Let’s talk about sending introductory messages as a photographer. One of the top complaints I hear from other models, and one I have myself, is that photographers don’t seem to have a good understanding of what to include when they message models for the first time. Photographers, when you message models you want to make a connection and to communicate well so you can hopefully schedule a shoot. This blog post was written to help you write more effective introductory messages and to increase your responses.
Before we jump in I do want to say that this blog post is meant to help photographers understand what models are looking for. We often get a ton of messages and sending concise, well-written messages will put you further up the list to get a response in most cases.
Do keep in mind that these are tips based on my experiences and what many other models have voiced to me. However, they are not rules, merely suggestions.
Tip #1 – Be Clear That You Want to Shoot
There is no need to send a message saying “Hi” first and then wait for the model to respond, then send another message saying “How are you?” before you let the model know why you are getting in touch. Instead, try something like this to start off your message:
“Hi, [model name]. How are you? I was wondering if you’d be interested in shooting with me…”
I promise you that models will appreciate the time saved! You may also notice that you get more responses because you’re not being mistaken for a random person trying to chat the model up.
Tip #2 – Be Upfront About Shooting Trade
This one is simple: tell the model right away if you want to shoot trade. Don’t assume they’ll assume you want to shoot trade. I think we’d all much rather know where things stand with compensation and many models will ask before discussing other details anyway. If you’re upfront, you’ll save time.
Tip #3 – Give The Model Basic Details
If you have details such as a date, time, location, concept or style, etc, please include them. You don’t need to write out a long, detailed message, but you should cover the general details that you have. Here is an example:
“… I’d like to shoot glamour lingerie with you at my studio in [location] near X and Y. Are you available any time this upcoming week?”
Unless you only shoot one specific concept, you don’t need to send a long description of the concept. Most of the time a brief description of the style(s) you’re interested in is fine. You can always cover further details if the model is interested.
Tip #4 – Include Your Portfolio Link
Please, please, please include a link to your portfolio in your first message to the model! This may well be the number one thing models say they wish photographers would do in messages. Even if you have images on your profile or you’re contacting them from your photography account, it’s still helpful to include a link where they can go see examples of your work.
Tip #5 – Avoid Negative Commentary
Don’t be condescending about the model’s current portfolio or speak negatively about others we’ve worked with. I know some photographers do this because they think telling the model they need to update things will make them want to shoot together. That’s rarely the case.
I’ve experienced this and have spoken to other models about it specifically. When you do this our first thought is usually “Oh, they’re trying to convince us to model for them by making us think our other work is bad.” If you absolutely think you can help, try something more like this: “I think I could help you add some new stuff to your portfolio” or “I’d love to help you add to your [glamour/fashion/cosplay] portfolio.” Those sound helpful, not condescending, which is key.
Tip #6 – Don’t use text speak or slang
Text speak is fine for casual messages, but you should treat your introductory messages to models as professional communications. It’s incredibly annoying when someone we’re expected to take as professional ends all of their sentences with “lol”. And maybe I’m just out of the loop, but I get a little confused when photographers start describing their style as “lit” or “woke” or whatnot. I suppose this one depends on your audience a little bit, but I’d say in general text speak and slang are best avoided.
These are just suggestions and you should decide which, if any, will work for you. Each time I offer advice on this topic I get a handful of photographers who want to argue with me.
“Well, that stuff doesn’t apply to my situation!” or “What about this very specific scenario?”
In these cases, use common sense. If you know something won’t work for you, then don’t do it or adjust it to fit your situation. These are tips, not absolute rules. However, these tips were written based on many, many conversations with my fellow models so they are researched and confirmed by models to be what they are looking for in most situations.