If you want to be a model, there are a lot of hurdles to cross. Getting signed up to an agency just by walking in the door is getting to be an incredibly rare thing, and you can’t count on being scouted on the street either. You’ll be told you are too short, too fat, too curvy, too big-chested, too bony, too unusual, too samey… The list of reasons for rejection, even for some of the most promising models in the world, can be intensely disheartening.
So what do you do if you really want to become a model? I’ve got four steps that you can take to make it - and to start making money from your shoots. Want to get your first magazine cover? How about making your first hour of pay from a photoshoot? Making enough to support yourself full time? These four steps are the way. Read on to understand exactly how it works.
STEP ONE: YOUR FIRST SHOOT
You need to get a little experience right away, and have something to showcase in your portfolio. This means you need to start off with your first shoot. Here are a few options to get you started:
1. Ask a photographer friend to help you out
2. Find a local photographer who will be willing to shoot TFP or give you a good starter portfolio shoot
3. Find a studio session day run by a photographer so that you can get in at a cheaper price
Don’t know any photographers who might be able to help you out? Don’t be silly - if you’re reading this, then you know me. Get in touch if you need a starter shoot and we can book something in when it suits you.
Your first shoot aims to accomplish two goals. First, you need to get comfortable in front of the camera. The truth is, you may find you don’t actually enjoy it. But even if you do, you might still be a bit stiff and unsure of what to do the first time. Get that out of your system with this shoot and you will be able to perform better next time.
The second goal is to get something to start your portfolio with. This should include at least one full length shot, one head shot, and one mid-length. You should try to include a variety of different outfits if possible - this makes it a little less obvious that you’ve only done one shoot.
STEP TWO: PORTFOLIO BUILDING
One photoshoot does not a portfolio make, however. You need a range of shots from different shoots, in different styles, and by different photographers. This will demonstrate that you have experience and that you are able to work in a range of different situations. It’s the only way for a photographer or model booker to be confident that you will work well for them.
So how do you build your book? I’ve already given you instructions on how to get a great portfolio on a budget. I’ve also given you the secret to the necessary shots every portfolio needs. Follow these tips and you’ll be golden. For those who don’t want to do the extra reading, here’s the basic takeaway: work. Work for free. Work for different people. Work for pay if you can get it. Work for publication. Work as much as you can.
STEP THREE: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK
When you have your portfolio going, there are three areas in which you need to network.
1. Get your model site going
This can be done easily with a profile on a modelling site. I can show you how to set one up in my model tuition service if you wish. You can also set up your own social media profiles: Instagram, Facebook page, Twitter, and so on. The important thing is to update them as often as possible with relevant and new posts.
2. Get an agency
Of course, this is the dream, and is not always easy. But there are alternative agencies out there, who might take models that are shorter or have an alternative look. If you can’t get an agency, it’s not the end of the world. You just need to do all of the work yourself - looking for jobs, raising your profile, and making sure you are ready to jump at any opportunity.
3. Talk to your industry
Chat with other models and pick up tips, as well as the latest opportunities. Be best friends with photographers and model bookers so that you will get more chances to work with them. Talk to stylists, make up artists, and hair stylists. Basically, network your butt off. Having a friend is not going to lose you work - but it could bring it to your door. This includes social media - liking, commenting, replying, following, and so forth.
STEP FOUR: BUILD UP YOUR FEES
As you work, keep trying your hardest to get better and better. Build a more impressive portfolio and make sure that you are always at your best. Work hard to get a strong reputation. After a while, when your book is looking more complete, you will feel confident enough to begin charging photographers for your time. This may even happen organically when people ask you to work for them.
Little by little, you can increase your fees. This should be done based on what is needed at the shoot (eg, nudes almost always cost more than implied, implied costs more than fully clothed, and so on); what experience you have in this area; and what is being done with the images. Your hourly rate will go up with time as you feel that you are able to push it.
It’s a long hard slog, and not all models make it to full time pay. But there’s no need to despair if things aren’t working for you yet. It might be that you just need a little tuition to push you in the right direction. It could be that you just need more shoots in your book. Keep going. Remember that there is a call for models with grey hair, models who are plus size, short models, young looking models, old looking models, bald models, tattooed models, and even models with disabilities. So long as you are willing to work hard, network, and study your craft, you can earn at least a part time living through modelling.