Hiring local models

I live in East Nashville, a very trendy and artistic, tightly knit community, that’s very sought after in recent years. What makes this area so great is the loyalty and enthusiasm for it’s small and local businesses, and it’s the least corporate / chain oriented part of Nashville. Very artist and diversity friendly. So, that said, it’s very important to me to support small local business. There’s a certain accountability that goes with it. You know I’m going somewhere with this.

A quick word about this sector of my photography business. I have a bit of a different style than local boudoir studios. Most of them don’t do nude photography, and their work has a softer feel to it. So, the clients I do get like the fact that I’m different. However, many are career women and do this for their spouses or significant others, whether overseas serving in the military, or working the grind locally. So much of what I shoot for clients I cannot use, some are ok with bodyscapes without their face showing….but there comes a time when I have to be able to use everything that completes and body and soul of a woman…..so a few times a year, I collaborate with nude / art models. Whether I trade shoot with them and provide them photos and we work on concepts together….or I hire one and that’s her compensation. For the right model with the right body of work, it pays to do that sometimes. And it helps them. If they give me a great shoot, I still may even provide some photos from the shoot on top of monetary compensation.

Boudoir photography Nashville

Usually not a problem. I don’t photograph models frequently especially during peak wedding season, which I am about to wrap up for the season….and I can take advantage of boudoir and artistic nude photoshoot bookings, as well as portfolio updating in that genre. I still do know my fair share of models, though not super active in local online communities dedicated to that. Sometimes I need a new face to shoot for versatility. So, I find a great abandoned house that could be razed soon. I contact several local models, both newer and experienced about hiring or trading for this shoot location. Which is 45 minutes away, but wah. If that’s what it takes to get the shot, I do it. I think I contacted 8….all of which were Model Mayhem or Facebook friends or knew me from being around, or in one of their communities even if I don’t post daily. No cold calls. Here’s where it gets interesting, or pathetic.

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3 or 4 of them read my message and didn’t even bother responding. Is my money not good? And can I not offer them something more than the newer shooters they frequent? This is not to sound egotistical or butthurt…I just fail to understand how so many don’t understand they must treat this like a business….you just don’t ignore customers, especially if that customer is well established. The other half was either wishy-washy and couldn’t follow up and commit to it….or got weird about the location, tried to sneak their boyfriend / escort into the mix, whatever else that resulted in a fail. If I didn’t need a new face for this project, it would have been easier…future projects I can use a model I have an established relationship with. I got tired of dealing with the bullshit, so I hired a traveling model from L.A. who would bring it and not flake out or be wishy-washy…..that’s what she’s paid for. I have had fantastic luck with most traveling models in the past. I like supporting locals, but why bother if it’s like this? Do this to people, they tell others in the circle they know. Not hard to figure out.


I forgot about one who wanted to charge going nude rate for “implied nudes” with restrictions and me signing an agreement not to show photos that showed more….and bring her boyfriend escort. I laughed my ass off pretty hard. That was a resounding no. One thing about me, I will bring energy to a shoot and give it all I have….I have been in this long enough to know how I need to do things. I don’t mean to sound egotistical if I don’t want to budge on an escort condition or paying for what’s not usable. In the 11 years I have been photographing the nude woman, I’ve paid models tens of thousands of dollars….several years ago I did a lot of commissioned work and online usage licensing, so I worked with the same models frequently. These days I work with private clients and work with models periodically. If I have to use traveling models to avoid the air headed crap I have experienced lately, or complete disregard for me as a professional photographer, I will continue to hire them, seamless deal. I hope that changes at some point.

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Once I get blown off or deal with stupid shit from someone, I don’t approach them again….if they reach out to me in the future I am always open to considering them. It’s only fair. This isn’t a popularity contest for me. I’m happy if I love the photos and we both have a good fun experience. That is what it’s about isn’t it? No reason to complicate it.

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3 thoughts on “Hiring local models

  1. You have beautiful work. I’m sorry you have had such a bad experience finding local models. I’ve had the same type of thing with local photographers. I’m not local to Nashville but I am in TN if you are ever looking for more models. 🙂 Hope you don’t have to deal with this again!

    • Thank you Anna 🙂 I am fortunate to have a few favorites I can call on, but sometimes a new face is needed to break it up….that’s where it became a challenge lol. No doubt it’s not exclusive to models, photographers also. It shouldn’t be one vs. the other, more working together and professional respect is earned 🙂 Where can i see your portfolio? 😀

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