How Models can Find Free Photographers

heikkinen
As a photographer I am constantly seeking new female talent to model for me, and I have used a variety of online resources to scout for local girls. This article discuses some of those websites (ModelMayhem.com, Facebook.com, OneModelPlace.com, MySpace.com, and iStudio.com) as well as some advice for ways for models to connect with photographers offline. I have written this article to benefit models who are looking for a photographer who will shoot them for free, often referred to as TFP (time for prints).

Online Services

ModelMayhem iStudio OneModelPlace Meetup Facebook MySpace
Yearly Fees Free to $100 Free Free to $250 Free to $144 Free Free
Portfolio Images 15 100 21 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Private Messages 5 Unlimited 5 Unlimited Unlimited Mostly Unlimited
Social Platforms Huge Forum Small Forum Medium Forum Status Updates and Forums Status Updates and Forums Status Updates
Contests/Awards Yes Yes Yes No No No
Search by City Yes No Yes Yes (for Groups) No No

Notes:

  • All sites offer a free membership, while some offer some premium features for a range of prices.
  • Meetup fees only apply for starting a group. Normal membership is free with the exception of any mandated event fees.
  • Portfolio images are based on the least expensive plan offered by a service.
  • Private messages are listed as the amount allowed per day.
  • Myspace has an undefined limit on the number of private messages sent out each day to prevent spam.
  • Meetup lets you search for groups by city.

ModelMayhem.com

ModelMayhem.com
ModelMayhem.com is the first site that I signed up for when becoming a photographer. They are great for both photographers and models because they offer free profiles for both classes. I believe that models are given a few more privileges, such as more space for portfolio images. The ModelMayhem.com website contains a large number of models, photographers, and artists and they make it easy to connect with people through friend requests and private messages. They offer premium accounts, where you pay an annual fee to get to add extra photos to your portfolio, send more private messages per day, and use BBCODE in your profile to add links and images. You can get by without ever having to spend a dime, but when you are ready to start getting paid for projects it is a worthwhile investment to upgrade your account. One of the downsides to ModelMayhem.com is that there are several scam operations that target models. As long as you use common sense and don’t get involved with cashiers checks, credit cards, and social security numbers you should be fine.

Meetup.com

Meetup.com
I use Meetup.com to organize local photography events in Central Florida. There are a surprising number of photographers, models, and make up artists on Meetup.com throughout Florida looking to collaborate on projects. What’s great is that this system seems to really benefit the models, because they can participate in group events and be photographed by a number of different photographers at a single event. Chances are that one of those photographers will get a few great shots, and it might lead to future collaborations or work opportunities. What makes Meetup.com less ideal is that it isn’t designed from the ground up to appeal to models or photographers. It’s designed to appeal to a wide audience, so a lot of features that you will find on more model-specific websites will be missing. That still doesn’t stop me from leaving Meetup.com off this list though, as it will still result in a lot of great modeling opportunities.

Facebook.com

Facebook.com
It seems like everyone has a Facebook account these days, and that includes a number of photographers seeking to add content to their portfolios. Facebook is a decent platform because it allows you to both promote yourself as a model, as well as have a direct means of contact with photographers through their instant messaging service. If you want to get serious about modeling, create a Facebook page dedicated to promoting your services. Upload your top modeling pics (amateur quality is fine if you are just starting out), and then have your friends “Like” the page. By getting viral you will quickly spread the word that you are awaiting projects and you will attract friends of friends. A major upside to this method is that you will probably have friends/family able to vouch for the photographers that find your profile. One of the obvious downsides to using Facebook is that it isn’t designed to operate as a platform for connecting models with photographers. They do offer group pages, where groups of artists can join together and comment on things. This falls short of a site built from the ground up to support models like some of the other sites in this list. It’s also rare to find a popular group dedicated to local models or photographers, which is where a lot of your bookings will come from when you are starting out.

OneModelPlace.com

OneModelPlace.com
After spending a year as a paid member of OneModelPlace.com I have determined that it was no fit for me. It seems like the users are migrating to ModelMayhem.com and you see fewer and fewer updated profiles each day. I am joining that crowd abandoning the sinking ship because after 1 full year of membership I didn’t once find a model or makeup artist as a result of my membership. OneModelPlace.com seems to cater more towards adult themes (nude or erotic) more than commercial, fashion, or other casual types of portrait photography. If you are looking to attract photographers who deal a large part in nude photography, OneModelPlace.com might be a good fit for you. Not that all photographer members on the site are looking for those types of projects (I maintain an account there after all). Models have the ability to easily select what types of modeling they are interested in, which makes it clear what genre’s they are comfortable with. Models also have the benefit of getting a free account where other member types have to pay a monthly fee.

iStudio.com

iStudio.com
iStudio was recently bought by OneModelPlace.com. They are a clone of ModelMayhem.com, with a significantly smaller audience. When you sign up for an account at iStudio they offer to copy over data from an existing ModelMayhem.com account to make setting up a new account easy as pie. While iStudio’s community is tiny compared to that of ModelMayhem.com, they offer several improvements and upgrades such as unlimited private messages and up to 100 portfolio images. Because they make it so easy to copy over an existing ModelMayhem.com profile I recommend that you set up an iStudio.com profile after completing your ModelMayhem.com portfolio to cast a wider net and find more photographers.

MySpace.com

MySpace.com
Believe it or not, people still use MySpace.com! Granted, the numbers are quickly dwindling. I maintain a photography page on MySpace.com to attract potential models and clients, but it has yet to result in a single lead. I even spent quite a bit of time trying to contact local talent, but it appears that MySpace is not a venue worth exploring for models or photographers since so many people have already jumped ship for Facebook.

Craigslist.org

Craigslist is the shadiest of the online options, because you don’t have an online portfolio or profile to refer to. Without a portfolio you can’t verify the quality of work or check out a photographer’s references. Photographers frequently post casting calls for models in the “Gigs” section, usually under “Creative” and “Talent” categories. If you choose to go this route, I suggest that you ask the photographer for some portfolio examples before taking the conversation even futher. You should also be careful when meeting with them the first time and you should bring an escort to shoots until you are comfortable with the photographer. Want to learn a little more about a photographer before meeting them in person? Do a little research and check if they have a profile on Facebook. A person’s Facebook account will tell you a lot about them, and it also verifies their identity.

Offline Services

Schools and Campuses

If you attend, or are local to, a university or college you are in proximity to photographic talent. Every school (even technical schools) has at least a handful of photographers looking for models. Some of those photographers might be amateurs, while others may have enough skill and talent to land them a job at Vogue. Get your name out there by hanging a flyer on campus, just attach a simple hips to head shot with your name and number (or email). If the school has an art department give your name and contact info to one of the staff who could pass it on to the relevant professors.

Google Maps

A combination of both online and offline, this method isn’t for girls who are shy of making cold calls. Start by searching Google Maps for a local photographer, then calling them to ask if they could use a model for a TFP session. Many local photographers are willing to photograph models for free, as long as they are willing to sign a model release form..

1 Comment. Leave new

Hi Eric,
As a model in constant search of great photographers, I find your article extremely helpful! Thank you! And good luck!

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