Category Archives: Featured

How To Approach “Models” In the Real World

Recruiting Real Women as models
Recruiting Real Women as models
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.

Ellen thought she was ugly as a girl.
Ellen thought she was ugly as a girl.

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.

What Next

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.

Don’t Fall In Love With The Models

Dancer DeniseThe other night I went and saw the Revolve Dance Company and was blown away. The visuals I got are feeding future photographic endeavors and I recommend going to see dance whenever you can. I’ve said before that dancers make great models because they know how to use their body and “pose” naturally.

I noticed another thing about my thought processes. I started attributing all kinds of positive attributes to the dancers.

They were beautiful, talented, flexible, expressive. All true.

I also started thinking they were nice, friendly, intelligent, loving, likable, and other positive character traits. Now it may be they are all those things. I don’t know because I don’t really know them. Were I not a married man I can see how these things would attract me to those dancers.

Why am I telling you this? Because I see photographers do this all the time with models.

You start attributing everything positive to models, often just from looking at their portfolios. Then you start projecting all these positive feelings on them and start fantasizing about how it would be to know them. In extreme cases you fall in love, or more accurately you fall in lust.

The easiest cure for this is to shoot a bunch of models. After 10 or so interactions with various models – including ones you’ve had these feelings for – you’ll learn they are just people. Pretty people, but full of all flaws and foibles of everyone else. And you’ll find out how they really feel about you. You’ll get to the point where just cuz she’s pretty don’t mean she’s your next girlfriend.

You’ll also get treated poorly by models and learn some of them are just like the cheerleaders in high school. They think they are all that and you should serve them.

You’ll learn they are full of insecurities. They will tell you parts of their bodies are ugly and how they hate them and you’ll be incredulous because those very parts are what you want to photograph.

My advice is not to fall in love with the models at all. Don’t go projecting onto them all things wonderful and good from carefully crafted images. You know photographers and models create illusions, right?

Now I think I’m going to go track down some of those dancers from Revolve and tell them how much I love them…I mean how much I loved their dance. 🙂

My Shoot In Vegas

Thought I should write a follow up post to A Guide Shooting While You Are In Vegas and tell you how my shooting when while I was there.
I had a friend and former model, Maren Kate, who needed some images for her online business so I planned on shooting with her and I schedule a shoot with Tiffany Jackson who we interviewed on the podcast last month. My idea originally was to shoot Maren first by herself, then have Tiffany show up and shoot her and add Maren.

Like any plan, it didn’t survive contact with the enemy. That enemy was scheduling.

Finding an MUA

I was lucky in that I was working with a Vegas model who knew people, so I asked Tiffany for recommendations and she gave me three. I contacted them and lost one because she was already scheduled. I had one of my MUA’s look at the other MUA’s ports and asked her which one she would pick. She asked what we’d be shooting and then picked one. So I pick her as well.

Notice I’m not saying her name. More on that later.

Once we added the MUA to the mix, we had to schedule makeup earlier and earlier. Originally we were going to start Maren in makeup at 1 PM and have Tiffany show up an hour later. Then I could shoot Maren’s stuff, while Tiffany was in makeup.

Well that wasn’t going to work for the MUA. She had to be somewhere at 4, which I thought was plenty of time. I give my MUAs an hour to do make up. Even doing two girls she should have been done by 3. And she said she didn’t need a hour, but half that.

But she was worried about it and decided she would do Tiffany’s makeup before 1 and show up with Tiffany done and do Maren at 1. Fine, I’m flexible.

Everything was going well, until 10 minutes before I get on a plane in Houston on the day before the shoot. When I get an email from the MUA telling me she isn’t coming. She’ll get Tiffany done and to the shoot by 1, but she has to go into work early, “…this is why I don’t like to schedule on days I have to work.” Nice to tell me this now.

So I get to start my trip off stressed out. I sent a quick email to Tiffany asking for help and got on the plane.

