How do you find work as a model?
There are two approaches:
1) You work with an individual or organization that finds you work
2) You put together your own marketing plan and go out and find the work yourself.
With the first approach, you work with a modeling agent or agency. There is more information about Modeling Agencies under the "The Agency" section. With the second approach you work as an independent or 'freelance' model. As a freelance model you track down your own jobs and may sign non-exclusive contracts with several agencies. In both cases you must put together your marketing tools - a composite card, a portfolio, and a web presence (more info on this follows). All of these marketing tools require photographs and you get these photos by tracking down test shoots.
After you have some photographs in hand you can begin to put together your marketing tools. The first of these tools is a composite. This is a single sheet of paper that has a head shot printed on one side and more photos and your vital statistics on the back. Many years ago the basic marketing tool was an 8x10 inch Black & White glossy photo of your head and shoulders and stats typed up and pasted on the back. This later evolved into a printed front and back '8X11' B&W sheet, then to 5X7 printed or photocopied card, to today where, with computers and on-demand printing, you can produce your own sales brochure. At any rate, this is your basic marketing tool. You give it to photographers, art directors, casting agents and others. This gives them something they can put in their files and refer to when looking for talent. It is your sales brochure and business card all in one and it is hard to get far without it. It cost some to put together but that's the cost of being in business for yourself.
Your second marketing tool is the portfolio. After someone shows interest in you, they are going to want to see more photos of you. This is where your portfolio or book comes in. Your portfolio contains an assortment of photos and tear sheets showing what you have done and your "look". They all, of course, must be of excellent quality. When you're starting out you won't have any tear sheets as you haven't done any jobs yet. As you do get work, you will add tear sheets to show you have done actual jobs.
How many photos and tear sheets do you need? Enough to show what you are about, but not so many as to overwhelm and bore someone. It is a tricky balance and takes a lot of scrutiny and evaluation to get a balanced book. What size and format? I think that is open. You need to be able to leave it behind, messenger it over, mail it out, and carry it in. It doesn't hurt to be distinctive, but it needs to be easy to look through rugged but fashionable - sounds like a Professional Model. [More information on portfolio cases and Best Buy ideas]
So what types of photos should be in your book? First, you need a good clean head shot. This goes for your composite card as well. This head shot needs to show you - both your physical appearance and personalty. This gives a photographer clear idea of your "look". In addition have a couple of full length shots that show your body shape. The head shot and body shots might be more technical kind of shots. The rest of the portfolio should be filled with WOW! shots. Just as in any kind of advertising (which is what a portfolio is), you need to sell the client. That is what the bulk of the photos in your portfolio should do.
Photos for a portfolio should usually not be done by just one photographer this is because many photographers develop their own style. If your portfolio were to be shot by just one photographer, it would only show that one style, that one way of looking at you. Although one photographer can shoot your initial composite, a portfolio needs variety. It needs to show how several different photographers see you and how they capture your look. Remember, for print models the portfolio is your major marketing tool and can often close the deal. Also, having said all that, there are exceptions and exceptional photographers who can produce enough variety images to fill your portfolio, but it's rare to find one.
[This is a rapidly changing topic. The following material I wrote two years ago and it maybe out of date. I still believe in much of this material so I will leave it for you read. The two trends I am seeing that bring this material into question is modeling agencies' web sites and if anyone will ever find you on the web. I am currently seeing, to my dismay, modeling agencies dropping their web sites. It appears the idea of an agency putting all of their talent on line for clients to see has not worked out for agencies. Two things agencies have going for them is personal contact with clients and filtering which models a client sees. Both of these are loss on the web. So far no one has come up with a dominant model web listing site. Instead I am find hundreds of listing sites all of which are hard to navigate or with pass word protection that make them a bother to deal with. It maybe the case that you either put up a professional web site and promote it or don't bother with the web. All of this is still changing as the web changes so we will see where it goes.]
Since you are reading this you already know how important the Internet has become. Like other small businesses it has become important for a model to have a web presence. Almost all photographers and art directors have computers now and most are either on line or soon will be. This gives you a large potential web audience. For photographers and art directors searching for talent, on line offers speed, greater selection, 24 hour a day search possibilities, and ultimately cost savings. This certainly is not perfected yet but, like digital photography, you can see its day is coming.
Most modeling agencies have web sites and most are password protected. Since they deal with a select local clientele, they do not need every nosy web surfer checking out their models and eating up their download bandwidth. This password protection, like other activities a modeling agency does, helps to screen out problem clients. If you sign with an agency, they will have some means to get your portfolio on line at the agency's web site. Though this system has some good points, it does block the photographer who may just occasionally need a model - especially if it is a last minute idea.
If you are with an agency you still may want to have a web presence that is accessible to everyone. This gives you a place to which you can direct friends, reach clients who don't work with modeling agencies, and for that one-in-a-million chance that a major modeling agency scout or that big-time Hollywood casting director might just come surfing by and spot you. For a freelance model, setting up an independent web presence is the only option and essential.
Currently I see three possible options for setting up a web presence:
1) A free model listing site,
2) Your own web site, and
3) An online virtual modeling agency or model listing site. Be aware that with any independent web posting you have to exercise caution. You are putting material out there for everyone to see, both the good and the bad.
