May 26, 2024

Yes, it’s a basic question. How to charge for photos? How many should I give, how many outfits, hours, etc. New photographers and sometimes veterans love to colocate their lives because they don’t understand customer service.

I edited all my broll here with Filmist LUTS, it’s not just for Lightroom and C1. Also make sure you start listeb to Pro Photography podcast for more topics like this.

That’s what you need to understand in this crazy competitive world. The truth is that unless you are experienced, confident and know how to serve. They don’t need you. They might as well use their phone.

I don’t mean this to make you feel bad. Only to be real. We have to have high standards. People don’t need McDonald’s style photographers anymore. And if you don’t make them feel good, they won’t come back.

So in general charging for an image screams amateur. Now selling stock photos, fine art prints, etc is a bit different. But if your client feels like you are holding back, you lose credibility instantly.

Here’s that book I mentioned. You can read it in data but all these years later it’s still a great reminder when you run a photo business, make workshops, or are in charge of a cafe in Mexico.

To be great in a craft business. You have to understand how to be a servant. How to make people feel good. How to give them experience and quality. How many photos in a session and how many you give the client can vary. Your skill and confidence should be a constant, however.

So the topic today is whether you should charge per photo and how to charge for photos. The real answer is that you you charge in a way that is the simple simple and makes the client feel loved regardless of whether you price high or low compared to the market.

That says. The lower your price, the lower the quality of clients you get.

Let me know what you think… Gavin Seim

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May 18, 2018

Here’s how I learned to find amazing models in Mexico for my projects and what you should know if you need a model or want to do modeling in Mexico. by Gavin Seim,

Need a model in Mexico? or want to do modeling in Mexico?

Gavin Seim - Master fashion photographer working with models in mexico

I’m Gavin, a bilingual photographer, filmmaker, and consultant living in Central Mexico. I’ve been a photographer for 20+ years and I’ve lived in Mexico full-time after moving from the USA. There’s a lack of information about working with models in Mexico. I made this so you don’t get scammed as you learn how to navigate being or working with models in Mexico for creative or commercial projects.

The first time I booked a model in Mexico it was intimidating.

You’re not alone here. I learned a lot since then living in Mexico as a professional Photographer. I’ve also discovered a lot of new models in Mexico with my own projects and I’ve updated this for 2023.

Whether you have a large-scale project on a budget, need an ongoing stream of modeling for your clothing line, or need to shoot a music video. Mexico has great creative people and amazing locations.

You can see many of the models I’ve worked with and trained on my Instagram and my gallery. But today I thought I’d share some tips on finding and photographing Models in Mexico.

Cisla, Model in Mexico black and white session

Feel free to contact me about Mexico models or modleing in Mexico. I offer consulataions, photography and filming services. I sometimes do collab sessions as well for models wanting to shoot in Mexico – Reach me via email –

Most of my 20-year career was commission sessions.  I used my daily work to earn international image merits to get my master’s degree in Photography But working with models is different. The poses and setups are often easier, but finding the right people can be a chore.

Melena, Model Querétaro Mexico session with Gavin Seim
Melena – Model in Queretaro City Mexico, a session with Gavin Seim

1. Shooting models whether for paid projects or for practice is good for your creativity.

Others might feel intimidated by the pressure of hiring a model in Mexico where it can be hard to find companies that are not seedy and that are actually responsive. Doing so with a language barrier is even more intimidating.

If you’re not a Spanish speaker You probably want someone along that speaks some English, because most of the models won’t unless you get a pricey agency from Mexico City and they will usually charge you way above normal Mexico rates, give a small portion to models and pocket the rest.

Models in Mexico project in central Mexico with Gavin Seim
Yara, Model in Pachuca Mexico
Cisla, Fashion model session in Veracruz Mexico
Cisla, Veracruz Beach Session with Gavin Seim


I worked with my first models through an Edecan agency.

