So, I've decided to take up photography on the side. I'm starting with some simple Urban Exploration and Astrophotography, but I know the projects I want to do will eventually require working with models.

However, given that I am 50 years old with no track record of working with models I've pretty much got all the warning signs of 'GuyWithCamera'.

So what are the things that models would be looking for to see me as a safe and serious amateur? I'm assuming shooting in public locations and encouraging them to bring a friend would go a long ways. But are there other things models look for?

If it helps, my target audience for a model would probably be in the 30-45 year old range. I'm not looking to do nudes or anything along those lines. More ironical themes like a fashion shoot in front of a house with a foreclosure sign or a black wedding dress shoot in an abandoned church.


1 Answer 1


Tell them the exact time and location of the shooting well in advance. Plan the first test shooting with each model in a public area (or close-by) to build up trust, and go to remote places for later shootings.

Provide a written contract that is clear and precise and which should contain a list of intended uses for the photographs.

Provide proof that models are covered by insurance if any accidents happen. Abandonned places are highly risky. Beware, that many insurances won't pay if you have an accident in abandoned places. You could find a professional who assesses if it is safe to enter a given place. However I think it will be very, very hard to find someone doing that if you're not the owner of the place. The professional way is to hire a set designer and build an abandoned place in a studio. This is the only way that you can make the shooting really safe.

While I can understand the thrill, personally I would not enter such abandoned buildings, but be happy with outdoor shootings that have the building as background.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also note that "abandoned" buildings can still turn out to have owners and there can be issues with the legal right to shoot and license images if you are not careful. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 7, 2020 at 17:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I always encourage models of either gender to bring a person with them to the shoot. I won't even do the shoot with a female model without an escort. If you have two models who know each other, they can be each other's escort. I also try to bring an assistant and/or a makeup artist on all shoots so there are at least four people in attendance. I also bought a lightweight portable changing room that I can set up on site which further puts model's minds at ease. That being said, shooting in abandoned locations is a great way to get into serious legal trouble. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 7, 2020 at 20:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree. OP already mentioned in question text that friends of the model are invited so I didn't repeat that in my answer. And yes, of course using abandoned places can cause legal issues if there is an owner. I thought this is obvious to everyone. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 7, 2020 at 21:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Of course, my point was that I actually require an escort in most cases, not just recommend one. I agree that there are things that should be obvious, but sometimes things that should go without saying are still worth saying. For example, shooting on railroad tracks in the US is nearly always trespass on federal property, but it doesn't stop me from seeing hundreds of "model walking down the tracks" shots in young photographer's portfolios every year. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 2:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LightBender You're absolutely right. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 7:48

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