Many girls (and guys) dream of becoming a supermodel. It’s glamorous, exciting and there are megabucks to be made from showing Chanel’s latest collection on the catwalk in Paris or filming on location in New York for the next cover of Vogue. But before you get too excited, here are a few truths you really should know about working as a model; super or otherwise.
No amount of airbrushing can give you a perfect body or face. To succeed in the modeling industry you must radiate good health; look after your skin, eat a healthy diet, work out regularly and look after your hair too.
All of this takes time, commitment and expense; have you got what it takes?
What kind of model?
In theory, anyone can be a model but the maxim, “horses for courses” applies.
If you have aspirations to become a runway model, you must be at least 5’9” tall, very skinny and typically small-breasted. Gents are usually between 5’11” and 6’2” tall and “ripped”. Don’t be disheartened if you’re more out of the curvaceous mould as there are agencies that specialise in plus-size models and off-the-peg sizes for catalogue work.
Print models must have a beautiful face with a distinctive personality, while female underwear models must boast a large bust size and narrow hips. If you’re comfortable with posing nude or topless, you might want to take the glamour model route but this can have negative repercussions later in your career.
You could opt for a career as a promotional model working directly with a client’s customer base promoting things like clubs or events. For this sort of role you would have to be attractive with a likeable, outgoing personality. This sort of work is great fun; you do get to travel quite a lot and meet people from different industries and backgrounds which can present very useful networking opportunities that might lead to future assignments.
If your face isn’t your fortune, there are also models who specialise in hair, hands, feet and even celebrity look-a-likes.
Modeling is extremely competitive and you must be prepared to take knock-backs on a regular basis. You can give yourself an edge by learning as much as you can about the craft from good industry magazine articles and books on the subject. It’s important to understand how the industry works, how agencies operate and which ones to approach before you begin your quest for stardom.
A pretty face and a nice figure do not guarantee you success in the cutthroat modeling business. You must become adept at finding jobs for which you are a good “fit”, rather than wasting your time and energy pursuing positions you are simply not “right” for.
Fairy stories of young girls being talent-scouted whilst working on a till in Tesco’s and going on to become supermodels do occasionally happen, but the majority of career models have achieved their dream through pure hard work, perseverance and determination to succeed.
Portfolios and Agencies
To give yourself every chance of signing up with a good agency, you must have a decent quality portfolio. You can begin with a few home-made shots if you want to save some expense. A few close-up shots of you without much makeup on, posed against a plain background and taken in a good natural light are all you need. Agencies want to see what you look like in a raw state and they’ll ask to see a head shot, profile shots and a body shot.
Although it’s expensive, it is worth having a few professional shots taken too as these will give a better idea of the kind of “look” you have. Put all your photos together in a book to create your portfolio. You can add to this as your career develops and you begin to build a collection of work shots.
When you approach an agency, make sure you have your measurements and stats to hand. They will want to know your height, weight and clothing size together with hair colour, skin tone, eye colour etc. If you are rejected, don’t be too discouraged. It’s not that you aren’t good enough; it’s just more likely that the agency already has enough models of your “type” already on their books.
Be careful when choosing which agencies to approach. Industry magazines will point you in the right direction and online reviews are worth checking out too. Agencies will take a commission of your fee when they assign you work placements but no agency should ask you for hundreds of pounds up-front just to register with them.
Be careful when signing contracts or releases. Often, contracts will stipulate that you may only model for a particular agency which can be restrictive, whilst releases (mini-contracts) will often list everyone’s rights but those of the model. Always read the small print and discuss any contractual aspects you’re not sure of with your agency before you sign anything.
A word of warning; there are many scammers out there who prey on young, naïve girls with dreams of stardom; so be very wary who you work with.
It is possible to work as a freelance model, but it is much harder to find regular work and the fees are generally much lower.
The dream job
You must always be professional, courteous and polite when you are on assignment. A poor attitude will only get you a reputation for being rude and you will not get many repeat jobs or referrals. Make sure you arrive on time or slightly early for appointments and be organised. Your days can be busy and chaotic so your time management skills need to be good!
Always treat modeling as a real job and you have a much better chance of succeeding. It is much harder than it appears and there is a lot of hard work and dedication behind the glamour and glitz of fashion shows. It is also important to remember that a fashion model’s career typically only lasts for about five years so don’t get caught up in the excitement of the here and now of modelling and neglect your future long-term career prospects.
Resources for aspiring models
Professional and reputable photographic studios specialising in model portfolios:
Top agencies currently looking for new talent:
models (Models.com contains all the latest industry news, updates and a great section on useful contacts for working models and those trying to break into the industry.)