How to Become a Model: A Beginner’s Guide

How to Become a Model?

To become a model, you will need to research the type of modeling you’d like to do, understand the strengths and beauty of your own body, practice posing in front of the camera, take photos to put together a model portfolio, and send applications and go to casting calls.

Do the glossy pages of Vogue make you weak in the knees? Do you stomp every sidewalk like it’s a Milan catwalk? Do you have “the look”? If you answered yes, then you just might want to be a model.

The world of modeling has something for everyone. There are so many niches and specializations that you can find at least one that fits your look and personality. Once you decide becoming a model is the right move, it’s time to choose which path you’ll take to get there. There’s a lot more to the modeling profession than being really, really, ridiculously good looking.

Getting started as a model is no easy feat. It takes time, dedication, and probably most importantly, thick skin. For many, being judged based on your appearance can be taxing, but with the modeling industry becoming more body-inclusive, more opportunities are opening up for aspiring models of all shapes, sizes, genders, and sexual orientations.

If you’ve always dreamed of being a model, use this guide to help get your career started off on the right foot.

Let’s Get Physical

The first thing every aspiring model needs to know is what their best features are and how to flaunt them. Inspect your face, free of makeup and with your hair pulled back. Gone are the days when the industry demanded strict symmetry and Eurocentric features. The concept around beauty and the process of finding the perfect model has changed significantly in the industry. What is interesting about your face? Do you have full lips? Sleepy eyes? A gap in your teeth? Any of these can be advantageous when it comes to being remembered by casting agents.

Make faces in the mirror. Practice over-the-top emoting, laughing on cue, and bending your body into interesting positions while still looking natural and comfortable. Get comfortable in heels or other shoes you don’t normally wear. You may be asked to run, jump, and even skip in heels. Learn how to move fluidly, with small movements between shutter clicks instead of completely different poses from snap to snap. Think of each session as if you are trying to create a stop-motion flip book and act for the type of personality of the brand you are modeling for. Your photographer will thank you.. Your photographer will thank you.

What Is The Definition Of Being A Model?

Before you can jumpstart your career as a model, you need to understand exactly what a model is. There are a couple of different ways we can define the term model, so let’s look more closely at each.

A model is defined as:

  1. One who is employed to display clothes or other merchandise

  2. A person or thing that serves as a pattern for an artist

  3. To display by wearing, using, or posing with

We could go on here with various definitions of model, but for our purposes, these three definitions are most relevant.

To sum it up, as a noun, a model is a person who is employed to display, wear, or pose with merchandise (i.e. most commonly clothing).

This can be done in various ways and settings, making the definition of a model open to interpretation. We’ll cover the different types of models in depth down below, but in general, models can display clothing on a runway, they can be photographed for magazines, they can be used in advertising campaigns, and they can even be used by artists who need a model for a piece of art they are working on.

With this in mind, the form, figure, and appearance of a model is the most important factor used when obtaining jobs, which is one of the reasons why this job can be so tough menally.

Model Meaning

While modeling often gets glamorized in the media, when we actually sit down and take a look at what it means to be a model and all that goes into building a modeling career, it becomes clear that the meaning of modeling is quite complex and in-depth. Let’s review.

Modeling requires thick skin/an ability to handle criticism

We already alluded to this, but when you become a model, you need to have thick skin. While the days of handing over your body to a modeling agency are looked down upon, no matter how accepting and body-positive your agency might be, as a model, you will always be using your body and your likeness in some form, whether it be to display clothing, walk down a runway, or sell a new line of swimwear.

If you can’t handle criticism or you’re not confident with your figure, it might be best to stay away from modeling. You might find that people look past you or only see your figure without actually paying attention to how you feel or what you think. While we don’t condemn behavior like this, there’s no denying that this often becomes commonplace in the modeling industry.

Remember that definition of model: employed to display, pose, or use merchandise. It doesn’t sound great, but as a model, you almost become an object within a scene, which can be difficult to wrap your head around, especially if you struggle with confidence and body image.

Before deciding to become a model, be sure that it is something you think you can handle emotionally and mentally.

Modeling requires focus and stamina

Modeling can also be physically demanding.

Sure, modeling might seem as simple as walking down a runway or posing for a couple of pictures, but in reality, modeling requires a great deal of focus and stamina. Long days on your feet, repeating poses over and over again, and an ability to look at ease and comfortable even when you’re exhausted and frustrated are just some of the more draining tasks you’ll have to endure as a model.

Not to mention, in many instances, models not only need to go through the actual modeling portion of the job but there’s also often hair and makeup associated with each job. Getting your hair and makeup done might seem exciting now, but after multiple photoshoots and long days, it can become mundane.

Depending on the kind of modeling or the location of the job it may also be physically demanding to be posing in a challenging environment (like long hours under the hot sun, or in a cold, snowy tundra) or to hike into a remote location.

Don’t be fooled, modeling requires some serious stamina to get through the long days.

Modeling requires an ability to follow direction

While modeling can provide some level of creative freedom, for the most part, you will be following the creative direction of someone else. Whether it be a photographer, a runway director, or an artist, as a model, you’ve been hired to “model” something, which means taking direction to achieve the final vision.

