How to Find Models for Photography

by David Em

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A subject is the focus of portrait and fashion photography. Learn to find models to build your photography portfolio or express creative ideas.

Person standing on a rock with arms in the air.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

The focus of every portrait is a person. If you want to build a portrait photography portfolio or need a model for a job, you must look in the right places.

New or aspiring models may work for free, while others need to get paid.

The outlook for models is increasing faster than average careers. So it’ll become easier to find models.

The following is a guide to help you find models. You’ll also learn how to reach out professionally.

Photograph friends and family

Four friends sitting on the ground during an indoor photoshoot.
Photo courtesy of Canva.

If you want to find models, your friends and family are an excellent place to start. It removes the pressure because you’re comfortable with them.

The only drawback is they may not have experience posing. But it’s an opportunity for you to learn how to pose and lead a photoshoot.

Not every friend or family member will be a good fit. So, focus on the ones willing to or more comfortable in front of the camera.

Starting with the people closest to you gives you practice and a portfolio. Then, you can reach out to professional models.

Ask for referrals

Person in a field while the wind blows their hair.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Ask people you know for referrals. They can mention your name to aspiring models or those looking for photos.

It’s an excellent way to find models and build your network.

Photoshoots are also easier with referrals because you have someone in common. It gives you a way to connect and build rapport.

Another way to get referrals is to attend events as a guest with your friends.

You can meet new people in a social setting and find models to photograph.

Stay in touch with your referrals because they can become paying clients. They can also lead to more referrals.

Find models on social media

Person posing in front of a backdrop indoors.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Social media revolves around visual content. There are a lot of models, bloggers, actors, and others who need photos.

You can find models by searching different hashtags or by location.

After you find someone you want to photograph, send them a message.

You can offer an exchange of your time and photos for their modeling.

Be sure to include your portfolio and ideas. It’s also crucial to be professional.

Aside from messaging one person at a time, you can join online groups.

Create a post to share that you’re looking for models and include the scope of the photoshoot.

There are many potential models on social media. It’s one of the best methods to build your portfolio and network.

Use a modeling agency

Model leaning back in a chair and looking to the side.
Photo courtesy of Canva.

A modeling agency gives you access to new and long-time models.

Before reaching out to an agency, you must have a portfolio. It makes you look professional and credible.

Also, doing your research before reaching out is essential.

Look at the main board and development. It shows the types of models the agency represents.

You’re more likely to work with new faces because they have less experience.

The best way to find models through agencies is to email them. Share your name, portfolio, and the type of shoot you want to do.

There are many modeling agencies across the world. So, email several to find a model for your photoshoot.

Local actors and dancers

Ballet dancer posing between cement walls outside.
Photo courtesy of Canva.

If you want to find models to create unique photos, reach out to local actors and dancers.

They’re already comfortable with the camera, making the photoshoot easier.

Often, actors and dancers need headshots and other portraits. So you can collaborate with them and build your portfolio.

Reach out to local theaters to find models that are a good fit.

Scout for models in public

Person touching their sunglasses while posing in front of a wall.
Photo courtesy of Canva.

While running errands or exploring the city, keep an eye out for potential models.

Then, explain to them that you’re looking for models and think they would be a good fit.

Carry your photography business card and tell them to reach out if they want to model for you.

People can misunderstand your intentions. So, it’s essential to be professional and respect boundaries.

You can also ask people to pose in public. It’s an excellent way to capture street photography.

Then, you can use the photo in your portfolio with their permission.

Also, ask for their contact information to send the pictures you take.

You can mention that you’re looking for models to build your portfolio in the message. It can lead to referrals for models and clients.

Use model websites

Model posing for a headshot indoors.
Photo courtesy of Canva.

Model websites like Model Mayhem or One Model Place connect models and photographers.

You can create a casting call to explain what you’re looking for in a model. It’s the fastest way to find models.

Another way to use model websites is to browse through the models. Then, you can find one to photograph.

The model websites show the type of photography, pricing, and experience of the model.

You can build your portfolio and gain experience with aspiring and professional models.

How to contact and book models

Model posing in a leather jacket indoors.
Photo courtesy of Canva.

Models want to know you’re credible and professional.

Before you reach out, prepare a message and idea for the session.

When messaging a model, add information about the session, concepts, and why you want to work with them.

You can also create a mood board to express your ideas.

Model release form

Model release form and pen.
Photo courtesy of Canva.

A model release form is a liability waiver. It permits you to use the images you take on your website or for marketing.

It’s a contract that protects you from lawsuits.

The model release form must have information about how you plan to use the image.

It must also have your name, the model’s name, and signatures.


Learning to find models for photography is an essential skill. It helps you build a portfolio, complete jobs, and expand your network.

After you find models to photograph, you must also use professional outreach. Once they agree, get a model release to protect yourself.

Now you’re on your way to becoming a better portrait photographer.

Related: How to Take Beautiful Boudoir Photos

Featured photo courtesy of Unsplash.

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