How To Find A Model For Fashion Photography?

A suitable model is essential for a successful fashion photography shoot. Even if you’re a skilled photographer, it will be challenging to create Vogue-worthy photos without a good subject.

There are many factors involved in choosing a photography model. The person you choose should have certain attributes that will better your chances of attaining the perfect shot. To help you find the right person for the job, we put together a list of tips that will make your first casting go smoothly.

Build A Mood Board

How To Find A Model For Fashion Photography?

The first step in choosing the right model is creating a mood board. Just think of it as a college where you pin or paste your favourite photos to build your concept. This will help you better visualise what you want to achieve in your photoshoot.

You can always create a physical mood board, but most people do them digitally these days, through Pinterest or Juxtapost.

What’s fantastic about these mood boards is that you can make them public and share them with other people. But you can also use them as a reference as you progress with your project.

We even recommend you bring it to the shoot so you can look at it in between taking photos.

Choose Where to Scout for Fashion Models

There are many ways to look for talent. The most obvious and easy one is simply asking your friends if they’d be interested in posing for you. Working with someone you already know can make you feel more at ease.

Nevertheless, you might also find it challenging to direct the model if they’re inexperienced. It wouldn’t hurt to use a friend when you’re just taking photos for fun. However, you’d be better off looking for experienced models for serious projects.

Alternatively, you can join local Facebook groups to find models in your area. Join a group and post about your project on their page. If you find anyone who’s interested, talk to them and ask them to collaborate.

You can also look for models’ Facebook profiles and contact them if they’d like to work with you. However, you need to be aware that Facebook groups often have a limited pool of talent, and unfortunately, most of them are amateurs.

Most photographers prefer modelling websites such as Model Mayhem and One Model Place to cast models. Just think of these online platforms as social media sites made explicitly for models and photographers.

They offer an extensive collection of profiles that include everything from photos to vital statistics and resumes. You can find both beginners that might be willing to collaborate for free, as well as industry veterans you can hire for a fee.

Find the Right Look

Before you start looking for a fashion model, figure out your requirements and create a criteria list based on those. First, ask yourself what type of a photoshoot you intend to do. Is it going to be a catalogue, street, editorial, or high fashion?

Next, think about what kind of clothes your model is going to wear. Are they going to be long or short? Wide or narrow? Do they feature patterns that might look unappealing on specific body types?

Even the prettiest models can look less interesting in the wrong outfit. You should also think about the mood you want to capture. Do you want your photos to look sensual, gritty, sexy, serious, fun, or cute? Remember that attitude is just as important as clothes in fashion photography. Your model should know how to express different emotions as much as executing fashion poses.

List down the answers to these questions, and use them to guide you while browsing for models to hire. Most importantly, look through your candidates’ images and visualise them in the outfit you want them to wear. If you can’t imagine them in those clothes, you should probably look for someone else.

Know Your Models’ Work History

If you’re looking for a model through an established agency, this wouldn’t be a big issue. However, if you’re still starting, you’ll most likely use freelance model websites such as Model Mayhem.

If so, then it’s advisable to learn as much as you can about a talent’s work history. You’ll want to ensure that the model you choose is reliable and has the experience they say they have.

You should go through the model’s page and check what type of jobs they’ve done before. A good profile should list all the projects they’ve done and include all the people they’ve worked with. Most of all, they need to have accompanying photos to prove that they participated in the gigs they mentioned.

Also, go through the model’s “verified credits” to get a glimpse of what they’re like when collaborating with other people. These “credits” include photographs from different shoots, as well as testimonials from photographers or makeup artists that describe their experience with the person.

Reading the credits will help you gauge whether they’re the type of person you want to work with or not.

Check Their Portfolio

After you find a candidate you’re interested in, scrutinise their portfolio and ask them questions. Don’t think about the number of images they have, but look at the variation in their collection instead. The pictures need to show that they’re capable of doing an assortment of female poses and can show different expressions.

Additionally, observe the different types of clothes they wear. If they look good in the style you want to feature in your shoot, then you may have found a good candidate.

If they look stiff, awkward, and emotionless, consider other profiles instead.

