How to approach models as a photographer? - Chee Sim

How to approach models as a photographer?

One of the most commonly asked questions I get in my DMs is, how do you get to work with so many male models? Even though I have explained many times that I don't just work with models, I thought I would share my experience if that's what you are interested in pursuing as a photographer.

Where can you find models?

Typically, there are three scenarios for me. The first one as you have always heard is to approach modeling agencies. Although many modeling agencies have photographers that they consistently work with, if your work is good enough and you can provide value, they will consider working with you. The second situation is, as a photographer, my inner circle includes many other photographers, and also friends who are or are working to become a model. If they are new to the industry and need more images for their book, you guys may be able to help each other to build a stronger portfolio. If you are a photographer that spends most of your time sitting in front of your computer, consider going out more, expand your network and meet new people. The last route to try is using your Instagram. Models are like everyone else, most of us have an Instagram account, and you can approach whoever you like to collaborate!

Why do they want to work with you?

Models who are new to the industry are not as picky, and they need more images for their portfolio or their social media content. If you do decent work and you will do a free shoot for them, it's likely you would get a yes. With established models, you would have to prove it with your work. Build a stronger portfolio, improve your editing skill, develop concepts for your shoots; and then if your needs and standards matched, I don't see why they wouldn't consider you.

Approaching models on Instagram

Before you send out DMs, make sure your Instagram feed shows your capabilities. You need to have enough portrait work for anyone even to consider. Don't message a model while you only have landscape photos on your feed. Just put yourself in their shoes, why would they put themselves out there for a photographer that may not be capable of showing the best side of them? If you haven't worked with models, at least photograph your family and friends, or try showing up at photo meetups, and you will have plenty of opportunities to practice.

When your work is ready, you can start messaging people you like to photograph. Start with smaller accounts, people who have thousands of followers are likely to have an inbox that filled with spams, and they may not even read or see your message. If you are still not sure, pay attention to how they interact with their followers. We all handle things differently on social media, and not everyone wants to connect with a stranger out of the platform. Sometimes models don't shoot with photographers that they don't know personally.

Proper communication is the key

As you are aware, most of the models have attractive appearances because that's part of their job requirement.  Because of that, many of them have suffered from sexual harassment from casting directors or photographers. It's essential that you treat them and treat your job with respect. When you message them, focus less on their appearances, but more on your concept and the values you provide. Be honest and be direct, explain how and where you like to shoot, and how you are going to deliver images to them after the shoot. Be professional, unless you plan to end your photography career early!

It's all about timing

The truth is, even though you are great at what you do, and conduct yourself professionally, they still may not want to work with you. Art is subjective, you may not be their cup of tea, it's as simple as that, and you shouldn't take it personally. We all have things going on in our lives, sometimes the timing is not right, and the only thing you can do is to move on and find other people who are more ideal to collaborate!

I hope these comments help explain and give you some ideas on how to start. Good luck with your photography journey, and if you have more questions, please feel free to get in touch! You know where to find me!

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