by Kailey LaValliere

Finding models and people to photograph can sometimes be a daunting task if you have never approached someone before for this reason. Where do I find models? Do they need to be professionals or can I use friends and family? How do I approach strangers to take their photo? These are questions that I have asked and that I am sure many other photographers have asked when involving others in your images.

I have been working on a series for about 6 months now that I would like to expand. The photos are a series of composites that study the relationship between humans and pets. I find this relationship fascinating as well as how pets have personalities that mimic that of their humans’. I have taken this forbidden rule of photographing pets as a professional photographer and turned it into a concept that reveals dogs taking on the role of their human parents through Photoshop compositing.


Social Media
For the past 6 months, I have only used my own dogs, Bob and Daisy, as well as my husband and I as subject matter. Moving forward, I want to expand this series to explore the relationships other people have with their animals. I have been carefully thinking out who I want to include and how to ask them. I decided to first start with my Facebook page to reach out to people because many of them are familiar with the series and have shown interest. From there, I plan to use Instagram and connect with followers that way. I don’t think it will be too difficult to find willing subjects, it will just take planning and time to coordinate meet ups. Many of your friends and family are also connected to you through social media. I guarantee many of them are willing to help you out if you ask.

One thing to consider with this route is how to compensate the volunteers. You may want to give them a print of the final photo and allow them to share your image on social media. Yes, you aren’t getting paid, but you reached out to them and they are helping you build your series. They payout will be when you gain exposure, get into a gallery with the finished work, or advance your career some other way. The more people that share your work, the more exposure you are gaining.


Collaboration Sites
Depending on your concept and style, you may need to join a resource site where models, makeup artists and photographers can find each other and collaborate. One thing to consider with collaboration sites is that you should expect to pay models as this is also their profession. One site that I came across is Model Mayhem. I have read about some controversy going through a site like this but if you are really at a loss for subject matter, it would be worth a try.

Approaching People
Have some examples to present to potential models. It will be much easier for your subjects to get an idea of what you are looking for. It would also be a good idea to create some kind of idea board, even if the photos on the board aren’t all yours. Maybe you are trying to do something different; giving your models something to go off of will make the shoot more successful. Hand them your business card so they know you are a professional. This way they can also see what kind of work you have done before.


Signing a Model Release
One last thing worth mentioning: have your models sign a model release. This will give you the permission to share your images however you would like. This is especially important if you are photographing children. Get the release so you don’t have any problems in the future.