For models, stock photography generally isn't a moneymaker. Often, these anonymous subjects are the photographer's friends and colleagues, and they usually don't get paid a professional model's rate (if they get paid at all). However, a few stock models have built a cult following with their photos, and you'll see them in a variety of print and digital media. If you have the right look and personality, there's a chance that you may join their ranks. Below, we've outlined some basic guidelines for how to become a stock photo model.
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Play to Specific Categories
First, it's important to realize that stock photography is more about concepts than artistic perspectives. The field is broken up into distinct categories, such as office scenes, family scenes, and hospital scenes. There are also images that try to represent a complex concept in one frame, like "harmony" or "chaos". Once you understand that your role as a stock photo model is to serve the category or concept, then the modeling process will become much easier.
Look the Part
Whether it's politically correct or not, stock photography plays to certain archetypes. For example, a middle-aged man with salt-and-pepper hair might play a scientist, a businessman, or the main character in a Viagra ad. Meanwhile, a large, overweight man may play a truck driver or a construction worker.
In Western culture, we're used to this social shorthand in our media, and the most effective stock photography uses models who play the part. When learning how to become a stock photo model, do some soul searching and figure out what your niche is. That way, you'll know how to market yourself to agencies and photographers.
Seek Out Agencies
Though you may have difficulty getting paid as a freelance stock model, you can earn a decent living when working for a local modeling agency. First, search for agencies in your area and find out which ones have a good reputation. If they're interested in you, they will ask for a personal portfolio, which they can shop around to different stock photographers. While modeling at the agency level, you may also be able to contact photographers in your area via their personal webpages. By having a chance to peruse the quality (and quantity) of their work online, you won't waste time on unpaid gigs.
When Shooting, Be Natural
Finally, it's important to remember that stock photo models are not superstars. Ultimately, the photographer has the last word when it comes to creative decisions. As a stock model, you should follow the photographer's lead, while also avoiding any cliché model poses. Just take a deep breath, and enjoy the process.