Breaking into the modeling world may seem daunting, but with some quick tips it’s a lot easier than one might think. It’s important to remember that there is no one kind of model, nor is there one category of modeling. It’s wise to think of the type of model you want to become, and work from there. Some of the basic types would be (but are not limited to);
and Commercial models
Within these groups are even more groups, but for the sake of time we’ll only talk about two;
Professional and hobbyist.
Different kinds of modeling require different models. It’s usually a rule of thumb to expect height, weight, and measurement requirements when it comes to certain types of modeling as well, such as runway or swimsuit modeling. In the professional model world, you’ll be expected to fit measurements for nearly any type of modeling you do. But in the world of a hobbyist? Anyone can be a model, but not everyone can succeed.
Every model has to start somewhere, regardless of where you’re aiming to end up, and the first step;
Build a portfolio.
A portfolio will show prospective photographers what you look like and what you can do, and is an essential in the modeling world. If you don’t have a portfolio, you don’t have anything. The first thing you need to do is get some photos. The photos need to be sharp, clearly lit, and accurately show what you look like. A couple headshots and a couple body shots should be all you need. But remember, someone ELSE needs to take the photos. Selfies don’t look appealing to photographers, because anyone can take a photo of themselves. You need to have normal expressions and poses in the photos as well. Photos with your tongue out or the dreaded “duck lips” will not be use\able for any sort of portfolio. You also want to make sure you’re alone in the photos, as group shots tend to be more confusing than useful. If you are friends with a photographer who will photograph you, that’s even better. If not, have your sibling or friend snap a few. The most important thing in photography, even more important than the camera, is light. To maximize the impact of your first snapshots, make sure they are lit well. Regular light bulbs cast an orange tone, and harsh light (like the sun) creates harsh shadows (and shows sweat more). Soft, diffused light is the key. You can get this light naturally by shooting indoors right next to a window, or outdoors on cloudy days or in the shade on sunny days.
Once you have a few basic photos that look good, you have to book your first shoot. In many areas, photography and modeling are popular. For this reason, it’s usually not too hard to find a photographer who is willing to work with you on a tf* (free) basis.
If you’re not so lucky, however, you may find that you need to pay photographers to photograph you. Regardless of which route you take, you need to start working with as many reputable photographers as you can. A lot of times you can find a local modeling and photography group on Facebook. If you can find such a group, post your photos and put the word out there. Also be sure to message photographers that you see posting in groups, and reply to casting calls they post. Only reply to casting calls that fit your description, or at the very least extend your offer for another time, just to get those lines of contact open.
It’s at this point that you’ll want to learn anything and everything you can about modeling. Look up posing videos and tutorials, read other accounts of models and what they do, participate in groups and conversations, and make friends in the industry. Read EVERYTHING you can, learn. You may even want to start using an alias, should you choose. Stay clear of aliases that sound too unnatural, or too common. Names like “Mandi Murder” or “Stephanie Suicide” tend to illicit shudders from many photographers, and are less likely to be taken seriously than “Angela Ryan” or “Threnody”. Names like this run rampant in the modeling scene, and chances are there are dozens of other models with the same exact alias. Although it can be said that some of the most famous models have odd, hard to brand names. But these cases are certainly not typical for everyone. If you have a believable alias, or a one word nickname, you’re more likely to make a quick impact, and your name is easier to brand.
Once you have at least 10 photos, it’s reasonable to start accounts on websites specific for models and photographers, such as Modelmayhem.com and OneModelPlace.com. On these websites, you’ll be connected only with other people in the same industry, making it easier to find new photographers to work with. As you progress, you’ll find that it’s easier to find photographers to work with. You’ll have to stay ahead of an ever changing market to be a success in this field. What that means if you’ll need to have consistent content to share, and you’ll need to help come up with fresh ideas that people want to see. You want people to like the photos enough to share, and that can take a lot of hard work. Social media is your friend, and being constantly reachable and in the zone, you can maximize your impact as a model, which maximizes your resources. You’ll need to learn what photographers want before they ask, and you’ll need to collect wardrobe and makeup and accessories. Eventually you’re going to want to work with better, more skilled photographers. The better your work is, the better chances you have of “leveling up”. This can be tricky for many people, but don’t underestimate the power of dedication. As you rise in skill, so will the people willing to work with you. When you have top notch photographers, you are more likely to be seen as a valuable model and the photos will usually always be clearer, and better. Working with better photographers also increases your chance of being published, which is always fun and great padding for your biographies.
If you get a decent portfolio and following, it may be useful to create social accounts based on your modeling. Make a facebook fan page, an Instagram, a Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube, and whatever else you want. These accounts should always be kept public (so you want to keep personal information private), and you’ll want to interact with as MANY people as you can on all accounts. You’ll want to work on gaining followers and subscribers, and creating content that people want to share. The more likes, shares, and comments you can get, the greater your impact. The major difference between a professional model and a hobbyist is that a professional makes a living doing it, where as a hobbyist typically spends more than he or she receives. If you do some artistic modeling a photographer pays you for it, you are not automatically a professional. A professional is someone who has the experience, skills, and portfolio, as well as a person who makes more money from modeling than they spend on it. As a rule of thumb, it can be considered a profession when you are doing photoshoots at least three times a week, every week. Even more so if all or most are paid.
Becoming a successful model is a lot of hard work, and even more sleepless nights. You will essentially be running and entire business all by yourself, even if it is just your hobby! You’ll be the talent, the makeup artist, the stylist, the manager, the booking agent, the advertiser, the social media marketer, and the help all wrapped into one person. It’s a lot of stress, pressure, and immense organizational skills, but if you are willing to put in the effort you’d be surprised what you can accomplish!
Which brings us to the last thing I need to talk about, and that’s money. Can you make money from modeling? Absolutely, but it isn’t the easiest. If you read my article on tf* shoots, you’ll see where I talk a bit about who pays who in a paid photoshoot.
There are pretty basic and shared rules in the modeling and photography world that everyone should be made aware of. The rules are;
1. Whoever is better gets paid.
2. Whoever messages the other pays.
So if a photographer who’s work exceeds yours messages you, it will most likely be to set up a tf* (free) shoot, where neither of you pay. If your work exceeds the photographers and they are the ones messaging you, it is ok to ask for monetary compensation.
In this little chart I have listed the artist that is BETTER with bold, and written the most likely outcome.
Model messages photographer – Tf*
Model messages photographer – Model pays photographer, or tf*
Photographer messages model – Tf*
Photographer messages model – Photographer pays model, or tf*
It is generally considered rude to message a photographer or model and demand they pay you. If you message, it’s either because you’re looking for a tf* shoot, or you are the one willing to pay. Some photographers and models simply do not pay for talent (usually because they don’t need too), and that’s not a bad thing, but you need to read profiles and respect the wishes of photographers who rely on trade shoots rather than paying models, and never message photographers and then send them your rates. You’re unlikely to get a reply message. As for your rates, you’ll want to check out the rates of local models around you. If you have more to offer, it is reasonable that you can charge more. Your time is valuable, certainly, but no photographer will pay more to work with you if they can find and equally skilled or higher skilled model who charges less. You need to be competitive, and that doesn’t always allow for you to make as much as you want. This is again where time and dedication come in, because as your skill level increases so does your rate of pay.
In conclusion, get out there. Get your photo taken, get it in people’s faces, and work your fingers to the bone to find talent to collaborate with. Create art, build your name, and smash through your goals. And of course, you’re going to need all the good luck you can get!