How Can a 62-Year Old Grandpa Find Women to Photograph Without Seeming Creepy?

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Dear Mike,

I am a 62-year old male Grandpa and amateur landscape photographer. I would like to try portraits. How can a guy like me find young or even older women to pose, without seeming to be a letch? I don’t have money to pay for models.


Thank you for writing in Grandpa Dave! I’m glad you are ready to get started as a non-letchy portrait photographer. First, I’ll say this: if you tell tell the world “I only want to photograph women,” you may in fact some off as a creep. Besides, if you’re starting out, just photograph everyone you can. There is nothing more valuable than time behind the camera working with real subjects. You’re going to learn a ton on every shoot, so just do as many as you can. Limiting yourself to any category of person is a big mistake.

But on to the question. Normally, I’d just say offer a model $20 or $30 to work with you for 60-90 minutes, but since money’s an issue, I’m going to suggest two alternatives.

The first is to just throw caution to the wind and put on ad on Craig’s List or ModelMayhem. Be honest: just say “I’m a 62-year old landscape photographer, and I want to try my hand at portraits. I’m looking for someone to practice with.” Someone just might say yes. Believe it or not, a beginning model might be up for a session of mutual learning.

When I started out shooting portraits, that’s exactly how I found people to work with. I had been doing most street photography, and I placed ads on Craig’s List saying “I’m a street photographer but I’d like to shoot portraits. Would anyone be up for a photo shoot?” Some people thought my street photos were cool, and they gave me a shot — which led to some disastrous results. Being in New York City certainly helped — this would be tough in a small town.

My second idea — which is a better one — is to practice by photographing your family. That’s what I always tell portrait photographers that have a hard time finding subjects. Create a portrait of every single member of your family, and every friend you can grab. This way, you’ll have something to show people — and I bet you’ll really value these pictures too.

Once you have some pictures to show, you can say “I took these portraits of my family, and now I’m branching out into portraits of other people. ” Assuming your family photos are halfway decent, you’ll find more than a few willing models down the road.

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