Friday, June 13, 2008

Photography tips: find a model

So you want to be a model photographer? The first thing you’ll need to do is build a portfolio. But how will you build a portfolio without models? And how will you find models without a portfolio? Seems like there is no way out, but there is.

1st step: stay close
You probably know someone with a pretty face, who is willing to pose for you. Could be anyone; your sister, an uncle, someone from school, a colleague, your neighbor. If you think hard enough, you can think of someone. It does not have to be a professional model, you just need a couple of portraits that go beyond the snapshot-of-a-family-party level. Likewise, don’t use your holiday snapshots (unless they are great pics of course)

2nd step: Join a community
Once you have three or four decent pictures, join a web community for photographers and models. Well known US-examples are and For my Dutch readers I recommend In these communities, photographers and models (often make-up artists and stylists too) find a platform to connect to each other. Don’t just sign up and wait for things to happen. The best thing to do is approach models yourself, and arrange TFP (Time for Print) or TFCD (Time for CD) shoots. Try to aim at models slightly above your own level. Aiming lower will not get you the pictures you need to improve, whereas aiming too high is likely to lead to disappointment.

By participating in a community, you will get to work with people you don’t know. That’s a nice thing, but it is also a risk. That’s why I prefer internet communities that require photo ID to sign up. This simple threshold scares away the real idiots, but it is no guarantee.
Once you have worked with four or five different models, think about creating your own website as an online portfolio. This will give you more room for exposure and make you look more like a professional photographer. You can link from your community account to the website, and may want to put the url on your comp card as well. Meanwhile, keep working on your portfolio through TFP/TFCD shoots, gradually aiming for better models.

The alternative approach: Quickstart your career
There is a faster way to start. Instead of working your way up through TFP/TFCD shoots, you may want to invest in one or two shoots with very good models and make-up artists. This will give you a headstart when joining a community, allowing you to find better models willing to work with you on a TFP/TFCD basis. This strategy may work for photographers that are very talented or already have a broad experience in other fields of photography. For inexperienced photographers, it contains the risk that their inexperience shows in the pictures and the investment will be partly wasted. But then again, who is to reach anything without taking a risk or two?

pssst, you think this looks familiar? Very good, it means you read both modeling and photography tips. Which is wise, whether you're a model or a photographer.

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