Finding models

posted in: Book writing, Photography | 13

As you may know I am at the stage of illustrating my book, Making Life more Beautiful, with photographs I have taken myself. It is turning out to be a great adventure, but not one without its challenges.

When asked in my “major project” proposal to list the possible difficulties I might encounter in completing my project I wrote;

  • Not yet competent in taking good quality printable photographs
  • Not got friends and family to agree to model for me.

Put together these two problems, or challenges as we call them in modern management speak, could scupper the project. Can’t take pictures, and no one to take pictures of. In addition while I define beauty very widely I wanted women with natural hair, minimal make up and enough confidence in their appearance.


Initially when designing the book I imagined I could lean heavily on close family. After all I have a daughter, a step daughter, and a daughter in law. (Just for clarification this book is mainly aimed at women so I will be using female models). I want to show them off as I think they are all naturally beautiful

But when I asked them if they would be willing to model they were just not that enthusiastic. This is a mixture of not not being comfortable being photographed (I have found this is a very common issue and one I feel myself), not wanting to be featured in the book, not wanting to draw attention to themselves. not keen on spending time dressing up and standing around, being busy etc. I was a bit disappointed but decided not to push it. They help me in lots of other ways and I love them very much.


So I decided to advertise for a model!

I put out a call on our work intranet “Hive” saying I was doing a photography course and was looking for lunch hour modelling, lunch included. Two members of staff responded and we are going out locally to take their photos really soon.

I also made a little poster and went along to my local Art College (University of the Arts, Kings Cross). When I got there they offered to advertise on Creative Opportunities their website for students and graduates seeking employment or intern opportunities. I offered £10 for one hour of their time. This proved to be very successful! I had about 30 responses from a wide range of of people – men and women, young students and semi-professional models. Many did not have the natural look I had specified so choosing didn’t take too long.

With both groups I have already “cased the joint” for suitable backgrounds.

The third thing I did was opportunist photography. I have been taking my camera to work every day and if I meet people who are willing to be photographed I just do it there and then. To some extent this is riskier but so far I have found two lovely women to photograph in the course of my day to day work – Genie and Zohar. I have also photographed some men, including Jeremy, which has proved to be good practise for improving my skills (the first problem!).


I was very lucky to have found a perfect pink wall for Genie. Zohar, an architect, is standing by stone carving at the House of Commons. Jeremy is in the office.

I have still got so much to learn and about 40 book images to procure!


13 Responses

  1. Teri Scully

    Hi Kate
    I always enjoy reading your blog…and learning. If you need a model who is F, late 50s, caucasian, dark hair with greying coming thro, size 12 but quite a different figure to you (no hips and big boobs on a straight frame) then drop me a line.
    best wishes Teri
    PS I live in south London

    • fabrickated

      Oh God it wasn’t supposed to be judgemental. I dyed my hair from 14 to about 58! I wear make up most days. I am up for models of all types, ages, sizes, shapes, shades and genders – it is just a focus of this book, at this time, is on the colouring we get from nature. I hope I will be forgiven!

  2. ceci

    I so admire your practical and creative way of clarifying your editorial criteria and addressing challenges. And the individuals photographed are so interesting and lovely. Thanks as always for sharing your process!


    • fabrickated

      Thank you for your always kind and insightful remarks Ceci. I am really beginning to enjoy photography, but like everything it needs lots of thought and lots of practice! I think I believe everyone is beautiful and the photographer’s job is to capture that. Nearly everyone I have photographed has told me their figure or facial faults and I just feel so sorry about that. We are all so hung up about our appearance and photography can amplify that. I am trying to do the opposite but I am going against history and culture and it can uncomfortable.

  3. Joyce

    Your well on your way! All wonderful solutions to the problems you were experiencing. Good luck. I can not wait for this book to be finished. Fun fun fun .

  4. Jay

    Good luck! Family often don’t like to model do they? Advertising was a stroke of genius, and you’re bound to find enough in the no/low make up camp.

  5. mrsmole

    You are amazing and so determined to make this book a smashing success! Finding natural models in this day and age where we are bombarded with images of fake boobs, fake lashes, Botox plumped-up faces must be hard. Maybe going further afield, like into a real field, to find women in the farming community might uncover what you are looking for? Every time I watch a show with Kate Humble, I marvel at her beauty and poise. Good luck!

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