Edcans book models for projects and most work in events and in stores for weekend promotion etc. Yes, like vegas booth babes. But it’s not only women. It’s a big business here in Latin America because stores want attractive people presenting their products. If you’re a reputable photographer looking for a project, most of them will be glad to be doing modeling rather than just handing out brochures in the hot sun.

Here in Mexico, we paid about $250 US dollars for two models for about 4 hours of shooting and including travel costs of a few hours.

We contacted an agency and worked through the fact that things are different here. In Mexico, people are more laid back and even companies don’t always respond fast. Sometimes they are downright disorganized by the standards we’re used to from the USA and beyond.

Our models showed up on time along with a representative/security guard. We are after all gringos 😉 — In seriousness, though everyone was chill and the representative was there to take the money and keep an eye on things. But it was all a little stiff feeling. These models are more often than not handing out flyers or looking attractive in front of a cell phone store but they did well.

We had them sign model releases (I use the Easy Release app which has multiple languages) and off we went to make this video and photo project I was working on at the time.

“I want to do modeling in Mexico”

Ok. If you are a model and want to shoot in the exotic beauty of Mexico. Plan a trip first to work with people you trust. There are larger agencies in Mexico City you could contact. But don’t expect to get paid any rates that you expect in most countries unless you’re already well known.

Don’t rush to meet up with just anyone you meet online as you might in the USA or Europe. While many of the things you see in the news about Mexico are sensationalized, there are shady deals at times and it’s still a culture and likely a language you are unfamiliar with.

If you want to be a part of the modeling in Mexico, I suggest starting with people you trust. You don’t have to go to a tourist resort for this. Get in a car and take a road trip. Head inland like to the beautiful jungles in San Luis Potosi. A town like Xilitla, or Tamasopo is stunning, welcoming of full of incredible locations. You can drive to these places from the Texas border in about 15 hours.

Once you start getting a portfolio here, you can use that to further your work and do more modeling in Mexico with these examples and connections you make.

Sondra, Gringa model in Mexico. Photo shoot in Hidalgo Mexico
Cassi, Modleing Sesison in Hidalgo State Mexico

Getting models. An agency can be a start for models in Mexico.

But there are frustrations as business culture tends to be less responsive here and the service in these types of places can lack especially if they don’t fully understand you. There are agencies that cater to English speakers and commercial projects, but they tend to charge way over the market rate and take advantage of your ignorance. So do your homework.

Avoid scams by asking for references from your market, looking only for reviews can also be useful, and NEVER pay in full before the project. A small retainer is normal, but no one should be asking for full payment here until you all arrive on-site. It is NOT normal to pay in full in advance in Mexico as people are very wary of scams. For the same reason, you need to be very transparent with the agency/models about what you need and what you are willing to pay. Don’t assume the price they6 quote is set in stone. It’s not!

Couple fashion session gave seim
Couple model in Mexico – Gavin Seim
We did most of this shoot with natural light and a single strobe. I’ll show you hands-on in the coming PhotoKit videos.

2. Finding great models that simply want to collaborate in Mexico.

So you can hire models for a one-off project from these Edecan agencies. But most of my photos were done with aspiring models who may or may not be with an agency but if they trust you they are happy to go and create amazing sessions in trade for photos. In this type of session, it’s often their first time doing real modeling so come prepared to know and demonstrate poses.

For just exploring light this is my favorite way to find models. I usually buy clothes from Shein or a site like that so they have lots to try and let them pick their theme.

Mexico is a very different culture. How do you find these models?

The problem is the girls are pretty used to men being creepy here. So when they get an Instagram message saying… “Hey you’re really pretty I would like to take photos of you” what they actually hear is, how much do you charge to go to a motel with me? Yes, it sucks, but it’s true. Men will be slightly less suspicious, but folks are very cautious with new people here.

Even if you have a great Instagram and social proof with photos (you should), don’t expect models in Mexico to simply come and meet you for a session just because you sent a message. They will assume you’re just a creep. In fact, I NEVER found a model by using Instagram messages.

