How I Find Models

Happy Monday, and back to answering another question from my FB post “Ask A Stock Photographer”…  Today, the question is about finding models.

Julie asks “Where do you find your models? Are they all compensated? How do you approach parents for permission when you need little subjects?” .   Most of my stock image history involves models, finding people who can look and play the part needed for that shoot’s theme.  It can be challenging at times.

In my early days of shooting, around 2004-2005, I was using and trying out a site called .  They had a database of models that you could search through and contact.  As I recall, they eventually went to a paid format, and I didn’t really like the design of the website anways, so I moved on to .  It’s more of a community, it’s free, and has pretty good activity.  The search filters are pretty detailed, and I can normally get some hits on whatever I am looking for.


One problem I run into is that some models there really make it hard to pick them for a shoot.  The images I create normally require, well, nice and friendly looking people.  Sometimes on MM, I’ll find an interesting profile, but all the images are dark and moody, or “glamour” sexy, or underwear bodybuilding shots.  I just want to see someone in street clothes, looking at the camera with a smile.  It’s great they have pictures from other photographers, but if they want to sell themselves to _me_, I wish they could put up a few everyday images.

Another problem is that sometimes the models there make themselves very hard to find.  You can contact anyone via their sitemail, but if the person never comes in to check it, you might never hear back.  Some people, thankfully, will add an email or website to their profiles, which is great!  (Hint, hint)

I’ve also used in the “talent” section of my area to post what I’m looking for.  I found that you never know what kind of response you’re going to get from there though, and I don’t want to weed through strange mails from people.  Also, the listings there tend towards things that are more … edgy or questionable, and I don’t feel the kind of people I need would be looking too much there.

There’s also a site here in town called , and I’ve had some success there.  It lists acting, crew and model jobs, and I think more serious models or “people who also model” check there.  It’s free to use, which is a bonus of course.

And then, there’s friends of existing models.  I’m friends on Facebook with a lot of my model friends, so I’ll see their posts go by with things they are doing.  If they’re out with a friend of theirs, they might post a picture, and if I think that person might be good in a shoot, I’ll keep them in mind.  Or I might put a general shout out on my business Facebook page that I’m looking for “X kind of person” for a session, and I’ll usually get a few hits back.  This is my best source these days.  I’m not normally hiring “professional” full time models anyways, so friendly looking people with nice personalities, and availability at the right time fit the bill.  This works for finding kid models as well.

Initial contacts from any of these sources include a quick statement about what stock photography is and how it works, so they know what they are participating in.   Sometimes I will also send the model release ahead of time, so that they are ready to sign when they show up for the session.

I pay all my models by the hour, normally $20-40 depending on the experience, group size, difficulty, etc.  I find paying people a reasonable amount helps to ensure that they show up on time and are ready to go.  I discovered doing just TFP/TFCD just got me a lot of no-shows.  I used to go to the trouble of sending all the models cds after a shoot, but I don’t think they ever looked at them, so I stopped doing that.  However, if someone wants an image for their portfolio or whatever, I’ll send them a copy they can use.

Hope that answers the question.  Thanks!

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