As a model you know your body and you can offer your creative input, try different poses, and work closely with the directors and photographers, but at the end of the day, modeling requires you to give over creative direction to your employer. As a model, you not only need to be okay with this, but you also need to follow direction with ease. Complaining, arguing, and being difficult to work with won’t get you very far as an aspiring model.

Modeling requires a personal grooming regimen

As mentioned, the modeling industry has made great strides to becoming more accepting and inclusive, but at the end of the day, as a model, taking care of your appearance is important, especially if you’ve been hired for your particular look or your figure.

Of course, this never gives anyone permission to make you feel poorly about yourself, but if you’re neglecting your personal care regime, finding work as a model might be more complex.

A personal care regime might include skincare, exercise, hair care, and even things as simple as nail care if you’re working as a hand model.

Build Your Modeling Portfolio

Once you know your angles and your poses, it’s time to hire a photographer. Remember to communicate with the photographer to understand the process and how they will shoot. In order to get your face out there, you’ll need more than a few selfies and party pics snapped on your iPhone. You’ll need to build a modeling portfolio website. Portfolio standards have evolved a lot over recent years and you want to make sure your portfolio is professional and polished.

There are two types of portfolios you’ll need to curate. The first is a traditional, hard copy portfolio. This is like your resume. You’ll bring this with you to all in-person casting calls. It’s should feature your best 8 to 12 images, and be presented in a portfolio case with a brief catalog of your modeling experience.

The second is your online portfolio. This technique is where you can really show the breadth of your experience and versatility. Building a strong portfolio can be a time-consuming process, but shows casting agents just what you bring to the table and what you can do for them. It should be ever-evolving as you gain more experience.

Practice Posing in Front of the Camera

Practice, practice, practice! Modeling is one of those skills where practice makes perfect. Your ability to pose or strut down the runway is what differentiates you from a model and a professional model. Try setting up a simple studio in your home—all you need is a tripod and a camera or phone, set the self-timer on, and you can start document your poses in front of the camera.

You can even try different locations, like a park, convenience store, or a library. Invite a friend to come with you and have them help you take photos. You can review all the pictures taken to see the poses that work best for you and how you can improve.

Make Love to the Camera

Get started on your modeling portfolio with a captivating headshot. However, this may not be an easy process, as it can be difficult to find the perfect one. Headshots can be just head and shoulders or from the waist up. Your headshot should show you in your “natural” state. Simple makeup, minimal jewelry, and minimally styled hair. If you have facial hair, it should be well groomed. In other words, leave the winged liner, statement jewelry, and teasing comb at home. Smiling or serious, your headshot should put your best face forward and be the first image in your portfolio.

Next, you’ll need a full body shot. Make sure your posture and form are proper so that it can accurately display your body. These are usually very simple, wardrobe-wise. You’ll need a fitted white shirt or tank top and a pair of dark wash skinny jeans or a tailored trouser. Long skirts or jackets or too many layers just cover up what the casting agents are looking for. Ladies, break out those heels and gents, a casual dress shoe will do the trick. Keep it simple and classic—you can get creative in other photos.

You might also want to include a swimwear shot. Many people protest at the idea of a swimsuit photo. Just try to remember that some jobs require a uniform and this is one of those jobs. Keep the photo fierce or playful, especially if you want to explore commercial modeling.

how to become model photoshoot

Now let’s have some fun! You can form a more well-rounded portfolio by including different types of work. To show your versatility you’ll want to include some editorial work in your portfolio. Find a theme, create a look, and collaborate with a team if you don’t have anything striking enough.

Commercial modeling is arguably the hardest to get across in your portfolio. Take your photographer to a food truck festival and really enjoy those tacos. Use your purse or backpack as a focal point in the shot. Pore over magazine ads, and try to recreate them. Take inspiration from other models and portfolios to see how they pose with products. Commercial modeling is acting in print and can be incredibly hard to sell. But when you do it right, the photographs are incredibly compelling and sell both the product and your abilities as a model.

Lastly, you’ll want to include any tearsheets you have. A tearsheet is a page torn out of a publication where you’ve been featured. For your digital portfolio, linking to the publication will suffice. If you are going to include tearsheets in your physical portfolio, be sure that they have cleanly cut edges and are in protective plastic sheets. It will leave a bad impression if your pages look tattered.

These are your portfolio must-haves. This will leave you with a small collection of photographs. You can fill it out by adding other shots from these categories. Make sure there is at least one of you smiling, and end on a compelling headshot.

Go Out and Play

You have a portfolio, some experience, and an itch to do more. Depending on the kind and form of modeling work you are interested in, you have several options available to you:

  • Bulk up your portfolio with more images. Photographers are expensive and worth every penny, but not everyone has that kind of financial freedom to pay every time you want to boost your portfolio. Find photographers who are just getting started and arrange some TFP (Trade for Print) sessions. The same goes for stylists, hair and makeup artists, and designers. Most—if not all—creatives need portfolios, and therefore often need models. This is also a great opportunity to try things out of your comfort zone and grow as a model, as well as a way to.