Free Model Listing Site
There are a few free (and with the melt down of the NASDAC very few) model-listing sites that allow you to post either information about yourself and a link to your web site or a few photos and some information. There is no cost except for some time and getting images ready for the web. Generally you do need to know a little about posting things on the web but most of these sites have instructions on how to do this. Since it is free you may want to take advantage of this service and see what happens. [List of free posting sites]
A Web Site of Your Own
There are a few free web-hosting sites left. With these hosts you can put up your own complete web site (covered with ads). This does take some level of web skills, either by you or a friend, to accomplish so this may not be an option for everyone. Also, it is unlikely anyone will find your site unless you promote it. You do have full control of what you put up and how you represent yourself to potential clients. There are also a lot of low price ($10 per month or less) web hosting service. The free part of the internet is almost gone.
A Paid Virtual Modeling Agency or Paid Model Listing Site
There are now hundreds of these sites. They vary on just what they offer and how many photos you can post. Their costs vary from initially free to several hundred dollars a year. They also vary on how many other services they offer (their own traveling photographer, virtual modeling classes, and signing fee - starting to sound familiar?) They all do seem to make the same wild claim, that every modeling scout, modeling executive, casting director, art director, and photographer on the planet will possibly see you; all of them, of course, have nothing better to do than search through millions of web sites so they can happen on this one and see your picture - and you might also win the lottery tomorrow. As you can guess from my tone I think most of these sites are rip-offs. However, I also believe at some point a couple of these sites will, after a major shake out, be key and useful sites.
This is an evolving area of model promotion. We have already seen major players like Iam.com go under and the rise of the on line "modeling scouts." So far, as a photographer, I have yet to find a modeling listing site that is useful. So I am still uncertain how useful any of these services are.
What to Look For
If you are looking for a paid model listing site and you actual want to have some hope of getting work from it, consider these factors before signing up:
1) The site should be easy for someone who wants to find a model to use starting with the home page with clear directions for the model seeker(photographer, art director, and such) to follow. Most sites clutter their opening page with model mania news, how a model should sign up, and stories of not so famous models. If a potential client can't find how to search the site and feel welcome, they are not going to stay.
2) Does the site have a good search system? Many of the model listing sites let you search by size, gender, hair color, ethnic background, and planets in the solar system, but most fail to let you search by city. Since 90% of the work for models outside of New York does not include travel money, only local models will be used. If I, as a photographer, can't find what talent this site is listing for my area, the site is useless. Again, most of these sites want you to think top casting directors from around the world are going to find you so they don't include city search and in reality these sites are useless.
3) Does the site use thumbnail (small pictures) of the models and do they load quickly? I am amazed at how many of these listing sites think an art director or photographer is going to sit there while 5 or 6 high K files down load, and do this time and again trying to get an idea of the talent the site is offering. Or worse yet, where their thumbnails are 80K files rather than a quick-load 3k. Believe me as a photographer you go through a couple of these and you are out of there. You quickly don't care what talent is there - you have a life to live.
4) Does the model get to include other information? Many of these sites let you post just a couple of photos and vital statistics. After a photographer, or other potential client, has narrowed the choices down, extra info, like resume or interview questions can help show a model's personality and experience. Not only do you like a model to have that "look", but you also want to know she or he is someone you can work with. This extra information can help with that.
5) How easy does the site make it to contact and book the model? This part does not seem to be a problem with most sites. Many sites just let potential clients email you. Other sites try to be more like an agency and screen clients and set up bookings. The key point is that if someone does respond to the web listing, you must have a plan on how to proceed. Remember most of these sites are open to the whole world, so you do not know for sure who or what might contact you. You need to work out a system to qualify clients and make sure they are legitimate.
6) What does the site do to attract potential clients? The bulk of these sites just try to get listed on search engines and hope someone finds them. A few actually have a plan for attracting clients and a very few of those actually have budgets with which to do so. If potential clients can't find the site or are not driven to it, it does not matter what else the site does right, it will eventual fail, and along with the site's failure goes any hope of the models finding work.
The final marketing tool is the personal appearance. In its different forms it can be the "go see", the "cattle call", or "doing the rounds". If a photographer or art director has worked his or her way from your composite to your portfolio, then they will probably want to take a look at you. They may meet with you individually or they may look and interview several models at one time (the cattle call). This is the moment when a photographer has a chance to see you and evaluate you in person. You will be evaluated on your physical features, your professional appearance, and your working relationship. From here you get the job - or not!
Doing the rounds is at the beginning rather than the end of the marketing cycle. After identifying businesses that might employ models you get to do cold calls; that is, you drop in and see if the business uses models and you drop off your composite. This cold call can be done by phone, also. What is most effective will vary among photographers, art directors, and casting agents. This is why you sign with an agency as this is what they are supposed to do - market you.
So, how do you find who is using models and who to cold call or to whom to send your composite? The first place to start is with the professionals who traditionally work with models. This would include photographers, advertising agencies, graphic design firms, some public relation firms, and casting companies. Most of these can be found in the yellow pages for your city or a local business directory (available in some libraries). Then you must call, mail, e-mail or walk in the front door to see if they use models. Be prepared for a lot of rejection!