When I got off the plane – at 10 PM Vegas time – I had an encouraging email from Tiffany telling me she was sure I’d be able to work it out.

I sent a MM message to the other MUA – CKO – and hoped for the best.

Then I went and had a drink.

But CKO came through for me and wrote me back and agreed to come the next day.

The Actual Shoot


OK that was all the drama of the trip. Next day CKO and Maren were at my hotel – The Wynn – and we shot a lot of stuff in the room. Tiffany showed up as well and we shot there in the room for awhile.

A cool thing about the Wynn was it has windows that show the Strip, so there are some images with the Strip in the background. I’ll be posting some over the next few days.

Cool, or uncool thing about those same windows – which are floor to ceiling on one whole wall – is they are tented gold. Yep. Gold. In a way it is like golden hour all the time. But not quite. I did use a SpyderCube to get a white point but everything is still pretty warm.

After shooting in the room, I wanted to shoot in the desert and by the Las Vegas sign. The models suggested the Desert Springs Reserve, which is desert like and has other desert green stuff.

So we all load into Maren’s car and first go to the Las Vegas sign. They’ve actually built a parking lot in the median and a little place for people to shoot. I would have designed it differently. It is very hard to get both the sign and the people in it.

I had an idea for the two girls to be pulling on and fighting over something in front of the sign. In the end it didn’t work.

Then we went to the Desert Springs Reserve. It was getting close to golden hour and the place was almost closed. But we got some good stuff there. They had had a contest for school kids to build “scarecrows” out of garbage and they were displaying them all over the place. There was some impressive stuff, but I didn’t want any of it in my images, which limited where and how we could shoot.


I’ll be posting actual images from the shoot with commentary over the next few days, so I’m not going to go into detail of the shoots right now. But it was fun. I got to do it all in one day and had the rest of the weekend to relax and enjoy Vegas. And stay up too late every night. And eat well. I like Vegas.

Happy Anniversary P&M Blog

DSCF6548One year ago today, on Oct 28, 2008, I wrote the first post on what was then the Glamour Apprentice Blog.

Glamour Apprentice is dedicated to teaching you how to be a exceptional photographer of beautiful women, in all genres.

That was the first sentence written and an attempt to have one line explain what it is I’m trying to do here at Photographer and Model. I still think it does a good job explaining what I’m trying to do.

The Past

There have been a lot of ups and downs since then. The two biggest things that stick out to me are the changing of the name and the launching of the podcast.

There was some personal trauma when I found out I had to change the name. It is a SEO nightmare to have to do that and it just takes a while to dig out all the places you used it. But I will say I’m much happier with the new name. Should have used it from the beginning.

The podcast has been one of the best things to happen to the site. It allows me to talk to photographers and models from all over the country and I hope soon the world. I’ve learned a lot from them and it has been great working with Shawna. I wish I had started it earlier, but it has been a lot of work and I think it might have been too much right at the beginning.

The Future

I’d hoped that I could launch the Photographer and Model Academy on this day, but it is just taking too much time creating all of the content that will be part of it. What is the Academy? It’s a bit of a secret right now, let’s just say it will teach you everything you need to know to be a model photographer and that I’m shooting a lot of video to do it. More to come next month.

Thank You

I want to give a heartfelt thank you to all of you who have commented on the blog, emailed me from the mini-course, and reviewed the podcast. It is the encouragement from y’all that keeps me up late editing podcasts, videos, articles, and images. The next year we are going to take this whole thing to another level and hopefully change the way the model photography underground works for the better.

Stay tuned, and keep creating beautiful images of beautiful models.


Ron Davis
Photographer & Model

A Guide To Shooting While In Las Vegas

It’s Las Vegas week here on Photographer and Model. I’m going to Las Vegas Wednesday night and staying through the weekend. This week’s guest on the podcast is Tiffany Jackson, a Las Vegas model. While I’m in Vegas I’m going to be shooting with Tiffany and another model.

