So you're all pumped up and ready to start making awesome portraits. You've got your camera, a great portrait lens, you've even scouted a location. Now all you need is someone to photograph.
In today's quick tip, we look at four different ways to find yourself a photography model. From encouraging friends and family to take part, through to advertising and using the Internet to find a model. I'd also love to hear your tips on the subject!
1. Friends and Family
The most obvious place to start is with close family and friends. They’ll likely be more forgiving and patient with you, and you won’t need to work on building up a rapport with the model. It’s also the least expensive route—both in terms of time and money.
The downside is that you’ve probably already photographed these people several times before. The experience won’t push you out of your comfort zone—if the resulting photos aren’t all that good, you haven’t lost anything.
You can make the process easier by picking friends with certain characteristics. Find someone who loves to be the centre of attention, and is confident with their appearance. They need to be comfortable with you and, ideall, also have a motive for wanting to have their photo taken (e.g. head shots, or portraits for their CV).
Working with friends and family makes an excellent starting point, but it’s important to move on from this stage as soon as you start to feel confident.
2. The Internet
The Internet has a surprising abundance of people looking to have their photo taken. Websites such as Craigslist have a few potential models in sections such as "creative" and "talent". There are also lots of people advertising their photography services here—usually for a price. If you're happy to take portraits for free at first, you may well gather some interest.
A number of other websites such as ModelMayhem and OneModelPlace might be worth a shot, though it could take a while to find someone local and appropriate.
3. Advertise (With Freebies)
Rather than go looking for models, why not let them come to you? Granted, this might not work wonderfully at first, but as you start to become more proficient, word spreads. Add a notice to your website letting readers know that you're looking for models, and offer them an incentive. This could be a free CD of the shoot, prints, or even a photo book: something to make it worth their while.
Many photographers do this to enhance their stock portfolio. Check out Elena Elisseeva's page for an example.
Once money exchanges hands and you hire a professional, expectations of your skill and professionalism are bound to rise. You'll also feel slightly more pressure to perform well, as you've spent hard-earned money on your model's time. It's also important to weigh up whether it's worthwhile financially. If you're planning to sell the images, use them in your portfolio, or generally need the experience, it may well be easy to justify the price.
Share Your Experience
I'm sure some of our readers have encountered this situation before. Which route have you found to work well, and at what stage should photographers be looking to progress to the next stage of portrait photography?
Once you've made some successful portraits, why not try selling them on PhotoDune? The world of stock photography always needs a more diverse representation of faces.