You Don’t Need a Professional Model

It’s often thought that if you want to get into portraiture or fashion photography, you need to know models and get permission from their agencies to be part of your idea and shoot. In this video from Mango Street, they show how to shoot friends and how to get great shots doing so. 

If we analyze the fashion trends of today, the faces we see in campaigns are not of the supermodels. It’s faces of people we identify with, people that have something unique in their look that makes you look twice. This is true in the beauty industry as well as the fashion industry which has become much more street-wear orientated the last couple of years. This makes it great for us photographers, because we can partner up with our friends and shoot them. Even if they're not fashion-centric, and just different from the norm, it can make great images if you plan it well enough.

Ideas with Friends

In my opinion, if you are going to be posing your models, your shoot can be reminiscent and referenced from paintings or sculptures, or of two or three more contemporary concepts that you think are great, and you can bring it all together in some way. These images below are from a photographer who uses many people together and creates almost painting-like, yet timeless images by grouping people together.

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Amelleah, Veronica, Nienke, Nana & Katherine. 🕯

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french boys anïs, luca & lancelot. ♣️

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When you are considering making conceptual videos you can look at Gucci's latest campaigns as reference. What really stands out for me here is that the actors don't seem like the typical models you would consider for a large fashion brand. 

The Most Important Parts


The clothes, props, and colors play a vital role and need to form a united concept. For me, it's the most important part. So if you are planning on shooting friends, maybe also include a friend that has some sense of style or someone who knows a thing or two about fashion. Clothes from thrift stores or luxury boutiques can work, it's all about what you use and how you put it together. If it's more close-up and in the beauty photography genre you want to shoot in, good make up and artistic approach is just as important. 

Briefing the friends well and telling them what you aim to do

It's important to have everyone on the same page. You need to excite the team with the idea, but also allow for them to provide their ideas. It's always a collaboration. You are a group of artists all specializing in an art form of your choice. 

Doing it

It's great thinking of ideas, but it's much better actually doing it and sharing the images with the team that worked on it with you, and then your network. And collaborating is much more powerful on social networks, because if everyone likes it, shares it and tags each other, the power of the work grows significantly. 

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1 Comment

I recently got to work with a real professional model and it was a totally different experience. I had trouble keeping up with her. The good ones really know their stuff.