Beware the Vegas Model (Not Tiffany)
Beware the Vegas Model (Not Tiffany)
While interviewing Tiffany for the podcast I talked to her a little about the Dos and Don’ts of shooting while in Vegas. I thought it would be cool to expand on that with her and create an article for the blog, so I got her on the phone and asked her some questions.

Before I get into her tips, I wanted to point out something. Vegas models want to shoot with you. As Tiffany put it in the podcast, there aren’t a lot of photographers who shoot in Las Vegas, but everyone travels there sometime. So in order for the Vegas models to expand their portfolios, they look for traveling photographers.

Tiffany’s Dos and Don’ts

Make sure of your travel details. Be sure the trip is actually going to happen. You need to know when you are going to be there. You can’t expect models to wrap their schedules around you and then change it at the last minute.

Don’t assume everything cool is in one place. You are probably going to have to move around. It is best to rent a car, so you can get from location to location.

You can’t shoot in a casino. Security will be all over you really quick if you do that. So don’t have a concept that depends on shooting in a casino. Supposedly you can ask permission and get a permit, but I think for most of us non-commercial shooters that isn’t going to happen.

Plan out makeup and wardrobe. This is true of any shoot in my opinion, and always impresses a model – which shows some of pathetic traits of average photographers – but is especially true for you when traveling. You do know you can use Model Mayhem to find MUAs as well as models, right?

Don’t expect the model to show you the strip. You may go to Vegas to pick up women, but your models aren’t valid targets.

Book multiple models for the same day. Does Vegas have more flakes than other towns? Hard to say, but it does have flakes. If you have to shoot it is better to double book.

How do you avoid the flakes? Look at how often they update their profile. Gage how quickly they respond. If they take too long, cut your losses. Ask other models if they can vouch for them.

What The Model Can Do For You.

You are coming in from out of town, so you don’t know what you are doing or where you are going. You will have to depend on the model somewhat. So I asked Tiffany what a model might be able to do for you. I’ll add the caveat that Tiffany is a go-getter; she gets things done. Not all models are that proactive.

She can help you arrange makeup. Models know MUAs. Therefore they can recommend them to you. Sometimes you can get a break from the MUA because she knows and likes the model.

She can help find locations. She knows the city better than you do, and has probably shot in a number of places. Tiffany also said she can tell you what times are best to shoot at different locations.

Where Are Good Places To Shoot?

A different Tiffany at the Dry Lake Bed
A different Tiffany at the Dry Lake Bed

There are some good parks in Vegas. Believe it or not if you want a natural setting Las Vegas has some cool parks.

Dry lake beds. There are a couple of dry lake beds with in driving distance of Las Vegas that make cool locations.

Downtown Las Vegas. Has a cool neon look and an old Vegas feel. It is cool to shoot there, but Tiffany says you have to be wary of the bums. They can be aggressive and disruptive to your shoots.

Valley of Fire. A cool red rock location. Tiffany says Valley of Fire actually looks cooler than Red Rock park.


Vegas is a great place to visit, and while you are there you can shoot. If you are a good photographer, both from a creative and character point of view, the models will look forward to shooting with you. But models are going to be wary. They have to worry if you are just trying to pick them up. They also worry – like most models you shoot TFP with – that you will shoot with them and never give them any images.

Tiffany suggests you bring a laptop and burn them a CD right there. I don’t give my models everything shot, only the retouched images, and I’m not spending time in Vegas retouching. But you can find ways to lessen this worry. Maybe you could give her references from models you’ve shot with and delivered in a timely manner. Or you could agree to give her a CD of images, but she can’t use them unless you don’t send her anything with in a month. Be creative.

I’m going to be shooting while in Vegas with Tiffany. She’s helped me find an MUA and we’ve set a time, talked wardrobe and locations. It should be fun, and I’ll report back next week.

