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Take Your Portfolio To The Next Level With The Help Of A Model Scout

Take Your Portfolio To The Next Level With The Help Of A Model Scout

Do you want agency grade models in your portfolio but can't quite cut through the competition vying to test with the same talent? Do you want agency grade models in your portfolio but can't afford the agency rates? Modelling agencies are a fantastic source of top models but they are not the only way to acquire this elusive talent and build your portfolio very quickly to a professional standard.

Professional models have beautiful faces and bodies but they also have incredible control and awareness of their posing while maintaining a natural and comfortable feel on camera. These models can make all the difference in your images and ultimately your portfolio. Finding such models can prove to be much harder than it seems. The simple fact is that most people don't posses these qualities. That means photographers must search in places where such models are available. Agencies can be a great source to find reliable and experienced models but rates can be prohibitive for many who are simply building a portfolio and being accepted as an agency photographer puts you at competition with a lot of your peers vying for the same opportunity.

There is however a road less traveled and it offers MANY benefits.

Model Scout

Introducing The Model Scout

A talent scout is an individual in your community who has a knack for spotting the traits that are in demand by a particular industry. Talent scouts work in all varieties of industries. The music industry has talent scouts that attend local shows and venues on behalf of record labels looking for the next big sensation. Sports teams have talent scouts which scour local colleges looking for the next addition to their roster. Even corporate America has "talent scouts" that poach the top performers from their competition.

In the modelling industry we have model scouts. These are individuals who can spot a beautiful face in a crowd. They have the experience and know how to see modelling potential in a person. Model scouts will find these gems and polish them by offering them coaching and building up a portfolio for them. The model scout will do what it takes to prepare the model before they presents them to various agencies who will then buy the model from the scout. You heard that right. Most of the models these scouts find end up being agency models within a few short months.

By pairing up with a good model scout you have a chance to work with some agency grade models before they get snatched up by the agencies. You won't get paid for this but you also won't be paying to do this either. Just as much as you are looking to build your portfolio, the scout is looking to build each of the models portfolio's. It is a truly mutually beneficial relationship.

A Good Scout Makes The Difference

The scout I work with, Peggi LePage, was a successful model herself. She has graced the covers of magazines such as Vogue and Elle. This gives her a unique advantage over some model scouts due to her vast experience in the industry. She has the network in place to benefit many of her potentials and one look at her past roster will showcase her success in placing the models she works with into highly desirable positions. Since the model scout I work with was a model herself she also has incredible experience with posing and is able to coach and guide her potentials to very strict and world class standards. Pairing with a good model scout should offer you access to professional grade faces and training.

Model Scout Work

No Pressure Environment

Working with model scouts can offer a pretty relaxed shooting arrangement. Although you are always trying to capture each model at their best you also have the freedom to experiment and to get a bit creative. These are luxuries you may not have when working with clients or with agency models because of time constraints and pre-approved expectations. These shoots can be a great opportunity to test new techniques, equipment, or poses and expressions, many of which you can later transfer over to your paid work.

Fresh Faces

Model scouts have a constant supply of fresh talent. Their business revolves around finding undiscovered faces so in essence they are doing all the leg work for you. They are weeding out the ones who more than likely won't cut it in the real world leaving you to shoot with some truly talented and beautiful people before the rest of the camp gets there. If you've got a good rapport with your model scout by creating work that suits their style they will send you quite a bit of work and that can very quickly build up an incredibly diverse and professional portfolio.

Long Term Potential

Working with model scouts is a long term investment. In addition to being able to build up your portfolio you also have the added benefit of being the first person to ever professionally shoot some of these potential models. Should any of these models wind up crossing over into the supermodel sphere you will always have the original and first images of that person. I find that a neat commodity. Can you imagine being the first professional photographer to shoot with Heidi Klum or Gisele Bundchen?

The real long term potential however comes from having access to the model scouts network. They show your images directly to the modelling agencies and later to various potential clients which the model might be considered by. Your images are out there. Your work is being constantly evaluated. Your name is being engraved in the minds of the influential decision makers at the highest levels. If you put out a constant stream of quality work it is only a matter of time before a call trickles through to you for a paid job.


How To Approach

Approaching a model scout can be a very tricky proposition. They can be extremely selective when it comes to who they work with and rightfully so. Most of the talent they scout ranges from 15-20 years old. When I signed on with the model scout I work with I went in for a face to face interview where I presented my work, but I was also questioned about my intentions and personality. The model scout wants to keep their roster safe from predators and unfortunately our profession does not always have the cleanest reputation. If this is a road you pursue be prepared to answer questions, have references in place, and showcase your friendly personality.

Peter House  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

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steve fischer's picture

I think this is very good advice for anyone looking to test.

Matthew Odom's picture

This is brilliant!

Gustavo Ureña's picture

This just came at the right time. Thanks

Peter House's picture

Glad to hear! Cheers.

Jon Peckham's picture

Great idea! I've got to get me a scout . . .

Jennifer Kelley's picture

This is really good advice for photographers who need to build a portfolio to include people. I find it very easy to get my foot in the door in this situation because I'm a woman and a mom so people automatically find me less likely to take advantage of younger female models.

spiralphoto's picture

This seems to be true - at least in my experience - with almost any kind of photography. lol I like to think I'm a pleasant enough person to be around and do business with, but ever since my girlfriend and I started shooting together, I've pretty much handed her the relational portion of the business because people seem to just naturally be more easy-going with females. In my mind, men have a stigma of being salesmen, and thus by and large people tend to have their guard up because salesmen are less trustworthy. That and we deal with a lot of moms in this industry, so the majority of our client base is female and they simply relate better with my girlfriend than they do me right off the bat.

Jennifer Kelley's picture

Not going to spin it any other way, I am totally playing the mom card getting my foot in the door with senior photography. I think moms are less cautious of salesmen and more cautious of creepers with a camera. I've done test shoots with models who told me they were really glad I put it out there I'm a woman because they feel more comfortable knowing that without even meeting me. And it's funny because I was always a total tomboy and find myself in male dominated industries with NO issues except for in photography, which is somehow worse than construction. It's the same for men too, depending on what you want to shoot. I have yet to meet a male photographer who deals with babies in buckets.

On the flip side, I've been trying to get in with photographing cars and what a journey that is! I know cars, I love cars. I love and know more about cars more than half the people who are photographing them now. I get the idea of creating "car porn", sign me up. And I've talked to people who were bidding out male photographers with less experience and cost more (I told an accounting client opening a speciality shop I'd shoot for free!). I'm seriously considering branding myself as "Jamie" instead of "Jennifer" for certain types of photography. Give me cars, no babies in buckets, please.

Spencer Lefevre's picture

This article contains some great information, but how do you find a scout to work with?

Spy Black's picture

Yeah, that seems like a missing element in this article.

Peter House's picture

Most tend to hang out in larger markets so if you go looking stick to the bigger cities. Some advertise. But the way I found mine was simply by asking around. Most agencies, magazines, or other creatives have at some point run into one from your local area. The best advice I can give you is to do just that.

carlos bradley's picture

Great article!! So would you suggest just contacting an agency and try getting in touch with one of their scouts?

Ruben Vasquez's picture

Great! Soooooo... how do you find a model scout?