Whether you are going on a short vacation or traveling the world for a while, there are always plenty of beautiful things to photograph. From landscapes to seascapes, and from ancient monuments to delicious food – there’s something exciting around every corner. However, the one thing that might escape you is a model to place in front of your lens. Here’s how to find models you can shoot with while you travel.
Set up a travel notice
The first thing that you should do is set up a travel notice on your model site profiles. If you don’t have a profile on any model sites, you should probably start there! Some of the common and most-used examples include Model Mayhem, StarNow, and Purple Port. Alongside these, Facebook groups are also becoming a useful tool for finding models, so they are always a viable option.
Some sites, like Model Mayhem, offer the option to set up an official travel notice so that models can see you are available. Others will require you to do things differently. You could set up a casting call for your new location, noting the dates that you will be visiting, or you could write a message on your profile for models to see. With Facebook groups, you can write a post advising the other members of your traveling plans. Don’t forget to put a note at the top of your Instagram profile, too, so that anyone who admires your work can see where you will be soon!
Look for open casting calls
While you may be more used to casting for models yourself, it’s also true that models sometimes cast for photographers. Search in the area you will be visiting and see whether there are any models looking for a photographer right now. Sometimes their project might not match up with what you want to do, but at other times, you might manage to find a perfect match.
When applying to casting calls, make sure that your profile and portfolio are both fully up to date. Mention that you are only visiting the area instead of applying as a local, and let them know the day you will be leaving so that they understand it is time-sensitive. This might actually increase your chances of getting approval from the model. After all, they will be impressed by the idea of shooting with an international photographer! For you, it’s also going to be a little easier to find models once you can say in your profile that you have done photo shoots all around the world.
Connect with locals
Do you speak the local language of the country you are visiting? If you do – or if most people on the street speak good English – then you may be lucky with some street scouting. Whether they are walking along the street, sitting in a bar or café, or working somewhere that you come into contact with them, you might spot a good model anywhere. The first step is to walk up to them, introduce yourself, and explain that you are looking for models. You can then give them your business card or contact details so that they can go away and think about it.
Not everyone you approach on the street will be willing to model for you. You might need to speak to a few people before you find someone who says yes. You should also be aware of cultural issues that might affect your search – if it isn’t considered appropriate, then you shouldn’t approach women in this way. Also be aware that in some areas of the world, this approach may be treated with suspicion, and could even get you into hot water with the authorities – as if you were trying to kidnap the girls for trafficking. Be sensible, and don’t come across as creepy. Be genuine, open, and ready to walk away if the potential model is not interested.
Set up an easy meeting place
Once you have found your models, the next step is actually working with them. This might be quite tricky, as you won’t have access to the same resources that you would at home. You won’t know where the best places for a photo shoot are, so you can ask your model for tips as well as searching for what other photographers say on the internet. Once you have found somewhere, look for an easy-to-find landmark nearby. It could be a train station, a point of interest, or so on. You can also send the model a photograph of yourself, or wear something identifiable, so they know who to look for when you meet them.
Plan the wardrobe
You might also find limitations when it comes to the wardrobe for your shoot. At home, you’ll have access to more resources and contacts again – you might be able to work with designers or stores to pick up a full wardrobe that will give you items to pick from for your shoot. Once you’re in a different country, you won’t have access to those same contacts.
So, how do you get something for your model to wear? One option, by far the easiest, is to have her wear her own clothes. Just let her know the brief that you would like her to fit, and if you feel it’s necessary, ask her to take some shots with her phone of the clothes that she has chosen.
Another option is to get in touch with some local brands before you visit. You could also try talking to the brands you have connections with at home, and shipping the items over with you, though this will be more costly and inconvenient.
Finally, you can always do the old trick of buying clothes in a store, leaving the tags in, and returning them after the shoot. Be careful, though – you should check the store policy before you try this, as different places may have different rules!
Find a shoot team
Do you want to work alone with your model? If so, you’ll be fine with leaving things how they are. Just make sure to let them know they need to do their own hair and makeup, and styling.
However, if you want to work with a shoot team, your options are much the same as above. Reach out in the same ways that you did to find the model, or ask the model if they have worked with anyone in the past that they can recommend. This way, you can build a team from local sources and you don’t have to bring anyone on your travels with you.
Of course, if you do have a dedicated shoot team and you want to travel for work, you can always arrange this – but if you’re travelling for pleasure and just want a one-off shoot, you’ll have to source locally.
When it comes down to it, organising a shoot abroad is very similar to organising a shoot at home. You just have to find new contacts and resources instead of using the ones you usually rely on. That shouldn’t be too difficult a task to manage if you want to work with models while you travel.