How to Become a Model!
I get asked this question over and over again, so I thought I would simply put it in a blog so I can refer people to it.
Decide what kind of modeling interests you (and be realistic).
Give serious thought to the type of modeling you want to do and are best suited to do. There are a lot of different types of modeling, including high fashion, runway, commercial print, plus-size, petite, showroom, fit models, promotional models, fine art models, and glamour models.
These cover a vast range from magazine images showcasing a designer’s new work to being the cute girl that businessmen want to talk to at a convention so you can get them to surrender their email addresses for a client to posing in a bikini (or less) for a calendar or website.
You can do several styles and looks if you are versatile (which will increase the number of jobs you can eventually book), but one particular type of model must eventually become your “bread and butter” style that you are known for.
Physicality will determine some of this. If you are really short and flat-chested, you may not be in demand as a runway model (they usually start at 5’9”) or as a glamour model. If you are very curvy, your look might be better for swimwear or lingerie modeling. If you have tattoos, you may limit yourself to alternative modeling because magazines won’t want to invest the money it will take to pay Photoshop editors to constantly airbrush out your ink. Try as many styles as interest you.
Decide whether you only want to be agency-represented or freelance on the Internet, booking your own photoshoots. It’s great if you can find an agency to promote you and take care of the business end, but you’ll enjoy a lot more freedom and flexibility to do as much or as little modeling as you want if you direct book online. Agencies are better if you want to book big gigs like runway shows or do promo work at conventions, the self-booking Internet route preferable if you want to do workshops with photographers, fine art or calendar modeling.
Get an honest evaluation by objective people and ask yourself if your skin is thick enough to handle rejection.
If you’re looking for validation as to your worth, becoming a model is not the best way to do this. Think about it: You’re being constantly judged almost entirely on your looks, which is completely shallow. You’re not going to be everyone’s “cup of tea,” as the expression goes. And you’ve gotta be okay with that and not take it personally. Rejection is part of life and mostly what happens when you put yourself out there to be evaluated based on your height, bone structure, hair and skin quality, physical fitness, etc. These are not judgments upon which to base your self-esteem.
Go into it being okay with some harsh realities.
For example, most working models don’t become supermodels walking the runway for Victoria’s Secret or gracing the covers of magazines. Most are lucky if they do boring gigs posing for catalogs that aren’t that glamorous or high-profile but might offer regular paychecks if you manage to make products look good (if the person viewing a photo feels as if they could be as beautiful or as happy as you if only they shell out $19.99 at Walmart to buy whatever thing you are holding while posing).
Another hard fact: It’s not a full-time career and most only do modeling for a decade or less before they fall out of demand.
So yeah, don’t quit your day job or drop out of school. For most, modeling is a stepping-stone to other things like acting, broadcasting the news, getting into sales, or public relations.
Most agencies want to develop talent at a very young age, sometimes before adolescence, so they can get the maximum possible return on their investment in promoting you before you become too old to effectively portray a versatile range of ages, i.e., high school student or young mom. That doesn’t mean you can’t model past a certain age, you just may start getting typecast as the middle-aged mom, which is fine because that’s who buys most products these days.
Find a quality photographer who can do the kind of photos you need.
By all means, “test” with your friend who owns a good camera or has a good eye and a smartphone.
But for the kind of photos that are going to get you noticed, you need to set up photoshoots with the best photographers you can find, even if it means paying them a bit.
If someone thinks you have potential, they may agree to photograph you for free as long as they can use the resulting photos for their portfolios. Don’t expect that to be the norm unless they really think you have something outstanding to offer.
I often collaborate with people on their first modeling photos, which not only generate compliments from friends and fans but also typically result in other photographers contacting them to ask to set up photoshoots with them as well.
Make sure you get some photos with make-up, as well as without. Some agents want to see what a make-up artist or hairstylist will have to work with if they book you. I definitely recommend hiring a good make-up artist whenever you have the chance. This can transform your photos from boring to amazing.
Be very careful who you choose to do a photoshoot with. I try to create what you need and provide a positive experience you’ll want to rave to other people about so they’ll want to hire me too. Some photographers are not going to have that same intent. If you aren’t sure about a photographer, tell me and I can tip you on some red flags to watch for.
