Whether you’re just launching your photography business, pivoting into a new niche, or just want to do some creative portfolio building, running a model call is a great option to get you some fun new images. The photographer frequently takes creative control of the session, choosing location, time of day, props, and wardrobe. No matter your intentions or plans for running a photography model call, to find the best success you should not throw it together on a whim, but approach it as a thoughtfully planned out business decision. Let’s dive in!
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
The first step in running a successful photography model call is to decide the purpose for the session. This will include determining how focused and planned the session will be.
- 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
Picking a budget and monitoring your expenses allows you to plan your model call with freedom. 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: Make a Session Plan
Next, make a session plan. The session plan will outline wardrobe, location, price, setting, time, and date. Take note of busy or high-volume seasons for yourself or other photographers so as not to add additional stress to your schedule. Furthermore, scheduling model calls during a high-volume season like fall may result in less interest and traction from potential clients.
There are a variety of ways to price your model call such as, free, small % paid by client (highly discounted), or 100% paid by client. By enlarge, 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.
Step Four: Market 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.
Step FIVE: Set Client Expectations
Finally, 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, pricing, and deliverables, ultimately keeping communication clear and open.