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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Top 5 signs that your model release might be a ticking time bomb…

  1. If you have moved to another state and left the release behind in a box in the garage.

  2. If your well-intentioned assistant got the release signed by the wrong person… the guy who didn´t appear in the photo.

  3. If you signed a model release for photos you took of your girlfriend… and then you dumped her.  Revenge is so sweet.

  4. When you flashed a release and a few coins in the face of a third world subject, who cheerfully signed a document that wasn´t in her language and that she can’t understand.  But her cousin in New York knows what´s the deal…

  5. If you told your agency that you have the release, but you don´t.

You might laugh, but all of these situations happened to real people, photographers at age fotostock.  And some of these photographers found themselves in very uncomfortable legal and financial situations, trying to explain how they could make such a mistake.

This issue is becoming more and more important nowadays for two reasons:

  1. Our world is increasingly global and interconnected, which means that everything becomes visible.  The old distinctions between editorial uses and commercial uses are not always a safe defence because displaying the image on internet to potential buyers allows it to be visible around the world, and in places where the rules of editorial usage are different.

  2. During tough times, everyone will try to pull a dollar out of any place they can find it.  Crisis makes people litigious. Those people might be your models…

Don´t get caught by a ticking time bomb of a release!

Read our legal basics here ( and pay close attention to the differences in editorial use between the United States and many European countries.


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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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