Modeling in mexico throwing gair
A mixed modeling session in San Jan Del Rio QRO Mexico

I find models by referral of friends who know women that want great photos or by promoting the collab on Facebook links to my page with lots of details to help them know I’m legit, not a creeper.

Even then only about 50% of the models that scheduled a session with me showed up. Some of them literally said they changed their mind because they were afraid despite me having credentials. That was after many messages, having them tell me what kind of clothes they felt comfortable in, etc.

Be very open, honest, and transparent. I’ve had women in their mid 20’s that asked to bring their dad to a swimsuit shoot. Yes, many new models will jump at free (collab) photos if you are a good photographer, but not everyone is ready to be a model. So be understanding of the culture here, but also use how they respond as a filter. They have to respect your time also.

When I’m working with models in Mexico for the first time I always meet them in a public place like a cafe and have them sign a model release. Then we go take photos, usually with my wife or one of their friends. With women, I generally say no to them bringing male friends because the men tend to leer or take their own photos the entire time. But I encourage them to bring a female friend to help them with clothes and help them relax. A friend like this actually becomes a session assistant.

You can set your own boundaries, just ensure you protect yourself and your models and be very honest and considerate of their needs. Avoid going out alone with new models. That’s good practice anywhere.

Do these things and you will gain a reputation and soon have more models than you need wanting photos, referring friends, etc. This is amazing for portraits and lighting experiences.

Ivanna shoot with Gavin Seim
Ivanna – Model QRO Mexico

3. Find amazing locations to work with models in Mexico!

There are beautiful people everywhere, but the exotic nature of those from other cultures makes it easy to get that creative energy. You could rent a studio or building depending on your needs but theirs a lot of outdoor scenes and urban places that are really eye-catching for projects.

The land is beautiful in Mexico also and there’s so much color in the trees. So even if you don’t have a studio, you’re fine. It’s good to know the area you are in and whether it’s calm (most are). You can legally take photos in pretty much any public space and I’ve never had a problem after many sessions on streets and in parks. It’s normal here.

Let models be themselves. Photographing beautiful people is easy; sort of. You still have to stay on top of things. Pay attention to your lights and setups and detail and do not get pressured by the fact that you’re working with experienced models and feel like the shutter needs to be clicking at all times to prove yourself. Like any portrait session, take charge, take a breath and make a plan.

Yara and Evaristo did a great job. We loaded up and headed out to some epic outdoor locations like an old mine, the bus stop, and the forested roadsides of beautiful Mexico. But that was just the start and since then I’ve started building my own list of models for when I have projects so I don’t have to use a middleman and we can collaborate as equals.

But it’s Mexico, Gavin, surely I’ll be robbed. Don’t believe the hype so easily. I’ve roamed Mexico for months. Just like any country, there are bad parts of town, but most areas of Mexico are perfectly safe and wandering around to cool locations is no problem. We were in Querétaro and Hidalgo State which in most areas have less crime than many States in the US.

Model Ivanna in a Mexico session on the River in Hidalgo
Hidalgo Mexico. One of my favorite Riverside modeling locations with Ivanna

There are talented undiscovered models of Mexico. Treat them with respect and everyone will leave happy!

Unless you’re shooting a movie, you probably don’t need fancy models that are promoted in US agencies. If it’s a commercial project you can find models from an Edecan like I did my first time or you can scout out your own. It’s a warm culture full of beautiful people.

Get out there and take some photos and then go edit them with some of my presets 😉

I also do session directing and consulting for projects in Mexico so you are welcome to send me a message if you need some help with your upcoming project.

