The People Around Us = Our (Free) Models - Dreamstime

The People Around Us = Our (Free) Models

I am a cheapskate! My daughter groans every time we drive past a house on our street because she knows if I see the car parked there (a red, low riding, ridiculously expensive sport’s car) that I will launch into my “what a waste of money” lecture. I also have no trouble telling my kids to put on a sweater when they are cold so they won’t turn up the thermostat. I’m pretty sure my cheapskate trait is genetic and therefore isn’t my fault, but that’s a story for another time.

I carry this cheapskate mentality into my photography and have to admit that when I bought my Nikon D200 I nearly choked on the price. But I bought it anyway and though I put on a seriously sour scowl and hunch my eyebrows together when I talk about the purchase, I am actually really glad I did it. The scowl and eyebrows are mainly for my kids so I can maintain consistency with my cheapskate persona, but I love this camera and all it is capable of.

I’ve been submitting to microstock for nearly 5 years and have come to realize the importance of using models in stock photos. However, I cannot bring myself to hire any. For some reason I am convinced that if I spend any money on a model a black hole will suddenly appear and suck me into oblivion. To keep myself safe from any galactic doom I simply use the people around me as my models. I start with family.

Like many of you I have kids, sisters, a spouse, cousins, in-laws, and an uncle or two that I may or may not claim to be related to, that I use as models. I’ve found that my family are, strangely enough, normal looking people whose photographs sell pretty well in microstock.

Sometimes, when desperate, I even use myself as a model. I know it's not pretty but it works.

I also rely on willing friends. Well, some are more willing than others. I had a couple of friends who were reluctant to have any picture of them uploaded as stock until they started competing with each other on how many times their pictures sold. (I might have planted the seed of competition, but it was all in good fun, and because I wanted to divert my friends’ attention away from the lunch bill that had just come on a day when I forgot to bring my wallet.) Anyway, the bottom line is I have semi-willing models all around me that generally cost me nothing and who look good at the same time. Ahhh, the cheapskate in me can rest easy.

So if your microstock portfolio needs a little boost, try using family, friends, and even yourself as a model. Believe me, your wallet will thank you. Good luck and I hope to see you out shooting.

Photo credits: Lane Erickson.

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September 29, 2014


I have always used my family and friends as models, and my children roll their eyes when they tell friends they were brought up living in a photo studio. yes.. birthday parties were shot in front of a back ground! of course that was painted on the wall and the dinning room table had wheels on it!
your blog took me back big time. now I have 8 grandkids under 5 to work with! keep shooting.. your kids will discover how lucky they are when they are older and need photos

April 19, 2011


I started with my family, but now non of them will pose for me, not my wife, not my daughter, not my son, not my daughter in law etc. So hiring models is the only way to go, they are not all realy models but girls/guys just trying it out. I do still shoot myself from time to time still. You seem to have a great circle of family and friends to shoot.

April 19, 2011


My wallet is constantly thanking me, LOL! The wonderful thing about kids is that they'll work for pocket money or ice cream! ;o)
Great advice, love your MTB images, they are fabulous!

April 18, 2011


interesting images

April 18, 2011


great blog.I also use friends and family..

April 18, 2011


Congrats for your photos and blog!

April 18, 2011


Beautiful Shots

April 18, 2011


Very beautiful!

April 18, 2011


Very Beautiful!!!

April 18, 2011


Great if your family and friends don't run a mile when they see you with camera bag! Having said that my best sellers are of my dear old hubby hard at work. Might just try myself as a model when noone else is around. Great portfolio by the way!

April 18, 2011


very nice!!

April 18, 2011


Your portfolio is fabulous....... very good tips as well. Its not easy using yourself as model but it does work if you have a radio trigger. David.

April 18, 2011


Great tips! Thanks! ;)

April 17, 2011


I guess many of us do the same, I use family and people that work for me, I don't like to use friends, since I don't know how will they react... Thanks for sharing.

April 17, 2011


For 2 years now I am postponing talking to my colleagues at work about posing as models. Slowly I started to show them my port and told them this is mostly for fun since pictures sell for as low as $0.42 (I am exclusive). They just look and don't know how to react to it. I would like to bring some lights and soft boxes to the office and take some very nice and authentic pictures, but I am afraid people would make a fuss. Besides I wonder if they would sign the release, and what HR might say...

Any advise would be really appreciated.


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