The Business of Being a Glamour Photographer

The Business of Being a Glamour Photographer
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Starting Your Business

The first thing a photographer has to understand if they want to become a glamour photographer is the business is meant for the sole purpose of making others look the best they can. Unlike other photographers, who work to set up shots and take great pictures, this occupation is more about transforming an individual for head shots and modeling photos. That means this is a lot more than just being a portrait photographer.

As with any other line of independent photography businesses, don’t jump into it with nothing to fall back on. It takes time to build your clientele and you want to make sure you are not relying on this to pay your bills until it gets off the ground.

Also, unlike portrait photography, to be a glamour photographer, you need to have more than just a couple of backgrounds, lights and a camera to get started. This genre of photography is about making your subjects look as good as possible. While most of the subjects are females, set in sexy and alluring poses, it is also possible to use it to create head shots for actors looking to get their breaks in film.

The first thing you must do is understand the laws of the state in which you want to open your business. Part of glamour photography is to shoot nude or semi-nude subjects, which can be deemed pornographic in some locations. Make sure you are not breaking any laws in your state before you start and, if it is against the law, make sure you understand your limitations and stay within the legal boundaries.

Location, Location, Location

Another difference between glamour photography and regular portrait photography is that many shoots can take place out of the studio and utilize location photography, eliminating the need for backdrops. This requires a photographer to be well versed in the area he or she is located. Know the beaches, the scenic woodland areas and anything else you can think of that will aid in the uniqueness of the shoot.

When models come to you to be their glamour photographer, you must be ready to provide them with ideas for where they might be best photographed at, what would be the perfect situations for their specific look and what props might work to bring out their beauty. Also know the perfect times to head to the beach, based on the time the sun sets or the tide rolls in. All these items are your job to understand in order for you to get the best shots at the best times of the day.

If the models do need studio time, make sure your backgrounds are proper for their specific moods. If you don’t have a beach in your area, you can fake it with a backdrop or shoot everything in front of a green screen and add the backgrounds later. However - and this is of the utmost importance - if you use a green screen, make sure the lighting is perfectly set up to simulate sunlight on the model. Nothing looks more amateur than poorly lighted models and fake backgrounds seeming out of place.


Unlike portrait photography, which is mainly done to give a customer something to hang on their walls, glamour shots are often used for posters, magazine spreads or advertising. You must make sure that proper photography contracts are signed that allow both parties to use the images as needed but not at the expense of each other.


Most exclusive contracts between glamour models and photographers last for anywhere from one to two years. Non-exclusive contracts last less time than that, sometimes as little as six months. Most models won’t want to sign an exclusive contract with you because that limits them to only shooting with you until it expires. Once you have established yourself as a reputable and reliable photographer, these opportunities might come and are where the big money is made as the photographer and model work together to find clients to sell the photographs to.

Non-exclusive contracts mean the models can use any photographer they want, including you. This is not a great contract for the photographer though because you can lose a client without notice and that hinders your ability to build your portfolio.

The next contract is a model release form. This involves the photographer paying the model to pose for them and then owning the rights to use all photographs for himself. This means you need to understand the worth of the photographs and the model before you hire her. However, the photos are complete property of the photographer to sell to anyone he chooses. It is up to the photographer if he gives any copies to the model and it is the photographer who retains all rights to the photographs.

Finally, for the photographers who just want to take pictures and not worry about selling the work, there is the opportunity to just take the glamour shots for a specific price and sell packages to the models. In this case, the normal contract you might see in a portrait studio would be used with restrictions to limit the models ability to make extra copies. For a larger sum, the photographer might just sell the CD of all photos to the model and allow her to do with it as she chooses. It is also a good idea to add an amendment to the contract allowing the photographer to use the photos in his own portfolio to sell himself to future clients.


Miami Glamour Models

Image credits:

Photo under Location, Location, Location: Wikimedia Commons (Photo by Infrogmation (talk) of New Orleans)

Photo under Contracts: Wikimedia Commons (HouFotoMan)