Want to be a model, but don’t know how? Do you dream of being the next Gigi Hadid, gracing the cover of Vogue?
Modeling as a career has become a much-vaunted choice now with thousands of aspirants chasing the dream of becoming the next super model. Gone are the days when you could just rely on your luck to get spotted, the chances of that happening are one-in-a-million now. Becoming a model now involves discipline, effort and perseverance. You need to plan, prepare and follow a strategy to stand out and get noticed. We have spoken to several successful models and agencies and put together a list of tips below that you must follow to break into the modelling industry and kick start your modelling career. So here goes:
A model is a rarefied creature. He or she is a fluke of genetics and timing and pop-culture enthusiasm. Ruben Givon – Fashion Critics
1. Get a stunning modeling Portfolio
The first and probably the most important step to getting started with your modeling career is to have a well-rounded modeling portfolio that showcases your strong points through high-quality, stunning images. Your modeling portfolio is the first thing that agencies and clients will look at, and its critical to make a great first impression. It helps to have both an online version (your modeling portfolio page) that you can send to anyone via an email, online link and a printed version that you can show when you meet someone face to face.
2. Find the right agency
Every fashion model needs a modeling agency. The first step to getting signed by a modeling agency is getting seen by a modeling agency. Getting seen requires a very simple submission: snapshots of yourself. These snapshots are commonly referred to as ‘digitals’ in the industry (or occasionally ‘polaroids’.)
Modeling agencies are looking for the most simple and natural photos possible so that they can see you for YOU. Submit snapshots of you wearing little to no makeup: a light sweep of foundation and mascara at the most. Do not style your hair (but do make sure it is clean), and include photos of your hair down, and also of your hair up, pulled away from your face. The background needs to be plain and not distracting (standing against a plain wall works best). Take the photos using natural light; a friend can easily play photographer for you. Your digital should include the following photos: smiling (with teeth, without), non-smiling, up-close headshot(s), left and right side profiles, and a full-length shot (both facing the camera and turned away from camera). Your outfit should consist of a t-shirt (solid color) and jeans. Your submission to a modeling agency should NOT include the following:
3. Do your research about the modeling agency you sign up with
Before submitting to every modeling agency on earth and seeing if anything sticks, do your research. Make a list. First, and most importantly, is this agency legit? Can their business be easily verified, and do they have any bad reviews? Is this modeling agency currently accepting models with your look and stats? What is the modeling agency’s submission process (specific guidelines vary by agency, but you should be able to find this info on their website)? Who are the agency’s past and present models? What are the modeling agency’s most recent campaigns?
Are they working with established brands and companies? Do you WANT to have this agency represent you, meaning you will be representing them in turn? Once you find the modeling agencies that you feel confident to be a good fit for you, submit digital to your top picks. After you submit your digital if you receive a call to meet with an agency in- person, do even more research prior to the meeting. Brush up on big fashion designers, who the ‘it’ supermodels are at the moment, current events from the fashion/beauty/ modeling world, etc. You don’t need to be a walking “fashion model encyclopedia” by any means- just be aware and informed.
4. Learn to embrace rejection
Mentally prepare yourself for rejection- a lot of it. You MUST be able to handle having doors shut in your face without a second thought. Even the most stunning supermodels to ever walk the planet were told “NO.” In fact, they were told “NO” multiple times, many ways, by countless people. Rejection is part of the territory. The sooner you not only understand but accept that, the better off you will be. Don’t base your self-worth on appearance or anybody else’s approval of you. Start practicing now: challenge yourself to shrug off any and all criticism you receive this week. See if it was easy or difficult.
The harder it was, the more you need to grow a tougher skin. Are you offended that you were just told to grow tougher skin? If so, that’s exactly the point! Start practicing the ability to let all criticism roll off your back! But don’t worry, everybody is capable of learning this skill with enough practice. A good mental mantra to keep in mind when it comes to rejection is: “Every ‘NO’ is just one ‘NO’ closer to a ‘YES.’”
5. Make yourself constantly look better
Take care of your skin, hair, body, and health. Like it or not, modeling is an aesthetically-driven industry, and beauty/appearance is undeniably important. (That being said, you can still make it as a commercial model regardless of physical beauty or body type.) However, for fashion models, the height/weight standards are more rigid and inflexible than with any other genre in modeling. There’s not much you can do about genetics, but it IS up to you to make the most of the genetics you were given.
You must adhere your own thorough beauty regimen. Many supermodels use the following habits as part of their beauty routine, including but not limited to the following: drinking water like a fish throughout the day to stay hydrated and keep skin supple, not smoking, keeping alcohol to a minimum or abstaining, exfoliating/washing/moisturizing face every morning and evening, wearing SPF, never going to sleep in their makeup, regular manicures and hair appointments, taking a multivitamin, working out 4-5 days per week, maintaining a strict diet / meal plan, among many more. Looking and feeling your best will only benefit you no matter how you look at it – professionally or personally. It is a win-win. But in this case, having your beauty habits nailed down is absolutely a career advantage for any aspiring fashion model. A model who takes care of her appearance is much more of an asset than a lazy one with poor hygiene and no motivation to look her best. If you do not fit the current fashion model requirements (height/weight), there are many other genres in the modeling industry that you can pursue instead. Please read this article on the types of modeling to learn which genres you may be a good fit for.
6. Practice posing and walking
Study and understand posing. Practice runway walking. What separates a pretty model from another pretty model is going to be their posing ability and their walk.
