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So you want to be a Model

So you want to be a Model

As a fashion and beauty photographer I frequently get people coming to me asking if they have the looks to model and truthfully almost everyone has the looks to be in the industry. The commercial modeling industry is constantly looking for different people to cast in all types of commercial roles and just so you know it is really the attitude and drive that will make one successful in this business.

It is not as easy as they make it all look in movies and on television, there is a lot of very hard work, competition and stress involved the real question maybe more like are you ready to be a model?


Are you constantly flattered by others who swear that you could be a coco353amodel? Do you secretly desire the perks of supermodel status, like living in apartments in major cities throughout the world, wearing the hottest designs without having to pay for them, and being invited to the biggest parties? Who doesn't occasionally indulge themselves with the supermodel daydream? Since modeling has become such a lucrative career and you don't need a degree for it, most girls probably entertain the thought often.

To be or not to be a model, for some this is the question. For most, if we even dared to walk into the office of a modeling agency, we'd leave heads down with the disappointment of rejection. Yet those who are blessed with the zero dress size, fabulous bone structure, great hair and skin, don't really have it as easy as you might think. Realistically speaking, modeling is tough to get into and once you're in, it's even tougher to stay in. When we think of modeling, we think of supermodels and fashion shows, yet there are several different types of modeling. These include commercial modeling, plus-size modeling, high-fashion modeling, juniors modeling, modeling for artisans, swimsuit modeling, and parts/specialty modeling. Most people are interested in getting into either high fashion modeling or commercial modeling.

Fashion models model garments and fashion accessories. They are the ones who strut down the runways, appear in fashion magazines and usually sell beauty products as well. When you first start with a large agency they will usually send you to the European and Asian fashion markets for exposure and experience. Physical criteria depends on the agency and client, but in general it is to your advantage if you are at least 5'9", measure 34"/24"/34", have flawless skin and great hair. A size one or zero with a petite build is preferred for fashion models, as that is the standard runway model size.

Know who you are and what you can do...

As we said before, modeling isn't for everyone. There are definite requirements that must be met among other things. If you truly think you have a chance, go for it but make sure you have a backup plan in case things don't work out. In other words, don't just up and quit high school in hopes of becoming the next Tyra Banks.

IMG 4746-EditGet photos taken of yourself...

This is very important. Modeling agencies want to see how you look on film. Make sure you have headshots as well as full body shots. You don't have to hire an expensive photographer, unless you got it like that. Why not try getting a photography student and that oh-so-stylish friend of yours (to help with clothing and makeup) to hook you up. It is not necessary to create a professional portfolio. A few good photos will do.

Do your research on modeling agencies...

Find out which agencies are legitimate. You can find agency directories online. Aspiring fashion models ideally should live in one of the three major U.S. fashion markets, which are NYC, Los Angeles and Miami. If you live in a small town, look out for model searches that may take place at a mall or department store near you. Before submitting your photos or going to visit an agency, call to make sure that you fall within their criteria for size, age and height.

Avoid modeling scams...

A booking agent at a reputable agency usually takes a percentage off (between 10-20%) of the work they book for you as payment. You do not pay them to find you work. If you are asked by an agency to pay a "registration fee", you're probably being scammed. Never sign anything! An agency also cannot require that you enroll in any type of school, service, workshop or purchase tapes and/or video. Agency laws vary upon each state so do some investigation to insure that you are protected.

Take action!

Once you find the right modeling agencies, grab your photos, put on your freshest face and storm their offices! Do not pile on the makeup and/or wear a flashy outfit; they want to see you in raw form. Be unique by being yourself. Each agency has a specific look that they seek in prospective models so don't get discouraged if they aren't interested.

Be prepared for the details...

After you have signed on with an agency, they will develop your composite card. A composite card or "comp card" is a type of business card for models. It is typically a 5.5 x 8.5 card with a headshot and name on the front and 2-4 photos, stats and agency info on the back. Your agents will present these cards to possible clients and you will also use these cards for auditions/castings and for networking.

Get a Cell Phone...

That is if you don't already have one. A Cell Phone is essential for booking agents at your modeling agency to contact you for jobs or casting calls.

Be aware of the demands and dangers of modeling...

Although modeling is not a 9-5 job, there is a lot of pressure and it is time consuming. You will have to watch your weight and develop a grooming process to maintain your looks. Despite what they say, most models have to exercise and watch their diet. You also don't want to show up at a job or agency looking haggard so getting rest is also important. Often modeling becomes synonymous with eating disorders so be sure to respect your body.

Although modeling seems like a fantasy job, what it all boils down to is that you are a tool that will help a company or designer advertise and sell their product. The media loves to portray modeling as glamorous and exciting. What you don't typically see are the models that have destroyed their lives and bodies because they either couldn't handle the pressure or rejection of such a demanding industry.

After reading this I can imagine that many of you will become discouraged and abandon your modeling aspirations. In a world where most people look out for self, the modeling industry is extremely competitive and often camouflages its reality with glitz and glamour. If you are brave enough to test the waters, be prepared for rejection and make sure you have a support system of family and/or friends. And so we end with contradictory words of advice: don't put all your eggs in one basket but also never give up on the dreams that you truly believe in. 

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