I started working with models around 2 years ago and I continue to collaborate with new and seasoned models weekly. I’ve had great shoots and some not so great shoots.

It happens to all photographers. There really is no big secret to working with models but you need to keep in mind a few tips that will keep them coming back to work with you repeatedly.

TFP Shoots and Model Collaborations

Before diving into this list, keep in mind there are many different styles and experience levels of models in the industry. Personality types will also play a big factor in working with models. The best thing to do is keep a list of models you work well with and keep shooting.

1. Scheduling ahead of time

Models and photographers normally schedule 2-3 weeks out when it comes to shoots. This helps both collaborators hash out all the details and collect extra items for the shoot if needed. Rarely do models shoot on the fly unless they have same day cancellations and they are ready to shoot with no photographer in hand.

2. Decide on a theme and stick to your concept

This tip may seem basic, but I hear stories all the time of photographers setting a theme for a shoot, only to change it onsite, and asking the model to do a concept she is not uncomfortable with.

This is a perfect way to end a shoot early and forget about your chances of rescheduling for another time. It is very important that both parties agree on a theme or concept prior to a shoot, and that the photographer sticks to this theme onsite.

3. Build a team, not just a shoot

When you reach out, be ready for a model to ask if you have a make-up artist (MUA) or stylist for your shoot. A model wants to look her best, and when you have a team behind you ready to support the shoot, it makes her feel more confident in your concept.

Not all concepts need a team, but it’s good to have one on hand for more intricate themes.

4. Recommending a chaperone

This is a key tip for working with new models. I always recommend they bring a friend or chaperone to the shoot. This can go for photographers as well. Many will decide for themselves if they need one, but I always make the option clear up front.

This is good practice and helps models feel comfortable and safer when working with new photographers.

5. Onsite communication

Before you start your shoot, make sure to set expectations for better results. If there are specific poses or looks you would like to try, make sure to communicate this up front with the model.

During the shoot, things will come up. I like to show the model some of the photos from behind the camera so she can make adjustments if necessary. Shooting tethered is a great idea for indoor shoots so the team can have instant feedback and review images.

I shoot with the Sony A7ii Mirrorless Camera  and my favorite portrait lens the Sony 55mm f1.8. Then, I transfer my photos via bluetooth to my phone when the model is changing. I have them ready to preview before the next set. It tends to work really well when onsite. 

6. Follow up and updates

Once the collaboration is finished, make sure to follow-up with the model with final images and any requests you have. I always request the model tag/credit me on social media for more exposure. I make it clear that no filters or effects are to be put onto the images when posting. 

7. Contracts/Model Releases

I know many photographers who will not shoot without a contract in place. This usually is a release form that is signed by the model and photographer so both parties can share the photos online.

Many contracts have different stipulations, so make sure to send them over to the model asap before the shoot. This was it gives both parties the opportunity to review and answer any questions that come up.

Working with Models

Having the opportunity to meet and work with models has been a great experience. I’ve built 90% of my portrait portfolio with models from the Dallas metroplex.

I learned as I went, and built long-term partnerships with models, MUAs, and stylists. If you are interested in working with models, I recommend joining your local photography group and networking with the local talents. Keep in mind each shoot is a collaboration and you will be just fine.

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Be sure to check out these great resources

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If your interested in starting your own photography journey, I recommend checking out some of these great resources and gear!

Checking out new Gear

Great Sony Full-Frame Cameras for Portrait Photography:

My Sony A7riii Mirrorless Camera – High resolution Sony Mirrorless Camera
The Sony A7rii – High resolution Sony Mirrorless Camera (2nd Generation)
Sony a7iii Mirrorless Camera
– 3rd Generation Sony Mirrorless Camera
Sony a7ii Mirrorless Camera w/IBIS – 2nd Generation Sony Mirrorless Camera
The Sony A7 Mirrorless Camera – Great full-frame starter camera for beginners

Sony Full-Frame Lenses for Portraits: (e-mount)

Sony 85mm f1.4 G-Master – Best 85mm portrait lens
Batis 85mm f1.8 – Lightweight 85mm portrait lens
Sony 85mm f1.8 – Smallest 85mm portrait lens
Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8 – Small, sharp, lightweight portrait lens (my favorite lens)
The Sony 50mm f1.8 – Cheap starter nifty fifty
The Sony Zeiss 35mm f1.4 – Great wide option for portraits and lifestyle images
Sony 24-70 G-Master f2.8 – Sharp and versatile zoom lens
Sony 24-105 G Lens f4.0 – One of the best zooms for Sony
Wide Angle 16-35mm F2.8 – G-Master wide angle lens
The Sony 70-200 G-Master Lens f2.8 – Long range telephoto zoom

Great Sony Starter Cameras for Portraits: (crop-sensor)

Sony a6400 Mirrorless Camera – Amazing eye auto-focus detection
Sony a6300 Mirrorless Camera – Sony mirrorless camera (2nd generation)
The Sony a6000 Mirrorless Camera – Great affordable interchangeable lens camera
Sony a6500 Mirrorless Camera w/IBIS – Amazing photography and video camera

Affordable Crop Sensor Lenses for Portraits: (e-mount)

Sigma 30mm f1.4 – Great for blurry backgrounds
Sony 50mm f1.8 OSS – Made for crop sensors and shallow depth of field
Sigma 16mm f1.4 – Amazing lens for Vloggers and video
Sony 35mm f1.8 – Super walk around lens for travel

Recommended Accessories:

Godox Ving V860IIS Camera Flash – Speedlight Paired w/ X1T-S Wireless Trigger
Meike Grip Sony a7 – Camera extension grip
Meike Grip Sony a7ii – Camera extension grip

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