How to find models to work with?

For every photographer this is probably the biggest question to getting started. If you’re lucky, you may have a friend or family member who qualifies. If you’re young and hip, i.e. a college student or recently graduated, you should be able to call on friends and fellow students to shoot.

For the rest of us it can be a slog to find models. It’s not that they don’t exist. It’s just that they want to use their time wisely and aren’t particularly interested in giving up their time to let you hone your craft.

One relatively easy option for finding models is to sign up for a workshop. Typically the workshop will provide several models with whom you can work. Generally this is cost effective and doesn’t require a lot of work on your part. The downside is that you usually will be shooting with a bunch of other photographers and you won’t have much/any opportunity to experiment.

Once you decide that you want to find real models, you’ll need to find a place to reach them. Historically in the US one of the most popular model/photography website is Model Mayhem. It’s easy to join and there are a lot of models listed in their system. A lot if not the majority of the models in Model Mayhem are looking to be paid for their time. Rates start around $30 per hour and max out at $100 to $150 per hour. Rates vary based on the experience of the model and style of the shoot. There is a pretty active group of art or traveling models. These are almost exclusively women who travel around the country and world to shoot and are paid for their time Many of these models are available for nude shoots. 

Over the years Model Mayhem’s reputation has been tarnished by controversy around scams and bad or even illegal behavior by some of the photographers. If you’re curious, feel free to google for more information. Also, the website really hasn’t kept up with the times, so new services are popping up in this place. Two to consider are: joinagent.com and swipecast.com. Both sites have a more rigorous application process and both assume you will be paying the models.

When you are getting started, you more than likely will need to pay for your models. Basically you are asking for their time so you can mess up and begin building your portfolio.

Once you do get a good portfolio, you can explore asking models to shoot for “trade” or TFP (Trade for Print). The idea here is that both of you are contributing your time to the shoot rather than money. This only works if both sides believe they are getting something that they can use for building their respective portfolios. If you do have a TFP shoot, you need to be sure to get your model good images she can use.


Neil Bainton PhotoComment