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How Photographers Can Find Free Models

Updated on April 18, 2014

Who needs free models?

People are one of the most difficult subject to photograph and it takes a lot of practice to acquire the skill necessary to photograph people on a professional level. So anyone who wants to photograph people for one professional reason or another should practice taking photos of people before they can even consider charging a fee for their services.

Family and friends who are willing, make great models for anyone starting on the path of 'people' photography but eventually you will need to get out of your comfort zone and start taking photos of people that you're not familiar with and this is where things can become quite challenging because you will have to find strangers who are willing to model for you.

So just where do you find such strangers? Well, a modeling agency is the most obvious place to start. However, if like most beginner photographers you have a small or limited budget, then a modeling agency that charges hundreds of dollars for just a few hours of a model's time, isn't the best place for you to look for models. When starting out with people photography, you will need a lot of practice, so in order to avoid taking a second mortgage on your house to cover the cost of hiring models, you should always try to find models who will model for free and in this article, I will share ways to do just that.

Model Mayhem

Model Mayhem is a great website where models and photographers can find each other. Create a free profile and upload some samples of your work and you'll be good to go.

Use the search tool to find models in your area who are willing to work TFP, or Time For Prints. This means that in return for their time, you agree to give your model(s) a copy of the photos you take. Most models prefer digital copies. Be sure to agree on exactly what will be expected from both parties in regards to compensation.

Model Mayhem also allows you to find hair and make-up artists for your models.


Starnow is very similar to Model Mayhem. You can create job listings and casting calls and you can reach a very diverse range of artists, many of whom would jump at the chance of having their photos taken for free in return for prints. Here you can also find models who will work on a TFP basis.


Search Facebook for modeling and/or photography groups in your local area and create some posts offering your photography services for free.

If you can't find any such groups, create your own and get your friends and family to 'like' or 'share' it to help spread the word about it.

Community notice boards

Put up ads on some free community notice boards in your local area advertising your free photography services. Specify the kinds of photography you do, some examples include:



Modeling portfolios




Free Online Classifieds

Free online classifieds are a great resource for finding free models. Websites such as and are a great place to start.

Use your car

Your car is a great way to advertise for free. Put a poster on the inside of your car's window to advertise your free photography services and as above, specify the type(s) of photography you are willing to do.

Word of Mouth

Ask family and friends who live in your area to spread the word for you, I'll bet they know someone, or someone who knows someone, who would just love to have their photos taken for free.

Be a model scout

If you see someone in public whose photos you would like to take, simply introduce yourself and ask them if they would like to model for you. This can be a daunting prospect but over time you will learn to get over the nerves.

It's a good idea to get some personal business cards and hand them to anyone you approach who express interest and ask them to call you at a later time so you can discuss things further. Don't ask for their personal details, it will make you appear pushy and suspicious. Wait for them to call you and if they don't it'll probably mean that they've changed their mind.

Not all people will be comfortable being approached by a stranger wanting to take their photos, so don't push the issue with those who fall in this category.

Never approach unaccompanied minors, because in this day and age it's all too easy to be labeled as a predator of children.


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    • Danext profile image

      Dan Lema 3 years ago from Tanzania

      Wow, i didn't knew about many of the ideas in here, i only knew about model mayhem....i will surely try these ones out because most of the models i shoot, i pay for them or get them in local modeling agencies with costs.....these ideas in here are golden....voted up and shared....

    • Tolovaj profile image

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      Making photos of real people in real situations is probably most demanding part of photography. I love the idea of finding free models on web and all kinds of exchanges of free services are great too. Thanks for all the useful tips!

    • Ceres Schwarz profile image

      Ceres Schwarz 4 years ago

      This is very useful for those that are photographers and are looking for people to take pictures of for free. It can be costly to pay just to take a picture of someone so finding people that work TFP can really help lots of photographers. This TFP appears to benefit both the model and the photographer in that they both get the pictures.