Finding Nude Photography Models
One of the biggest challenges for startup photographers is finding good models who are interested in sharing the artistic vision of nude photography. I know how frustrating it can be because I was a startup photographer myself at some point. I faced the same problem and had no clue how to get started with nude photography studies and test shots to develop that area without looking like an idiot hitting on girls in bars or lurking around the streets throwing out my business cards to anyone or anything. It’s like a vicious circle – you need a portfolio to show them what you can do, but you don’t have the cash to start off with… and it goes round and round.
So where do you begin?
I’m going to assume the obvious: you have a sincere interest and passion for nude photography, and you believe you have the vision and want to express yourself with one of the most sincere forms of art. Once you possess these qualities, you have everything you need; the rest will come one way or another. However, I will share different approaches that I have tried in the past – some worked, some didn’t – to help you find models for nude photography.
Create a Website
To begin your search for talent in nude photography, I recommend setting up your own personal website dedicated to your work. Even if you don’t have any nude photographs to showcase initially, having an online presence is an excellent way to reach a wider audience and potential models. You can showcase your existing work, such as architecture, nature, or animal photographs, to demonstrate your photography skills.
To ensure your website has credibility, avoid using free hosting services and purchase your own domain name. It costs less than $10 per year and with an additional $8 per month for basic hosting, your work will be available 24/7 to a global audience.
In my experience, my personal website has been the most significant source for finding new models for my nude photography projects. Girls either discovered my site themselves or learned about it through word of mouth. I believe that a photographer’s personal website is the most crucial component of their talent scouting mechanism, and it has consistently yielded positive results for me.
If you don’t have a website yet, create an online portfolio on one of the numerous modeling websites available to establish some online presence. Even if you already have a website, having a portfolio on a modeling site allows you to network with many models who are looking for photographers to help them start up. While most start-up models may be reserved about nude photography, among the hundreds of available models, you may find a few who understand the beauty of the nude female form and are willing to offer their curves to your camera.
One Model Place (www.onemodelplace.com) is the largest online database of photographers and models worldwide. Although it’s free for models, photographers must pay to join. I tried it once but didn’t like it and left, but it’s frequently used by photography professionals, making it a good place to start.
Model Mayhem (www.modelmayhem.com) is a chic and trendy site that has grown rapidly since its launch. It has a large database of photographers and models, many of whom were originally part of OneModelPlace. It’s free to join and has busy forum boards discussing topics that photographers of any level would find helpful.
Net-Model (www.net-model.com) also offers free portfolios with an option to upgrade, but it doesn’t receive much traffic that I know of, so I would only recommend a free account.
I must confess that even though I have accounts on most free modeling websites, I’ve never set up a photo shoot with any “internet models” that I’ve met on any of these sites. Many models simply decide one day that they’re going to be models, open profiles on these sites, and call themselves models without any real commitment or sincere interest in pursuing modeling. Many of these “internet models” will likely be no-shows for the shoots you set up. While this option exists and works well for many photographers, I suggest exploring it to see if it works for you and taking it from there.
Another effective way to find models is through independent magazines that offer affordable classified ads. Here in Edmonton, magazines such as Vue Weekly and SEE Magazine, for instance, offer low-cost advertising options, including a “Casting Calls” section. Similarly, many small magazines in most towns cover music, clubbing, and other events and offer inexpensive advertising options. These magazines are often read by the audience you want to target and can be a great way to find first-time models for nude photography.
Generally, finding models for nude photography requires patience, discretion, and creativity. By leveraging your online presence and advertising through independent magazines, you can find models who share your artistic vision and are willing to collaborate with you on photography projects.
In my experience, one of the best resources for finding nude photography models are colleges and universities. Many students are looking to earn extra money, and some university-age girls may be interested in nude modeling simply because it fulfills a personal fantasy. Women often enjoy being the center of attention and having nice pictures taken of themselves.
There are several ways to advertise for nude models on college and university campuses. For example, you could create a 5×7 print showcasing your work that is edgy but not explicit, and post it on campus bulletin boards along with your business card. Alternatively, you could create a sheet with a brief description of your artistic vision and include a link to your website, so interested students can view your work and contact you.
You can also post your ad on bulletin boards located just inside dorm lobbies. If the lobbies are locked, simply ask someone to post it for you. Make sure to bring a box of thumbtacks to make the process easy. If there are no dorms available, such as in the case of junior colleges, look for the career center and post your ad there.
Overall, I’ve found universities and colleges to be a great source for nude photography models. Give it a try and see if it works for you.
Approaching potential models directly can be nerve-wracking, but I’ve spoken with many photographers who successfully approach models at malls, clubs, and gyms. Their advice is simple: just do it, but be prepared. It’s recommended to carry a small portfolio of 10 to 12 4×6 images, which can fit in a jacket pocket, along with extra business cards that include your website.
Having a portfolio to demonstrate your work can eliminate any concerns models may have about your legitimacy. If you need an icebreaker, some photographers have found success with using phrases like: “I’d like to test new lights, but my wife will kill me if she has to pose for me ONE MORE TIME!“. However, approaching strangers can be intimidating, and it’s okay if this approach is not for you.
If you’re not comfortable approaching potential models in person, another option is to give them a card that includes your website and a message like “I do photography and I like your look. Please take a look at my work and call me if you’re interested in modeling.” While this approach may take less time and energy, the success rate is uncertain.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to find the approach that works best for you. Just remember to be professional and respectful, and to have examples of your work readily available.
Art classes can be a productive way to find and approach potential nude photography models. Many everyday girls who pose for pencil or charcoal drawings might consider being photographed, too. You could also post ads for models on bulletin boards in these types of classes. I’ve only tried this option once, but I was able to find a really good model this way.
In my experience, having my own website has been the most effective way to recruit nude photography models. However, with the affordability of online portfolios and classifieds, and the accessibility of various personal approaches and universities, finding nude photography models is possible for any startup photographer.