You should evaluate your city or region to see if there are businesses that are major users of models. A business directory can help locate these businesses. In Portland we have two major department store chains with their own studios, as well as manufacturers such as Jantzen, Pendelton, Columbia Sports Ware, Nike, and several catalog mail order companies. All are heavy users of models and at times have hired freelance models to fill their needs. You will have to research your own community to see what your local opportunities are. I knew of a small town in Tennessee that had a photo studio that specialized in photographing furniture and kept models busy just sitting on sofas to add a human touch. You may have to turn over some stones to see if there are any hidden opportunities in your town.
Ok, you have been doing your test shoots and you have a bunch of photos (maybe of small bunch) which are all fabulous, now what do you put them in to show potential clients. Here is a quick look at some of the portfolio case options that are on the market.
The New York Agencies
The bigger agencies will have their own portfolios for their models. These are attractive, functional, quick to set-up, and can only be purchased in large quantities. They generally have a nice simulated leather appearance (vinyl but nice) complete with the agencies' logos. These portfolios are about 10"X13" in size and come in sizes to hold 20 or 40 photos or tear sheets. The bigger agencies may provide these portfolio cases to their models but most likely will want to be reimbursement for them (about $65). So if you know New York has a portfolio like this you should be sure your photos are in nice case too.
If you are with a smaller agency or working freelance you will need to find and purchase your own portfolio case.What are some of the basic features to look for in a portfolio?
When considering any other features or materials of a portfolio you must always keep in mind that the portfolio must have a professional appearance. You will be dealing with folks who are very visually oriented. Photographers, graphic designers, art directors, creative directors, and fashion designers all make their living by producing strong visuals. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional model you must present yourself that way. And your portfolio must have a very clean professional look.
Open Book or Zippered Case
Generally, portfolios come in two styles - the open book or the zippered case. The New York portfolios have moved to the open book. It has covers and pages and reads like a note book. You have to be sure everything is glued down in these books so nothing falls out. You also have to protect them when carrying so rain, snow or coffee does not get into them and destroy the photos. They will fit into a larger bag for transporting and are of a smaller size then the zippered case. The zippered case style of portfolio zips up and can be carried like a briefcase. Zipping the case closed keeps things from falling out and the weather or beverages from getting in. The handle makes it easy to carry on its own. Its larger size might make it a little more awkward when thumbing through, but it allows you to carry presentation materials that do not fit in standard photo sleeves (mounted prints, advertising packaging, transparencies, etc.).
Common portfolio case coverings can be made of vinyl, leather, cloth, and wood. Vinyl (plastic) is the cheapest and least durable. Leather is more expensive but can take more years of wear. Cloth and wood are used more to create an interesting appearance and are less common. Within each of these materials there can be differences in quality that can affect appearance, longevity, and price.
The pages that hold your photos in the portfolio normally come in three types of material - vinyl, polyester or Mylar. Vinyl pages are very clear, fairly rugged and reasonably priced. At one time these were the standard that everyone used. But through the years we have found a few short comings with these pages - they release Coleraine gas that will bleach out photos, things stick to them, they scratch easily, and over time they become brittle, plus their price keeps going up. Polyester pages came in to overcome some of the problems of vinyl but they are not as optically clear as vinyl. With some lower quality pages you are viewing the photo through a milky haze. Some of these pages have gone to a non-glare texture to overcome this problem (you can't tell it is milky because the texturing breaks up the light passage). Mylar pages are very clear and archival quality, but unless you get a fairly thick Mylar the pages can be quite fragile and as you get the thicker Mylar the cost goes up. Just so you know, the New York books are using non-glare vinyl pages.
There are several methods for holding the pages in the portfolio. The least expensive, but also the least flexible, system is to glue or fuse them into the book. Next up is a metal comb binder setup like you find in a three ring binder but with many more rings. A little more classy setup uses metal screws and posts. The comb binder and screw post setup lets you add and remove pages as you need. The glued or fused page setup leaves you with just the number of pages that came with the book - no adding or removing.
Portfolio cases come in a variety of sizes. The smaller size cases hold 8"X10" enlargements and 8½" X11" sheets of paper. This allow you to put standard size photographic prints and common business size printed piece in the portfolio. A larger size case, often 11" X 14", allows you put larger 11"X14" prints in it plus it can hold over size tear sheets that might come from magazine, multi smaller prints per page or other business printed material. The smaller case cost less. The idea of the larger case is to make a bigger impression with the larger prints and to be able to hold larger tear sheets.
Which is the right size? Some of this might be determined by what your modeling agency wants. If they are set up for certain size case you may have to go with that size. In general the smaller size will be fine for someone just starting out. When starting out the only thing you will have to put in a portfolio will be prints from test shoots. As you get more actual jobs and tear sheets and acquire better quality test photos you may need to move to the larger book to hold them.
A side note-
I remember many years ago (late 70's) when I was first starting we were printing everything as 8X10 or 5X7 size prints. All of the portfolios we worked with were in the 8.5X11 format. At one point we had a model relocate to our area from a larger market and brought in her 11X14 portfolio. It had very good work in it and the larger format size just blew us away. If you have very good photos the larger format makes an impression with more impact. As I have moved on with my carrier I have found that having very good content (good quality tear sheets) is more important then size or even type of portfolio case.
