect people to ask to model for you because the two of you are already familiar with each other. Especially as a novice photographer, it takes a lot of pressure off when you are just photographing your friend. Instead of feeling like you have to have a certain way of presenting yourself, you can just be yourself and focus on the images you want to capture.
Even if your friend has no prior modeling experience, this creates the perfect opportunity for you to test your directing skills. As you work with more amateur models, it becomes easier to guide them into the poses and angles you need. At first, you may not know what you want, but you will know the exact types of poses that will work for the position as you move forward. Ultimately, calling your friends to model for you is a fun and more casual way to find models for photographs.
4. Reach Out to a Modeling Agency
If you have the budget to hire models, a modeling agency is a solid opportunity to find models to shoot. These agencies represent hundreds of models, and they can all be found on their website. With a simple Google search of "modeling agencies _______ (your city)" you'll find tons of great options.
There are pros and cons to working with a model represented by the agency. Since the agency is involved, there is more to the hiring process and more in terms of how the rates work.
5. Facebook Groups
The great thing about any industry full of creatives is that people love to network. That's why photographer and model Facebook groups are such a common thing no matter where you live. In these groups, you'll find a plethora of models of different experiences interested in creative projects. You're likely to get a bunch of answers, by creating a post in a group sharing the type of models you're looking for and project details.
If you're not already part of one of these groups, go to Facebook and "__________ (your city) see photographers and models." Certain types of photography communities will appear in the results and provide a great way to find models for photographs.
6. Ask Your Friends Who They Know
There is no better network than the one you already have. Chances are, you already know someone who knows someone else who would be perfect for your project. Start by asking your friends if they know of anyone interested in modeling and you need someone. People may not have an answer right away, but if you keep referring people to your model search, something usually pops up!
Should Photographers Pay Models?
Now that you know how to find a model to photograph, the big question is whether or not to pay them. Although many people struggle with choice, it really shouldn't be that difficult.
If you have the budget, always pay for models and someone else who works with you. Their time is as valuable as yours. If you have been hired by a company to photograph a campaign, be sure to include a section in the budget for model fees. Although some people try to underestimate the work of a model, the truth is that without them there is nothing to be photographed. By paying for the models you work with at a reasonable rate, you build your professionalism and leverage while working with more professional models.
With that said, I understand that not every shoot you do is paid. I wanted to shoot for fun and I needed to find models to work with for free. In situations where you're only taking photos as a creative outlet, it's not unreasonable not to pay the model. If so, you need to make sure that when you access a model you have outlined it. You need to be transparent with what is happening and your reasoning for not paying. Most models will still be interested if they like your idea.
how to contact model
Once you've got a model to shoot with, you need to make sure you're leaving the right impression. As the conversation progresses and you share more information about the project, be sure to do the following.
- Have a clear plan for your shoot
Without a clear plan, people may think you're not really serious about what you're doing. Make sure there is a definite location, style and target to shoot. When you have a real plan that you're excited about, it's far easier to get others on board. Make sure the model has a clear idea of what they can expect from the shoot.
- Be professional, no matter who you work with
Whether you're working with a professional model, an amateur model, or a friend of yours, treat them all equally. Set a certain standard of professionalism that you maintain from the planning stage through to photo delivery. Even if you're completely new to working with models, practicing your professional personality is key to making it feel more natural. If you're courteous, organized, and do a better job than other photographers who work with someone, they'll remember you.
Who knows, maybe a model you work with will hire you to take pictures of them in the future!
- Create a mood board to share with models
The mood board is just a collection of photos to help showcase the style of the image you're going for. These photos may be ones you found on Pinterest or Instagram and don't need to be yours. The point here is just to express your creative intent as clearly as possible. Below is an example of a mood board I made for an outdoor travel campaign.
"Aspiring Models Click Here for More Information on the Modeling Profession."