Modeling is an art. The supermodels you see in gorgeous magazine photos did not just sit in front of a camera and get lucky when the photographer took a photo of them. They worked WITH the photographer to create a masterpiece. Both equally skilled in their respective trade, a model will use her posing, facial expressions, and artistic intuition to help create the photographer’s vision. The photographer will use his knowledge of lighting, aperture, framing, etc to bring everything to life on his end. It is a choreographed dance, and you need to hone your skills the best way you can. Whether it’s binge-watching season upon season of America’s Next Top Model, scanning the pages of Vogue, watching YouTube tutorials, reading modeling books, or finding a favorite model to emulate just do your homework. Posing and walking on a runway is very awkward at first. Practice. Have a friend shoot photos of you to get comfortable with posing, both in front of a camera and another person. Or start smaller and put a camera on a tripod and practice by yourself until your confidence grows. If you can’t pose and don’t feel confident in front of a camera, it will be 20 times harder to get a great shot. Work on becoming the best model you can be!
7. Be Safe
As a fashion model, you’re vulnerable, especially when you’re starting up. So have your guard up and be safe. The most important tip for aspiring fashion models: Don’t fall for phony modeling schools (you DO NOT need to pay money to attend any sort of modeling school or training, period).
You shouldn’t have to pay for any photos to get started unless you are a freelancer model who just came out from a shell. Your agency should be the one taking care of setting up test shoots. There are many other scams out there: modeling contests, unscrupulous “modeling agents” or “casting directors” or “photographers”, fake casting calls which promise thousands of dollars in compensation and a photo shoot in another country, etc. If you dare to work with someone you don’t know, make sure you know their identity just like in modelsculture.com who make sure an employer is a verified user, you will see if a profile is secure employer.
Have a good support system in place. The modeling industry can be an overwhelming place, and it can be easy to fall prey to many other dangers (party scene, eating disorders, etc). Keep your friends and family informed of what is happening in your career. They can be a sounding board if anything sounds fishy or unusual. They can drive you to a photo shoot and wait for you outside. They can keep you encouraged when you face rejection or a rough patch. Stay safe and have a support system!
8. Be Professional
Be a professional through and through. Answer phone calls. Return voicemails and emails promptly. There is no excuse to be 30 minutes late to a meeting, casting call, photo shoot. If anything, you should always be 15 minutes EARLY. This takes planning and time management skills. Aspiring models make a big mistake when they adapt the mentality of: “Well, I’m pretty enough to be a model, so I will just skate by with my looks alone and minimal effort.” Many up-and-coming models of the past never worked another day in their life after their unprofessional-ism, bad attitude, and reputation began to overshadow their beauty. Nobody wants to work with a diva. There are plenty of other beautiful girls in the world who WON’T be snotty or rude.
When you book a job, you are representing both yourself and your agency. When you are on set, treat EVERYONE with respect. If your makeup artist was given a specific directive, which she followed, but you hate the way she did your makeup… well, that’s too bad. She did her job, so now do yours. Go produce some killer photos, regardless of your personal makeup preference, and without saying mean things about the makeup artist to others. Respect and courtesy will take you a LONG way in your modeling career!
Real fashion changes comes from real changes in real life. Everything else is just a decoration.Tom Ford
9. Commit to Work
Modeling may seem easy and glamorous, but that is by no means the reality. It will take a lot of commitment on your part to make it as a successful fashion model. Are you prepared to maintain a diet, fitness, and beauty regimen, even when you are having a dry spell and not booking any work? Are you prepared to do a 12-hr photo shoot in freezing and windy conditions, while wearing wardrobe that offers no warmth, while still getting the shot and not complaining?
Have you accepted that it may take years once signed to a modeling agency to garner success (if ever) while your agency develops you as a model? Are you willing to travel internationally on long trips, and be away from your significant other, family, friends, and the comforts of home for an extended period of time? Are you willing to work a completely un-glamorous side-job when the bookings are slow? If your agency wants you to try a dramatic hairstyle change, are you flexible and open to it? This is not meant to scare you by any means – modeling CAN be fun, rewarding, exciting, and glamorous. Just make sure you are aware of the possibilities on both sides, good and bad, and you are ready to commit no matter what!
Advertisers use models all the time, but more and more so they want to use models who already have a built-in audience to promote to. A large social media following is not a requirement to be a fashion model, but it is a huge attribute. This trend does not show any signs of slowing at current. So jump on board as soon as you can. Be wise in your social media strategy and message. Know what you stand for, show your followers your authentic self, engage with them regularly, and post great photos! You can even take it a step further and start a blog, a YouTube channel, etc. Many non-intending influencers have turned into professionals models on account of their large following.
10. Never let your Pride Down
No matter what, at the end of the day you are still a valuable person with feelings, thoughts, and opinions. You are so much more than just a pretty face. Most fashion models accept the jobs they are booked by their agency, which is fine and quite standard. But if anything ever crosses the line or makes you feel uncomfortable, you need to learn to speak up and voice your opinion before it’s too late. While we just mentioned commitment being an important attribute, there is a fine line. You should never become SO dedicated to your career that it becomes more important than yourself and your own needs. What do you stand for? Make it known from the start, and stick to it unwaveringly. The less you worry about approval and acceptance, the better off you will be. Know when to put your foot down, and always have your own back. After all, if you don’t have your own back, who else will?