So you are considering a career as a model?
Maybe you have been told by friends and family that you’ve got the look. Maybe you’ve seen the Next Top Model series and thought ‘i could do that’.
Well, here are a few facts and tips to help you get on your way. Whilst these will useful to the hobbyist Model, they are more directed at someone seriously considering becoming agency represented.
There are always exceptions to the rules with all things in life, but they tend to be few and far between. There are, however, a set of pre-requisite requirements, or at the very least, desirable traits that agencies will be looking for.
Professional models have great skin, excellent bone structure and are well groomed.
The Model Look
The minimum requirement for most agencies is 5’7” for a female, and 5’11 for a male. Exceptions will sometimes be made for unique models, specially skilled or sought after, but for the most part, if you’re under the height restriction then it’s best not to quit the day job just yet.
Equally, it will be harder to get representation if you are well over the ‘average’ taller range. If you are a lady who can change a lightbulb without some yellow pages then you may struggle to get photographic work as you’ll make your co-stars look like Kylie Minogue.
Now, the weight side of things can be a bit of a touchy subject, and opinions can get quite heated over the portrayal of ‘too skinny’ models.
Having said that, you do not have to be a tiny twig type creature to become a model. And with more commercial modelling, being ‘too small’ can actually limit the jobs you get. The tone of figure is upmost in this discussion. You will need to have a toned figure without too many lumps and bumps…. and the lumps and bumps present need to be in aesthetic places. Needless to say you are unlikely to become a successful model if you’ve got a beer belly to rival Rab C Nesbitt.
If you have a BMI within the healthy range and your exercise relatively regularly then you should be fine. BMI is an easy way to calculate where you sit seight wise, but if you have a lot of muscle mass then it’s not very accurate.
Obviously we are all aware that models look great. It’s their job to look great. What you may never have considered is how much work and commitment (and genetics) goes into looking great.
Models are not always traditionally pretty. And standard ‘good looks’ do not always translate photographically. Models are unique looking, some more commercially than others, but most have very defined bone structure and a very symmetrical face.
Going out for a night on the Razz? If your a model then you better call it a day after a beer or two, and you can kiss goodbye to the post-sesh kebab. Models know that what they put into their body will show on the outside.
Staying hydrated will help keep your skin clear. Everyone has breakouts, but photographers expect models to have good skin for the most part. Drinking water can help improve your skin, keep you alert, and has many health benefits.
Drink green tea instead of coffee which will stain your teeth.
Look at the big names in modelling – ever notice that they don’t change their appearance that regularly? This is because your look becomes a commodity…. changing it is dangerous. You will need to commit to a look and keep that up – you change your hairstyle, you will have to update your photos – and you run the risk of disappointing clients who booked you for your look.
Long hair will get you more bookings…. promise.
DON’T get that small butterfly tattoo on your wrist, or the nose piercing you’ve been considering. Photographers, and agents alike, require you to be a blank canvas. unless the tattoos are part of your look (think Kat Von Dee) then give them a miss. if you really desperately want to do the body modification thing – then get it somewhere inconspicuous.
You will have to be pretty well groomed at all times, as you don’t know when you may get called in for a casting. You don’t want to suddenly have to turn up to a casting for Scholl gel sole inserts and have to show them your hairy toes and hobbit nails.
Being a model isn’t all yachts, champagne, and trips abroad.
The Model Lifestyle
The model lifestyle may appear glamorous…. Believe me, it’s not.
There are many early mornings and late evenings. Trains to the location at 6am, train home at 7pm…. and thats for the nice easy shoots. There will potentially be late nights and 16hr days.
You will have to stand for the majority of the day. You may have to spend prolonged periods in very uncomfortable positions, both physically and personally.
You will have to be best buddies with everyone new you meet. If you are chronically shy… this is definitely not the job for you.
You will spend at least the first hour of each shoot with a make up artist you may not have met a couple of inches from your face. The good news is that they are used to this – and don’t seem phased by it at all!