Gavin Seim

Beach session Cisla with Gavin Seim
Cisla – Model San Juan Del Rio Mexico
Model underwear shoot central mexico
Karen – Model QRO Mexico
Models in Mexico dance session with Gavin Seim
Montse – Dancer and model, Queretaro Mexico
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August 15, 2012

It seems the months of work were worth it. It’s finished and the new EXPosed series is  now available as a download or a DVD. It’s like no workshop you’ve seen and it can take your photography to a whole new level. But rather than listen to us chatter on, just take a peek at the trailer. EXposed is as good as it looks and it’s finally available. Don’t forget to use code PPS when you pick up your copy. It will save you 15%.

EXposed – The Light Workshop

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June 20, 2012

No not even this photo is free – King of the Valley – Valley of the gods Utah

 Click To Listen>> Photography Podcast. PPS #85
Direct Podcast Feed
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Today’s Panel... Gavin SeimBarry HowellNina BeheimScott & Adina Hayne

This month the panel looks at a few news bits, understands that photos have value, reviews Photoshop CS6, our favorite lenses and more.

PPS #85 Forum Discussions Here. Share Your Opinions.

Main Time Indexes:

  • 00:00 Introductions.
  • 04:50 News and Chat.
  • 10:10 Free Photos for Alter Bridge?
  • 27:45 Photoshop CS6 Group Review.
  • 49:00 A larger format future.
  • 1:09:55 Lenses Lightning Round.
  • 1:32:55 Picks of the show.
  • 2:04:08 The After Show. Business and beyond.


LIghtroom 4.

Creative Suite CS6.

5DMK III is good. So is the Nikon D800. You decide. And check out the value of the D3200.

A pack of free LR develop presets for video.

Glif iPhone tripod mount.

The Brenizer Method. An stitched approach to the large format look (thanks to Vincent P for the link)

Bands don’t need to pay for your photos?




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August 18, 2011

By Gavin Seim, Updated 10/11

Something one often hears tossed around in this industry is the word ‘style.’ “It’s my style” or “love your style.” Sometime it can get pretty funny: “My style is, uh, everything.” Now, this is not a bash session. We’re all at different levels, and that’s OK. This is just another post to get us thinking, something to get us all to raise the bar. I think the idea of style bears consideration and refinement. So let’s start where I often start, with the word, itself.

Webster’s Dictionary – Style.
1. a distinctive manner of expression (as in writing or speech)
2. a distinctive manner or custom of behaving or conducting oneself
3. a particular manner or technique by which something is done, created, or performed.

Hunters Bridge - 2009, HDR Portrait.

SO perhaps a photography style is just what you thought it was. But look carefully. “Distinctive, distinctive, particular.” I see photographers (especially new ones) frantically trying to define their style. But they don’t. It may change from week to week and month to month. If you go to their site right now, that high contrast, over saturated look is their style. But really, it’s probably because they know nothing else or saw someone else doing it. Your style is a big part of your brand. But developing it is not quick or easy. It’s a process.

NEXT let’s get one thing out of the way. Just because you do something does not make it your style. The most common “style” I see is “high contrast” or “edgy” or “bold” or “fun”. Now all those things can be a style, but they’re generally non-distinctive and used by people who don’t really know their style. Sometimes these vague styles are used by photographers who are inexperienced and use “art” or “style” as an excuse for their work. (I.e. “The high contrast look is my style” or “The flat light is my style” or “The blown out highlights are part of my style”)

NO. Those are not your style. You just don’t know what you’re doing. The first step in developing your style is to STOP trying to be something you’re not. It takes years and years to become a good craftsman. If you’re a new photographer, stop trying to fake a style that you don’t really have or convince people that that thing you do (because you don’t know any better) is your style. Don’t do it. Using style as an excuse just slows your career because it allows you to make excuses and avoid learning to things properly.

BUT can’t high contrast, blown out, journalistic, be a style? Sure. But often it’s not, because people who are comfortable, experienced, and have really found a style generally know better than to take the cliches and call them a style, because the result tends to appear like a generic copy of everyone else.

