So far, portraiture has not been my main area of interest, but I do find many portraits fascinating and would like to develop myself further. Across time, I've gathered various theoretical knowledge on portraiture, have got my gear together and done a few self-portraits and shot friends and family.

The next logical step, it seems, is to start taking portraits of strangers - but how (and where) to find those? I've seen the older question concerning taking photos of strangers, but I'd like the shots to be a bit more prepared than plain street photography (I'd like to select or set up a background and lighting).

I don't intend to use the photos commercially, so I have no strict requirements regarding model releases or professional level of the models. On the other hand, this limits my willingness to invest heavily.


3 Answers 3


Model Mayhem is used well known website to find models. You can find not-so-well established models who will model for free in exchange for head shots. It is a good way to start out.

Another option would be to join a local portraiture meetup group in your area. They normally share the cost of the studio and the model when doing a shoot.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You want to do a TFP (trade for print) where the model donates their time in exchange for limited use of the resulting photos for his/her portfolio. \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeW
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 2:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ my wife uses Model Mayhem and it's been great. She's found some great local models on a TFP basis. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 2:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ We've used Model Mayhem a lot, the only drawback is the ones wanting to do TFP tend to be pretty unreliable. Again and again we book extra ones because half don't turn up on the day. \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeW
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 10:00

I sometimes ask someone I would like to photograph or ask person whose pictures I took on some event to cooperate on planned photo-session. Most people are flattered by that offer and if they reject, they do it politely.

Another great source are people following recommendations from my previous models or people that "like" my page on FB.

I found catalogs like Model Mayhem (our national versions) much less effective, there are lots of photographers and many of them with really bad reputation.


It's strange no one mentioned Onemodelplace

Yes there's Modelmayhem too.

But in my honest opinion the most effective way of finding models (cost and time-effective wise) is to work with people whom you can convince easily. These people may include friends and/or relatives, cousins etc. And they don't easily get pissed at you, which is a plus.


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