Modeling Photography Guide for Beginning Photographers

Are you taking your first steps in modeling photography and don't know where to start? Lost your way looking for a model for your first photo session? Many photographers address model agencies that can arrange castings to determine the girls suitable for their portrait or fashion shoots.

However, agency services can be too expensive and novice shooters are usually on a tight budget. Plus, they aren't always willing to partner with newbies. So, where to find free models for photography? In this post, I'll share several tips on how to find the right person for your first photoshoot and what steps to take to be able to hire professional models in the future.

1. Ask Your Friends to Model

modeling photography example

Taking pictures of friends is a great idea for aspiring photographers. Such photo sessions allow you to better understand camera settings, hone your skills, try out different poses, and prepare for a professional modeling photo shoot.

By photographing people you know, you will improve your communication skills and quickly learn to control the shooting subject. In the future, you will be able to communicate your ideas and requirements to professional models better. This will save you time and money, especially if you are planning to make fashion photography your business. Improve your skills with friends so you can be sure that your paid shoots will be successful. The agency is more likely to continue working with you if it receives high-quality photographs.


If you still don't have the right people to photograph, you can always implement your portrait ideasAll you need is a camera remote, and a good monopod from an efficient tripod brand.

2. Search for Talent on Social Media

modeling photography instagram

Check out social media for photographers and you will find many girls ready to take part in the photo session. They are non-agency or freelance models. Their services are cheaper, but girls can have parameters that go beyond the classic beauty standards. For example, the model’s height may be several centimeters below the reference.

Beginner models also use similar platforms to gain experience and make their names more recognizable. Agencies are wary of hiring girls who are taking their first steps in modeling. Your joint projects with these girls will help develop your modeling photography career. Look for talents through specialist groups on Facebook or using the hashtag #tfpmodel with your city on Instagram.


Browse the feed of your favorite Instagram photographers. They often tag the person they have photographed. Contact people you like and offer them a TFP shoot. This is a great way to see what a particular model is capable of and see if it is right for you.

3. Use Model Networking Sites

modeling photography model mayham

If you think that social media groups contain too little information about models, or you don't like Facebook searches, then you should consider specialized websites. Thus, you can better understand whether girls are suitable for your modeling shoot. Many photographers visit Model Mayhem website to select talented partners for their projects.

This platform is a great source of information for photographers, models, fashion designers, make-up artists, and agencies. It contains several skill levels and allows you to find beginners like you. You can hone your skills together through joint projects and help each other to promote your names. If you're new to the industry then modeling websites like Model Mayhem, such as One Model Place, and Portbox are great places for you. You can also benefit from using Model Management which is an excellent international search engine.

4. Outsource the Editing for Quicker Turnaround

modeling photography retouching before after fixthephoto modeling photography retouching before after fixthephoto

Professional editing is a must, and if you have no experience in this sphere, but you still want to achieve professional results, you can entrust this task to professional post-production services. Even famous photographers order such services to spend less time on activities other than shooting.

Our service offers affordable photo editing prices and a quick turnaround. We will send you photos edited according to all the standards of the fashion industry. They will remove imperfections, correct exposure, contrast, perform skin retouching, headshot retouching and color correction. Experts follow all your preferences to provide you with the results you want. You can even ask them to reproduce some color scheme from the photo that you like. Moreover, you can check before and after retouching examples on the site to ensure their professionalism.

5. Create a Moodboard before the Shoot

modeling photography moodboard

Define a visual direction of your modeling photoshoot with the moodboard. Create a collage of several pictures to let people working with you understand your ideas better. This method is widely used when doing various photography and design projects.

Professional models are unlikely to agree to cooperate with you if you don’t have a clear moodboard. Such a board helps you make sure that everyone involved in the process has the same idea of the final result. Use mood board apps, like Pinterest, Moodzer or MilaNote to create it. Visualize the outcome and find images with the elements that are in line with your concepts: outfits, lighting style, colors, locations, poses, etc.


The number of images on the moodboard is also important. Experts advise using about 15 pictures. If your board contains too many images, it can confuse people and ruin the atmosphere you are trying to create.

6. Demonstrate Poses for Your Model to Repeat

modeling photography poses

Explaining model poses clearly is one of your key tasks during a modeling photography session. Of course, when photographing experienced models, you only need to indicate the general direction of a project and girls will take poses which they know and are accustomed to. It's different with novice models. You should find interesting poses on Instagram or Pinterest and show them to girls so they know what you want to see.

Learn to demonstrate the pose with your body. Don't forget to use relaxed poses. They help girls feel more comfortable and work great if your models are tired. You may also consider hand posing.

However, such poses require your full attention as the smallest details can ruin everything. Hands won’t look natural if a girl holds onto flesh tightly or grabs a piece of clothing. To make your model photography project successful, suggest models do twirls, switch the legs from left to right, and take some other positions so that they don’t remain in the same tense position all the time.


Using various accessories, books, flowers, and other cheap photography props models can feel more comfortable and relaxed. In this way, you can keep their hands busy with something. But your props must match the whole concept of a photo session.

7. Learn the Most Popular Lighting Schemes

modeling photography lighting

Lighting is crucial for modeling photography. You need to understand studio photography lighting nuances and know how to set up hero lighting, butterfly lighting, Rembrandt lighting, loop lighting, and rim lighting.

To become a true professional, you need to learn what backlight, catchlight, high key, bounce, and spill light mean. High-key lighting techniques are the most suitable for a modeling photo shoot. They help get fewer shadows and contrasts. When working on a low key photography project, you should pay special attention to the shadows as they can both emphasize a model and outfit and ruin everything.

8. Create a Portfolio to be Easier to Find Online

modeling photography portfolio

After you've collected some photos, start creating a portfolio. It will be a kind of showcase where brands, models, and clients can get acquainted with your work and evaluate your skills. Squarespace and Wix are popular portfolio website builders that you can use to create a simple and user-friendly gallery.

When making your photography portfolio, you should consider the needs and behavior of your target audience. You should know what is interesting to your potential clients and demonstrate the relevant skills through your portfolio. Don't use too many pictures as people don't like to spend much time looking through dozens of photos. 20 pictures are the best set to prove your professionalism and attract attention.


Remember to add your contact information. You can lose potential customers if they don't find the relevant info at once. For more convenience, offer several options for contacting you. People will choose what suits them best.


bonus tools for modeling photography

Do you want to edit a photo yourself in a quick way? Check out this useful Photoshop kit. Apply these plug-ins to automate highend retouching and color correction. Just install Photoshop actions and enjoy photo processing.