I’m generally a pretty outgoing person. I’ve worked in retail for close to 10 years, and in that time I’ve become pretty comfortable talking to people. I remember when I first started there I didn’t want to answer the phone, I didn’t want to approach clients when they came in. I would even ask co-workers to page on our intercom system for me. Wow, “old me” was kind of wimpy wasn’t he? Or maybe just a little young and shy perhaps? Nowadays I’m very outgoing and have no problem talking to people or approaching strangers….. depending on what I’m approaching them for of course.

Over the past 2 years or so I have been photographing a lot of models, shooting both general & fashion style portraits. Working towards a dream I’ve always had of shooting ad campaigns & doing magazine work. These models have been people who I have met through friends, friends of my own, or people who I have contacted through email, modelmayhem.com or Facebook. But they’re always people I have known beforehand, in one form or another. Finding models in that way was easy. It was easy to ask friends, or have friends ask their friends, and aren’t we just the bravest people in the world when we’re hiding behind a computer??

I had read about photographers looking through sites like Facebook or myspace trying to find interesting new faces. You know, “respectfully stalking” basically. It seemed a bit weird, but also very interesting to me. Then a few months ago I read a story about a photographer who approached a random girl on the street and gave her a note (he didn’t have his business cards on him) asking if she would be interested in modeling for him. Wow, I thought, this photographer has some serious testicular fortitude. In this day and age to walk up to some random girl, who is probably much younger than you, and ask them THAT, can come off as quite creepy… or as some lame pickup line… Now, I’m saying girl here because, as a male photographer, approaching another male isn’t quite as threatening to them compared to approaching a female. Also I am about 6’7″ and people have told me I can be a bit intimidating, but I’m really a nice guy… I swear.

Over the next week or so I started looking at people differently. I thought about their facial & bone structure, their body type, their eyes, and how they would look through my lens. Sometimes you can have a strikingly beautiful girl but they just don’t have the right features for modeling. Which is why sometimes when you watch shows like America’s Next Top Model (now the secret is out, yep, I watch it) you think that these girls aren’t over the top gorgeous, a few of them are, but their bone structure, eyes, or whatever, is what makes them model material.

When building a portfolio, a photographers work can only be as strong as the models used. Not to mention the hair and makeup people they work with. It is important to have a diverse range of models, as to show that you are able to work with various looks. I don’t live in an overly big city but I began to see many people who I knew who photograph well, and that I could work with to find their inner model. As I began to analyze people I saw on the street, in the mall, coffee shops or wherever, I wondered if I would be able to work up the guts to ask someone to shoot with me. Then it happened…..

Part 2 is here