Working with Models
If you sell product that needs to be shot on a model, the content generation process can become pretty time consuming. Finding the “right” models, coordinating with more people, doing a fitting, giving direction on set, compensation . . . the whole process gets longer and more involved when working with models.
What we are covering in this series:
Part 1 • How to prep for your photoshoot like a pro. (Click here to check it out and learn more about Kirby!)
Part 2 • The difference between lifestyle and ecommerce images. (Check it out here.)
Part 3 • Everything you need to know about working with models.
Finding the “right” model.
There are so many beautiful and talented people in the world, and it’s easy to want to work with someone simply because they’re great at what they do or they take pretty pictures. The models you choose to work with are an extension of your brand. They represent who you are and the customer you are trying to connect with. So before you start recruiting for models, it’s important to get familiar with the vision of the shoot itself and your overall brand aesthetic. This goes back to what we covered in Part 1 and Part 2. You must first understand your brand, who your audience is and how to connect with them, and what type of photos you will be shooting!
It doesn’t hurt to have good chemistry either! The working relationships and vibe on set are very important to achieving a great end result, so consider how the model will work with your team. Does she seem easy to work with? Is she open and talkative?
Do a casting call.
Create artwork to promote the casting call.
Include a description of who you’re looking for, what information and images you need from them, where they should send the info, and the deadline to submit applications.
We recommend you have applicants send: headshots, full body shots, measurements, and any other specific or desired information.
Spread the word! Send an email, post it on social media and other marketing outlets, and put signage up in your shop. You never know where you may find your next model. It could even be someone who currently shops with you, so don’t hesitate to let your customers know.
After the deadline, narrow down the applicants to those you feel would be the best fit for your shoot and make your final selections!
Schedule a test shoot.
This is a great way to see how someone moves in front of the camera and if they will be easy to work with. You learn so much from actually seeing a model in action—do they require a lot of direction, do they move very naturally on their own? Also, consider the nature of the shoot. Is it going to require them to be active, will it be really cold or hot, etc? Make sure the model is up for the challenge.
If you choose to do a test shoot, you can even work this into the casting call process to ensure you’ve selected the best model(s) for your shoot. After you’ve narrowed down your applicants, schedule a 2-hour window to have the finalists come by and spend 15 minutes in front of the camera. It’s basically like doing a live interview and will help you make the best choice.
Don’t forget to make the most of this test shoot! You may be able to use some of the images for actual content so have them wear your product and take it seriously.
Other helpful ways to recruit for models.
Scout via Instagram. This is a GREAT way to find new talent. You can easily check out their modeling style and see samples of their work by scrolling through their feed. Create a collection of potential models in your Saved posts that you can reference when planning for your upcoming shoot.
If your budget allows, check out model agency websites. This is a great way to find vetted talent quickly. You can look through the model’s editorial shots, polaroids, digitals, Instagram account, and easily access sizes for fitting purposes. Confirming models through an agency can be quite the back and forth, so once you have confirmed dates for the shoot, send them to their agent so you can “put a hold” on the model. And always have backups!
Schedule a fitting.
The more planning you can do ahead of time, the better! Schedule a fitting with your model to work out any kinks and ensure the clothing fits the way you anticipated. If possible, have the model swing by the week before the shoot for a quick 20-minute fitting. If you need do the fitting the same day, coordinate the model arriving at least 30 minutes before you plan to start shooting and have multiple sizes of each item pulled for them to try on.
Give direction effectively on set.
Whether you’re working with experienced models or those just starting out, it’s important to ensure they feel comfortable on set and are receiving adequate feedback from you. Even a very seasoned model is going to feed off of the energy on set, so set the tone for your shoot. Turn on music they want to listen to and make them feel at ease and confident about what you’re working toward.
Before you start shooting, review the images from your mood board together. This is an opportunity to discuss the goals of the shoot and answer any questions. And when shooting, give constructive feedback for what’s working and what isn’t. It typically takes a few shots to get warmed up. Actually show the model some of the shots you’ve taken so she can get an idea of how things are translating on camera. The entire shoot should be an open conversation. You’re all working together to achieve the desired result so you have to communicate and be open to trying new things. It can also be helpful to do the moves yourself so the model can see what you want. The more prepared and hands on you are during the shoot process, the better the images.
Try all the angles.
Don’t be afraid to test things out and be creative. Give the model freedom to move around and play. The last thing you want is a bunch of straight on shots of a model standing in front of various backgrounds. That’s no fun and your content will look pretty stale. Have her face different ways, sit, stand, walk, use props, test various arm positions, etc. The more movement and variety you are able to capture on set, the more content you will end up with!
Things that easily fall through the cracks:
Let the model know what type of undergarments to wear based on the items they’ll be modeling.
If you do not sell shoes, have the model bring a bag of shoes that will coordinate with the outfits you’re shooting. Give them direction on the color and style you prefer.
Think about nails! I like to have models come with clean or neutral shades for fingers and toes. Bring some fingernail polish remover just in case someone shows up with chipped, half-painted nails!
Steam all items and ensure they are photo ready before shoot day.
Have a small kit of supplies on hand just in case: fabric tape, safety pins, bobby pins, lint roller, handheld steamer, etc.
Provide water and snacks!
What if I’m on a budget?
If you are working with a smaller budget, a great way to compensate models is by doing trade for photos. Models are always trying to build their portfolio and looking for new images to add to their book. This can be really helpful for both you and the model. Just be sure this is clear and that you discuss this with the models up front.
Schedule a half-day shoot instead of a full day. By cutting the day in half, you are decreasing the overall amount of hours spent for your entire team and any talent that needs to be hired. You’d be surprised at how much content you can produce in a short span of time if you just get prepared.
Thank you, Kirby!
I can’t thank Kirby enough for being a part of this content series. It was a blast talking about the creative process and being able to share experiences. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did and that you learned something new! If you want to keep up with Kirby, you can follow her over on Instagram at @kirbyjoanna.