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Monday, June 4, 2012

Shooting with Student Photographers: Pros & Cons

Student photographers are a hugely untapped resource that I think all models should look into at one time or another. True, these individuals are currently training to learn their craft and aren't "professional" but there are diamonds in the rough that have the natural talent, eye and ability that puts them well ahead of the class...even if they are still in school.

I've been fortunate to shoot with student photographers in the San Francisco area, who were not only good at what they did, they gave me valuable images for my portfolio. New/aspiring or established, models of all experience levels can get something good out of such a collaboration.

Below are some pros and cons that come with the decision to choose a student photographer to shoot with:


Opportunity to Get New Photos

Freelance models that need to put together their own portfolios will find working with a student photographer to be very beneficial for generating the images needed not just for a portfolio but a headshot and comp/zed card photos as well. Established models in need of updating their portfolios can also benefit from setting up test shoots with these types of photographers.

Student photographers are always glad for models to volunteer so you don't have to worry about paying a small fortune to work with them...they'll gladly work for free in exchange for your time and service.

Good for Getting the Feet Wet 

Most times student photographers aren't super picky about experience level when it comes to finding models for their assignments (of course it helps to be comfortable in front of the camera and naturally photogenic).

New models can use these types of test shoots to get a feel for what doing a shoot is like without the pressure of the "real world" working environment where there's a lot of money and a company/client's reputation at stake. Plus, the student is also on a learning curve so there's somewhat of an equal ground between model and photographer.

Work on Awesome Concepts 

Professional photographers have amazing ideas but I find that it's the student photographers that come up with the most off-the-wall, coolest themes and looks. If you're adventurous when it comes to shoots, working with a student photographer will meet that need. However, there are also traditional looks they shoot for as well, such as portraits and lifestyle themes.


Although it is a school setting, you're still working with a photographer and that means networking. If you and the photographer really get along, chances are he/she will invite you back to be a model again and that means more pictures for your portfolio, as well as experience gained or possibly other opportunities that might be of interest to you.

Always in Demand 

Student photographers are given photoshoots to complete on a very regular basis. Depending on the type of courses they're taking, it isn't uncommon for these kind of students to be responsible for conducting 2-3 shoots a week or every other week. This means a constant need for models.


Little to No Pay 

I'm pretty sure you've heard the term "starving student." Well, the same goes for students attending photography school. The cost of those types of schools is usually super high, especially if it's a private school, and that means they don't have the funds to give a model a huge payout. Sometimes all they can offer is money for gas or they'll buy you lunch.

Those on super tight budgets will simply offer a traditional TF shoot, which means you'll get a copy of the images in exchange for your modeling services. If you're looking to make bank, you won't find it shooting with student photographers.

Not on The Same Level As a Pro Shoot

Many times models that shoot with student photographers are responsible for their own hair, makeup and even wardrobe. Typically, the only times these are provided for the model is if the student photographer is able to hire a hair stylist/makeup artist and/or wardrobe person for the shoot. However, not many in those fields are willing to work for free so that means the student has to work with what they have, which could mean leaving the model to be responsible for these factors.

Shooting on The Fly or On a Time Crunch 

Sometimes student photographers don't always plan properly (or have the ability to do so), which may result in shooting wherever you can, however you can and hoping that it will produce useable images. This could make the shoot overall appear unorganized, which could be a turnoff to some models.

On the flip side, there are times when the instructor will book a venue for the students, where they can set up their equipment and are given an assigned window of time to get their shooting done. This is the time crunch situation where you either get the shots you need or you don't.

Quality Images Aren't Guaranteed 

Remember when I said that there are a lot of naturally talented student photographers out there? Well, that's true but there's also a lot of them that...aren't (lol). It's not that they're just no good but, hey, they are students and there are some that need a lot more training and time to develop their skills.

Even if you have an experience where the photos didn't turn out good enough to use in your portfolio, there's always the opportunity to work with a different student photographer...hopefully one whose portfolio you've seen and feel confident he/she can get you the results you're looking for.


Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you could help me with learning to have good male runway walk. Maybe a video. Thanks!
BTW- You have been a HUGE help!

Dania Denise said...

Hi, Anonymous! You'll find the answer to your question in its own post, titled "Answering a Reader Question #402," which can be found on my new blog: "Modeling 101 - Answering Readers Questions."

Please visit this link: http://amodelsdiary-readerquestions.blogspot.com/ and you can view your post there. Thanks for reading!