Since I first put together the Modeling Advice.com web site I have found writing an introduction to be most difficult. How do I sum up what to look for and learn from the rest of the material on the web site? How do I lead into the knowledge one needs to build the dream of becoming a model and yet make folks aware of the many scams, rip-offs, sexual hank-panky, dangers and a wannabe's own unreal expectation that take away from that dream? I also struggled with trying to capture the creativity and fun side of modeling with out going all corporate capitalist. But after much thought on this I have come to the conclusion that the popular line "show me the money" is the best lead in one can have. I don't mean to support the notion I hear far to often, "well if they pay me lots of money I might consider modeling." With me that attitude would have you out the door on the street. I mean when one digs down through all of the talk, the glitz, the glamour, the hype, and takes a look at the money steam it tells you a lot.
Following the money stream, either going out or coming in, can quickly show one what they might be getting into. The term "modeling" covers a vast and varied area of endeavor and not just the high fashion modeling popularized on TV. If one is looking to become a "professional model" you need a positive money stream or more money coming in then going out. One can also look at different types of modeling and quickly see what are the chances of having a positive cash flow and how much that might be. If you have as much going out as coming in then by IRS definition, that is a hobby. Hobby modeling can be great fun, a positive experience, and some may even work though a hobby period to go on to be a professional model. If large amounts of the money seem to going out with very little certainty of any money coming in then you can be assured your being scammed or ripped-off. Modeling is not like becoming a doctor where you have a set path of schooling that costs a large amount of money but you are assured if you complete the program of study you will become a doctor and you will have an income. For a lot of modeling you either have the talent and look or you don't. It does not matter how much you want it or how hard you work at it or how much you pay for schooling and photos, if you do not meet the basic physical characteristic of some types of modeling (thinking of high fashion here) you will never become that type of model.
Now having said that let me confuse matter by saying a model is generally an independent contractor (an independent business) and with any business there are some start up cost involved. The challenge is coming to understand what are reasonable cost of getting into the modeling game and at what point is someone taking advantage of your dreams and ignorance of the modeling profession to part you from large amounts of your money. Only through education can you hope to know the difference. This site does not offer all of the answers but I hope the following material will start you on the right road to learning about modeling.
Do you have what it takes to be come a highly paid high fashion model? No you do not! I can make a bold, general statement like that and be right 99% of the time. Most people who read this are looking for the dream of becoming a high fashion model, for themselves or someone they know. The world of "modeling" includes many types of modeling but the high fashion model on the Paris runway or the cover of Vogue is the one that most know about. This high fashion world is distant, unknown, glamorous and for most unattainable. This world of high fashion modeling is the most financially rewarding form of modeling but it is only one of many different types of modeling. When you say, "I want to become a model," you need to be sure what category of model you are talking about. The road to "how do I become a model" or "can I become a model" is different for different market location and for each category of modeling. Your first, best step (and before you spend any money) is to learn as much as possible about the modeling industry. This education not only can answer your questions and help to build a possible career but more importantly help you avoid the scams, the rip offs, the bad businesses and the hanky-panky that surrounds modeling.
There is a whole industry built around taking advantage of your dream of becoming a model. This industry thrives on your enthusiasm, you ignorance and your money. But mostly it thrives on the uncertainty and lack of information generally available on modeling. It is far more likely to you will fall into a rip-off situation while trying to become a model then to find an actual legitimate path to see if modeling is for you.
What is legitimate and what is not legitimate in modeling. With modeling it can be hard to tell the difference at times. In my view the whole modeling industry is made up of "sharks," the difference between legit and not legit is that the shark is working for your interest and not eating you for lunch. Or a legitimate entity makes money when you make money or actually provides a service that in most cases leads to actual paid work. A non-legit entity thrives on your money that you pay to them and it never leads to any significant work.
I think key to finding if you have a chance of becoming a model and to avoid getting ripped off is to understand the markets that actually use models. Modeling is not an end in its self. Models are used by different industries to promote products and services or entertain. Without industries using models to promote their products or service or for entertainment then there are no legitimate (paid) modeling opportunities. So it is important to know what industries use models, what types of models they use and where they are located.
In the following sections I briefly look at the idea of the different industries that use models, what type of person makes the best model, how does one find work as a model, and how do you prepare to become a model.
If you want to be a top fashion model, it only happens in New York. Fashion modeling does not take place in small town America. The designers are not there, the fashion magazines are not there, and the show rooms are not there. The really BIG FASHION happens in New York and they play by their own rules. If they find you and you have the look they want for that season, then they have the photographers, make-up artists, hair stylists, clothing stylists, art directors, and budgets to make it work. What I am about to say means very little to the fashion elite. But if you are trying to get into modeling or you're in a minor fashion market doing catalog work, character work, product support work, or other secondary work, then this information holds true.
