How to Run a Successful Model Call for Professional Photographers

Running a model call is a crucial step for photographers looking to expand their portfolio and showcase their skills. It’s an opportunity to find new models to work with, experiment with different styles and techniques, and ultimately produce high-quality images that can be used for marketing or client work. However, running a successful model call requires careful planning and execution. In this blog, we’ll go over the steps involved in running a model call for photographers.


How to run a successful model call for professional photographers, blog post, Tografy, Kara Hubbard

What is a Photography Model Call

In portrait and wedding photography model calls are defined (in general) by photographers running a “session” where they advertise for a specific type of model in order to practice their skill or craft. Often times these sessions are either free or highly discounted as they are seen as portfolio building.

Why Photographers Should Run a Model Call

Running a photography model call might be in your future if you are just launching your new photography business, pivoting into a new niche, or just want to doing some creative portfolio building to diversify your content.

How to Run a Successful Photography Model Call


Step One: Define the Purpose for Running a Model Call 

Before you start planning your model call, it’s important to define your goals. What type of images do you want to create? Are you looking to build a portfolio in a specific genre, such as fashion or fitness photography? Are you trying to attract new clients or showcase your work to potential collaborators? The answers to these questions will guide the rest of your planning process (or if you’re struggling to book clients, this blog might be a better suit for you)…

  • Example One: A new photographer focusing on portfolio building may decide to run a broad niche session (maternity model call), allowing clients to choose wardrobe, time, and date.
  • Example Two: An experienced photographer with an emphasis on expanding their portfolio in a particular niche may decide to run a niched model call session, choosing client’s wardrobe, location, and building the session setting.

Determining how involved you want to be in the planning of the session type, client look, wardrobe, setting, time, and date, are really up to you and what you are trying to get out of the model call. Hence, spending time outlining your photography model call goals is essential to the sessions success.


Step Two: Determine a Budget

Once you’ve defined your goals, it’s important to determine your budget. This will help you determine what type of model call you can afford to run, and how much you can offer your models in terms of compensation or other incentives. Your budget will also determine the types of resources you can use to promote your model call, such as paid ads or social media. The budget must cover all of your needs, from studio rentals, treats for kiddos, props and wardrobe, lens rentals, to gas for travel. Make an initial list of expenses you may incur followed by a budget for each category. For example:

  • 85mm Lens Rental: $65
  • Treats for Kiddos: $5
  • Studio Rental: $0
  • Props: $25
  • Wardrobe: $150

Next, practice budget management. Your expenses may change over time, but actively managing your budget will allow you stay within your goals and give you peace of mind when planning.


Step Three: Choose Your Model Call Type

There are several types of model calls you can run, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Some common options include:

  • Open Call: An open call is a public invitation for models to apply to participate in your shoot. This type of call can be effective if you’re looking to cast a wide net and attract a large number of applicants.

  • Invitational Call: An invitational call is a more targeted approach, where you reach out to specific models or agencies to invite them to participate in your shoot. This type of call can be effective if you’re looking for models with specific looks or experience levels.

  • Portfolio Building Call: A portfolio building call is a collaborative effort between several photographers and models, where everyone involved works together to create high-quality images for their portfolios. This type of call can be effective if you’re looking to build relationships with other photographers and models, and create a diverse range of images for your portfolio.


Step Four: Develop a Model Call Plan  

Once you’ve chosen your model call type, it’s time to develop the details of your call. This will include:

  • Date and Time: Choose a date and time that works well for your schedule and the schedules of your models. Take note of busy or high-volume seasons for yourself or other photographers so as not to add additional stress to your schedule. For example: scheduling model calls during a high-volume season like fall may result in less interest and traction from potential clients. 

  • Location: Choose a location that fits with the style and theme of your shoot. Make sure it’s easily accessible and has enough space for your team and equipment.

  • Style: Determine the style of the session that will fit with your brand and location. 
  • Wardrobe: Research and select multiple wardrobe options to create greater diversity. This also allows you to get a more diversified gallery out of the model call, and you will be more efficient with your time.
  • Compensation: Determine what you can offer your models in terms of compensation or incentives. This might include payment, images for their portfolio, or other perks. Though most model calls are free, a small percentage are still run as paid model calls. However, keep in mind that by pricing your model call free or highly discounted will allow you to better control the model you select and the success of your session. The higher the percentage paid by the client, the more they will want to have say and be in control session elements. 

  • Requirements: Determine any requirements for your models, such as age, height, or experience level.

  • Application Process: Develop an application process that includes a clear description of your shoot, the requirements for models, and any additional details they need to know.


Step Five: Marketing Your Model Call 

When marketing a model call keep in your mind budget, ideal client, and branding.