Discuss Your Project in Detail

Once you find your model, set up a meeting, chatting on Skype or even exchanging messages on social media will often suffice. What matters is that you get to know each other better and talk about your plans for the shoot.

Offer a little background about your work to make them feel confident about your photo skills. In turn, ask them about their experience and what they can contribute to the photoshoot.

Make sure you talk about every detail of the shoot, especially if it may involve risque poses. Don’t ever put them in a potentially uncomfortable situation. Remember that it’s a collaboration, and both of you need to agree to everything before proceeding.

To help you better explain your project ideas, feel free to share the mood board you created. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to ask them if they can add new ideas to your concept.

Ask About Compensation

There are two main ways to compensate a model: Monetary payment or Time For Print (commonly known as TFP). To avoid any confusion, discuss what they want in return before the shoot.

When you’re still expanding your portfolio and don’t have money to pay models, TFP is your best option. Upcoming models often do TFP since they need photos to add to their collection. Time For Print means they pose for free in exchange for the images that you shot of them. It’s a win-win situation, and you don’t have to spend a dime at all.

Unfortunately, some of these models also happen to be inexperienced. Therefore, you may not always get the best photos that you want from them. Nevertheless, it’s a great way to gain experience and grow your fashion photos collection without spending money.

If you’re willing to take your photography to the next level, consider hiring a more experienced model. Acquiring talent from agencies can be ridiculously expensive, so freelance model websites would be your next best choice.

Just remember that not everyone who’s asking for payment is a professional. So check their portfolio to see if they genuinely have the necessary experience.

Trust Your Gut

Looking for models takes a lot of skill and talent. Agencies even hire model scouts to find individuals that they can hone to become the next fashion superstars.

Unfortunately, you can only rely on yourself to land the perfect person to shoot at this stage in your career.

We’ve listed a lot of concrete methods to find the right model. However, in the end, you just need to use your best judgement. There are certainly times when things aren’t what they seem.

In time, you’ll see a lot of upcoming models with terrible portfolios who are, in fact, very talented. Sometimes, they just need the right photographer to produce powerful work.

Don’t be afraid to collaborate with someone if you sincerely believe they have potential. Remember that trust goes both ways. Models agree to work with you because they believe you can create impressive photos.

Choose a Natural

Someone is either a fashion model, or they are not. Choose a person who will not have to be transformed into a model. Even if they meet the height and weight requirements, they may not be model material. If they look nervous after the first couple of shots, they are not natural. They should require minimal amounts of makeup.

No matter what type of camera you use, if you cake the model with lots of makeup, the resulting shots will look forced and unnatural. More information on skin, height and weight are addressed in more detail below.

Height and Weight Matter

Although not a requirement, it is a good idea to choose someone who is over 5’9″. A tall person will help streamline the clothes that the model is wearing. A person with minimal curves will force the eye to focus on the clothing and fashion rather than the body.

A lot depends on what the client would like. Depending on the type of clothing being shot, the client may want a model who has curves. This includes plus-size models. Recently, there is a growing market for plus-size models, as there is more acceptance in the modelling industry for those with average bodies.

Experience Matters

Ask to see their portfolio. If a model has a wide array of experience, they will be more willing to submit to questioning regarding their background. Ask other colleagues who they recommend. Other photographers are often the best source for information.

Perform a Background Check

You do not want a model that stays out until the wee hours of the morning and shows up to a photoshoot exhausted. This person will require more makeup and certain lighting to avoid the dark circles and stress spots on the face.

The model will also be less likely to perform to the best of its ability. Running a background check on a model will ensure you do not hire a model with an extensive criminal record. There will also be a better chance that the model’s personality does not clash with other crew members.

Choose a Fresh Face

Sometimes, the best model in the industry is undiscovered. You never know when you may run into a new model with little experience but true talent. This type of model may also be more accommodating to your needs and commands. They are still learning and will therefore be more willing to work with you as a team.

Whatever method you use to find a model, it is advisable to find out about them before deciding to use them in a photo shoot. Doing this will save you unnecessary hassle and headache.

