Photographer Advice Blog Post

Sending Introductory Messages to Models

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.

Sending Introductory Messages to Models 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.

And remember…

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.

Sending Introductory Messages to Models

Improving Social Media Presence for Photographers

The more time I spend looking at trends on social media and how they translate into my community, the more I notice the differences between how most models and model photographers use social media in general. Many models seem to gravitate naturally toward the social aspects of social media. Model photographers, on the other hand, seem to struggle a bit more with putting themselves out there on social media. I’m writing this article to help model photographers who are struggling to get started on improving their social media presence.

Improving Social Media for Model Photographers

Get Out of the Negative Mindset

First things first. You have to stop letting comparisons to others (models specifically) stop you from moving forward with your social media plan. If you stay hung up on that, you’re not going to be able to move forward.

If this isn’t a problem for you, that’s great! I’m only bringing it up here because it’s a common problem I’ve seen and I feel it needs to be addressed.

Social media growth is all about growing your fanbase, your followers, and hopefully your customers (and possibly collaborators). This means what you need to focus on how your numbers increase with the things you do. I only want you to look to others for inspirations and ideas, not for negative comparisons.

So from this point on stay focused on developing your plan and you will start seeing results.

How to Be Social

Here’s the part you need to remember: in order to be successful on social media you need to be willing to share more than just your photos. The reason many models seem to flow well with social media is because they’re willing to share things like:

  • insights into their creativity & inspiration
  • behind the scenes stories
  • their personal stories
  • more about their process

This is called adding value to posts and it’s an important part of social media. I’m going to share more about how you can do that in just a moment.

Before we do though, let’s take a moment to talk about platforms.

What Platforms to Use

As a photographer there are two platforms you’ll probably find most useful: Instagram and Facebook. Facebook has become more and more difficult to use, but Instagram is a thriving, growing place that is perfect for photographers. I suggest using both a Facebook fan page and an Instagram account.

There will be differences in how you use them, but you can still use much of the same content. Having a Facebook page will also allow you to create ads on both Facebook and Instagram which you may find useful later. It also allows you to view your stats on Instagram if you choose to switch to a business account there.

Now that we’ve established where you should be (at minimum), we can move on to the added value I mentioned earlier.

Creating “Added Value” Posts

Let’s talk about some simple ways you can add value to your posts within the text of the post. These tips should also help you plan what to post as well.

  • Share details about how you got the shot, especially if it’s something different or interesting. Just remember to keep them easy to understand. Assume your followers are non-technical. You can always elaborate later if asked.
  • If there was a funny or interesting story behind the shot, share it.¬† It could be about how you met the model, something that happened during the shoot, etc.
  • You can also share a couple sentences about your concept and what inspired it.

What you’re doing is adding something extra to your post. Keep your followers reading and interested in the story that your art creates. Don’t get hung up on the idea that your art should speak for itself. Maybe it does, but it doesn’t hurt to offer something extra. That’s what keeps people coming back because people are curious to know what’s below the surface of what they see.

Take a few minutes now to look at some past posts (or planned posts) and brainstorm some added value text to add to them. You might even find that you can repost those things with your new text and get more interaction.

Now that we’ve started you off with a good foundation to start moving forward, let’s talk about how you can keep learning.

Continuing Education

I’m going to let you in on something else you need to do: keep learning about how to use social media! There are tons of free and affordable courses out there that you can learn from.

Here are a few free resources you can start with:

7 Days to More Impact on Social Media from Udemy

Growing Followers with Interaction from Dekilah

10 Instagram Tips for Photographers from PetaPixel

Increase Instagram Following With These 10 Tips For Photographers from SLR Lounge

Three Easy Ways To Drive New Followers To Your Instagram For Free by Fstoppers

Your Official Instagram Hashtag Guide for Photographers by Fstoppers

If you found this blog post helpful, please considering donating a little bit to my blog via the donation buttons near the bottom of the page. You’re also more than welcome to share this post and I encourage it if you found it helpful. ^_^

And if you find you’re still struggling and would like some one on one help in coming up with how to add value to your own posts, get in touch with me to discuss an affordable mini consultation session. I’d be happy to help guide you through a few examples using your photos.