Finding the right model for a project is critical for a photographer since not only will that person represent the image being created in the photograph, but more importantly will show the photographer’s real sense of style and taste. You’ve often heard the term; “clothes make the man”. Well a similar verse could be “a photographer’s portfolio makes the photographer”. What you view in a photographer’s portfolio speaks volumes of who that individual is and what he is about. From the clothes the model is wearing to the light in which she is bathed, a photographer’s true self is on display. So it is that when a photographer is looking for new talent, they must be someone with which they can truly feel will excite those senses.
Meeting New Models
Now I will say that for most of my work I find 99% of my models through agencies, my clients, or models with whom I am already acquainted. It is rare indeed that I will find a woman in the real world and ask her to pose for me. Though it’s happened. And though I will address it here, I will say that I prefer meeting my models in the previous manner rather than finding them in public. Especially in today’s times in which we live.
I need to also preface all of this with one most important fact as well; what works for me may not work for you. So as you read this remember that what I’ve done in order to make the acquaintance of a potential model may only be partially viable for you. The entire equation for meeting models can be summed up in probably one word. Trust. Gain a young woman’s trust and she will more than likely allow herself to be put through the toils of modeling for an unknown photographer.
As you probably do, when I travel I spend a great deal of my time “looking”. I’m constantly searching among the throng for those individuals I feel could be potential models in front of my camera. And though there are many attractive women out there, few really move me to actually walk over and introduce myself in what could easily turn into simply an embarrassing moment for both of us. But it does happen. But just what are the magic ingredients needed to prompt me to approach a total stranger?
To begin, she is much more than just another attractive young lady. She will stand out among the crowd without question. She is one who has nice height yes, and a face that shows smiles as easily as pensive stares, along with legs for days as they say, but most importantly, it’s that face. She must be more than simply another pretty face is all I’m saying. There must be a certain quality of attitude to go along with the eyes, the mouth, and the hair. And though what I say now is somewhat altruistic, what I see in her face is drawn from years of experience working in this business. A sort of naturalness of movement and sweetness combined. And only if I see she has all those qualities, only then will I be moved to actually approach her.
I will pardon my intrusion, briefly tell her my name and that I’m a photographer and couldn’t help but notice her standing there. I probably will smile (which is just how I am) and ask if she has ever modeled before and if not, would she have any interest. If her response is positive I will simply hand her a card and ask her to call so that we may speak more of it then. I do not ask for her number nor do I linger by dropping names trying to impress her. I want her to make her decision without further ado from me. I’m certainly not going to talk her into modeling. It should be something she will decide to do after some soul-searching and hopefully, checking me out. (See my previous column) That simple. She either calls or she doesn’t.
With that said, let’s jump to how to meet with a potential model who is stopping by for the first time. And what I say now goes both for how I meet with the professional model or the one I just met out “in the real world”. From this point forward be it the ingénue or the pro, I will want only to impress them with my professionalism and my work. I want them to “want” to shoot with me, and to do that I need to win their trust. (There’s that word again)
As soon as they arrive I will begin to get to know them. I ask questions about who they are and what their goals are in this business. While at the same time being as open and honest about myself with any questions they might have. If they have a portfolio I will review it while continuing to ask about them. And not simply for performance reasons either, I truly want to know who these women are. That will go a long way when I’m trying to decide on how I will photograph them later. And while doing all of that I will offer them a look at my portfolios.
With my demeanor being interested, yet not prying, energetic, yet not goofy, and my work being presented for their evaluation, they immediately see I am someone with whom they can trust, but, most importantly, make beautiful pictures. The bond has been made. Now the next step is putting a shoot together and sealing that bond with gorgeous images for us both.