Tips for Models For Stock Photo Shoots

Over the last twelve months I have been shooting an extended series of Melbourne lifestyle images for my stock photo portfolio with iStockphoto and Getty Images. Along the way I’ve written these blog posts to explain the journey and to provide insight for photographers (A Step By Step Guide to a Stock Photo Shoot, Inside a Stock Photography Shoot, and Why I Shoot Stock).

More recently I’ve also written this blog post for models (What Models Should Know About Stock Photo Shoots) to demystify stock photography. That post is general in nature, and the others explain the mechanics of a stock photo shoot. In this post, I move to more specifics for models – Tips for Models for Stock Photo Shoots.


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Many stock photo shoots, like this one, involve just the model and photographer on location

Why explain these tips? The modelling business is a tough and competitive one, and paid work is hard to come by, particularly for models who are part time or starting out. Stock photography is an almost unlimited source of paid modelling work for the right people with the right approach. I see most models miss an opportunity for ongoing paid work which is right in front of them.

Tip #1 – Use Facial Expressions to Communicate a Message. Stock photography is about producing useful images that communicate a message. It is not necessarily about producing beautiful images. So use different facial expressions to communicate different messages. The same scene with a smile, a scowl, and a look of concern are all useful to me as a stock photographer. Use facial expressions to communicate a range of emotions. Try to avoid being an expressionless run way model when doing a stock shoot. Let your personality shine.

Tip #2 – Don’t Expect High Production Values. Stock photo shoots come in all shapes and sizes, but don’t expect all shoots to be high production value. Often it will be just the model and photographer working together to produce a range of images. Sometimes there might also be a hair and make up artist and a stylist. And only rarely will there be a full set with support staff moving lights and running to get you coffee. So when you think about a stock photo shoot, it’s only rarely that it will be glamorous and with lots of people running around assisting. More often than not, you will be working with just the photographer. If your ego needs stroking by assistants running to the coffee machine, stock photo modelling might not be for you.

coffee time

Taking an active interest in the images will help achieve a good result

Tip #3 – Take An Interest in the Images Being Produced. If the model takes an interest in the images being produced it helps the model understand what the photographer is trying to achieve. With that understanding comes a better shoot. And with a successful shoot comes more shoots. Stock photographers are constantly looking for models who understand and help them achieve useful images. If you are one of those, you will be offered more and more stock photo shoots.

Tip #4 – Bring Your Creative Self to the Shoot. A stock photographer will have a range of images in mind before the shoot starts. That is often based on market research or on a specific request from a client. Check with the photographer during the shoot if the images are meeting the photographers needs. And then see what else you can add. I really appreciate it when a model says “How about we try this look?” That adds a lot of value and will often help to produce a broader range of images, or a different angle, than I originally had in mind. Don’t just be there in person, bring your whole creative self to the image making process. It will help the photographer produce a range of useful images.

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To great more paid modelling work, followup after a stock shoot with ideas for future shoots

Tip #5 – Followup the Photographer with a New Idea. Stock photographers are always looking for new ideas and new concepts to shoot. If you have enjoyed the first shoot, follow up with a new idea. See if it is a concept the photographer would like to shoot. Does the photographer see a commercial use for the idea? It’s very likely that a good idea will immediately lead to another paid modelling job for you. Strike while the iron is hot, and followup in the first few days after a shoot to secure another one.

Thanks for taking the time to read Tips for Models for Stock Photo Shoots. I hope it has been helpful to you, and helps to generate more paid stock photo modelling jobs.

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