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  • Writer's pictureJürgen Niit

How to choose a right model...

Updated: Mar 16, 2020

...and where do I find them?

Modeling agency may be the fastest and safest way to get the best results overall but by not so friendly to your budget. And you may not even want to top-end model for your outcome...maybe you just want to extend your portfolio, just gain experience, your client is just starting business and etc. How I choose and have found models for my photoshoots?


Like with most of the recurring stuff in my life I like set-up little guidelines. They help me to avoid extra drama and lots of sleepless nights. Once at the point when I don't know how I should approach or act, I can rely on guidelines that I have set up beforehand.

First I gotta think through my values, desired outcome and set my priorities straight. So what I value most?


What is one thing that you really can't buy on this planet? The only value that is mostly distributed by luck and chance? It's TIME, time is the essence that we can extend a little bit by healthy choices and good life decisions. The highest median age country is Monaco by 53.1 years. It is 19 345 days. And first 21 years (7665 days) we usually spend educating ourselves. It is 1/3 of your life right there. It's not a lot if you look it that way. Time is precious! If the model is not on set the right time it is a BIG RED FLAG for me. For me, it shows that a person doesn't value other people's time or/and they can't manage their own time properly. 10-15 minutes is something I can look past, but I have had a case where the model was late 2 hours. Of course in our lives can happen so much, but usually, it is a rare occasion.

It would be pretty hypocritical if I don't follow these rules. So usually I'll be on location (minimum) 15 minutes earlier. It gives me time to settle in and go through ideas. Please be kind to your TIME, your time is valuable!


I have noticed that higher-level education and sophisticated models are usually on set on-time, well prepared and more invested pre-shoot work. They are not easily shocked or deceived. Apparently, how a person sees the world and interacts can reflect on the photos. I can see it in a fashion that most beautiful body features don't guarantee you the best results, it's attitude and interaction with a camera and a photographer.

Currently, there are three models with whom I love to work with and happily refer them for shoots with clients - shout-out Rachel Lincoln, Luke Whyman, and Marie-Claire Dowling.


Humor should be under the PERSONA category, but for me, it's a big topic I just had to cover it separately. Good humor shows a healthy attitude in this walk of life. Like Mary Pettibone Poole said: "He who laughs, lasts." I usually like to start off with a joke. I ask models to tell their favorite joke. And I have heard some really good gems. Even if a model says he/she really can't tell the joke and trying it, that brings laughter on set already. We are all humans and laugh is a good bonding point. Just to clarify, by telling a joke there is no need to turn photoshoot whole grand comedy set.


I have met most of the models through TFP (Time for Prints) shoots. When I'm doing my first TFP shoot with a newly met model I usually go somewhere outdoors - beach, city, park. If I like to work that model I usually plan out next photoshoot in the studio. It is a bit more sophisticated environment with controlled lighting.

I would never recommend taking a newly met model to the studio. There are few good reasons for it - the model may be inexperienced can bring up an insecure side, flakey, interaction may be chunky. You don't wanna get this in-studio especially when you are paying for it. If you really seeking studio experience, I really recommend hiring a professional model. They can give you tips on lighting and posing. It is costly but its investment in your photography game.


My first models were my friends or people I just know. It's pretty easy to set-up and since it is a friendly face in front of the camera. There is barely some the first awkwardness of what kind of people I'm dealing with or how the model and photographer understand/direct each other. Of course, demands on poses and how to interact with the camera shouldn't be high. And if you are a beginner photographer, you even don't know what to demand. Except that you just want that lighting is alright.


Once you feel more confident with the camera and interacting with the light, it's time to find someone out of your friends' circle. Some total stranger, some stunner. The hotter the model is the more banger photo you gonna get. Not really, but I'll explain it later.

Try to find local modeling groups using the keywords "model" and "[name of the city]". The initial search gave me results from Perth, Helsinki and Riga.


Probably the biggest webpage to find models is

. International and well established in any major city. Registering could take some time, but overall I think it's all well worth it. There are many other places like




It seems like Model Mayhem has built most trust on the internet.


Just had a post about

. I personally think that this is the best way to meet photographers and models. Usually, there is set up a little corner where you can shoot a model and it's really nice to get the feeling if this model is worth your time or not. After the first event, I have been looking up more similar events. Seeing in person reveals so much more about a person than Instagram posts ever do.


Once you start establishing yourself in the industry and going industry-related events you gonna meet lots of interesting people and models. It is common ground to change contacts and share visions. Lots of like-minded people and new job opportunities. In these kinds of events, there is always something to learn - and believe me, there is always something to learn.


Once you find a good model stay in contact with them - send casual "Happy birthday!" and "Merry Christmas!" messages or postcards. Catch up with them and if you have time, do TFP shoot. Keep in contact with them, it is hard to find good reliable models. There may be many beautiful men and women out there. But believe it or not, beauty runs skin deep. An average looking person with an awesome personality can give way better photos and vibe than just beautiful Barbie or Ken. If you are serious about photography then start building up a circle of people in this kind of industry. Models have a big part in it. And whatever you do, please be kind. If some people are flakey or not worth your time, just move forward. There is no point in shaming them, send messages of your disappointment or ridicule them online. Just move forward, that is confidence and you gonna save your TIME for better.

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