The modeling industry is quite diverse. However, the part that most people have seen glamorized is the life of the fashion Supermodel. For some, the idea of a jet-set life style is very appealing but, let me tell you, you stand a better chance of winning the power ball lottery then becoming one of the dozen or so Supermodels. Which points to a harsh reality of modeling - most people who try to make a living as a model will fail. Fortunately, for many, just trying to make it is personally rewarding. You will never know if you might have what it takes if you never try. The following information may give you some ideas of what it takes to be a model and how to get started. This information not only looks at fashion modeling but, also, other types of modeling. The material covers some of the basics. Only through proper training and hard work, however, can you become a professional model. I hope you will use this as a starting point to decide if modeling is right for you and may it give you some direction towards starting a career.
An Outsiders View
In becoming informed about modeling you should question the information you read. I have found many sources of information on modeling that present themselves as legitimate and caring often have a hidden agenda. To this end let me tell you up front my view of the modeling industry is that of an outsider. I have never worked in New York (and have no desire to) and I have never modeled for or worked in a big modeling agency. I have been in photography since 1972 and have made my living as a commercial photographer (the folks that hire models) for the past 25 years (more on my background and this site can found on the "about this site" section of the web site). I do not have fantastic "insider information." What is presented here is what I have gained through the experience of working with models, modeling agencies, and clients in smaller markets. These are the same smaller markets and towns that most models come from. Also, this information comes from my personal research and study of the industry (ha, I am trying to find work to). I don't have all of the answers, so please just take this information as an old photographers outsiders view of the modeling industry
Types of Modeling
The Garment and Beauty product industries are large users of models. People want to see what clothes or beauty products look like on somebody. Your high fashion, designer-label garments, are designed for what fashion designers view as the "ideal woman." This is someone tall and slender, somewhat leggy, with a swan like neck. In major markets like New York, this is someone who is at least 5'9" tall and a size six.(How Rare) For men it is at least 6 foot tall and a 40 regular - of course. you have to have that "look" to go with the clothes. In secondary markets we would like to have this but often work with fashion models that don't meet these measurements. It is more important you just have a look of being tall and slender and that sample clothes will fit you. The "look" calls for more of the classic beauty than the extreme looks you find in the fashion magazines.
If you are going to work in front of the camera you need to be photogenic, and this you won't know until you do a test shoot. Usually the face is oval shape, with symmetry to the facial features. Eyes are amond shape. The cheek bones should be strong and nose straight and proportioned. Lips should be full. (more details) OK, that describes half of America - big help, onward.
Types of Fashion modeling:
FASHION EDITORIAL MODELING - Vogue, Elle, Glamour, Cosmo, etc. - these and many other magazines today that focus on fashion have lots of editorial pages they must fill each month. Many of these editorial pages feature models wearing what the magazine thinks will be the next trend in fashion. Editorial work does not pay as well as other types of high fashion modeling but it is great for building a model's reputation and getting tear sheets for one's portfolio. Also, because fashion magazines are not as constrained as advertising work, they can use more 'extreme' and 'special beauty' models in their pages.
FASHION RUNWAY MODELING - Clothing designers traditionally show their new collections twice a year (Fall and Spring) to perspective buyers. As an example, the New York Ready Wear shows just finished with 110 designers presenting collections for Fall 2000. Designers present these collections to a gathering of buyers by sending models down a walkway or runway. How well a model brings the clothes to life and shows important features of the garments can determine how well they sell. So it is worth it to a designer to have the most ideal models show these collections. This leads to why models have to meet very strict requirements and why they get such high fees for this type of work. These young models tend to be very tall, slender and move very well in clothes.
FASHION CATALOG MODELING - There are a lot of clothing catalogs produced. (I know because my significant other gets most of them and tries to keep them all in business by constantly buying from them.) These catalogs, whether business-to-business, store, or direct marketing, require models to pose in the clothes they are trying to sell. (Except for Coldwater Creek who has done a brilliant job of styling their Spring clothing catalog without using any models.) Generally, catalog models are picked for a project because they represent the ideal of the market segment for which that catalog is targeted. Often times this is the classic beauty - tall, slender, healthy, and beautiful. The marketing idea is for transference, i.e. if you buy these clothes you will look as nice as the person pictured in the catalog. Catalog modeling usually pays well because of the volume of photos that must be taken. When I was sharing space with a couple of photographers who shot for a department store chain they could be shooting for weeks with models to produce one catalog. That is a lot of billable hours.
FASHION PRINT MODELING - This is fashion and beauty for print advertising. It can be display ads or collateral print materials. This is the most demanding work to get but pays the best because of usage and exclusives. These are the ads that can make or break a designer's reputation. With these ads it is very important that the concept, photo, and model work perfectly to convey the 'image' that is wanted.
FASHION SHOW ROOM MODELING - Modeling for buyers in the designer's show room.
FASHION LINGERIE MODELING - Because this type of modeling may be more revealing it requires very good body tone and proportions.
FASHION BATHING SUIT MODELING - Again, more revealing requires excellent body tone and a healthy look. A number of years ago we had Jantzen and White Stag here in Portland. Back then I was a competitive swimmer and they would come around the pool and hire models from the swim team - in this case the models were very fit.
