Modeling Photography

How Do I Get Into Modeling Photography?

As long as models exist, there will be a need for professional photographers. Working as a modelling photographer allows you to satisfy your passion for the camera while simultaneously being an excellent service to others.

Some photographers take professional classes to learn photography techniques, including lighting and film processing. Suppose you are unable to take courses, no worries. Your skills can carry more weight than your educational background.

This article will cover some of the resources and simple steps to help you get into modelling and fashion photography. Like most types of photography, it’s all about creating your network and niche.

How to Get Into Model and Fashion Photography

Modeling Photography

You Have to Start Somewhere

Let’s be honest, no model or agency is going to hire you if you don’t have any modelling or fashion pieces in your portfolio. You have to start somewhere, so find some friends who are up for modelling for you and hone your skills practising with them.

When you’re just starting, you’ll most likely do a lot of shoots for free, but focus on getting in as much good work as possible, and it will pay off down the road.

If your friends are happy with your photos, they’ll most likely show their friends and put them on Facebook and other social sites, which will only help get you exposure.

Secure the Equipment You Need to Work as a Modeling Photographer

This includes a high-resolution digital camera, a professional lighting kit and photo editing software.

If you cannot take photography classes that teach you how to use the equipment, try doing an internship with established modelling or high fashion photographer.

If you can’t find an internship, offer to volunteer as a photographer’s assistant. By working around an established photographer, you learn his techniques.

Start Taking Pictures. 

Create a portfolio to show off your photography skills. Your portfolio includes photographs you have taken of previous models. If you have never taken pictures of models, start offering your services to models for a small fee or free. Each time you take a picture, add it to your portfolio.

Create an Online Website for Your Modeling Photography Business. 

Entice your website visitors to use your services. The best way to do this is by uploading your portfolio pictures to the site. Consider offering a special photoshoot discount to your site visitors.

Create Business Cards and Fliers to Pass Out in the Community. 

You also can market your photography services through social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Market your services in locations like One Model Place and Backstage.

Visit Places Where Models Congregate to Search for Clients. 

For instance, attend entertainment and modelling industry networking events. Look up potential clients on sites, such as Explore Talent, One Model Place and Model Mayhem.

Some actors are also into modelling. For this reason, look for clients on sites like Now Casting, Backstage and Actor’s Access. When you find a client you would like to work with, shoot her an email to offer your services. Include your website address so she can view your portfolio.

Call or Visit Local Modeling Agencies to Spread the Word About Your Services. 

Offer to work as an independent contractor for one of the agencies. As an incentive, offer the agency a small referral fee for each model it sends your way. Ask past models you have worked with to recommend your services to other models. This word-of-mouth advertising can yield great results.

Make it Easy to Find Yourself.

Once you have an impressive portfolio and have worked with several models and designers, you’ll find that people will start coming to you. Just like anything else in this world, when someone sees that their friend has something nice, they will want it too.

When the people you’ve worked with post your photos on their social sites and catalogues, their friends and acquaintances in the industry may want to work with you too. Make sure those people who want to work with you can easily find you by having an online portfolio, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Don’t Stop Now

Now you have a great portfolio, models and designers that want to work with you, and a social network of people in the industry. From here, you can decide whether to work freelance or submit your portfolio to agencies, publications, designers, studios etc.

No matter what you choose, always keep shooting. A stagnant portfolio isn’t appealing to anyone, so keep adding and growing yours while you grow your network as well.

Make Sure That You Enjoy It

You can like the idea of shooting models and lookbooks, but it doesn’t mean that you will enjoy the process and get the right results.

The truth is that no one has yet succeeded in something that they don’t enjoy doing. It’d be worth having a long think about your decision and try it out a couple of times before devoting yourself to it.

Get Hold of Necessary Equipment and People

Model and lookbook photography often requires additional equipment that you won’t need if you do landscape or street photography. You can use the natural light if you shoot outdoors, but it won’t always be possible if you live up in the north.

In this case, you will need to rent a photography studio and get all the necessary lighting equipment that includes reflectors, strobes, flashes, and so on.

