For anyone who is contemplating starting a photography business geared towards photographing people I highly recommend finding a model or several models to work with.
There are always aspiring models, friends who like to model and others you can search for in your town.
I had the privilege of meeting a lot of models when I was part of a photography club a couple years ago. Over time I built some relationships with a few of them and have worked with them since.
Benefits of working with a model:
1. You get to photograph someone that you don't see all the time. So although its just for practice it feels more official then photographing your children or room-mates.
2. Models feel comfortable in front of the camera. If you are just starting out it can be scary taking photos of someone who gets really nervous in front of the camera. It helps put you at ease.
3. They can teach you how to approach someone given their experience. They've done this before many times and know what helps them relax. That can help you with your next client.
4. They understand the basics of posing. Even if they only have three good poses that work for them these are three proven poses you didn't know before. You can then take these poses and expand on them.
5. Models are often very good about giving you tips on clothing, locations, and "what ha worked for them".
6. Models tend to know other photographers and other models. And as you know networking is extremely important in this industry.
7. You can try out that new lens or camera and they'll be more than happy to model for you.
I've been working with Katie Sands for several years now and she has been great. I've learned so much and also laughed a lot. You've probably seen a few of her photos on my website. We are actually planning another photo session for this September.