So you want to be a model
As with any profession choice you must be dedicated, determined, and have the right mind for that profession. It’s easy to sit back and daydream about the riches and fame in the life of a working model; chauffeured limos, designer clothing, travel to exotic places, being paid thousands of dollars to just pose for a few photos! That sounds like a nice life, but how to get that life? What is the secret? Where can I be discovered?
The problem is, people usually don't think of the other side of that "life of glamour". In fact, does it really exist? What about the other side, the responsibilities of being a model. What about getting up at 3:30 to be on location well before sunup to get that early morning light? What about constantly watching your diet? Not having much of a real social life because you have be asleep by eight PM to be up by 3 AM to make that 5 AM location shoot? What about the love in your life who is made insecure by your career? Rejection - constant rejection is a fact of life in modeling. Even the superstars are rejected for assignments for a myriad of reasons. The survivors are those who are able to develop a thick skin and not let the rejection become personal.
When most laymen think of modeling, they think of a specialty called editorial fashion. Editorial is sort of the flagship of modeling and where the modeling superstars are bred. These are the models walking the fashion runways in New York and Paris and with their faces on the cover of Vogue. This is also the smallest and most difficult area of modeling to enter and the one with the toughest requirements.
Beautiful is always in, but in prior to the 1970s a model had to also be a particular height and size. The reason behind it all was that fashion manufacturers made dress and suit samples in one size and it were easier to find a model in that size than to make a sample in a different size. Most of editorial fashion still remains that way today. If you are a woman in your teens, 5' 8" to 6', ultra slim (unhealthy slim) and beautiful, no, more than beautiful, exotically beautiful, living in New York City or Miami (during the fashion season) and who is willing to sacrifice everything in her life other than modeling, then editorial fashion is for you.
As times changed, the demand for ‘real people’ models increased (Reality Shows, etc), so did the look, size, and purpose of modeling as a whole. When it comes to commercial modeling, size, look, and age can vary wildly. In a secondary market the more you can vary your look rather than having "a" look, the better your chances of finding work. So, ultimately, it all comes down to three things:
1) Do you have the right look for the project,
2) Are you easy and versatile to work with,
3) Do you know how to market yourself.
The first has a lot to do with your genetics (your looks and talent). The second and third are where being a professional model comes in - knowing what to do and how to market yourself. After the client decides you have the genetics the next consideration is do you have the experience necessary for this project?
When looking at modeling jobs and who can make it as a model, one should view it as a pyramid of opportunity. The pyramid represents all of the jobs available for a given year and the shape is formed by the requirement for the jobs. The large base is made up of standard fashion jobs, commercial modeling jobs, and the large numbers of other job where they want someone who "looks like a model". Only models that fill the Standard Fashion model requirement (tall, thin, and beautiful) will fill these jobs. As we move up the pyramid and the job pool gets smaller we get to the Plus Size Beautiful models and the Petite Beautiful model. There are fewer fashion jobs available but one can still find commercial jobs (you are of course competing with standard size models for these jobs but size is less important). As you move further up the pyramid to the Plus Petite Beautiful models and the older models, the job possibilities get smaller still. At the top are the Special Beauty, "Real People", and Special Character models. At this top of the pyramid are the jobs that come up once in a blue moon, but are great for modeling schools and model searches to give as examples when giving their pitch that anyone can be a model.
Some Things to Understand
All modeling, except for some glamour, is client driven. Most modeling jobs are typically found in larger markets. In a large marketplace like Paris, London, New York, LA there is an enough work in a given category of modeling that a model can specialize. A model can be just a fashion model or hand model and be able to make a living. In smaller markets one would have to be more versatile to make it.
Once you understand what it takes now the next question you should ask yourself is ‘What kind of model do you want to be?’
Here are some types:
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, is designed for what fashion designers view as the "ideal woman." 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.
Some of general descriptive terms for the "model look" would be someone who is small to medium boned, fit but not buff, with a long graceful swan like neck, a square jaw and high strong cheek bones. The eyes should be wide set, almond shaped and even, with thick eye lashes. Skin should be clear, small pored, even toned with no scares, tattoos, or piercing. Lips should be medium to full and teeth should be straight and white. Shoulder should be broad and have a long legged look. You should have good posture and be able to carry yourself gracefully. Hair should be healthy and in good condition.
Fashion categories: Fashion editorial, Fashion Runway, Fashion Catalog, Fashion Print, Fashion Show Room, Fashion Lingerie, Fashion Bathing Suite, Fashion Fitness, Fashion Fit, Fashion Tearoom, and other divisions by age.
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.
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. The pay can be good but not to the level of the top fashion model and commercial models tend to find work less often. But it can be an area on can work part time at their whole life. Again, the purpose is to sell something - a product, service, or idea.
Some Categories of Commercial Modeling are: Product, Lifestyle, Corporate, Product Demo, Trade Show, Sports/Fitness, Hobby, Alternative (gothic/punk), and Warm Body.
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.
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 are lots of photographers who would love to do test shoots and photo assignments but getting into the high paying work can take as much effort as becoming a high fashion model.
As with anything in life you will only go as far as you want to go. The choice is yours! If you are interested in having one of our agents provide a review of opportunities available to you please click the model signup link above and one of our staff members will contact you.