It Takes Work, But You Can Build Your Brand
The best way to find models for a photo shoot is not to look. Your first goal is to build your photography brand with great photos as your photography talent will speak for itself and models will eventually ask you to photograph them based on your abilities. Let them find you and they will if you build your portfolio and brand with a consistent photographic style.
First, take great photographs. Achieve this with the practice of taking great photos of your family and friends first. What will happen as your photography improves, that same circle of friends and family will then show their friends and family the photos you’ve taken and then your list of subjects to photograph will grow through word of mouth.
The key is to focus on your photography skills and abilities. If you are a beginner you have to focus on getting better and getting better comes with practice—and you don’t always have to practice by focusing on photographing people or models. You can photograph anything from an apple to an animal to improve your photography skills.
As you build your portfolio scout the Internet and even “meet up” sites for photographer and model events. Some are just social calls where you can meet, greet, and show off your portfolio, preferably either printed in a 9×12 portfolio case or on your iPad. Take your business cards too so you can exchange contact information with potential subjects.
Virtual network. Post your images on social media and use hashtags like #photography, #models, #modeling, #portfolios, #fashion, #glamour, #beauty, etc. On all your social network sites include a brief biography plus a link to your online portfolio, preferably on your own website. If you’re after building your brand based on your name, make sure you have a website with yourname.com as the domain, though substitute “yourname” with your actual name, like mine, RolandoGomez.com.
Don’t Be A CEO
No one cares if you’re the CEO, or President of your own photography business, especially when you have zero to a few assistants. If you are the photographer, you are the boss of your business, and everyone knows this unless you are working for someone else or someone else’s photography studio. It looks egotistical, narcissistic, and shows a lack of confidence in your own abilities if you have to tell the world that you are the boss of yourself. If you have CEO, President, Owner, or similar words on your business cards, throw them away and start over. Simply put, “Photographer” suffices and answers all questions of what it is that you do.
While there are many model and photographer websites out there, most are hit and miss and don’t compare to actual “organic” web traffic from search engines. Search engine optimize, or SEO, your website for your market and specific genres of photography. Models and all clients for that matter, come when they fine a link to your websites via search engines through specific key words. Google analytics, which is free, will help you study these trends and improve your SEO.
Also participate on online forums, groups, etc., found on social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, plus don’t forget to have an Instagram presence too. In all your networks, remember, less is more as it’s about quality not quantity when it comes to your portfolios. Your portfolio is only as strong as your weakest image, so choose carefully what you want the world to see and focus your photos on model photography if that is what you seek.
Include contact information, the type of photography you specialize in and don’t forget a link to your website. No one will come to you unless your photography is decently good. Always update your portfolios with new stuff, but don’t hesitate to keep iconic images, or your best photos that truly show your photographic style.
Maintain or start a blog. Well-maintained blogs bring traffic, potential clients, and models to work with you on a regular basis. Submit “guest blog” posts to other photography blogs that accept them. The idea is through blogs, social media networks, plus your own website, etc., that you build interest in your brand from quality and targeted Internet traffic.
Finally, don’t rule out photography workshops. At my workshops we encourage our photographers and models to exchange information for potentially working together outside a workshop environment and we call this networking.
So in summary, models don’t just show up, nor are they easily found unless you build your brand, build and continually update your portfolio, and constantly work on improving your photography skills. You must also network, and not just with on online social networks, but through live in-person events too. With that I close, and as always I ask not to forget the men and women who patriotically serve to protect our freedoms, God Bless them, their families and friends, Rolando.