Three steps photographers should take to book free models for their next practice test photoshoot
The first step is to use Instagram hashtags to find models near you. If you’re in Atlanta, you want to look at #ATLModels. If you’re in New York check out #NYCModel. In Chicago and L.A., you’ll want to look up #ChicagoModel and #LAModels respectively. As you can see, the formula is different based on location, so a search for tags will show what’s popular where you’re located. I’d suggest typing in your city name or abbreviation followed by mod. Sometimes the best hashtag may be based on your state name, like #HawaiiModel. After I find someone I like, I bookmark them for later.
Step two is casting
You want to pick a model that is the best subject for the idea you want to execute. So, if you are thinking about doing a shot with a lot of edge lighting, you need to pick a model with really chiseled features, because that’s going to really pop. If you want to do a fitness shot, pick a personal trainer, not someone with a great face and an average body, because that’s just not going to work.
3. Slide into the DMs
Step three is messaging them. To make everything clear up front, I will send a message that just bluntly says, “Would you like to do an unpaid test sometime? I like to perfect old ideas and try out new ones to generate new content.” When I was more ambiguous about 10% of the time they thought I was trying to hustle them and get them to pay me, and about 30% of the time they thought I should pay them. So I just like to lay all my cards on the table up front so there is no confusion. If they don’t respond, don’t take it personally. That still happens to me. Just contact more people than you need.
I will also tell them they can bring a friend to observe, that way they will feel safe, and having another person there protects you, too.
When I schedule a testing day, I will book two models about three hours apart; that way if one of them flakes, I’ll just go to brunch with the crew or I If the second one flakes, I’ll just wrap up early. These are young people. They’ll go out the night before, get drunk and be hung over on the shoot day, or maybe they decided they’d rather hang out with their girlfriend or boyfriend rather than hanging out with you. It happens all the time, but if you book two models you’ll have your bases covered, and you’ll be set up for success.