FASHION FITNESS MODELING - As health and fitness has moved more into the public consciousness a greater demand has grown in this type of modeling. Of course being in the city with the corporate headquarters for Nike, Adidas, Columbia Sportswear and now Lucy.com, it is very noticeable here. Where once everyone exercised in baggy gray sweats, fitness attire continues to evolve and become more everyday wear. Add to this all of the fitness, health, and outdoor lifestyle magazines that are on the newsstands and you have a fast growing category for modeling.
FASHION FIT MODELING - Fit models have the perfect proportions for a given clothing size. Garment manufactures and designers hire fit models to use to piece together new creations, see how they move, and develop their patterns. The key for a fit model is to never gain or loose an inch. Fit models can be hired by manufacturers in permanent salary positions. It is one type of legitimate modeling that you can see advertised in the classified section of the newspaper. I used to see ads for fit models in our local newspaper for Jantzen and Pendleton.
FASHION TEAROOM MODELING - This once was very popular in smaller markets. Usually it would be at ladies' luncheons where models would wander between tables wearing designer clothes from local fashion boutiques. The models would describe the outfit they wore and where to buy it. Not big bucks, but a place to start and gain confidence in a small market.
FURTHER DIVISIONS - These categories can have further sub-categories for size - petite and plus, and for age - children, preteen, and mature. Petite size models usually are 5'2" to 5'6". Plus size is the same height as standard size models but size 14 -16. Main stream models usually start in around 14 years of age and go to their early twenties. Obviously pre-teen is before this age and mature is everything after it.
A category of modeling will only be found where there are clients to support it. Since almost all of the fashion magazines are based in New York, that is where you will find work in the fashion editorial modeling category.
Body Part Modeling
Body part modeling is a special category that belongs in both fashion and commercial modeling. This is the use of just part of the body in a photograph. Often standard models that look great in full length shots or head shots don't look so good close up. Their hands or feet may look horrible. This is where the body parts model comes in. We will set up a shoot using the standard model's face but the body part model's hands and it looks like it is just one person. Usually body part models will specialize in just one part of the body like hands, feet, legs, ears, or neck.
Hand models are one type of body part model that I have had more call for. With hand models we look for long slender graceful hand and fingers. We also look for smooth (no wrinkles, hair or large pours), clear (no blemishes or irregular color) skin, and very good nails. The ability to pose the hand in a relaxed graceful fashion is very important. This is like a hula dancer that can tell a story with their hands and avoid what I call "the claw" that most folks produce when put in front of the camera.
Body parts model follow a similar path ad regular models with finding modeling agencies, building portfolios and having comp cards. They simply pursue a very special niche market.
Commercial modeling is sort of the catch all for everything that isn't fashion and isn't glamour. It is vast and diverse. The physical requirements can vary greatly. The 'look' can be mom, business executive, scientist, glamorous beauty, etc. Again, the purpose is to sell something - a product, service, or idea.
Some Categories of Commercial Modeling are:
COMMERCIAL PRODUCT MODELING - Generally we are generating a photo to sell a product and the model is used to show how the product is used. Also, model may be used to convey an image about a product. An example would be a model dressed like a doctor holding a blood pressure device. This gives an image of medical authority being behind the product. There is also the old Madison Avenue technique of selling a product by putting someone attractive by it. Although it may not be politically correct to do this, it still is done and it works. People stop to look at a pretty face, not at another vanilla computer box. The physical requirements and look for commercial product modeling can vary a great deal. It all depends on the image or story you are trying to tell. This is where character models are used.
COMMERCIAL LIFESTYLE MODELING - Models are used in photos showing a period of life or doing something in life. The photo might be an older couple walking on the beach and the photo is used in the advertising materials for a new retirement resort. Or a photo of a young couple playing in a park with their children and the photo is used in an ad for a life insurance company. The models are used to act out some concept or idea of life. The physical requirements, age, size, etc. can vary greatly. But they always use the "beautiful people" in these photos.
COMMERCIAL CORPORATE MODELING - Corporate modeling is like Lifestyle but it always has a business theme. Again physical requirements can vary greatly, but usually attractive people are used - although sometimes character models are used.
PRODUCT DEMO - In smaller markets this seems to be a favorite area to start models. Models stand in front of, or in a store or mall, and hand out free samples of something. The idea is they want someone attractive that people will be drawn to and will work for just a few hours or a few days. When you are young and starting out this pays better then any regular job and it can really build your confidence around people.
TRADE SHOW MODELING - Once again attractive people are attention getters. When a trade show comes to town some exhibitors may hire models to hand out literature at their booths. One of the classics examples of this is the auto show. Again, it gives some income when you are starting out and gets you in front of the public.
I am getting a lot of young visitors to this site so I won't go into this too deeply. Glamour modeling is modeling for photos with a sexual theme. These could be simple cheesecake or beefcake photos. They can include bikini, sexy outfits and lingerie modeling. On the cheesecake level, photos can be used for calendars, posters, and other pin-up girl products. You can't pick up a car magazine without seeing a babe by the car or truck. As one moves to greater states of undress you move to the adult entertainment industry with high-end men's magazines like Playboy and then on down to the low-end back-ally magazines. And let's not forget the Internet that is now loaded with all levels of sexual photos. When considering all parts of this side of modeling it is a very big industry and top glamour models can make as much as top fashion models. There are no height or size requirements as in fashion modeling. Where fashion modeling wants you to look like a beanstalk, glamour modeling wants you to have curves like Pamela Anderson. Where fashion may want a 'special beauty look', glamour modeling wants traditional drop dead gorgeous; where fashion really only happens in New York, glamour can happen anywhere.