Ep 17 – Model Scarlett St Vitus

Scarlett Greased Up
Scarlett Greased Up
Scarlett St Vitus was one of my muses and start off talking about what it means to be a muse. She’s a goth model and we talk about what that means. She talks about how modeling expresses her creativity.

She considers her self very shy and awkward and therefore has to overcome her fears. Her feelings are very common for models and it is good to understand that. Shawna also gives some good advice for models as well.

Pre-shoot meetings, good, bad or inconvenient.

Print book for models. Really those exist?

Photographers with ideas? You know who you are. Lots of great insight into what models think when they receive shoot requests.


My Muse blog post.

Lithium Picnic

The model with a book, Sallie Lou

Scarlett’s most controversial image.


Blind Monkey Studio

Ron’s milk pictures

Ron’s Pinup Workshop in November.

What Do You Shoot? Answer It Right.

Model Tiara, Photog Ron, Shot by Bob Warren
Model Tiara, Photog Ron, Shot by Bob Warren
We were having an open house at my studio and I asked a photographer, “What do you shoot?”

His answer? “Canon.”

I kind of laughed and said, “No, I meant what are your subjects.”

People, we don’t shoot cameras, we shoot landscapes, or models, or cars, or pickles.

During Frederik Van Johnson’s interview we talked about how people get caught up in the manufacturer debates, and how unimportant that was. One guy put on his name tag “I’m a Nikon”. He was a nice guy and obviously very into photography, but dude, you camera brand matters squat.

Please people say what you shoot. Or like to shoot. Or want to shoot.

It may be you shoot one thing – like weddings or flowers – but what you really want to shoot is something else – like models. Answer that. “I mostly shoot landscapes, but I’m getting into shooting models.”

You may have to shoot lots of different things before you find the thing that is it for you, but I doubt that thing is camera bodies.

One Thing That Makes You Look Creepy

This weekend was Houston Skyline Studio’s Fine Art Nude workshop and I noticed something I wanted to share.

One of the things people wanted to know in my recent survey of the Photographer and Model email list was how to NOT seem creepy to models. So this was in my head while I was observing at the workshop.

Don't Stare
Don't Stare
When shooting nudes I think the fear of appearing creepy to the model is enhanced, as is general uncomfortableness. Most of us aren’t used to standing in front of a naked woman, even if she doesn’t really care. (See Lesson 9 of the mini course).

When you are photographing any subject you will stare intently at it. You’re looking at how the light is hitting it, what the lines are, what’s in shadow. When the subject is a model, you are also looking for imperfections and how you need to pose her to cover them. This is natural and necessary.

Second you may be nervous, or just really in the zone so you stop talking because you are thinking.

This is where the problem comes in.

It is creepy to stare intently at someone and not say anything.

You really need to keep talking. Tell her what you are doing or what you are trying to do. Just keep the lines of communication open so she doesn’t think you’ve gone off into creepy voyeur land.

Ran this past a couple of models and they agree staring silently is creepy. Sallie Lou mentioned it in her interview on the podcast, saying she’d break out the autopsy stories if you were too quite.

Ep 16 – Photog Frederick Van Johnson


Frederick Van Johnson
Frederick Van Johnson
This week we talk to host of the This Week in Photography podcast Frederick Van Johnson. We start off talking techno-lust vs art. Lot’s of discussion of style and art.

He shoots a lot of different things and we ask why he shoots models. Learn Frederick’s the 3 things that make a good model photographer.

He also has a great and unique quality a model needs to be good that surprise both Shawna and Ron. As a former denizen of the City of Angels he has a unique perspective on what models expect and what they should watch out for.

And yes I had to ask him about his philosophy of punishing pixels. Which leads to a Spiderman reference.

For the first time he reveals what he ultimately wants to do with his photography.

Frederick’s Website and blog
Twitter: @frederickvan

This Week In Photography Podcast
Joe McNally
Seth Resnick
Steve Simon
Dave Hill
Lightsource Photography Podcast