How To Find Free Models For Your Stock Photography Shoot

Once you’ve exhausted the obvious immediate resource of family and friends willing to pose in your stock photography shoots, it can be challenging to find subjects without breaking the bank. While professional models are definitely easier to work with, they come at a steep price which makes it an impossible choice for photographers on a tight budget. Here are five fresh ideas to help you find free models for your next stock photography shoot:

Ask For Referrals

In this business you cannot afford to be shy. Talk to family, friends and contacts and ask them if they know any interesting people who would like to be photographed for free. Posing the question like this might result in a few more results than simply asking for models for a shoot. Make sure you have an online presence and website/portfolio these potential subjects can see to build credibility and improve your chances of closing the deal.

Free Headshots Anyone?

Make a list of all the professions you can think of that might require regular headshots. The list should include subjects like actors, dancers, athletes, radio DJs and comedians. Then, do an online search for amateur professionals pursuing their careers and reach out to them. Offer them free headshots and portraits in exchange for their time as your model in the stock photography shoot. This type of arrangement is also known as TFP (Time For Prints).

Approaching Strangers

This is something many stock photographers find to be rather intimidating but, if successful, it can land you the most interesting subjects for your shoots. Simply always be on the lookout for potential models when going about day-to-day activities. If you spot someone who you think might be a good candidate then approach them and introduce yourself. It’s important that you clearly explain that it would be a trade exchange, i.e. their time in exchange for a free one hour shoot (perhaps a family shoot or a couple shoot would peak their interest). Make sure you have a business card with you and be friendly but professional to cement your credibility. This is often a hit and miss but leaving the ball in their court means that the people who do get in touch with you will probably stick to their word and see the project to completion.

People Who Are Passionate About What They Do

The great thing about stock photography is that more is more. Your portfolio can only benefit from a wide range of subjects and themes. Sit down and brainstorm a variety of professions and hobbies and then try and think of anyone in your network that excels at any of these. Generally, people who are passionate about something they do are happy to be photographed doing that particular thing. For example, an up and coming entrepreneur would be the perfect subject for a business stock shoot or a young fashion designer would be the ideal subject and have the most authentic location for a sewing or design themed stock photography shoot. Again, offer them professional images and/or prints in exchange for their time.

Online Platforms

Social media platforms, local bloggers and websites like are great places to look for free models for your next stock photo shoot. On your own social media profile, be sure to include something along the lines of “request to work on TFP basis” along with your contact details.

When communicating with potential models always make sure that they are aware of the exchange, i.e. time for images/prints and that they know what the images will be used for. They also need to be informed that they will be required to sign a model release form.

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