One of the biggest challenges I had as a new (&broke) photographer was trying to find people to shoot with. I could have easily paid for models but I just didn't have the budget to do that. I was kind of stuck, I needed to add to my portfolio but I didn't know where to reach out to people.
One day I came across an article showing different methods to network yourself and to find people to shoot with. There were several different methods but here are the three best methods that worked for me:
1. Sign up for model/photographer networking sites.
I created an account on modelmayhem.com, searched for models in my area and sent messages to probably 40 or 50 models. I think I got a response from two or three. I ended up only shooting with one. Obviously, this method doesn't give you a lot of results. BUT, it only took me a short amount of time to send those messages and even though I only ended up shooting with one model, I still got a person in front of my camera for free. I really haven't logged in to model mayhem in a while. I've talked to models that have accounts and they said that most of the photographers that send them messages are just looking to shoot nudes/budoir, so they don't spend too much time there anymore. There is a new networking site called Nubko that is really great, not many users right now, but I have a feeling this site is going to take off pretty soon.
2. Join model/photographer networking sites on Facebook.
This one is really easy and I connected with A LOT of awesome people (models, makeup artists, fashion stylists). Just search facebook for: 'your city' model photographer networking group. Some of these groups are private groups so you may need to ask to be allowed access but I never had any issues. After joining, I just wrote a post basically saying that I'm a new photographer and I'm looking for models to shoot with. There are tons of aspiring models in these groups looking for photographers.
3. Search through Instagram hashtags
I really thought this wasn't going to work, but this method gave me the most results. For this, you log into Instagram and search for hashtags. I searched for #chicagomodel then I DM'd 40 or 50 people(I know this seems kind of creepy, but whatever, it's part of the hustle I guess). I received messages from about 10 people that were willing to do a shoot. Below are some photos with a model I connected with on Instagram. Her name is Yulia - definitely one of my most favorite people to work with.