One of the most frustrating parts about coordinating photoshoots is finding a good model who matches your vision for the shoot. Especially when you're looking for new faces to add to your portfolio and have to look outside your usual, the task can seem daunting. But I have a few solutions:
- Instagram: Sometimes when I have a free moment - on the BART platform, waiting for my oatmeal to cook, avoiding important to-do lists, etc. - I'll just take a few minutes to try to find new models on Instagram. Even though it's not that easy to search within multiple parameters (i.e., location & tag), Instagram is still one of my favorite resources for finding new faces to work with. Here are a few tips on how to get started:
- Identify local feature accounts. In the Bay Area, there are several accounts devoted to featuring local photographers and/or models. I have a list of these that I try to check on a regular basis: @bayareamodelfeature, @igerssf, @makesfportraits, etc.
- Follow local modeling agencies. First of all, agency-signed models tend to be great! They are often experienced and know how to handle themselves in front of a camera. But even if you're not looking to work with agency models, I recommend checking out "photos of" the agency. Many aspiring models will tag the agency in their photos hoping to be noticed and potentially signed. This is a clever way to find some local people who clearly want to be in front of the camera, and maybe they have just the look your searching for.
- See who's modeling for other photographers. This suggestion overlaps with the two above, because you're bound to be checking out photographers' accounts anyway, but I've found many models just by
stalkingadmiring other photographers. Lead yourself down a trail of clicking on photos that are aesthetically pleasing to you and checking out that photographer, and then check out one of the local photographers who has commented on that post, wondering where the location is. You never know where you'll end up!
- "Tag a friend who should model." I experimented with putting this as a caption on one of my Instagram shots, and it was really successful. First of all, people are more likely to comment a friend's name than their own (e.g., if you were to say, "I'm looking for models! Comment if you're interested"), and second of all, they might suggest people who would never consider themselves models but are stunning and would do well in front of the camera. This also promotes engagement and will possibly earn you some new followers!
- These tips also work when you're traveling! Just by searching a few tags like #xlocationphotographer, #xlocationmodel, or #xlocationstyle, you'll be able to discover what the local photography scene is like.
- Craigslist: I run an ad pretty much constantly for models & stylists - the two categories of team members I always have trouble finding - in the "talent" or "creative gigs" sections of Craigslist. This ad generates a steady stream of new faces coming into my inbox daily. It is true that many of them aren't exactly what I'm looking for, but I'd say I get 1-2 models a week I'd love to work with. I specify the kinds of projects I'm interested in and link to my portfolio so they can see if our styles are compatible. I also ask them to send me photos of themselves and/or a portfolio.
- Model Mayhem: As I've said in the past, I have mixed feelings about this site. Because anyone can make a profile, there's a huge volume of people to sort through. But I've found that specifying the parameters that matter to you (height, for instance) helps your search be more successful. I also recommend checking it once a month or so and sorting by "newest first" to see who has joined. This is an especially useful tool when you're shooting out of town and have no idea where to start.
- Local Facebook groups: Honestly, I haven't had much luck with these in my area, but it's worth a shot to see what kinds of groups are available near you - try searching "[x location] Models" in "Groups" to see what comes up. This group based in the San Francisco area is one of the largest I've found, but I think I've only used one model from the group since I've been in it. I find that the same people always respond, and they're rarely what I'm looking for.
- Being brave: If you're feeling bold, approach people in social settings, or on the street - within reasonable situations, of course. This has the potential to come off as being creepy, especially between two genders, but I think you can pull it off in a nice way.
- My personal experience with this: When I was at school in Santa Barbara, I kept seeing this strawberry blonde girl with AWESOME style all around campus. She was always wearing cool vintage outfits and bold looks, and I happened to meet someone who was friends with her on Facebook. Using the mutual connection as a starting point, I creepily messaged her and explained how I thought she had amazing style and would love to shoot her sometime. She was not as creeped out as I expected and we shot together a few days later!
- I've also approached someone on the UC Berkeley campus where I work, complimented her outfit (asked her where she got her dress), and said I was a photographer and I'd love to shoot with her sometime. I happened to have a business card, which I handed her, and she ended up emailing me! We have yet to shoot, but still. Go for it!
I hope that's enough to get you started. Do you have any additional resources for finding models? Leave a comment below!