5 struggles for a starting model photographer

My personal top 5 struggles and how to deal with them


Landscapes, wildlife, architecture or abandoned places are all fun to shoot. But sooner or later most photographers want to take the plunge to photograph people. Whether you are an experienced photographer or just a newbie who loves taking pictures, during your first steps as a model photographer you will certainly face some of the following struggles.


  1. Mastering the light

WhatIfLoveReallyExistedStudio shot – Model: Chiara Bianchino (Italy)

I happened to me many many times and I still need to pay lots of attention to it with every shot I take. You take a picture, check its result on the camera display and wow… it’s beautiful! The colours seem to be bright, the lighting is well balanced and your model is illuminated in the right way. But once you’ve uploaded the picture to your laptop and view it on the big screen it’s… awful. There is a terrible shadow under the models’ chin, one side of the face is overexposed, the shadow on the wall is really disturbing…

Good lighting is a critical component of portraiture, so one really needs to master it. One of your best friend in mastering the light in an easy way can be YouTube, where you can find lots of tutorials discussing the topic.

And of course, you can improve your lighting techniques a lot by self-study. Do not only spend time on viewing your successful images, also take a close look to the awful ones. Ask yourself the question what went wrong and how you would be able to do better next time.


  1. Finding models

An experienced photographer in possession of a nice portfolio won’t have a lot of trouble in finding new faces. A professional photographer can hire models as part of his shoot. But for an amateur of newbie without a decent portfolio, finding a model can be a real torture, especially when you’re looking for a model to perform a nude shoot. It’s something that I struggled with when I was first starting out. I wanted to try shooting nudes, but didn’t know where to find a model.

However don’t give up: potential models are all around. My models come from many different sources:


Workshops are a great option when you are just starting out – they let someone else find the models for you. Attending workshops is also a great way to start building your portfolio so that you have some work to show to prospective models.

Group photo shoots

Organized shoot events are a great alternative to workshops in case you want to find nude models – especially when you don’t have any nude images in your portfolio to show to potential models.

Online models

Looking for models online can be an adventure. If you search for modeling web sites, you will discover that there are many to choose from.  Sometimes you need to become a member of the site to really see anything, but many sites are free or offer a free level of membership with some limited capabilities. I regularly book models through PurplePort of Model Mayhem.

Facebook and Facebook Groups

The people you’ll find in Facebook groups for models are generally freelance and non-agency models – but that doesn’t mean they can’t do the job, and do it well.


  1. Finding shooting locations

A photo studio is, of course, a great shooting location – if you have access to one. But most any place can be used as a setting for nude photographs as long as you can get some privacy. Some of my favorite images have been created in unlikely locations.

Your home or the model’s home

A potential shooting location can be your home or the model’s home. If a model is a little apprehensive about posing nude, she may feel more comfortable in familiar surroundings. There is a risk, of course: unless you’ve seen your model’s home, you have no idea what you are walking into. Sometimes it’s a great place to shoot, and other times there isn’t much to work with.

A Touch of Blue

Model: Nika (Czech Republic) – Shot at the model’s place

Old, abandoned buildings

Old, abandoned buildings make a great setting for nudes, though you should be sure that it is truly abandoned; otherwise you may be trespassing. It would also be best if the building is in an out-of-the-way location, to reduce the likelihood of unexpected visitors. If possible, it is always a good idea to have an assistant to act as a lookout, whenever shooting in a location where someone could happen by.

Natural Settings

Natural settings, such as woods, mountains, lakes, seashores, and rivers, are wonderful places to shoot nudes. A nude body just fits in as a part of nature. The problem is ensuring an appropriate degree of privacy. You will definitely need to get off of the beaten path to find a good place to photograph nudes. Again, an assistant/lookout is very helpful. The ideal situation is to find private property where you can shoot – with the owner’s permission, of course.

Autumn Chill

Outdoor shoot – Model: Lena Filanea (Ukraine)

The Studio

Since you have total control of the light and the surroundings, a studio is a great place to shoot nudes. You will also have all of the privacy you need. Often, conveniences such as a bathroom and a dressing room with a mirror will also be available for your use. In many cases, you can set up a temporary studio in your home. All you really need is enough open space.