I don’t recommend doing any sort of risqué modeling until you are comfortable with it (that may mean bringing someone with your best interests along to the photoshoot so you feel less vulnerable). A photographer or client needs to spell out exactly what is expected ahead of time and not surprise you or put you on the spot. On the flip side of that, you don’t want to chicken out when a paying client is counting on you to deliver or feel regret after leaving the runway show or photoshoot. The last thing a photographer wants to hear is some model begging him or her to never share the photos after they went to the effort.
Don’t get scammed or waste money on stuff you don’t need.
This one is a blog in itself because there are tons of scams and deceiving stuff, including:
• “Agencies” that never actually find you work but are actually photo studios selling you photos. If dealing with a legit agency, they’ll invest in promoting you so they can get a cut of every job they book for you.
• Agencies that refer starstruck wanna-be models to photographers in exchange for a kickback off what the photographers charge the young person.
• Conventions where you pay to meet with supposed agents who always seem to evaluate you as having potential if you paid the admission fee.
• Scumbags pretending to be agents or photographers so they can trick vulnerable young people into compromising situations.
Don’t let anyone pressure you into making quick decisions. And always read the fine print! Unless someone want to pay you huge sums of money, reject exclusive contracts that will restrict what they’ll legally allow you to do. They are only renting you – they don’t OWN you.
Consider using a stage name
Trust me on this. Google is forever, and you don’t want your old modeling photos affecting your chances of getting a job as a teacher someday. Besides, it’s a scary world, so putting some separation between yourself and strangers is a good idea. And this is critical: Don’t intermingle the two identities in a way that someone can easily figure out your real name and where to find you. Come up with a stage name that cultivates the professional image you want, then keep your work and personal lives separate.
Jerry Rivers = Geraldo Rivera
Archibald Leach = Cary Grant
Caryn Elaine Johnson = Whoopi Goldberg
Michael Douglas = Michael Keaton (since there was already a famous actor with his real name)
You may be required to show your driver’s license while signing a model release, in which case you might put both your real and stage names on that confidential document.
Set up a dedicated Facebook Page, an Instagram, etc. Then get as much exposure as possible.
Uploading new photos regularly is key to keeping other users interested in checking back to see your new content, so it may be worth your time to trade your modeling with a photographer so both of you can use the resulting images for mutual self-promotion.
You build a following by sharing great content often and by interacting daily with other users. People become invested in being a fan when they feel like there’s a relationship and a give and take of compliments and gratitude. This is your secret weapon for getting noticed and building a fan following that causes brands to want to hire you (they want those eyeballs that are following you online to see their stuff, which gives them the incentive to hire you over just another pretty face).
Some models take very risqué photos to stand out on Instagram. I only recommend this if you are specifically wanting to do fine-art or glamour work. You can easily become associated with nude modeling if you display that sort of work, and if that isn’t what you want to do, don’t post it.
One last word on this: When communicating with clients or photographers, show them recent photos that haven’t been Photoshopped to the point of being unrecognizable as you. It can be career-ruining if you promote yourself with a photo of yourself 30 pounds skinnier or failing to mention you’ve cut off all of your hair and colored it green.
Yes, it has happened, and yes, I was not a happy camper being forced to scramble to find a last-minute replacement.
Resolve to be the best model you can possibly be (and make the sacrifices that entail).
Don’t flake out on photoshoot appointments you commit to doing just because you’d rather spend the day with your boyfriend. If he’s the jealous or insecure type, leave him at home and bring your best girlfriend instead. Beautiful people are a dime a dozen, but models who are “real pros” who can be counted on are a lot rarer than you’d think.
Vow to stay in top physical shape and take care of your nutrition, physical fitness, etc. Modeling isn’t worth starving yourself, but you are expected to achieve a superlative look that goes beyond what would count as reasonably attractive in “real life.” If your weight fluctuates or you will need to tone up your physique, give yourself time to achieve your goal look.
Lastly, commit yourself to develop your skill. Modeling is not just standing there looking hot. It often involves emoting on demand, discovering which angles of your body look best, and doing things you might not want to do, like wearing a bikini in January so the catalog of new styles can be ready for spring shoppers. You’ll get ahead if you evolve into a better and better and better model.