Models Looking For Photographers
When starting out as a model, especially in a smaller city, it can be difficult to build up your portfolio (book). It’s best to start out with photographers you know and trust before you end up on a professional set. I got my degree in photography with a speciality in portrait and fashion. Hands down, the best way to get shoots with photographers is networking. Meaning, you need to show up, go to the events, and build connections. What are some ways to get your face out there?
Get a “Comp Card,” Website, and Instagram
Most models meet photographers in person. It is important that the first impression goes well. A “comp card” is a larger business card with your best photo on the front (moo.com is a great website for business cards). Depending on the style you choose you can get three looks or just one solo shot. On the back is contact information and website information. Never leave the house without your comp cards in your bag. You could be approached while getting a sandwich, so be prepared. Make sure when you do leave the house that you look presentable. Especially if you are tall and look like a model, people will take notice. You cannot expect to get jobs and build your portfolio by sitting at home taking selfies.
Photographers in major cities may have organizations for photographers. These types of photographers are pretty established and working in the industry. You can keep up with your local APA Instagram page (or join the newsletter through email) to see if events are open to the public or if they are advertising a photography gallery show. I do not suggest seeking them out personally through email. As a budding photographer, I received the advice to “get out there and email everyone.” That backfired, especially since I sent out a mass email to many photographers to do assisting. Do not do any “cold calls” or “cold emails.”
Photography Gallery Shows
In any city there will be gallery shows. It is important to show up to the “gallery opening.” It will be a social event with wine and cheese, a perfect opportunity to network. Seek out the ones that are solely photography-based. Even if you are not seeing work that involves models, they may do fashion or portrait work on the side. Certain shows will have name tags of who the artists are. Or you can look at the title of the work and name and seek out a website or Instagram. You can even chat with the gallery director and ask if one of the artists is present so you can chat.
When you are truly starting out you need to get practice. Art school photography students need to shoot models for classes. There might be flyers around or posts in an Instagram or email newsletter. Some models can even work with the fashion students for student shows and model fittings. You can certainly network with the fashion students to get access to photographers as well. I would avoid a model call for art students to draw. They expect you to be nude in front of a full class of students. Some models are totally fine with this, however, it is not for everyone.
Instagram and Google
Google search “fashion” or “portrait photographers” and your city. For an example, “fashion photographer Houston.” This way you can see their portfolio and get a sense of their style. Sending a DM or an email message can be a long shot since many photographers may not be able to respond because of volume. Again, cold emailing is a risk and is easy to brush off. You can waste a lot of energy trying to get a photographer to grab coffee with you. However, what you can do is follow local photographers *and see if they post about a gallery show or an event they are a part of. Some photographers wear many hats from being a headshot photographer to an event photographer. If they are shooting at a public event (band playing, comedy show, public party, etc) then you could introduce yourself. DO NOT crash a private event or wedding. You will make the worst first impression and will be remembered for the wrong reasons.
Not to say Craigslist is all bad….In my early days I found a model or two to shoot. It is a risk and could be a safety concern. There are a lot of amateur photographers who are seeking models just to “date” them. On top of that, you have no idea if this is a person who is using a smart phone or a professional with equipment.
I used the site years ago when I was starting out as a photographer. In the same vein as Craigslist, you do need to vet photographers and make sure they are at least semi-professional and not on there to be creepy. You might get amateur photographers that will message to set up a shoot. Use your best judgment and always put safety first. If it feels shady, it probably is. Make sure to take a friend or parent with you to the shoot.
Your Friend Circle
The best networking is with 2nd- or 3rd-tier friends. You have built-in trust and can be directed to the right person. Make friends with artistic people; most artists tend to stick together. It’s great to know where the secret underground parties are that won’t be advertised. Even knowing off- shoot artists such as musicians or painters will eventually lead you to photographers. Let it be known to the group that you are a model and open to meeting artists to work with. You could get some practice sitting for a portrait drawing or painting.
In certain cities there may be model calls. Pay attention to your local event paper to keep up with casting or model calls. Your city may have its own fashion magazine where they could put out model calls for fashion shows and photo shoots.
Local Fashion Boutiques
Every city usually has a few local fashion boutiques. The store may hold events or need models to promote their Instagram. It could be a vintage high-end boutique or a more modern clothing one. Certain stores hold events and fashion shows to display the garments. Browse a boutique you like and get in touch with the owner. Follow them on Instagram to see what the store is up to and if they are wanting models.
The magic happens in person. You could have a stunning portfolio to start, but you still need to always be networking. Get used to getting your face out there and be open to any opportunity. However, use your best judgment and intuition. Getting bad vibes from a photographer means you should not consider the shoot. A site such as Craigslist or Model Mayhem, or being approached though Instagram should be extremely vetted. Same with being approached in public; some may be legit photographers and some are creeps who want to take advantage. When seeking out a photographer make sure the work is professional and in a style that matches your aesthetic. You might be marketing yourself as an alternative model with tattoos and green hair. Find an edgy photographer who has a moody vibe. Be prepared to go to many events and gallery shows. It can be a great way to land a shoot with an up-and-coming photographer. Include fashion boutique and designers to lead you to fashion photographers. Keep your eyes and ears open to opportunities and be prepared to network no matter where you are.