Then you started to tell a story

Shot at the home studio – Model: Ija Del Mar (Belgium)

  1. Self-doubt

Sometimes when I finish an image, I first send it to a friend to get her opinion. Sometimes she says yes, while on other moments she asks me what I was trying to achieve. And occasionally she just gives me a critical negative feedback. It’s all perfectly acceptable, but don’t ask to advise for every image you produce. Being too critical can be detrimental to our own progress and it also hinders our growth especially comparing ourselves to others.


  1. Things getting in the shot

I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. The model takes a perfect pose, she has this sensual look in her eyes, light is in balance and the composition is close to perfection… but something really disturbing shows up in the background. It might be a light stand, an object against the wall or an ugly tree branch right next to the model.

Of course editing and post processing the pictures always is an option, but to me this is not the most interesting part of the creative process. To avoid frustration, look in advance and frame in a correct way.


Thanks for stopping by. Until next time!


La Donna Bellissima

Chiara Bianchino by Blue Mountain Photographic Arts

Early 2017, I had the super nice opportunity to perform a studio shoot with Italian model Chiara Bianchino. Chiara is an international published model with evident experience modelling. I really enjoyed the experience which resulted in a combination of portraits, glam shots and artistic nudes.

By the end of 2017 Chiara made her ultimate international breakthrough with a publication in the German Playboy Magazine and the Italian magazine Andivero. And finally, she’s also published on the blog!



Photographer, should you have a blog?

Sacrifice Me

When I was working on my portfolio website a few weeks ago, the question propped up whether besides the portfolio I also should have a personal blog.
If I was a professional photographer, the answer would be a no-brainer. Every professional absolutely should have a blog for works sharing, marketing, clients presentation and in general improving his personal brand. But what in case you’re a hobbyist just like me? Will it be worth the effort and time spent? Wouldn’t it be sufficient to create a profile on social media platforms as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram?
Today I’m convinced the answer is a resounding ‘YES’. Even being an amateur photographer, a personal blog is an absolute must have. After all, blogging is by far the easiest way to share your passion with community and the best tool to assist in growing as an artist.
The simple reasons why I jump to this conclusion are:
  • The era of static photography websites is finished. The audience is expecting to receive more information from a photographer than only an overview of images. A photographer must be able to share his ideas, reflect his personality and promote his work. A blog provides a medium to talk about yourself and the things that keep you busy. In the end, people don’t connect with images. People connect with other people. For your website visitors, your photo’s will be more interesting if people learn to know more about you as a person and the human being that’s behind the lens.
  • Escape from the social media ghetto. You can present your work on all kinds of social media like Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr or Twitter. However, the trick is not to become a slave to social media. Once you’re locked into their platform, you start to lose control of the work you’ve posted, and you’re restricted in the ideas you’re able to share. I’m also present on some of those platforms. But I try to limit the number of contributions and shares. And it pleases me to notice that some of my pictures receive appreciations from friends and are shared. But after a while they all get lost in the clutter. I don’t want to give the impression that a photographer’s presence on social media channels is unimportant, but to my opinion a personal website and blog are better tools to show the soul of my work to the community.
  • Blogging is easy fun. Blogging is really-really easy, at least when you do have some topics to write about. Anyone who’s able to write an email, should also be able to start up a blog. And blogging is so much fun. It’s pleasing to go out in nature and shoot, to walk through a city’s backstreets and capture life, to meet a stunning model and portray her. But all this just becomes much more fun if you immediately have an audience to showcase it for. Blogging is easy fun in every way.
  • Blogging improves your skills, helps other people and makes this world a better place. A blog is less static and restrictive than a just a portfolio. I already mentioned that to my opinion the days of static portfolios are passed. A blog allows the photographer to experiment with art daily, take some risks and see what resonates with the audience. The possibility of experimenting will result in a serious improvement of technical photography skills. Furthermore, your writing and communication skills will be improved. Blogging brings inspiration and motivation and it makes you start to think about who you are and who you like to become. It enables you to share information and knowledge and might be very helpful to other people. And finally, when having a blog, you also have a voice. You can spread out all things you like and don’t like – without any social media control – and maybe change the world.
Happy Blogging!