As far as I am concerned you need to be over 18 to do glamour modeling even cheesecake. With the way the laws are today a photographer runs a real risk doing any kind of sexy photo with someone under 18. If mothers are being thrown in jail for photographing their own children taking a bath and putting the photo in a family album, I think the risk is too great and the return too small to do any glamour work with someone under 18. But this certainly opens up the field for women in their 20's, 30's, 40's and we my even begin seeing more good looking grandmothers in their 50's showing up.
This field is easy to get started in as there a lots of photographs who would love to do test shoots and photo assignments on spec. Getting into the high paying work can take as much effort as becoming a high fashion model. I will leave how this is all done to other web sites.
A model personality
Besides needing the physical requirement to be a model you also need a personality for it. Professional modeling is a tough business. Only certain people can stand up to the hard work schedule and stress that modeling demands. So what are some good traits for a model?
1) Love the Show - When you hear, 'It's show time' or 'Time for magic' do you come alive? If you love performing and being in front of an audience, whether it's a room full of people or the eye of the camera, you will enjoy modeling. If it is something you enjoy you are more apt to work hard at it, take greater risk, and work through the hardships that come along. If you love the work, you will love your life. If you hate the work, you'll be miserable.
2) Hard Working - Modeling takes a lot of hard work and stamina. A photo shoot can run as long as 16 hours and at all times of the day & night. Just getting a job can have you running all over town. And at the end of the day you still have to do all the stuff needed to keep you in shape and looking beautiful.
3) Projection - You need to be able to project your personality, your charisma, your charm, and your sex appeal. You need to be able to sell yourself to be able to sell the product.
4) Intelligent - There is a lot to learn about modeling, being an independent business person, about yourself and about surviving in a big world of sharks. If you can't learn it fast you could get eaten alive.
5) Extrovert - You will be constantly meeting new people and walking into new situations. You will be performing before strangers every day. You need to like new experiences, challenges, and meeting new people. If you are shy and reserved you will forever be uncomfortable modeling.
6) Good Self Esteem - Ok, so it doesn't hurt to be a little bit of an egomaniac. This industry is a real ego bruiser. Good self-esteem can help pick you up and get you through those tough times.
7) Ambition - For most, careers in modeling won't come easy. You will have to go through trials and tribulations before you achieve success. The ambition and desire to succeed and achieve your goals in modeling will help you over the temporary set backs that come along.
8) Self-Starter - As a model you are an independent businessperson in charge of your own career. You must be able to take charge of you. This includes your training, your physical upkeep, your professional practices, your finances, and your life.
9) In Control - You need to be able to control your health (size and fitness), your body for posing, your emotions for acting them out, and your life so you show up on time.
10) Organized - You have to keep track of your schedule, your finances, your modeling materials, and your body's up keep.
OK, so you have to be a bubbly Polly Anna that everyone loves, who is a rocket scientist, and has just finished SEAL team training. Is this a problem?
One thing that can be a great help for one's modeling career is a good stage mom. This can actually be a mom, dad or grandparent. I lump them all together as 'stage mom' and as far as I am concerned if you have a good one they are worth their weight in gold. One of the best things a young wannabe model can have is a parent who can help you develop your career. A good stage mom learns the business, helps keep things organized, watches out for scams, helps avoid dangerous situations, provides transportation, helps with training, encourages practice, provides emotional support, and at the start of a career provides the financing. And for all of this, stage moms get to melt into the background and let their son or daughter move into center stage and become a star.
Of course you always hear about the bad stage moms - the bossy, interfering, and overbearing stage moms - the ones trying to live the life they never had through their children. You never hear about the good stage moms - the ones the photographer turns to when the model has forgotten something and mom is right there with it: the stage mom who works tirelessly in the background so her daughter or son, the model, is on time and ready for the task at hand. Well, let me say I appreciate a good stage mom as the professional she is.
A Photo Shoot
OK, if you are going to be a professional model and work in front of a camera, what goes on when you are working? Here is a photographer's perspective on how a model should handle a photo shoot. This is still leading to what you should know to be a photo model, but maybe seeing the end result will help the training process. I must apologize if I sound a little gruff on this but a photographer can get a bit demanding on the job. Also, keep in mind if a photographer has hired you for a shoot and things go wrong, it is the photographer who is held responsible, not you. The photographer has to make sure everything goes right. It sounds a little dramatic, but if you heed these points now it makes everything more fun later. Again, when you're a famous super model you can forget all about this and let every one wait on you hand and foot.
The first rule is to make the photographer's life easy. The reason you are being hired as a professional model and we are not pulling someone off the street is that you are going to do things that will allow the shoot to go quickly, easily, and more successfully. I can take anyone off the street and make him or her look good (that is what glamour portraiture is all about) but a model who knows what she or he is doing will allow me to get the job done in less time and with a lot less hassle. That's why we pay you the big bucks.
