As a new freelance model you may find that you need a little helping finding photographers for trade shoots. It can be tough learning to make that initial contact or even just finding photographers to contact. I hope this blog post will help you get started.
Before we get started I strongly recommend you read my post Trade is Trade, Not Free.
Once you’ve done that, let’s get started!
1. Find photographers who you think shoot styles that are compatible with your look.
Someone is much more likely to work with you if you have a look that will benefit their portfolio. Sometimes this takes some practice to figure out, but it is generally a good thing to keep in mind. Just spend a little time looking over the sort(s) of models they seem to shoot with most often. I suggest reading my article on what you can learn from a photographer’s portfolio for more help with this.
This is not to say that you can’t reach out to photographers who seem to shoot with models who look different than you. However, if you’re 5’2″ and they seem to only shoot 5’9″ fashion type models, you probably won’t have much luck in getting them to trade with you.
2. Don’t be shy about contacting people.
The worst thing that can happen is that they will tell you no, but many times they may surprise you. So if you are on the fence about contacting someone, just do it. Many photographers also watch newer models and, even though they may say no now, they may contact you in the future when they feel you have improved. If someone does say no, don’t spend time trying to convince them. Simply thank them for their time and move on.
3. Give the photographer something to go off of when you initiate contact.
Make sure to tell them you want to shoot TF/trade, let them know some ideas you have or mention a couple shots they have in a style you like, tell them when you might be available, let them know what you like about their style, etc.
4. Don’t talk photographers out of working with you.
It’s okay to mention that you are looking to improve, but try to focus on your positives. Pity parties and guilt trips have no place in trying to book shoots. Put the focus on what you have to offer.
5. Ask other models you know who they recommend shooting trade with in your area.
Networking with other models is one of the most important things you can do as a model. They can provide references and pointers. They can also point you towards photographers you may have missed because they may not be active in your circles. They can also warn you about anyone you may be better off avoiding.
6. Join groups on online networking sites such as Facebook.
I am part of a few different groups on Facebook that regularly have posts from people in my area looking for people to shoot with. You can ask other models and photographers you know in your area if they know of any such groups. Each of these groups are a bit different so make sure you read the rules before you jump in.
7. Keep in mind that not every photographer is going to say “Yes”.
Of course, you cannot get every photographer you want to shoot trade with to shoot trade with you. Maybe that photographer is not looking for a model with your look or they are not currently shooting trade at all. That’s okay. You just move on and find other people to work with.
Don’t forget to stay in touch!
It is also very important to keep in touch with people once you are in contact and there is interest in shooting. There are a few cases where it took me and a photographer months to finally get to shoot, but, once we did, it was worth it! I also cannot stress enough how important it is to be professional and timely with your responses. If you are a professional in your pre-shoot communications, you are much more likely to be booked.
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