  • Budgeting Your Model Call
    • Keeping track of your expenses is always key to a successful model call.
  • Keep Focused on Your Ideal Client
    • Remember why you’re running your model call and stay focused on finding that perfect client(s) that fits your vision.
  • Stay on Brand
    • Make sure your ads and all marketing stay on brand with your business. This includes the images utilized in your advertising pieces, as images should feature similar styles, editing, and wardrobe, if possible. Understandably since model call sessions are most frequently used for portfolio building you may not have this flexibility, as such, make sure the advertising copy is clearly outlined and images used are as close to what you are seeking as possible. 

Once you’ve developed the details of your model call and defined it’s marketing approach, it’s time to promote it to potential models. There are several ways to do this:

  • Social Media: Promote your call on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Use relevant hashtags and tag other photographers and models to increase visibility.

  • Model Agencies: Reach out to model agencies in your area and provide them with information about your shoot. They may be able to recommend models who fit your requirements.

  • Online Communities: Look for online communities that cater to photographers and models, such as photography forums or Facebook groups. Post information about your shoot and invite members to apply.


Step Six: Choose Your Models

Once you have received applications from potential models, it’s time to choose the ones you want to work with. Consider their experience level, their fit with your shoot’s requirements, and any other factors that are important to you. If you’re having trouble deciding between several models, consider conducting interviews or casting sessions to get a better sense of their personality and how they might fit with your team.


Step Seven: Prepare Your Client for Their Model Call

It is important to keep clients “in the know” and for them to understand your model call process. As such, a photography client contract is necessary to your success. A photography contract will allow you to manage your client’s expectations as to the process and outcome of your model call. Allowing you to define the terms of wardrobe (grab a Session and Style Guide for an even better client experience), pricing, and deliverables, ultimately keeping communication clear and open. 


Step Eight: Shoot Your Model Call 

On the day of your shoot, make sure everything is in place and everyone is prepared. Communicate clearly with your team and models, and be open to feedback and suggestions. Make sure you’re taking plenty of shots and experimenting with different angles, lighting, and poses to get the best possible images.


Running a successful model call requires careful planning and execution, but it’s a great way to expand your portfolio, showcase your skills, and build relationships with models and other photographers. By following these steps, you can create a successful model call that produces high-quality images and helps you achieve your goals as a photographer.


You Might Also Be Interested In….

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I’m Kara


Through my best-selling courses, thriving 1:1 tailored coaching experience, professional done-for-you business services, and powerful business templates, I inspire and empower photographers to take control of their businesses and realize that “Wow, I can do this!”

search the blog

Kara Hubbard, Business Coach for Photographers, Photographer Educator, Owner of Tografy, Ozo Coffee Branding

Hey Photographers!


Schedule your free 30-minute strategy call to discuss a DIY project, DFY service, or the Tailored Coaching experience!

featured posts

post categories


Kara Hubbard, Business Coach for Photographers, Photographer Educator, Owner of Tografy, Whole Foods Branding

hi there!

I’m Kara Hubbard


Through my best-selling courses, thriving 1:1 tailored coaching experience, professional done-for-you business services, and powerful business templates, I inspire and empower photographers to take control of their businesses and realize that “Wow, I can do this!”
I do this by teaching photographers how to run their businesses and not how I successfully ran my own. I firmly believe that with proper business education and tailored resources anyone can build a life and business they love through the incredible art of photography.


popular posts

Profitable Portrait Photography: Strategies for Success

Profitable Portrait Photography: Strategies for Success

If you’re a professional portrait or wedding photographer eager to increase your income, attract high-paying clients, and create unforgettable experiences, this is the ultimate resource for you. Join us as we delve into defining your ideal client, perfecting your website, offering enticing packages, delivering exceptional client experiences, and investing in continuous learning to take your photography business to new heights of profitability and success.

Read the Post
The Best camera to start your photography business | Tografy Photographer Business Coach

Top 8 Newborn Photography Studio Accessories of 2023

Calling all newborn photographers! Get ready to supercharge your studio and elevate your sessions with our latest blog. We’re diving deep into the world of newborn photography studio accessories, sharing insider tips and must-have items that will make your clients swoon. From sleek snack organizers to game-changing white noise machines, this blog is your ticket to creating a polished, client-focused experience that will leave a lasting impression. Don’t miss out on the secrets to success—click here and let’s level up your newborn photography game!

Read the Post
Kara Hubbard, Business Coach for Photographers, Photographer Educator, Owner of Tografy, Ozo Coffee Branding

Free Business Course for Photographers COMING SOON

Tografy’s a la carte business courses for photographers will be launching in 2023, get on the waitlist to have access to Tografy’s first ever free business course for photographers, PLUS over ten additional courses!

Scroll to Top