Recruiting Tip #3
Don’t give up if you have trouble finding models. The availability of models can be seasonal, rising and falling in sync with college schedules, weather, economic factors, and a whole array of dynamic elements. Staying motivated is the most important factor in early success.
New to nudes
Some photographers who are new to nudes may jump right in. Others are timid; if this is you, you need to work your way up by shooting other styles of photography. If your photography skills are rudimentary, you may wish to learn the basics with landscape and still life to fill in the times you can’t find a portraiture model. Start with friends and family if you don’t feel comfortable recruiting a stranger. Start with fashion if you don’t feel comfortable hiring a glamour model. Work on a glamour portfolio if you don’t yet feel up to photographing nudes or if you’re having trouble convincing models that you can produce worthy images.
At some point you’ll start working with nudes. A certain degree of apprehension is normal. After hundreds of nude models, I still have concerns about making sure a shoot works to its best potential. I wouldn’t say I experience nervousness any more, but rather a heightened sense of attention that keeps me on my toes. If you wait until you have no uncertainties, you’ll never shoot nudes. Somewhere between self-inflicted paralysis and utter calm lies the photographer who is ready to shoot nudes.
Building your portfolio
You need samples of nude shots in order to book your models. Building credibility is an essential step to recruiting models, and nothing builds credibility better than an astounding portfolio. But how do you get your first nudes? This may seem like a catch-22, but you can get there. You may have to add progressively unclothed shots to your portfolio until you have a portfolio of nudes. Shoot clothed models until your work is competent enough to convince someone to do glamorous bikini or lingerie shots with you. I’ve rarely met an attractive woman who wouldn’t pose in lingerie and for implied nudes. Then you can move on to models who do implied nudes (nude from behind, for example) or topless shots. In many cases your first nude model can be one you’ve already photographed clothed. Each time you work with a model, the two of you will build trust and comfort.
There is a first time for everything, and I’ve hired my fair share of models who are posing nude for the first time. I don’t recommend this for beginning photographers, since neither of you will have much experience with nude shoots. But bear in mind that every model who poses nude had a first time.
Eventually you’ll have no trouble finding your first nude model, especially if you work repeatedly with the same model or hire a model who has a lot of experience modeling nude. Finding your first nude model may seem difficult at first, but it’s really not.
Once you’ve finished your portfolio, complete with everything you need to impress prospective models, know this: you’re not done. You’re never done building your portfolio. Periodically review your portfolio and relentlessly eliminate weak or old photos. Recognize what works and stick with it or update it. Your portfolio should contain only consistently strong, recent work.