A photographer who needs to build a portfolio for a particular style of people photography often needs models. It may be a photographer who is just starting out, or it may be a seasoned pro who is looking to work on a special project. There are of course quite a few avenues that one can go through to find a professional model (eg. Model Mayhem, social media sites) but what if the photographer was interested in hiring someone very local. This has some distinct advantages for both the photographer and the model. One of the most important advantages is building a rapport with each other. The model trusts the photographer, the photographer trusts the model and both ultimately benefit and ideally the skills of each grow with time working together.
For the photographer, he/she needs to be legitimate. Unfortunately, there are predators in our society and women in particular need to be very careful. Any photographer should be able to show some body of work. For the photographer just starting out, he/she may need to attend workshops/meetups where hands on experience is offered. Adding these images to social media, to on-line galleries, and of course to electronic devices such as tablets. Ideally, the more established photographer will have a website with his/her name featured for the perspective model to look at and decide if she wants to work with that photographer. This can be step one to establishing trust. Providing names of meetup or workshop hosts can also be a plus.
Once done, and you believe that you see someone that you may like to work with, try to strike up a casual conversation without appearing that you are flirting. If she thinks that you are hitting on her, your chances may drop significantly. Casually mention that you are a photographer during the conversation and occasionally hire models. Ask if she would like to learn more and if they say 'yes' ask for contact information and you will get in touch with them. Provide them with a business card at the end of the conversation or at least a place they can look at your work.
At this point you are essentially 'hiring' someone, and you should conduct yourself as such. You should have a very clear idea of what you wish to shoot. Inform her how much you are willing to pay (yes..'pay') and ask any other qualifying questions specific to the concept. A general question such as 'would you like to model may be too broad - be specific. Let her know a date and time that you have available. If she is not available, let her know that you will keep her contact info for another concept. Some people will agree, some may not be interested. Follow up once with everyone, but don't waste time with someone who seems not to be interested.
Once someone agrees, be sure to contact her at least a day before the shoot. Remain professional and discuss hair, makeup, props, dress, and of course specific directions to where the shoot is to be held. Be specific with a start time and end time,adding a little buffer in case something 'happens'.
On the day of the shoot, follow your concept plan as closely as possible. This builds trust and may make your 'model' want to work with you on a future date. Remember that clear respect and open professional attitudes often go a lot further than fancy cameras or lighting equipment. The more you work with a new model, the easier it will be to develop new concepts and create some great art!