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How to find the right model for you future stock photo shoot

Ever went through pages and pages of professionally shot stock images with the right people in the right light and in the right posture just to scratch your head wondering how you can achieve the same result without an army of professionals in your stride?

Group of multiracial happy friends having fun at beach games

Worry not, we’re here to scout the secrets for you in a series of blogs from our own experienced editors.

We’re gonna kick it off with finding the right person for the job and doing a test photo shoot to see how your model or models look on screen. This is a good idea, especially if you will rent a studio to shoot the actual images.

At this point you should put pen on paper, finger on the tablet or whatever other device rocks your boat these days and get prepared. Have an outline of your photo-shoot. Know what kind of images you will want to have at the end, which field they will be from: business, street/city life, beauty/glamour/fashion, beach etc.

Business People Superhero Confidence Team Work Concept

It’s true, your friends and family will always be there to help you. And your friends have friends, Facebook has shown us this. It’s quite easy to tell these days, in the selfie era, if a person will look good on camera or not, just look at their aforementioned Facebook photos.

There are also plenty of Facebook groups or websites like and, where you can browse through models’ portfolios or even create your own portfolio as a photographer.

What’s great about these places is that you can probably find photos from real photo shootings, so you’ll know how a model behaves in front of a professional camera and studio lights, rather than guessing it by watching their photos taken with some mobile phone in a nightclub or dark beer pub.

Also, in these groups and specialized websites you will probably find information on compensation expected by models. Some will accept shooting in exchange for the photos (TFCD = time for CD), especially the beginner models. Others will expect cash compensation, depending on their experience and the type of photo-shooting, especially the more experienced models. Make a list of 10-20 models who you’d like to work with, the more the merrier.

Gold Fashion Model Dress, Woman Golden Silk Gown Flowing Fabric

Having a large list will help, because not everybody is available at the planned time, or some of them won’t like your style, or others will simply not see your message, if they have a busy life. So it’s better to start with a larger list.

Prepare before contacting them, build an online portfolio with your best shots so far, or have them ready to be sent by email, this will increase your chances of getting a positive response.

Take your pick and initiate contact. Ask your future wannabe models for a cup of coffee and a thorough discussion. Bring your camera with you and meet in a well lit cafe where you will also be able to take a few test images.

Present all the details to your future models, explain what a model release is and why they have to sign it. Agree on compensation, if any will be provided, at this point. Explain what you have in mind for the actual shooting day in detail.

It’s time to take a few test shots. Explore all the angles of their faces, ask them to smile, laugh, be serious and sad. Take a couple of full body shots as well to see how their overall posture is.

Couple taking photo picture in cafe

At this point you are done with the scouting. Establish a future date on which the photo-shoot will take place. Leave yourself sufficient time to scout for a location, props, lights and whatever else you will need to make your idea come to life.

Stay tuned for our next episode: Finding the perfect location, setup, lights and props

Wanna pick a Dreamstime Editor's brain? Ask your question in the comments bellow

This was an article written in collaboration with Viorel Dudau

Photo credits: Syda Productions, Inara Prusakova, Rawpixelimages, Mirko Vitali.

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November 03, 2016


Very good brief and this post helped me alot. Say thank you I searching for your facts. Thanks for sharing with us! | |

March 06, 2016


I find most people are willing to be models if you ask them - and to complete/sign the release, If there are several people around they will witness for each other. I usually offer copies of the photos to them for doing so!

February 19, 2016


Helpful post. However, I can't seem to get any friends or family to pose or give permission when I do get a great shot. Sigh.

February 19, 2016


You can not be both photographer and witness or model's parent, photographer and witness. In the first case where your wife is the model you need a third person to sign as witness. In the second case where you child is the model you can be the parent and your wife can be the witness.

Thanks a lot to you(@Nikitu->Admin) for given all question answer.

February 19, 2016


You can not be both photographer and witness or model's parent, photographer and witness. In the first case where your wife is the model you need a third person to sign as witness. In the second case where you child is the model you can be the parent and your wife can be the witness.

February 19, 2016


you can sign and photographer and model and someone else (like your wife) has to be witness.
Thank you very much @Nikitu (Admin).please give another question answer in case of my wife,she is a model when i am a photographer and witness may i, myself can sign.waiting for reply thanks.
Reverse question i am a photographer my son model (2 years old) who will sign in behalf of my son and witness will be myself if i sign in behalf of my son as a model.

February 19, 2016


you can sign and photographer and model and someone else (like your wife) has to be witness.

February 19, 2016


episode will start in feature when all recommendation are available in one point ,currently my fuji and nik not give good stock oriented image will be feature ,by the way may i allow to put myself as a model is there still mr needs to sign from others as witness ? asked cause i not want to asked anyone for sign as witness for my profit.But my wife's sign i can arrange anytime.

February 19, 2016


Maria, that is a great point and will be the subject of a future blog.

February 18, 2016


I would also encourage photographers to consider potential needs of those who may be downloading. Many of us, especially those in the United States, use stock photos for storytelling for diverse audiences. It can be challenging to find appropriate photos that reflect a variety of ages, sizes (so many of the photos of heavier people exercising actually makes them look miserable or mocks them), races/ethnicities and abilities. Black people cook, so do Hispanic. Men do yoga. Men are not always doctors. White people are not always the leaders. White people are not the default.

The challenge I find is the authenticity or accuracy of the images. If the photographer is shooting a professional setting - restaurant, healthcare, legal, whatever -- it would be helpful to engage subject matter experts to create realistic scenarios. We deal with a lot of healthcare, and I cannot tell you how often I find a photo that captures great emotion, but it reflects someone drawing blood without gloves on, or randomly taking someone's temperature or blood pressure in a scenario that wouldn't ever happen.

I think it's important to not just challenge oneself to create visually stunning photography. That is what art is all about. But stock photography, at its essence, is frequently used as a tool for another organization or individual to tell their story. Do it beautifully, but do it with a sense of a larger audience that needs to connect to the story you're displaying with your image.

February 18, 2016


Well Brocko, if it's you as a model you won't need to go though the making contact and meeting phase. That would be weird, and split personality :)

February 18, 2016


 Selfie smiley face 

How about you as a model?

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