My First Professional Model Photo Shoot

I photographed my first professional model in 2017. It would be my first stop to become a full-time photographer. While it didn’t go as planned, it was the perfect learning experience. I had a day that was exhilarating and nerve-wracking.

How do you find a professional model?

The hardest thing was finding someone to photograph. That was it. I searched for several months. My wife didn’t want to do it. That was expected as she had no experience modeling. Even my dog didn’t want to do it. And if they wouldn’t help, things were terrible.

I couldn’t find one person. No one would help. Was it a sign that my photography wasn’t any good? I don’t know, but it was a possibility.

Finally, as I was on several social media platforms, I realized I should be using them. You can call me slow; it’s ok. I put a notice on Instagram, and an answer soon came. Her name was Taylor, and she lived in Tokyo. We set up a day and time. In the end, it was simple to find someone.

Taylor even agreed to do it TFP (Time For Pictures). That meant no money would change hands. The model gives the photographer their time and gets photos in return. It’s a common practice. Everyone goes home with something.

How did I prepare for the photoshoot?

I thought hard about it. As it was my first shoot, I wanted everything to go smoothly. That meant I wouldn’t use a flash. Yes, I should have used one, but I wasn’t comfortable with them. I didn’t want to fumble with one in front of Taylor, especially as she was doing this for free.

YouTube became my second home. I poured over so many videos. Most said natural light was the way to go. I could handle that. Stand the model with her face to the sun. That seemed easy. And I studied how to pose models and anything to do with composition.

How did the photoshoot go?

Well, my plans went astray. I was nervous as well as excited, of course. While I’d seen Taylor’s Instagram account, I had no idea who she was. After some minor delays, we met. I had lucked out for my first shoot. She was tall, with long blonde hair and a killer smile. It was easy to tell she had the experience. 

As we walked to Yoyogi Park, she said she had been a professional model for many years. She even brought two jackets to give three different looks (the last look being no jacket, just her top). Taylor took a load off my mind.

Even though I had watched many YouTube model videos, they hadn’t prepared me mentally. How much should I pose or direct her? Especially with a person I had never met before. It was intimidating. Yes, we moved through the park according to the plan I had worked out, but everything else flew out of my head.

Was it stage fright? Yes, but it was exhilarating too. I was doing something that I wanted. Eventually, I’ll get used to it. And that means I’ll keep doing it till it becomes second nature. In the end, I got a lot of shots, over 1300. Some of them were okay, and I hope you agree.

The one thing I learned from the day was that the photographer needs to give some direction. Without it, the model won’t know what to do. It is like being on a football team with no captain. Everyone will do their own thing and pray the game works out well. Next time I’ll be telling my model what I want.


If I had kept my cool, I might have accomplished what I set out to do. But, for my first professional model photoshoot, it was a fantastic experience! I did something I wanted and was pretty happy with the pictures. Leave questions and comments below.

My first professional model photo shoot photo gear:

  • Camera body: Fujifilm X-T2
  • Lens: Fujifilm XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

External website about model photography

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