How to Find Models for Photoshoots: Instagram, Facebook and Meetups

how to find models for portrait shoots

I know it can be hard to find people to pose for you so you can practice your portrait photography. You reach out to friends and family, but eventually, you want to start working with new and more experienced models.

How to Find Models for Photoshoots

The best way to find models is to use social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook. Start by creating mood boards with your photoshoot ideas. Then do a search for local models from your city or surrounding area using social media and hashtags. Once you’ve identified a few models, send them a quick introduction message with your desire to collaborate on a photoshoot. Have all the details planned out ahead of time for a higher chance of successful bookings.

How to Find Models For Photoshoots
How to Find Models For Photoshoots

Now don’t be surprised if you get a “no” for an answer. You might not get a response at all. It happens, but this doesn’t mean to give up. Eventually you’ll build your network and have models you can reach out to whenever you are doing a new concept. It just takes time.

Let’s start with the basics and learn how you can find models for your photoshoots and how you can use other social media platforms as well for TFP (trade for portfolio) shoots.

How to Find Models for photoshoots – Getting Started

Let’s start with some of the basics and work our way to getting ready to reach out to potential models.

Gather photoshoot details

Before getting your model call together, be sure to have your ideas written down about what type of shoot you are looking for. Here are a few things you need to consider:

  • What is your concept or style you want for your shoot?
  • Do you have a mood board of example images?
  • Date and time of the shoot if you have a preference.
  • Location and availability of the location.
  • Will you need a makeup artists or stylist?
  • Any special requirements for the models such as places to change or studio directions?
  • Post editing: How long before you will be delivering photos so you can set expectations?
  • How would you like potential models to contact you? Email, message, etc.…

Once you have the details nailed down, then you are ready to put together a message for your network.

Create mood boards for photoshoots

The first thing you want to do is create a mood board for your photoshoot. This is a set of images or ideas that you put together into a single graphic for people to see. This will give them a better idea of your thought process and what looks you are going for.

favorite jeans portraits moodboard
favorite jeans portraits moodboard
summer style portraits moodboard
summer style portraits moodboard

If you’re new to mood boards, I’ve written a great article for beginners that will help you gather your ideas. Make sure to check it out here.

Once you have your mood board and ideas in place, next it’s time for a model call.

What is a model call?

A model call or talent call is a quick public post or message you send out to your network to see if there is any interest in anyone collaborating with you on a photo shoot. Actors and models look for these all the time to work on creative projects and to build their portfolio.

Normally they will find photographers who have work that matches their specific needs.

Many of my photoshoots are TFP (trade for portfolio) shoots. This means no money is exchanged for time or work during the collaboration.

As a photographer, these are not just free shots. Use them as opportunity to build your photography portfolio. Models are trading their time with you and expecting your best work in return, so I highly recommend being ready for each shoot.

portrait shoot breakdown 41mm sony a6600
Example Model Test Shoot with Hanna at the Space on South Side Studios in Dallas

Place your model call in your Instagram story or make a post on your profiles for others to see. Make sure to use hashtags for your local area.

For example, I would use #dallasmodels, #dallasmodelshoot, etc. These are specific to the Dallas, TX area and will help me find models to work with.

Facebook Groups

I learned to do model calls from other photographers on Facebook. I’m apart of many photography groups online and I found some of the best examples and used them as a basis for my own model calls.

This was awesome when models wanted to collaborate and were looking for new photographers to work with. I recommend doing a search for your city or consider your local groups.

Follow-up is key to good model calls

When I first started doing model calls, I wanted to work with every single person that messaged me. I began to realize I couldn’t work with everyone, and I wanted to be selective on who I choose to work with.

Did they match my concept or style I was looking for, and were they also serious about building a portfolio? No matter what, I always tried to answer all messages that I received. Even when it was a “no”.

Good communication will help set you apart, especially online where many people will not message you back.

build your model network
build your model network

Building your personal network of models

Eventually I built a small network of models that I could easily reach out to when I needed talent for a shoot. I also have a network of photographers that I work with to send recommendations to for collaborations if I am not available for shoots.

Many photographers will recommend me to their models, and I also do the same for people that I know and trust. Word of mouth is a great way to start building your network and gathering a pool of talent.

What to do when you have found your models

Once you have found the models you want to work with, make sure to exchange contact information beyond just social media profiles if possible.

This way you can get ahold of each other and confirm the collaboration date when the time is coming closer to the shoot.

Make sure to send all the details to your model and see if they have any questions before collaboration day.

I recommend models bring a friend

In order to maintain a safe environment, I always recommend my models bring a friend or family member with them to a shoot. I put this into the details of the shoot that I email all my models.

It is good practice and shows you are wanting to create a comfortable environment for the collaboration.

How to find models for photoshoots and portraits
Model test shoot with Nasiba in studio

What if you don’t hear anything back?

It happens all the time. Models will cancel last minute for TFP shoots and you are stuck with nobody to work with. This is why I follow-up multiple times before a shoot. I want to make sure they are still ready to go and that no plans have changed.

I do have models that will cancel last minute, so I keep other people in mind just in case I need to reach out and find a replacement model for a collaboration.

Don’t take this personally when it happens. Life happens and you never know what will come up.

Anything other than Instagram and Facebook to find models

The only other platform I’ve tried to use for finding models is I don’t always recommend this platform, but you might as well be aware of it since it is widely used.

You can find models looking for paid gigs only and sometimes you can find models looking for TFP shoots to build up their portfolio or social media accounts.

Many of the profiles are not updated regularly so you might have to message a few before getting any kind of response.

Join meetups to find models

Another great option for finding models is to join other experienced photographers who already have an extended network. I have joined meetups to meet new creatives and to meet potential models that I want to work with in the future.

Many larger cities have photography groups that you can find online or on Check to see if your local area has any photography groups that specialize in portrait shoots.

Photography Meetup
Join Photography Meetups

Some of these shoots may be free, but others may require a small fee in order to pay for the model’s time and location or studio. This is a great way to find models from your local community and start building your network.

Should photographers reach out to modeling agencies for models

In my experience, local or national modeling agencies have set photographers in mind for working with their models, but they do venture out from time to time. There is nothing wrong with going to agencies directly, but it can be difficult to get a response sometimes.

I would make sure to have a solid portfolio and all details for your shoot finalized before reaching out to agencies for any TFP shoots.

You might not hear back on the first try but keep building your portfolio and working to shoot images that will catch their creative eyes. Like I mentioned above, word of mouth will help you get noticed and get your foot in the door at places you are interested in.

Model Search Recap

  • Make sure to have all your ideas written down and solidified before you start your search
  • Create a small mood board or multiple mood boards to help get your ideas across
  • Post your model call on Instagram, Facebook or other websites that you are a part of.
  • Make sure to collect all the messages and follow-up with models based on your interested.
  • Send all the details to your final model/models before collaboration day and make sure they have no questions or concerns about the shoot.
  • Once the photoshoot is over, maintain communication with them and set expectations for when the final photos are to be delivered.


Finding models does not have to be difficult. It takes time to build networks and meet new people. Make the most of your time on social media by finding local talent or following photographers to ask for recommendations.

Get out of your comfort zone and join meetups so you can meet new people and potentially find new models to work with. Make sure to have all your ideas finalized and be sure you keep a high level of communication with all the people in your network. Best of luck!

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