Discuss Your Project in Detail

Once you find your model, set up a meeting, chatting on Skype or even exchanging messages on social media will often suffice. What matters is that you get to know each other better and talk about your plans for the shoot.

Offer a little background about your work to make them feel confident about your photo skills. In turn, ask them about their experience and what they can contribute to the photoshoot.

Make sure you talk about every detail of the shoot, especially if it may involve risque poses. Don’t ever put them in a potentially uncomfortable situation. Remember that it’s a collaboration, and both of you need to agree to everything before proceeding.

To help you better explain your project ideas, feel free to share the mood board you created. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to ask them if they can add new ideas to your concept.

Ask About Compensation

There are two main ways to compensate a model: Monetary payment or Time For Print (commonly known as TFP). To avoid any confusion, discuss what they want in return before the shoot.

When you’re still expanding your portfolio and don’t have money to pay models, TFP is your best option. Upcoming models often do TFP since they need photos to add to their collection. Time For Print means they pose for free in exchange for the images that you shot of them. It’s a win-win situation, and you don’t have to spend a dime at all.

Unfortunately, some of these models also happen to be inexperienced. Therefore, you may not always get the best photos that you want from them. Nevertheless, it’s a great way to gain experience and grow your fashion photos collection without spending money.

If you’re willing to take your photography to the next level, consider hiring a more experienced model. Acquiring talent from agencies can be ridiculously expensive, so freelance model websites would be your next best choice.

Just remember that not everyone who’s asking for payment is a professional. So check their portfolio to see if they genuinely have the necessary experience.

Tips for Finding Models If You Have No Budget or Portfolio

How To Find A Model For Fashion Photography?

Friends

It’s probably the easiest to start with friends, friends of friends, co-workers, or family. This is something to do when you want to practice photographing people and break my awkwardness when directing them. When you make at least 6-8 awesome photos like this and create a part of your portfolio, it will be easier to reach a professional model for collaborations.

Model Websites

You can also look for models on websites. At the point where you’re just starting to build a portfolio, you can connect with new, aspiring models and collaborate with them. They are looking for someone to help them expand their book, and you’re looking for someone to help you create a portfolio, so it’s a win-win situation.

If you opt for this method, we recommend two methods. The first is to put out a casting call and make sure to include these elements:

  • The compensation: note that it’s TFP and that you don’t have a budget
  • The look: if you’re looking for a specific look, vibe or style in a model, make sure to note it
  • What’s included: you can offer wardrobe, hair, and makeup, or you can note that the model should provide their own
  • What’s required: note some specific things you expect, like clothing, nail color, makeup and here (if they’re providing it) and so on.
  • Mood-board: If possible, add a mood-board to the ad to show the general mood and vibe of the shoot and make sure everyone’s on the same page.
  • The second method Chelsea recommends is using the Browse feature. This can be more time-consuming, but it lets you filter the models by very specific parameters and choose the perfect ones for your shoot.

Instagram

Another way to look for models is Instagram, and it can be pretty convenient. You can search for models by using hashtags. For example, type in #melbournemodel if you’re looking for a model in L.A. You can also contact fashion bloggers: they always need new content, and it can be a win-win situation for both of you.

When you find the models/fashion bloggers, you’d like to work with, engage with their content and contact them with a proposition for collaboration.

Facebook Groups

There are many Facebook groups for all kinds of stuff – so it’s logical to assume that you’ll find some for connecting models and photographers. You can easily find them by typing, for example, “Melbourne model” and browsing through the “Groups” tab.

Facebook Ads

If you run a Facebook page to promote your work, you can also use Facebook ads to search for models. These ads are pretty cheap, and you can target very specific groups you’d like to collaborate with. Make sure to include the link to your website where people can find more information and apply for the shoot.

Conclusion

Casting your first photography model can be daunting. There’s a good chance that you may not get it right the first few times. The good news is, as you gain more experience, this process will get easier. Just keep trying and don’t give up.

Focus on expanding your portfolio. Once you have more work to show people, you’ll have more opportunities to collaborate with better talent. We have some great tips on posting and processing photos of a model without overdoing it!