How to get professional models

How to find models for photography

How to find models for photography
How to find models for photography

When it comes to taking professional pictures, there are a lot of subjects you can photograph – from landscapes to cars, from food to clothing. The things you can take pictures of are pretty much limitless, and the choices end only at the point where your imagination does. Preferring one subject over another puts you in a specific category, such as landscape photography, street photography, business photography and so on. But one of the most popular and sought after genres of photography is taking portraits.

Doing portrait photography of both male and female models is a skill that requires a lot of practice. Getting started can be quite an uphill battle at times. Knowing where to begin, and how to get photography models for your first tries can seem daunting. But as with everything else in this industry, practice and perseverance makes perfection. That, and correct knowledge which we will provide you with in this article.

Where to find your first photography models?

When you just start out with portrait photography getting professional models is not a smart idea, unless you have significant funds to spare. There are other ways to build your portfolio and skillset without emptying your wallet completely. Here’s a few options you should try:


  • Friends


The best place to start is to ask some of your friends to help you out. Building up a portfolio of portraits from among your friends shouldn’t prove to be too difficult. Some of them might have had some experience of modeling and may even come up with suggestions and tips which would eventually help you in the long run.


  • Model Community Websites


Model community websites are a rather productive alternative to a model agency. That’s where photographers can collaborate with models, makeup artists, and stylists without involving any financial compensations from either party.

Quite a few websites are around, and you can chose to check them out by joining at the lowest membership level. If things appear like they would work out, then you can chose to move on to better schemes with more benefits.

You can create a profile detailing your requirements, the type of subjects you wish to shoot, as well as showcase your portfolio. You can get in touch with models in your locality and interact personally to improve the chances of working with them.

Useful terms that you need to be familiar with are togs, MUAs, TFCD, TFP etc.


  • Togs are the photographers.
  • MUAs are the make-up artists.
  • TFCD stands for Time For CD, meaning that the model expects you to provide a CD in return for their time.
  • TFP stands for Time For Prints, meaning that the model expects you to provide prints in return of his/her time.


There’s nothing rigid about the whole system. Arrangements are mostly on the basis of personal discussions between the photographer and the model. The most important part is of course to keep the models happy. That way they continue to work for you and in certain cases would even promote you.

Keep in mind – a model will always want some flattering headshots in their portfolio. So that’s a priority.


  • Social Media


Facebook still remains one of the best places to acquire models who would be willing to collaborate on a non-cash basis. Presently Instagram is gradually replacing Facebook as a hunting ground. Instagram, with it’s clear focus on photography, sends out a rather serious message regarding your intentions. Facebook groups from your locality dedicated to modeling and photography can be a big help too.

Once you have a portfolio of high quality photos and a few satisfied clients, in all likelihood word will get around of your availability and skill as a photographer. Jump in with an extensive social media campaign focusing first on Instagram and follow it up with Facebook. If you feel you have a better outreach elsewhere, tap those maximally.


  • Other places you can find free photography models


Try placing ads in local newspapers, colleges, communities, performance arts classes. The same promise of headshots, and quality profile shots should help you find a willing participant. An accompanying portfolio of a few representative photographs should further enhance the chances of acquiring model.

How to actually approach photography models


Now that you know where to find photography models, it’s time to understand the process of pitching them an offer. Mostly, when you ask for collaboration with a model, they would almost always want to have a look at your portfolio. Obviously, having an impressive one will help your cause, but to really bring it home you must also be prepared in other ways.


  • Professionalism


Plan your offer thoroughly. Too much of a casual approach won’t get you anywhere. When

reaching out to clients, make sure to let them in on your details, as this is no less than applying for a job. Your sincerity reflects your intent.


  • Mood Board


A board that includes a model, location, styling, concepts, and themes will set you out from the amateur crowd and improve your chances of getting better people to work with. A good mood board can be physical or digital and can be an extremely persuasive presentation tool that will exponentially improve your chances of acquiring models and work. When putting together mood boards think of yourself as a curator, and try to frame continuity from one image to the next.


  • Makeup Artist


You can never lose with a makeup artist on board. But not having a makeup artist at hand can be a potential deal breaker. Even if some of the more experienced models don’t ask for a MUA, having an MUA available improves your legitimacy and purpose.This one move smacks of real professionalism.

Hiring a paid photography modelFacetune-7-2


So in spite of all this, it’s not infrequent that a model gets back to you with his or her rate. So much for no-cash collars…

But if the rates suit you, go ahead with the shoot. As a portrait photographer you need people to pose for you. If it involves paying and if the stakes are sufficiently high, you might have to shell out some cash. Or better still – a combination of photos and cash. That way you can get them to reduce their rates while still cashing in on their professional experience.

Here are some websites you check out for paid and unpaid photography models:


Give all of these options a shot and you are guaranteed to find some photography models, free of charge or not. Always begin with your friends and relatives, and as you build your skill and portfolio up, go down the list and start looking for amature photography models.

Soon, if you are good at portrait photography, you will begin to build your name up. And, if you’re lucky, the models will start paying you for your services, and not the other way around.



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