You may have to travel abroad for work with groups of people you don’t know.
You will be cold. You will be cold a lot of the time.
All the while, you will have to have a smile on your face as though none of this is a problem because it is professional to do so, and you don’t want to appear to have a bad attitude.
There will be fun though. You will meet great people. You will hopefully end up with a few high flying jobs which require you to live the dream for a few weeks.
Models Have Thick Skin
I personally believe that everyone in this world deserves to treated with some degree of respect. i also believe in the old saying that ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’. However, i can tell you that there will be people within this industry who talk to you like crap. You’re too fat. You’re too thin. You have to be prepared for peoples brutal honesty with their opinion on your appearance. I hear a lot that young women want to get into modelling to feel more confident about their bodies…. Modelling will definitely not help that.
It took me a couple of years to be fully okay with harsh criticism of my work. Because my work is personal to me – it is subjective. In the past when a client had said that my work is flat, or criticised the look of a shot, i have felt so hurt by that. That was my blood, sweat and tears that have gone into the creation of these images. It is hard to take…. but if it were also my body being criticised at the same time? I think i would have had a meltdown. You need to be okay with people criticising your body…. but you also have to be okay with it when its true. You have to be okay with someone pointing out that you’ve put on weight, or that your skin is bad right now, or that you’ve got chewbacca legs.
And as much as i wish it wasn’t like this, it is still a vastly male driven industry and there are creepy guys out there. Never get yourself into a situation where you do anything you don’t want to do. You only have to look at what happened with Terry Richardson to see that even some of the big names are complete pervs. Always keep yourself safe – and as i will explain in the next paragraph – your agency are your pioneers, your protectors, and your modelling parents.
The Model Agency Lowdown
The Agency are your representatives. They are your best friends in this Industry. A good and genuine agency will look after you, they will be your ambassadors – in in return you will make them money.
There are a number of really great modelling agencies. There are also utter fakes who will rob you. So how do you spot a good agency? Do your research. A good agency will have great looking models on their books. They will also probably only have a handful of models. Steer clear of an agency they’ve got pages and pages pages full of faces staring out at you. They probably won’t have enough work to go round.
They will speak to you in a professional manner, and will have official contact details an an office. Some random bloke calling you babe over instagram and asking you to audition at his house is not a modelling agency. Having said that, a representative of an agency may contact you over social media, or stop you in the street – just make sure you check their credentials.
DO NOT…. and i cannot stress enough… DO NOT, EVER pay an agency fee upfront. No respectable agency will sign you on their books and make you pay up front. There will be a fee to be paid, but they will take it out of your first job. If they don’t think you are going to get jobs, they won’t sign you – simple as.
Here is a list of respectable modelling agencies that i have worked with.
Respectable Model Agencies
So, you’ve got a list of prospective agencies. what to do now? A lot of agencies have a contact from for potential models, and those that don’t will have a contact email. The first step is to get someone to take 3 photos of you. A clear and well lit headshot completely facing camera, with no make up. A full length front on shot, again well lit, and wearing figure hugging clothes, leggings and a white tee is pretty standard. And lastly, a full side shot similar to the above but facing to the side.
Below are examples i nicked from one of the agency sites.
These photos do not need to be fancy, or styled. They literally are to show the agency what you look like.
Then email them over with a short note saying who you are and that you would like to come in for a chat about modelling. Don’t write them a 3000 word essay on how much you want to be a model. This isn’t the X Factor, they don’t care at this point and you just run the risk of scaring them off. Be polite and concise.
And then hopefully you will get a response. If you don’t, or you go to meet them and they don’t want to take you – Listen to their feedback, take it on board, and keep trying.
Model looks go through fashion changes the same as anything else – so don’t be offended if you haven’t got the right look for them. They might have someone who looks similar to you already on their books, or you might just not be their cup of tea.Keep on trying and looking at different agencies.
Hopefully they will take you on, and you can begin a wonderful career as a model.
And thats it really.
Good luck on your modelling journey. Let me know how you get on in the comments!