If you’re looking to expand your skills beyond the occasional landscape or portrait, then a good addition to your portfolio would be photography for models. Photography for models can act as a great creative outlet, can lead to networking opportunities within the photography industry and can even become a source of income if you become involved with modelling agencies.
Fashion photography is a burgeoning niche within photography that is always in high demand. With a surplus of amateur models and experienced models and only a small number of local photographers focusing on photography for models, finding people to shoot is always an easy process.
In fact, fashion photography for models is also made even more attractive as photo sessions are as simple to organise as any other photo shoot, requiring some very basic gear if you’re shooting inexperienced models, and only some higher cost gear if you’re shooting for modelling agencies. So, if photography for models is sounding like a niche that you might be interested in getting into, then dive on and see our top tips and tricks to help you get your start in photography for models.
How To Find Models and Build Experience
The simple truth for many fashion photographers breaking into the industry is that, until you have a collection of modelling or fashion pieces in your portfolio, no model or agency is going to hire you for professional jobs. Luckily, building up your portfolio is the first, easy step in the model photography journey.
To build your portfolio you have to begin by looking away from modelling agencies, and instead aim to book models who are
just starting out on their own modelling career, and are looking for photography services to help them build their skills or even their own portfolio.
You can find these models relatively easily through some simple internet sleuthing, whether it be posting call outs in Facebook groups or asking other local photographers whether they know of any previous clients who would like some free work done.
Of course, that is the one caveat with this beginning stage of work – free.
While every artist knows all too well that exposure doesn’t pay the bills, there are situations where working for free may be your only option if you’re hoping to advance your career. As such, when you’re just starting out you’ll most likely do a lot of photography for models shoots for free, but if you focus on getting in as much good work as possible across several models, it is guaranteed to pay off down the road.
If you pursue this path of free work in exchange for content to build your portfolio up with, then before you know it the models you shot will be recommending you to other models and finding models would no longer be an issue. This is the stage where you could then start to introduce paid shoots in exchange for more photos, as your final product becomes more professional and you find yourself in higher demand.
Whether through networking with other photographers, recommendations from models through this process or simple social media advertisement of your skill levels, this would also be the stage where you begin to get in contact with modelling agencies and begin professional work.
Photographing for Modelling Agencies
Photography for Models tips
Contacting modelling agencies can be intimidating, but by understanding their needs and speaking their language, they will see you as a peer and ally to their business, which is essential, especially in big markets like Los Angeles. After all, much of the photography industry is all about relationships and all kind of model types.
“You have to begin by looking away from modelling agencies, and instead aim to book models who are just starting out on their own modelling career”
Approaching agencies courteously, professionally, and with good intentions is the key to starting a relationship and creating opportunities for future collaborations. This will allow you to lay the ground work to eventually start doing your own successful open call types of shoots once you have a good footing. But what’s the best way to contact a modelling agency?
Contacting A Modelling Agency
A well-crafted email usually works best. In fact, it’s the industry standard. An email to a modelling agency should be concise and to the point. Be courteous of their time. Introduce yourself, your work, and your goals. Be open and honest if you’ve never worked with models or shot beauty or fashion photography. Talk about what you have done and what you want to do. Provide a link to your portfolio or website. If you have a specific idea or direction for photo shoot, include it, but be sure to use a collaborative tone in your language and express open-mindedness.
If your email was successful then you’ll most likely be invited to a meeting to discuss how to move forward. A first meeting with the agency is pretty much a job interview so treat it as such. Dress nice, arrive around 10 minutes early but be prepared to wait 20 minutes and don’t forget to bring your portfolio and some business cards to ensure they take you seriously.
Once you are in, you will likely be meeting with one of the bookers, an employee of the agency that is usually assigned a group of models to focus on. When it comes to bookers, just talk to them like a peer as that ultimately what they are. Most bookers you will meet will be genuinely nice people that understand where you are coming from, and will try to help you create something together. Occasionally, you’ll run into one that likes to throw their weight around but in those cases, just roll with the punches, and indulge their ego.
If on the off chance you are denied the use of their models; you will undoubtedly be told why. This where the booker will likely explain what you are missing in your portfolio, experience, or knowledge. Instead of taking that criticism to heart, try and take the input, build on it, and move on, to guarantee that next time you come in for an interview, you’ll almost be guaranteed the job.
Things To Keep In Mind When Photographing Amateur and Professional Models
Photography for Models and levels of experience
Models of all experience levels want to feel comfortable in a photoshoot environment, so making a conscious effort to make them feel comfortable and safe is important and will result in better photographs for your portfolio. Many of your first photography for models photo shoots will be with newer models so ensuring they feel comfortable should be your top priority as they will lack the confidence of a model who has been on site hundreds of times.
A good way to make sure everyone is comfortable is to create a physically comfortable environment for your models on the day of your shoot. This is important to the overall results of your session. If you plan to have the model in more revealing clothes, make sure that the air temperature is comfortable and that there are precautions taken for privacy.
Also be aware that not everyone will be comfortable to be photographed in certain types of clothes, to in your search for models, ensure you have a conversation regarding their boundaries ahead of time.
“Always remember, the more communication we have, the more comfortable the environment can be.”
Unless you initially connected with a particular model over social media, another good rule of thumb is to not follow them until after you work together is done. Of course, it’s normal to follow models on social media as a photographer, especially if they’re models who have worked with fashion designers you respect or other photographers you admire. But if you are anticipating working with a model in an upcoming photography for models photo shoot, don’t head over to their Instagram account and start leaving a bunch of comments ahead of the shoot, as it might make them feel like you are watching them a bit too closely, and is a good thing to avoid for the comfort of all parties.
When you actually get to the photography for models, make sure you offer your model encouragement and enthusiasm, as being silent when it comes to taking photos is the bane of many model photographers. Make sure that you your models direction and that you are letting them know what they are doing well. If something isn’t working, be careful about how you address it and work to get them into a different pose. Always remember, the more communication we have, the more comfortable the environment can be.
How To Keep Your Work Safe
No matter what stage of the model photography process you’re in, a top priority for you should be to always keep your work protected from anyone who could be looking to steal, or misappropriate your work. This is where water marking comes in. Watermarking helps protect the copyright of your work and ensures that it cannot be reused or altered without your permission, making it one of the most sure-fire methods for a photographer to protect their work.
WaterMarquee is a powerful online tool, that allows you to add custom watermarks with your text and logo. You can also make multi-part watermarks and adjust the opacity and transparency of your watermarks, all in the one place. So if you want to protect your photos, do it with WaterMarquee today!