Before the Shoot
Get a good night's sleep and stay healthy. If you are tired it will show both on your face and in your attitude. Please do not party the night before a shoot. The photographer, ad agency, and client will have invested a lot of time and money in a shoot and will depend on you to arrive ready to do the job. It is part of being a professional. In Milan or New York they may put up with partied out super models but in a secondary market, if you arrive for a shoot only half-there, you will not be there again.
Get your items ready and packed up. Unlike the big fashion scene you may need to provide items of wardrobe and props for a shoot. This should all be discussed and worked out before the shoot. If you have talked about bringing certain items please be sure they are packed and ready to go the night before. This avoids last minute running around and forgetting. Reliability again is part of being a professional.
You may need to put on a base make-up before leaving for a shoot. In a secondary market you may need to do your own make-up as there usually isn't a budget for a make-up artist or there isn't one available. By taking care of your contouring and base items before the shoot it helps speed matters along. This is not meant to cheat you out of billing time at the studio, I would expect to pay more per hour for someone who can do their own make-up and who comes prepared.
You may need to have no make-up on at all before you arrive for a shoot. Confusing isn't it? There may be times when the make-up has to be done at the shoot and not having any make-up on speeds the process. This is why a photographer appreciates a model he can communicate with so that all these things can be worked out ahead of time.
At the Shoot
Arrive on time. Studio time is often based on an hourly fee. If time is being wasted waiting for a model to arrive it either costs the photographer in time that can't be billed or it costs the client in time they are paying for nothing. In either case you just made the photographer's life less easy and you may not be asked back.
After your arrival and pleasantries are done, you will review with the photographer how to proceed with the shoot. (The game plan, or the 'plan your work then work your plan' bit.) Next it is off to finish your make-up and change clothes. This part may vary a lot depending on budget and purpose of the shoot. You may be left to schlep in your own make-up case and wardrobe and get prepared in some corner of the studio or you could be whisked away by a make-up artist and hair stylist while the caterer brings you delicacies. In the meantime the photographer will be making last minute lighting and set adjustments, schmoozing the art director, making sure the client is happy, trying to find out why something that was promised hasn't arrived yet, rechecking the cameras, directing the photo assistant, checking on how things are going with the model, and, oh yeah, trying to have fun. Now you see why rule number one is 'make life easy for the photographer'.
Ok, now it's show time! You are ready to get in front of the camera. Communication is very important at this point. You need to follow the verbal instructions of the photographer and give feed back. As a model and a photographer work together more, this give and take becomes easier, but the first time out it can take a while to develop a rapport. Also, it is important to establish a touch-or-don't-touch understanding up front. When working with large format cameras the posing can be very slow and precise. It may be quicker and easier for me to physically move you and your arms, head and legs where I want them. If you are uncomfortable with that or other posing issues, please state it up front. This is one time it is better not to make the photographer's life easier if it is going to make your life miserable. All of this should get worked out and become part of the professional working relationship.
Another challenging part of the photo shoot process is trying to stay relaxed and comfortable. I may be telling you where your main light is, where your posing spot is, the expression I want, having your arms and legs going in different directions while you're trying to hold the product so you don't cover the label, while a crowd of folks look on, and through this all you have to stay relaxed so the tension doesn't show on your face. If only it was all rock music playing and dancing around in front of the camera like they show on TV. In secondary markets it is a lot of product, illustrative, and catalog. But in spite of it all this you can still get a lot of excitement and electricity going.
I still find it strange, how this electricity and excitement can build between a photographer and a model. And it is even stranger when it suddenly stops during a shoot. Its like a switch is turned off or you run out of gas. One minute everything is really happening and you are doing great work and the next minute, for no reason, the energy drops. I used to try to work through that energy drop and keep going but it just doesn't work. If it happens in the middle of a shoot, it means, "It's break time". Time to recharge, brake for lunch, socialize, change sets, change wardrobe, or something. This part is always hard to explain to a client though sometimes they can feel it as well. If it happens close to the end of a shoot you may as well just call it a day. You hope you have all of the primary shooting done and you are just working on the extras so it is a good time to wrap up.
After the shoot
When the shoot is over it is time to clean up, pack up and go. When you're starting out you may want to stay and ask questions about modeling or if there is more work, or where else you can find work. A little of this is fine, but remember time is money and the photographer may need to move on to another project, so don't stay too long and wear out your welcome. Also, don't be too quick to dash off. The photographer may indeed have another project coming up, but does not want to talk about it until the client and art director have left. More confusion! Also, try not to leave things behind again part of being professional is being organized.
Lastly, the inevitable question, when will the pictures be ready? You know you want to see them. Try to work out a time when you might be able to return to look at them. What is excellent, is when you are starting out and the photographer can take time to review the photographs with you and not just leave something at the front counter. A critique of what the photographer saw and how you might do better can be a real ego bruiser, but can also help you learn and improve.
Post Shoot Stress
Some people will end up very excited after a shoot. Some will be burnt out. Whatever your reaction, you need to find a way to regain your normalcy quickly. Staying up or down can lead to more stress and that starts to take its toll on the body. You need to be able to unwind or rewind in a few hours as you will need to get your rest. You have a shoot tomorrow.....!