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Part of the work of a photographer, besides showing up with a camera and releasing the shutter, is to make sure that he or she has all the elements required to put an idea into practice. Finding the right model is a merit equal to that of producing the final images, but it’s not necessarily an easy task. This is especially true if you are just building a portfolio and you don’t have a lot to show. Here are a few tips to help you build and maintain relationships with the models that are best suited for your work.
Start with your close ones
This might seem like the obvious first step, yet many overlook it. Photographing a friend or a family member can be a great way to get started in working with the model. There is the obvious advantage of knowing the person, and while it may not work with everyone, you could find one or two friends who can make good models. The portraits of friends and family may not be your best photos in the long run, but they can sure be a great way to build new working relationships. Working with someone you already know is also good practice because it will teach you how to give directions while keeping everything light hearted and tension free.
Use dedicated websites
Luckily, there are specialized websites full of both aspiring and professional models. Model Mayhem is one of the best examples. Websites like these are designed to facilitate the connection between photographers, models, make-up artists, hairstylists and so on. Joining them is usually free, although there are professional accounts. The big advantage is that you have a great chance of finding models with experience close to yours, as well as more experienced people from whom you can learn. The more experienced models might charge you for their time, but usually it is well worth it as it will be a lot easier to explain what you’re looking for. If you’re just starting off, consider working on a TF (time for prints or a CD with the photos) basis, as it will enable you to work with more models without spending money that you could otherwise use to buy props.
Maintain successful relationships
Once you find one or more models that are easy to work with and help you take great photos, try to keep in touch. Don’t leave it at just one photo shoot, because if it worked once, it will probably work the second time. Of course, you shouldn’t build your entire portfolio with just one or two models, nor should you photograph the same person every other week (unless it’s for client), but try to build a network over time that will allow you to work with the best possible model for each specific occasion. Once you build credibility and begin collaborating with better-known models, there is also a chance of increasing visibility and attracting possible clients.
Facebook is also a way of finding talent; however you might have to be extra careful in how you suggest a shoot. Since it’s not a professional network, models, especially women, might be concerned about what it is you really want.
Every now and then you will come across models that aren’t as good as you would have hoped. You will notice that fairly quickly in a shoot, but make sure to remain polite and professional. Don’t cancel everything and make him or her have a bad day. Instead, try shortening the session and politely inform the person you’re photographing that you have to wrap things up a bit quicker than expected. These unwanted events might happen from time to time, but having the right attitude will keep your reputation intact.
Image credit: kapley / 123RF Stock Photo