Finding models offline can be a challenge. It isn’t hard to find pretty girls that you know you’d love to shoot, but getting them to shoot with you can be difficult and scary.
To me there are two main ways to go about approaching a stranger to model for you. Direct and indirect.
Before I tell you what these mean, let’s discuss why I put Model in quotes in the title. There is a lot more to being a model than being pretty. And if you just recruit a pretty girl you are going to be taking on a big burden to get good images. You are going to have to teach her how to pose, how lighting works with her body, how to take direction, and all the other things a model would know. Just keep that in mind.
Now to the two methods of recruiting models in person.
So you are at your local grocery store, or Hooters, or where ever and you a see super hot babe and you want to shoot her. How do you do it?
Chris Rock has a routine and he says when you walk up to a girl and start talking to her all she hears is, “Want some dick?” That’s crude, but pretty girls get hit on all the time and they get kind of calloused to it. While they don’t want to be rude right off, they are generally looking to get rid of you as soon as they can.
The Direct Approach To Recruiting
One method is to get in and out quick so she knows you aren’t really hitting on her. Walk up to her, hand her your business card, tell her briefly and directly you want her to model for you, pause for a moment to see if there are any questions and then leave.
The theory is she won’t think you are hitting on her if you don’t stick around.
I’ve done this a couple of times and never got a response. There is just too little time for her to get a bead on you and build some trust. But it has worked for other photographers I’ve talked to.
I also think it works better if during the pause she actually responds and asks a question. Then you can have a trust building conversation.
Which leads to…
The Indirect Approach To Recruiting Models
This method is a little harder because you actually have to interact more and build some trust. In this method you approach the girl and start a conversation with her. Eventually bring up you are a photographer and think she’d make a good model.
The biggest problem here is most guys don’t know how to start a conversation with a pretty woman without sounding like they are hitting on her.
Teaching that is really beyond the scope of this article but here’s a quick tip.
Ask her, and the whole group she is with, her opinion on something. It would be nice if that something might be photography related. Maybe something like “Do you think most models thought they were pretty in middle school?”
I just made that up, but it is a good opener because it is about modeling, its about being pretty and it will let you sound like an expert when the discussion comes back to you. You can lead from your answer (which IMHO is “No they didn’t”) to talking about if she felt she was pretty when she was that young.
If you try that out, leave a comment and let me know how it works.
I teach that when approaching models any where – online or off – you need to know what the next thing you want them to do. Don’t try and book a shoot right then unless you are really in good with her. Instead get a means of contacting her and ask her to look at some of your work online.
Have any of you approached models in the real world? How did you do it successfully? Or post a great failure story we can learn from.