Build Your Brand
The best models for a photo shoot are models that find you for your photography and this will happen if you build your photography brand with great photos. Your photography talent should speak for itself, and if it doesn’t, then you must work on it, because when you do, models will ask you to photograph them based on your photographic abilities. They will find you if you build your portfolio and brand with a consistent photographic style.
First, take great photographs. Achieve this with the practice of taking great photos of your family and friends as your first models. As your photography improves, that same circle of friends and family will then show their friends the photos you’ve taken and then your list of subjects to photograph will grow through word of mouth. This will build your photography brand.
The key is to focus on your photography skills and abilities. If you are a beginner, you have to focus on getting better and getting better comes with practice — and you don’t always have to practice by focusing on photographing people or models. You can photograph anything from an apple to an animal to improve your photography skills.
As you build your portfolio scout the Internet and even “meet up” sites for photographer and model events. Some are just social calls where you can meet, greet, and show off your portfolio, and today you can do that with an iPad or even a smart phone. Take your business cards too so you can exchange contact information with potential subjects.
Virtual network too. Post your images on social media and use hashtags like #photography, #models, #modeling, #portfolios, #fashion, #glamour, #beauty, etc. On all your social network sites include a brief biography plus a link to your online portfolio, preferably on your own website. If you’re after building your brand based on your name, make sure you have a website with yourname.com as the domain, though substitute “yourname” with your actual name, like mine, RolandoGomez.com. One tip to note, make sure you’ve got an SSL certificate installed on your server so your URL starts with https:// not http:// otherwise Google and browsers will penalize you and warn a viewer your website is unsecure in the browser.
Don’t Be A CEO
No one cares if you’re the CEO, or President of your own photography business, especially when you have zero to a few assistants. If you are the photographer, you are the boss of your business, and everyone knows this unless you are working for someone else or someone else’s photography studio. It looks egotistical, narcissistic, and shows a lack of confidence in your own abilities if you have to tell the world that you are the boss of yourself.
If you have CEO, President, Owner, or similar words on your business cards, throw them away and start over. Simply put, “Photographer” as that answers all the questions of what you do. I know one A-list, top photographer whose business card just has his name centered on the front, nothing else. If he likes you, he writes his email on the back, and if he really likes you, he writes his phone number on the front.
While there are many model and photographer websites out there, most are hit and miss and don’t compare to actual “organic” web traffic from search engines. Search engine optimization, or SEO, your website for your market and specific genres of photography. Models and all clients for that matter, come when they find a link to your website via search engines through specific key words. Google analytics, which is free, will help you study these trends and improve your SEO.
Also participate on online forums, groups, etc., found on social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, plus don’t forget to have an Instagram presence too. In all your social networks, remember, less is more as it’s about quality not quantity when it comes to your portfolios. Your portfolio is only as strong as your weakest image, so choose carefully what you want the world to see and focus your photos on model photography if that is what you seek.
Include contact information, the type of photography you specialize in and don’t forget a link to your website. No one will come to you unless your photography is decently good. Always update your portfolios with new stuff, but don’t hesitate to keep iconic images, or your best photos that truly showcase your photographic style.
Maintain or start a blog. Well-maintained blogs bring traffic, potential clients, and models to work with you on a regular basis. “Guest blog” on other blogs that accept them. The idea is through blogs, social media networks, plus your own website, etc., that you build interest in your brand from quality and targeted Internet traffic.
Finally, don’t rule out photography workshops. At my photography workshopswe encourage our photographers and models to exchange information for potentially working together outside a workshop environment and we call this networking.
In summary, models don’t just show up, nor are they easily found unless you build your brand, build and continually update your portfolio, and constantly work on improving your photography skills. You must also network, and not just with on online social networks, but through live in-person events too.