I said I'd eventually get to the part where I'll talk about finding models to practice your pretty girl shooting skills. I guess that's where I've arrived in this update: Part 3 of "Starting Out Pretty Girl Shooting."
First, I'll share some of the advice I dole out in Chapter 6, "Glamour Girls," in my ebook: Guerrilla Glamour. It's not word-for-word from the book. I'm using the book's text as reference and abbreviating what I wrote with some quoting. BTW, I'll add a couple of ideas I did not include in the book. Otherwise, I would not be answering Jim in Huntsville's original suggestion for a blog update.
Alrighty then. Getting models in front of your camera:
1. Cash: Nothing speaks louder than cash. Cash rules! Experienced models want to be paid for their time and efforts. You can't slight them for that. Experienced models will almost always outperform beginners and novices in terms of helping you learn and contributing to your portfolios.
2. Workshops: Many workshops are focused on glamour photography. I plan to start producing workshops myself, hopefully soon. Workshops will also cost you some dough. Workshops include models, often experienced models, with knowledgeable mentors assisting you.
3. Friends & Family: They might be your friends, your family, or the friends and families of friends and their families.
4. Portfolio Builders: You want one, they want one, they need to be in front of someone's camera, it might as well be yours. This works mostly with new and inexperienced models. New and inexperienced models can be found on...
5. Model Forums: Model forums usually allow you to search for models by geographic areas. These sites include models of all sizes, shapes, relative beauty, experience, and more. Models often list their willingness to engage in TF (Trade For) shoots. These forums also include many models who are not very serious about modeling. (a.k.a., Wannabees and Flakes.)
6. Cold Calling: The thing Jim in Huntsville hopes to avoid engaging in, i.e., approaching random women, almost anywhere, and asking if they might be interested in getting in front of your camera. It's certainly not the best way to secure models but it sometimes works.
Okay, here's some other ideas that may or may not help and/or work for getting models in front of your cameras.
1. Dummies: No, not blond models. (My apologies to any blond models reading... couldn't resist.) I mean real dummies as in mannequins. It might not be as much fun shooting a mannequin as it is shooting a real model but you can certainly practice your lighting and compositional skills with a dummy. Dummy shots probably aren't going to end up in your portfolio but when you do get to shoot a live body, you'll do so with more skill because, from purely a lighting and compositional perspective, you'll have more skill.
Okay. Dummies probably aren't what most of you wanted to hear. (Even if working with them can be helpful.) So here's a few more ideas.
2. Free Ads: Free online classifieds like Craigslist allow you to post ads for almost anything including models who want to build a portfolio. It's not guaranteed but it's worth a shot. You have nothing to lose but the few minutes it takes to post the ad.
3. Schools: If there's a college or university near you and that school has a theater department, odds are there are students who might be interested in trading some of their time in exchange for some photos. Most colleges and universities have bulletin boards where you can post little ads. They might also have websites or forums that allow you to do the same. Beauty colleges and cosmetology schools might also be worth exploring.
4. Social Media: I haven't personally used social media, like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and more, as a tool to find models but I know some photographers who have. I've gotten mixed reports on the effectiveness of social media as a model-finder. Again, as with many of the ideas I'm suggesting, it ain't foolproof but it's worth a shot.
Here's some side advice:
1. Chaperones: I know this is a constantly ongoing and raging debate on some model forums. Here's my take on it: When you're starting out, you don't have much room to make demands that, frankly, aren't steeped in customary and usual practices. In other words, as that old saying goes: "Beggars can't be choosers." If a prospective model wants to bring a chaperone, you'll need to make a decision about your priorities. Do you want a model in front of your camera or are you stubbornly going to cling to some "No Chaperones!" way of doing things. It's your choice. Personally, I'd take the path of least resistance. When I shoot, I don't care if the model is accompanied by someone. In fact, I'll sometimes try to put that "someone" to work as a helper. The one time I was slightly "weirded" by a chaperone was when the model brought along her Mom to a nude/glamour shoot. The Mom was cool. She kept her mouth shut and stayed out of the way and, frankly, I was only slightly "weirded out" by her presence for a very brief time.
2. Be Honest: Don't try to play yourself off as being something more than your level of skill would indicate. Be honest. Let models know where you are on the learning curve. People, and yes, models are people, generally prefer honesty. It will get you further in the long run in terms of securing models. BTW, models talk. They talk to each other; to other models, that is. Good word of mouth amongst models will often net you more models in front of your camera.
3. Act Professional: You might be an amateur, a hobbyist, a raw beginner. That's no reason to not act like a professional. That you're reading this blog and, very likely, others like it, tells me you have a clue about professionalism. Probably more than a clue. I'm guessing there's a good chance you act professional in your day job. Extend that behavior to shooting models. Once again, that word-of-mouth thing will help you in the long run... or burn you.
There are no guaranteed, works-every-time, methods of securing "free" models. I wish there were. If so, I'd share those ideas with you. If I were just starting out and looking for models to practice with, I'd be putting on my thinking cap and exploring almost any idea, short of kidnapping, that pops into my head. It isn't always easy finding models. It's probably harder in some areas of the country than in others. Being persistent, as with most things, will eventually pay off. One model often leads to the next. Funny how stuff works that way.
The gratuitous pretty girl at the top, rendered in B&W, is Paola, from Brazil.