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As we stated in our blog on what we pay models, we consider working with models a relationship. Therefore, we look for much more than just the “right look” in a model. Here is a breakdown of what we look for in a model.

What We Look For In A Model

This is our job. We spend lots of time with the people we hire. If all goes well, we hope to be able to take them on trips, retreats and do lots of photo shoots with them. We want to be around people that are nice, and great to spend time with.

Do other people like to spend time with them? We absolutely don’t want drama on set or a retreat. The ability to get along with others is one of the top factors we look for in hiring a model.

How can we tell? Instagram and Facebook tell us pretty much everything we need to know. Plus, we ask around!

The Ability To Make Others Better

We are looking for people who are confident enough in themselves to make others look better. When models help each other look better in a picture, the picture is better, it then sells better. When models are trying to one up each other in a picture it looks awkward and usually doesn’t do well. Is another model having a bad day, we want models who will encourage them.

On set we are a team. We are creating a picture that will either sell or not. There is no partial credit for one model looking good and another not.

In short, making others look good is always a good look.

What We Look For In A Model
Models Making Each Other Look Good


Professional models are very skilled. They make what they do look easy, so everyone thinks they can do it. We look for models that can rattle off one pose after another and maintain their smile. It is extremely difficult.

Here is a short video showing the type of skill we are looking for. In this setting we are taking around 30 pictures per minute! Notice how she changes the pose on every picture and flows seamlessly from serious to smiling pictures. She doesn’t miss a single pose.

Model: Citlalli @crruiz_ (2018 NGM Model Of The Year)


We spend weeks planning a shoot and usually invest hundreds or thousands of dollars. We need people who will show up. Be an upfront person. Communicate what is happening with you. Things do happen and come up, just let us know.

A models overall communication with agencies, casting directors and photographers is extremely important. The better and more often they communicate, the more confidence people will have in them.

Are They A Fit For The Theme Of The Shoot

Models have no control over this one. That is why they shouldn’t get discouraged by not getting hired for any one job or shoot. If we are doing a teen girl shopping trip shoot and the other 3 models are 5’2″ and they are 5’11” it will not be a fit no matter how good they might otherwise be. The good news is that we keep all applications and try to go back through them if someone is a fit for a future shoot.

Our shoots are generally shoot 4-5 themes on any given day. We might be shooting motherhood, or drivers education, prom, fitness, business, nursing, or school. We look for people who will fit every theme we are shooting on that day.

Models should never be discouraged by not getting a particular job, it means nothing and has no bearing on their career.

Models For a Shoot Usually Have a Similar Height and Age

Ability To Smile

Commercial models need to smile. Over and over during a 4 hour period. We look for models that have shown they can smile well. We will take up to 1,000 pictures of a model during a shoot. If models are not used to smiling, they will not be able to handle that workload.

How do we tell? Instagram. If a model doesn’t have many or any pictures of themselves smiling on their account it means they are usually either unable or unwilling to smile for long periods during a shoot.

It should be easy to pick out people are are good at smiling naturally.


Part of the equation is the publicity the model will bring the photographer. We look for two things. Does the model have any influence online and more importantly, do they use that influence to help people they know.

If all other things are equal, and one model has 200 Instagram followers followers while another has 10,000, we will lean towards the one with 10,000. If the one with 10,000 however, is someone that deletes all of their pictures, and doesn’t do anything with their influence, it doesn’t matter much.

Models should do what they can to build their online profile and demonstrate their ability to use that influence to benefit themselves and others.

The “Right Look”

What We Look For In A Model

For us, the right look is a warm, clean, non-edgy, commercial look. Ask youself, if I owned a company, would I want this model to represent it. That is essentially the question that gets asked over and over when our pictures are bought.

There are a variety of business owners asking that question though, so we hire a variety of models. The “right look” is not easily quantifiable, but if you have a handle on the market, you know it when you see it.

The Ideal Applicant

Every time we hire a new model it is essentially a gamble. There are no sure things, however, we try to set ourselves up for success. We are paying someone and are hoping that they will deliver pictures that will return that initial investment and make a profit. It is important for us to know therefore, what we look for in a model.

In our experience the more of these qualities a model has, the easier it is to predict success. Our ideal applicant would check off every box listed on this page and posses a world class look, that is undoubtedly marketable.

Stock Photography Guide

This post, what we look for in a model, is part of our Guide To Stock Photography. If you want to start making money taking pictures give it a look.

Rob Marmion

Rob is a commercial photographer with North Georgia Media. He has had over 650,000 pictures published in a variety of media. We sell many of our pictures at Shutterstock. You can earn money selling your pictures there too!

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