Apart from it, quality model photography sometimes means that you will need to be working together in a team with makeup artists and stylists, who you can find over the web. We will talk more about it below.

Find Your First Models Among Your Friends

We suppose that you still won’t have any model photography experience, neither the portfolio, and it’d be a bit difficult to find models the first time. Looking for people for your photoshoots among friends and acquaintances is a great idea.

Although they are not professional models, the photos will still look good if you prepare for them and work harder.

Also, you can try to look for model photography groups in your city on Facebook and other social networks. Usually, both professional and amateur models join these groups—as well as many photographers that you can exchange your experience with—so finding the right person shouldn’t be a problem.

Start Working With Real Models

After working with several friends, you should at least have a handful of shots that you’re happy with; now, it’s time to move on working with some accurate models and designers.

One way is to join Model Mayhem. Model Mayhem is a social networking site for models, photographers, makeup artists, fashion designers, and agencies.

Every user has a profile of their work, and you can easily search for models and designers in your area. Create a profile and post only your best photos.

Models, agencies, and publications will post casting calls that you can respond to, and you can even create your casting calls to look for people in your area.

There are many different skill levels on the site, so if you’re still learning, you can team up with others that are new to the industry. What and if you charge for shoots will all depend on your skill level and portfolio.

Some models will charge you to photograph them, some photographers will charge models and designers for a shoot, and some will make a trade so that you can help each other better your portfolios.

Find models in your area you’d like to work with, and most likely, they’ll find you as well. Use this site to build a network of people and relationships because gaining attention from other models, designers, and agencies is precisely what you want.

Another way to find more backbreaking work is by reaching out to local privately-owned clothing and apparel stores.

Many of these smaller stores will either have custom clothing or carry merchandise from smaller suppliers and may not have promotional photography or merchandise photos.

This is an excellent way to get into the fashion side of photography because clothing companies want to see that you can make their merchandise look great.

It doesn’t matter how small the company or store you start shooting for is; it’s all about the shots you get from it that you can take to the next store or company.

Work Tfp Only the First Time

We recommend you to work only TFP—or Time For Print, meaning that both your and your model’s work is not paid and done only to get good photos—the first time.

Later on, when you build a decent model photography portfolio and get enough experience, you can try to start charging for photoshoots and lookbooks.

The rate depends on the country you live in, so you’d better talk about it with fellow model photographers from your residence country or city.

Start Looking for Models Over the Web

You will find dozens of websites where models are looking for photographers and vice versa if you google it. But you should make sure that your portfolio is diverse by the moment you start looking for models on specialised websites.

It’s often required to have quality photos of at least a few different models in different locations. There will be both TFP models and those who are charging for photoshoots on these websites.

And it’d be a great idea to make a website with your model portfolio to market your services or get listed in a photographer’s directory to ensure the constant flow of clients.

Fundamental Principles of Working With Models

Commercial Photographer

Let’s lay a solid base here. Having the right attitude and personal principles in place is essential. The following declarations are what I abide by and what I feel makes the whole experience of working with a model professional, personal, and fun!

Models Are People Too!

This is perhaps the most significant point to highlight. You have to remember that models are people too. These are people who have hopes, fears, anxieties, and dreams just like you or anyone else.

They are not soulless objects, nor items without motivation. These are people who want to have fun, do the best they can, and be able to showcase some excellent work.

They can get nervous before shoots worry about whether the makeup looks right, and overthink if they perhaps didn’t do a pose entirely right.

We’re not saying all models are like this at all, but these thoughts are probably more common than you think!

Everyone’s uniqueness is what makes them unique. Models aren’t just items and objects you can move around; you have to remember that these are real people too.

The Model’s Comfort Is Your Top Priority, and They Deserve Your Respect at All Times.

On a shoot, the model’s comfort should be your top priority. By that, we mean, if at any point a model isn’t feeling comfortable with what is happening, the shoot should stop, and if the discomfort can’t be rectified immediately, the node should end. Period.

We say this for several reasons. The first is common human decency. Come on. If you are in an environment where you can usually quickly stop what is going on, and someone isn’t happy, you should stop.

