New Model Guide: Finding Photographers for Trade Shoots

As a new freelance model you may find that you need a little helping finding photographers for trade shoots. Maybe you have posed for some friends, but you have not posed for any photographers who are not friends of yours. Maybe you have just seen a photographer who you think is really awesome and you really want to shoot with them, but you are  not sure how to approach them. I hope this guide will help you in finding and communicating with photographers you want to work with.

A lot of models seem to be nervous or shy about approaching photographers for trade. 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. So please do not misunderstand and think I am saying you can shoot trade with any photographer you want to shoot trade with. I am just trying to share some general guidelines for those who might be having difficulty.

So without further elaboration, 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 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 tips on this.

2. Do not 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 apparently watch newer models and, even though they 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 that you would like to shoot something similar to, tell them when you might be available, let them know what you like about their style, etc.

4. Do not talk them out of working with you. It is 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.

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 that you really cannot get elsewhere. They can also point you towards photographers you may have missed because they may not be active in your circles.

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.

7. Check casting calls and regularly browse members in your area on modeling websites (such as ModelMayhem). Photographers often post casting calls and these can be a great way to find trade shoots, just make sure you read the casting call, and that you fit the requirements, then contact them as requested. Browsing for new or active members in your area can also yield good results.

It is also very important to keep in touch with people once you are in contact, even if you cannot shoot immediately. 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.

You may also find this article helpful:
New Model Guide: Paying Photographers & Who to Trade With

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New Model Guide: Finding Photographers for Trade Shoots


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