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How to Find Models for Your Boudoir Photography Studio

Exposure is something a lot of photographers don’t love to talk about. 

“Exposure doesn’t pay the bills.” 

“I don’t think they accept exposure for paying my electric bill.”

“Exposure doesn’t pay my mortgage.”

And listen, I get it. You’re 100% right — they don’t accept exposure when you are paying your bills. 

But I still want to reframe your mindset around the topic of exposure. Because exposure can help you grow your business when done the right way. When you’re building your portfolio to attract the right clients and putting yourself in front of the right people, it can provide a lot of opportunities for you!

Which sometimes includes working with models for your boudoir photography business. 

I know it doesn’t sound super glamorous, but the hard truth in this industry is that sometimes you have to put aside your pride and think about your long-term goals. 

Still not convinced? Sit back and listen to the episode, or catch the notes below to see how these models can help. 


You Need to Reframe Your Mindset Around Models

Let’s get to the deep stuff first. You need to reframe your mindset around models. 

I mentioned how a lot of photographers don’t want to work “for exposure,” and I get it. I don’t either. But I’m not saying this is the BEST way to grow your business, just that it can help!

Instead, let’s look at how it can build a stream of referrals for your boudoir business.

Sometimes, finding clients willing to let you share their photos in your portfolio can be hard. There can be some stigma around boudoir photography, and they may not want their faces out there. 

But shooting with models eager to share the images helps eliminate this hurdle! And you can start to build up your portfolio full of your ideal clients. 

For example, if you’re going to a bridal fair, you need to bring wall portraits and albums that the brides want to look like so that they can start visualizing themselves in front of your camera. 

You Need to Do Your Research 

Working with models doesn’t mean working with just anyone. Instead of just picking random models, I want you to actually research the people you might want to photograph. 

But don’t waste your time photographing just regular models who’ve worked with thirty other photographs. They will have NO loyalty to you. Instead, I want to encourage you to research local business owners and influencers. 

Find someone who fits your ideal client and, most importantly, also SERVES your ideal client — meaning they need to have an audience that’s full of your ideal client.

Examples could be local nurse injectors, hair and makeup artists, female tattoo artists, and fitness instructors.

The most important thing to remember is to make sure they aren’t working with other photographers. Or if they are, you give them such an amazing experience that they want to refer only you to everyone!

Building Connections With Other Businesses

At this point, you’ve done your research, and you know who you want to work with. All that’s left is reaching out to actually make the connection!

And I get asked a lot about how to reach out to business owners and influencers when this topic comes up. It can be really intimidating and I 100% get that! 

Unfortunately, I don’t have any sort of script for this because it’s different in every single situation. Some connections I make are on Instagram. Some I make because I actually went to that business and made a purchase. Sometimes it just happens on the spot or I’m bold and flat-out ask. 

It just depends.

Just approach each business in a genuine way and with intentions of actually just making the connection and building a friendship. Let the business relationship happen, and then approach them with your offer. 

The worst those businesses can say is no. The first “no” hurts a little more, but after that first one, you get used to it. 

And honestly, we can all use local friendships and connections, right?

Elevate Your Boudoir Photography Model Experience

As we close this out, I want you to remember that you need to be VERY intentional about your portfolio to build the business you want. Build it in a way that will help your ideal client visualize themselves in front of your camera.

Don’t forget how powerful local connections can be with businesses and influencers can be for this! They will appreciate being photographed by you AND will send clients to you because they know you will take amazing care of their own.

And my biggest recommendation? Be intentional with your time. No, we don’t want to work for exposure, but we can work with the right businesses and eventually see a massive ROI from those relationships. 

If you want to learn more about creating a great client experience, even with models, be sure to check out the Boudoir Studio Accelerator! You’ll find tons more expert tips and tricks on wowing your clients from the booking process all the way to the final album delivery.


Tracy Lynn is a boudoir photogapher for brides-to-be in the St. Louis area, and a mentor + coach for photographers looking to level up their businesses with better systems and processes.

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