If you want good models to shoot, you need to show value to her. But how do you do that?
When you browse through the models in your area on a website, you are looking for the high quality ones. You look for different criteria to determine if she is worth pursuing and shooting with. Once you’ve gained some skills and know how to judge, you’ll be asking yourself about a model, “Will I get good work out of this model? Will she even show up?”
When a model gets your query email, she’s asking, “Will I get good work out of this shoot? Is the guy a creep?” So you need to help her answer these questions in your favor by providing evidence to raise your Value In The Eyes Of A Model.
There are two things at this point she’s going to judge you on. The email you send her, and your portfolio.
In those she’s going to be looking for a number of things, quality and professionalism being at the top of the list. She’s also looking for flags that say you are unprofessional or a creep.
References: The Solution to Creep Fear.Let’s deal with a fast solution to the creep problem. She would probably shoot with you without question if one of her friends had shot with you before. We’ll assume that hasn’t happened – if it has, use it to your advantage. The next best thing is to provide references.
After you have shot and delivered your images to a model – or before if you can – get a model to write a short testimonial, 2 or 3 sentences about how wonderful you are. Include these testimonials in your profile text.
Here are a couple of examples from models I have shot with.
“Ron Davis, summed up in one word is genius. I had an amazingly fun time at our shoot. I am fairly new to this and Ron and his wife made the shoot comfortable and inviting. I couldn’t wait to get my photo’s and see what he was able to do with me. When I received them I was speechless at how he captured just the right expressions and just the right shots at just the right time. His amazing abilities to touch up and finish the photos left me with pictures that I can’t wait to show off”! - Holly
“Ron of Reactuate Photography is wonderful to work with! He's very professional and makes you feel incredibly comfortable in front of the camera. His images are creative and beautiful, and will make you look great!“ - Scarlett St Vitus
If this reference is from a model on the same modeling site, provide a link to the model’s own profile. This gives her the chance to check up on you if she wants. My experience is that few models will. They seem to think if you made it easy to check, then you are sure the recommendations will hold up so they don’t need to check them.
This shows a level of confidence and professionalism that separates you from other photographers.
(Of course it means you have to have been professional and of a high quality with previous models.)
How To Convince Her To Shoot With YouHow do we convince her she’s going to get good work out of your shoot?
The obvious answer is to show her some good images. That’s a good portfolio.
Next thing would be to show her tearsheets. If you’ve been published anywhere, mention it.
What if you are just starting out? You’ve got no portfolio to speak of, and for sure no tear sheets.
First, be honest. Tell her you are new to shooting with models and are looking to build your portfolio. You are probably contacting a model with a beginner’s portfolio, so don’t get too intimidated.
Second, be prepared. Tell her exactly what you are wanting to shoot with her. “I thought we’d shoot some headshots with natural light, and then maybe some fashion. If all that goes well I have some other glamour ideas we can try.”
Third, ask her what she needs. “So what holes do you see in your portfolio? Can I help you fill those?” Or suggest something, “I noticed you shoot swimsuit, but don’t have many in your portfolio, so I thought we’d both benefit from shooting some of those.”
Fourth, provide something special if possible. “I’m shooting in a friend’s studio on Saturday…” “I have a beach house down at the beach and was planning a number of shoots there…” “I’ve booked an MUA for half a day on Saturday…”
Women who sign up for modeling sites get a lot of requests to shoot all kinds of things. You need to differentiate yourself. It doesn’t take experience or money to act professionally and sell yourself well.