The next time you´re trying to choose models for a shoot or preparing a shot, keep in mind these easy tips.

  1. Do work with lifestyle models who can pose naturally; avoid those who overact or strike artificial looking poses.

  2. Do choose models with pleasant, relaxed smiles and who keep their eyes open while smiling (some people squint when smiling).

  3. Do choose models whose eyes are big enough so that you can see the white of the eye when they are smiling.  Be careful that the model’s eye makeup doesn’t darken the eye too much.

  4. Don’t dress models in dark clothing and avoid very trendy clothing, colors, makeup and hairstyles that will clearly date the photograph, if you want the image to have long term sale possibilities.

  5. Don’t limit yourself to young men and women only!  Do look for attractive or “pleasant looking” people of all ages.

  6. Don’t fall into the cliché of making sexy, suggestive photos of female (and male) models.  There is a very limited market for these images in stock.  There is much more need for images of real women (and men) in real situations, women (and men) that transmit confidence or that convey ideas a little deeper than “my photographer thinks I´m hot…”

  7. Do shoot “real people.”  Models that are like “the girl (or boy) next door” are better for stock than overly glamorous models.  Clients often complain that it’s impossible to find photos of "normal looking" or even slightly overweight models.

  8. Do look for senior and adult male models. Good images of these groups are always lacking in stock.

  9. Don’t forget that models with an international look will be relevant in different markets worldwide and therefore more likely to sell, rather than individuals who are obviously from a particular country or area.  On the other hand, in markets like the United States, model diversity is essential.

  10. Do have your models sign model releases before the shoot, not at the end.  If they change their mind for some reason, you might have a whole day´s work ruined.

This list reflects our experiences in choosing models for a shoot.  What have you learned from good (and bad) experiences choosing models?  We will include your tips in our Do´s and Don´ts List if they add something new...


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One of the first steps in preparing a shoot is to find the models.  Depending on your background and your budget, these might be professional, amateur, family, friends or even people off the street.


Should I work with professional models?

The value of a professional model has less to do with their good looks and more to do with the ability to pose naturally and communicate different emotions clearly.  Working with a professional will ensure that you get the good images quickly and frequently, since their experience enables them to anticipate what you want, avoid unflattering positions/expressions and come prepared to work hard during a shoot.  Modeling fees vary by country/city, so you can contact a local model agency in your area to find out the cost.  If you are just starting to shoot model-released people pictures, you might prefer to practice first with friends or family.

What if I can’t afford to pay a professional?

Working with free or low cost models is something that some stock photographers have made into an art form, by dedicating specific sections on their websites to attracting and instructing potential models to be.  Generally, photographers that work with amateur models will offer free images/prints for portfolio, the promise of payment after a certain number of successful test sessions or some other exchange.  To avoid future hassles, be sure that the model clearly understands what they will receive and what is expected of them (more below).

What to keep in mind with amateurs?

If working with amateurs (including family members and friends), you must explain clearly that they will need to sign a model release.  A model release (our standard releases here) is a legal agreement between you and a model that you may use their photos for commercial/editorial purposes around the world.  They should understand that their photos will be seen on the internet and sold for any use (excluding sensitive, derogatory, pornographic, or illicit uses) both now and in the future (even if they are no longer your girl/boyfriend/wife/husband!). 

Also keep in mind that amateurs might not know how to pose for photos.  YouTube has a number of videos on “Model posing” or “modeling tips” that might give them ideas, although be aware that there’s a big difference between fashion modeling and stock modeling.  You should be prepared to direct them during your photo-session.  To do that, you´ll need to know what photos you´d like to make and how to communicate that to your models.  For example, maybe you want a photo of an senior couple on a sofa that communicates security and comfort.  You should tell them where to sit, explain the feeling of security that you´re trying to get, encourage them to smile, look at each other/or the camera, and keep talking to them until they relax and begin to seem natural in the situation you´ve created. To achieve this with amateurs/nonmodels, a photographer must have the ability to connect easily with people, put them at ease and inspire confidence. 

If you´re still not really sure how to choose your models, don´t worry, we´ll be posting a top 10 dos and don´ts for models list next...


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Really, it's not so scary.  Before you run for the street to take yet another unreleased image of "The Window Shopping Old Lady in a Red Coat" or "The Large Woman in Bikini at the Beach" or "The Hungry Looking Street Child in the Third World"… listen for just a moment.

Models are people too.  The difference between them and the characters mentioned above is: they know that you’re taking their photo, they want you to and most importantly of all, they sign a release which gives you permission to license that image.

Why bother to shoot model-released images of people?

Good images of people will sell. The general consensus across the industry is that people, lifestyle, and business/industry are stock’s all-time, consistent top sellers.    That is the positive reason.  The negative reason is that nowadays, photographs of random people without releases are becoming more and more risky for stock agencies to show, even when marked for editorial use only.

What do clients want and buy?

Clients want model-released images of people that convey a message and thus help sell a product, be it a vacation, a retirement fund, a heating system or a magazine.  And usually (but not always) they want the image to be a good photograph, well composed and with good copy space for the client’s message.  Logically, it’s easier to sell with a positive message than a negative message, so generally the images should communicate positive ideas such as happiness, confidence, peace, health, etc. 

Are you up to the challenge?

Could you make a model-released image that communicates an idea like the following? Senior enjoying golden years.  Connected teens.  Good customer service.  Those images could be used to advertise medicines, investment plans, phones, universities, insurance, hospitals and much more.  If you don’t think you could make an image like this, but you would like to try, stay tuned to the blog.  In upcoming posts, we will talk about how to photograph (people) models.  We will give you shoot preparation do’s & don’t, talk with a lifestyle photographer, examine the ever elusive client request for “real people” and give you lots of ideas.

 

age fotostock images of happy seniors, connected teens, good customer service.


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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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