SO WHAT makes a style? Sure, it can be somewhat subjective, but let’s go back to the dictionary for the facts. A style is “distinctive.” It’s “particular.” That means it has the ability to stand out on its own. So based on that, if your style looks like 80% of the rest of the world’s photographers, it’s not much of a style. That is, not unless you call your style generic, which does not sound too appealing.

Now, I’m not saying a style can’t be inspired by the work of another photographer. In fact, it’s almost impossible to do something completely new. But there’s inspiration, and there’s outright copying. Most photographers don’t have a style because they have not yet taken enough time to refine their craft and develop that style. This can apply to a newbie as easily as to a 25 year veteran.

A STYLE is not simply taking photos. It takes something more. It requires thought, planning, and skill. But even further, a style is your brand. It can be combined with your personalty, the products you make from your photos, and the way you present them on your website. It does not mean being in a rut or always being the same or applying a particular technique to everything. It’s a process.

WHAT is my style? I’ve been making photos for over 14 years now, and in just the past few, I’ve started feeling I understand my style. It took me that long. I know what I do, and I know how to make it come out nearly every time. I feel I have a style, but I’m still improving on it.

If you were to go to my portrait or wedding site, you might see me describe my work as “A natural cinematic style inspired by the masters and tempered with modern flair.” But the text is merely the beginning. I have an visual in my mind of the kind of image I make, and while every one is different, I have a focus. Also, the way I display my final prints as carefully crafted wall portraits is a very relevant part of my style. It’s taken me about 13 years to pin myself down this much. And I’m still discovering and refining my style.

WHAT does all this this mean? Well, my goal here today is not to say you can’t have a look, or that you can’t describe your work. It’s not to make this style thing abstract and confusing. Maybe you’ve truly found your style, maybe not. But my intent is to get us all thinking. To raise the bar on our style, study, and practice, and become such proficient craftsman that we truly understand our medium and our style. Maybe you’ll be faster than I was, maybe not. But either way, it’s a process. A valuable one.

SO, STYLE is important. But it’s not something you can simply make up. Before you can really define your style, you have to know your craft well enough to understand what you’re doing with it. You have to have worked enough to find that distinctive consistency in your images. Imagine a singer. A singer does not have a style until they learn to sing and perform. It takes time. They have to work it out. Photography is no different.

WHY do most NOT have a style? Because they’ve not refined their craft . It does not mean they’re all bad photographers. But in truth a lot of photography today lacks distinction. Admittedly, it’s hard. Finding your style take more than just doing a wedding every weekend. It takes more than copying the latest trend you see your friends using.

I often see photographers who are really busy with jobs, but it’s all they can do just to keep up and get the jobs out. They’re generic. If you’re paying the bills that way then fair enough. If volume is your business approach, it may work for you. But it’s not usually distinctive. Rushing offers too little time to experiment and define your work. You probably want something more. To define a unique style, you have to take your extra time to study and refine what you’re doing until you draw out something unique about it. Until there’s a pattern. Until it becomes a style, not just the latest fad.

How to Find Your Style. A style is images, personalty, presentation, branding, and more. Really finding it takes enough experience to know what you do and how you make it unique. I think the way to find your style is to stop looking so hard. Stop trying to rush to having it all figured out, and spend more time figuring. Study your craft and be content with the fact that you’re making good images and improving. Forget about your style for a while and learn how to style better. In time, you’ll find your own unique approach. You’ll find your STYLE naturally.

WHAT AM I GETTING AT? Stop having confidence? Stop charging for quality? Heavens, no! I’m not even saying at what point you have a style. I’m just saying slow down and think about it. Take the time to make images just for the joy of it. Explore ideas and techniques, read books, go to workshops. Do that, and your style will blossom, as will the quality of your work. Photography is not a quick journey. It’s a long one. It’s OK to be starting out. Just be honest with yourself. Keep working on your craft and always raise the bar.

Keep styling,


Midnight Seattle - 2009. 2010 PPA Loan Collection. 2011 PPA Magazine Feature.


A bit of Gavin’s work below. You can see more on his website,

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