No photo is worth putting someone through something that could physically or emotionally challenge them.

Portrait and fashion photography should be fun! However, you always have to make sure that the model’s comfort is your top priority and make sure they are well looked after throughout the process.

The following reason is that if you have a model who isn’t feeling the shoot and who isn’t comfortable, that will reek through the photos.

If you are taking a picture of someone who doesn’t want to be there or isn’t interested in the shoot, you are going to see it in their eyes, in their posture, and the results.

Finally, one point to hammer home is that you should always ensure that everything that happens on a shoot abides by the rules of consent.

That is ensuring that if you agree to do a fashion-based shoot, you won’t be encouraging a model to remove clothing or asking them to get into positions that are not in line with what was initially agreed with in the shoot.

This comes down to basic respect and also (to put it bluntly) not being a sleazy creep who exploits models so that you can see a bit of skin. 200% not calm, creative, or in line with great ‘photography.’

Consent is one of the essential parts of a shoot; the photographs captured should be of a nature of which was agreed upon when the call was made for models. No model should ever be put into a situation that they did not explicitly consent to.

Realise That Photographers Have it Easier Than Models in the Majority of Cases.

This may be a heated discussion point, but I’m going to give you my opinion here. Photographers have their way; the way is more accessible than models regarding what is expected and behaviour.

Let me explain. As a photographer, on average, you have to put your trust in the model being polite, able to listen and dress as agreed, as well as making sure they credit your work correctly post-shoot.

Models, on the other hand, have to trust that the photographer will:

  • Professionally conduct themselves before, during and after the shoot;
  • Be polite and respect agreed boundaries;
  • Take photos that are flattering and suitable for the direction they want to head in with their modelling career;
  • Edit the images to a respectable standard and not go overkill on the editing, so it looks fake (unless, of course, that is the agreed aim);
  • Credit the model appropriately on social media;

As you can see, there is a lot more expectation and trust needed from the photographer when shooting and processing a photoshoot.

Fair enough, this also highlights the hard work a photographer has to put in, but consider the above as a mindset of the trust models will put into you.

Models can face a lot of unseen pressure when it comes to thinking if the pose looks right, if the photographer will conduct themselves professionally, and if they will also subsequently process the photos positively.

Don’t Be Intimidated by the Model, and the Perceived Fame of Modeling and the Fashion Industry.

We say this in the most respectful way to everyone involved in fashion photography; don’t be intimidated by the fame or glitz of the fashion industry.

You will work with models who are beautiful people and whom you could find intimidating. Society always pens a lot of weight on someone’s looks, and of course, you will be working with people who can sometimes be exceptionally good looking.

Why are we saying this? Because we want you to remember Principle 1: models are people too. You are a person, and the fashion and portraiture industry is open to anyone who has the gall and passion for working professionally and creating beautiful artwork for everyone involved. 

Don’t be intimidated by numbers; behind the fandom and well deserved following these models have lies a natural person who has a real passion for the industry they work in.

You Should Be Aiming to Develop a Strong, Personal, and Professional Relationship With Everyone You Come Into Contact With.

As with so many art scenes and industries, it isn’t always what you know, but who you know. Some photographers don’t have the technical skills to shoot as some big-name photographers.

Still, they have a huge following, and people will sing their praises constantly because they put the effort into building strong working relationships with people.

This can be anything from offering help to another photographer, trying their best to assemble a team so that they can get a model published in a magazine, or giving a recommendation to other photographers when asked about a potential job when you may not be available.

Fashion and portraiture are more decisive as a community, and people who take the time to help each other do not go unnoticed.

Building an excellent professional working relationship with models and other creatives will help you get noticed and help better your reputation.

They are saying that you have to be genuine. People will always value others who are honest, open, and passionate. Don’t expect anything in return and do it because you want the community you are a part of to grow as a whole.


Working with models can be challenging. Directing can be difficult. However, life is just a series of challenges to overcome, and you know deep down that once you get over a challenge, you can revel in the satisfaction of perfecting your craft and the next big challenge that lies over the hill.

Scroll to Top