How to work with Models – Beginners Photography

Do you pay for models or get them to work for free?

Getting to work with a broad range of people is one of the real highlights of being a professional photographer. Variety certainly helps and I always try to work with as many different people as possible. As a new photographer you should be trying to align yourself with as many Make-up artists (MUA), hair stylists, stylists and other creatives as you can. This provides a ready source of fresh new ideas but it also pushes your skill level forwards and upwards.

It can be a daunting challenge when starting out but I find that if you are always honest and upfront that you really shouldn’t have any problems. Working with models is certainly a great way of improving your shots but also your skills and finding models is a pretty simple task these days although there a re a few things to look out for.

working with models




I would advise that you work with a combination of paid professional models but also try to balance the number of shoots by working with non-professionals. Both can be sourced from social-media sites such as Purestorm and Model Mayhem where you just need to create an account and upload a portfolio before putting out a casting call.


Typically you may pay anything fro £10/hour up to £50/hour for a minimum of a three hour shoot but do check out travel expenses and any issues with getting model releases signed. There are some great apps out there such as Easy Release which offers a slick and easy way of working and ensuring no problems later on.



By working with professional models you can be fairly sure that your model is likely to turn up, be well presented and create some great shapes for you to shoot.  You will also tend to find that the models will offer you some suggestions on posing, composition and lighting.  If they bring their portfolio you may also get some inspiration.

When starting out many photographers struggle with hand positions and your more experienced model will be able to position their hands naturally.

Some models may request a MUA is present or a hair stylist but if you discuss this beforehand you should be able to come to some kind of agreement such as the model doing their own hair.

how to work with models



If you fill up your portfolio with professional models you may find that when you come to start working with your paying clients that you struggle to direct them as you have been previously relying upon the pro models to sort out their own posing.  Try to get a balance – working with pro’s can be expensive but gets you stunning results, whilst working with the public will help to hone your skills whilst saving you a few pounds.  many new models will work for Time For Prints (TFP) and you can develo a long term working arrangement that allows you both to experiment and grow.  If you can find a new MUA so much the better and you start to develop a winning team helping each other out.

great model


I would also suggest keeping your eye out in charity shops for those obscure items of clothing which will take a great image.  Finding stylists to help create shots isn’t always easy and so building up your own selection of clothing is a great idea.

Unshaken Photography Training run portrait photography courses and fashion photography courses in Essex, Cambridge, Hertfordshire and Kent.  For more information visit




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