  • Volunteer. Work with local retailers and designers to help facilitate fashion shows. Walk every runway like it’s Paris Fashion Week. Treat every booking like it’s for

    Vogue.

  • If fitness modeling is your goal, work with a trainer. Be their spokesperson. Be their walking, talking before and after ad.

  • Acting, yoga and dance classes can connect you with different sides of yourself. As you learn different ways to emote and move your body, you’ll be able to incorporate that knowledge into your work.

Get Signed

If you want to be a model, like in any industry or profession, you’ll want to have someone in your corner who can help guide your career. That’s where agents come in. They can help you refine your book, set up go-sees, and help direct your career.

Agencies are now casting a much wider net to find talent via social media. Inviting Instagram users to add a hashtag to their posts allows recruiters to view thousands of potential models without ever leaving their office.

You can also skip the middleman and approach agencies directly. Do your research and find agencies are in your area. Look for ones that align with your desired career path, then simply email them your website and a quick, attention-grabbing cover letter.

A word of warning: if an agency is demanding hundreds or thousands of dollars up front, keep looking. That’s not the agency for you.

Ready to build a modeling portfolio?

Create a killer modeling portfolio and make a great first impression on agencies and clients.

What the Heck is a Go-See?

Casting calls, or go-sees, are interviews for models in one form or another.. They’re either open to the public or arranged by agencies. You’ll need to bring your call card (or comp card) with your clothing size, shoe size, measurements, and contact information listed and stand (or walk, if it’s a runway job) for the casting agents. Go-sees are usually hectic and they rarely run on time. Bring a book to pass the time and a pen and notepad for taking down important information. Be professional and polite—a bad attitude can get you blacklisted faster than a bad skin day.

What Are The Different Types Of Models?

As mentioned in our definition of a model, there are many different types of models who will all work in different settings, with different products, and different people. Figuring out which type of modeling is best suited for you and your personality can take some patience, but often the type of modeling you are best suited for will choose you. In other words, some aspiring models just have a look and presence that is naturally best suited for a certain style of modeling.

Here’s a comprehensive list of the different types of models:

Fashion/Editorial Model

Probably the first type of model that comes to mind when you think of a model, fashion models are most often used in magazine photoshoots for fashion magazines like Vogue. You’ll also often see fashion models in advertising campaigns for luxury brands like Gucci and Valentino, for example.

Swimsuit/Lingerie Models

Swimsuit and lingerie models specialize in—you guessed it—lingerie and swimwear. For example, Victoria’s Secret models would fall into this type of modeling.

Keep in mind, there’s often crossover between these different types of models. For example, we’re sure you can think of a handful of Victoria’s Secret models who started off their careers as lingerie models and worked their way into fashion and editorial modeling.

Commercial Model

Commercial models work on a variety of campaigns and are generally not restricted to one type of modeling. Commercial models’ main objective is to help sell a product/merchandise through advertising campaigns.

Fitness Model

Whether it be modeling a new pair of workout leggings or being featured in a workout video, fitness models almost always have a physically fit body. They can be employed for advertising campaigns, but they can also participate in a more active form of modeling where they demonstrate various exercises.

Parts Models

In this type of modeling, you generally have one part of your body that is used in campaigns, like hands, feet, legs, arms, etc.

For example, you could be a hand model for a jewelry company advertising engagement rings or a foot model for a new nail salon advertising their premium pedicure services.

Fit Model

Don’t get fitness model and fit model confused. They are two different things.

Use of the word “fit” here is not necessarily a reference to the model’s body type. Instead, the word “fit” is used to describe a model who helps fashion houses improve the fit of their garments.

In other words, a fit model works behind the scenes and can really be any size depending on what sizing the brand specializes in.

Promotional Model

Not all modeling requires you to be good behind a camera. Promotional modeling more so relies on being personable, outgoing, and easy to talk to.

Promotional models are most often hired for events and trade shows in order to help promote/sell a product.

Glamor Model

Similar to the editorial and fashion model, a glamor model specializes in taking photos and promoting products/merchandise through advertising campaigns.

The main difference between an editorial model and a glamor model is the body type and photoshoot style. Fashion models typically tend to have a more slim figure and striking appearance. They take photos that can be considered more artistic and avant-garde, whereas the glamor model is more traditionally attractive, can sometimes have a curvier figure, and might work on campaigns that are less luxury-based.

Print Models

Again, this style of model specializes in taking photos. Most models are—to some extent—considered print models, but for those who exclusively specialize in print modeling, they usually work on a variety of campaigns, don’t necessarily specialize in one style of photoshoot, and instead work based on the needs of a client.

Models Based on Appearance

Keep in mind that there are also different types of models that can be classified based exclusively on appearance.

Some examples of models that are exclusively based on appearance include:

  • Plus-size models

  • Mature models

  • Male models

  • Child models

  • Petite models

As mentioned, there often tends to be a lot of crossover with these different types of models, and on occasion, some models might start off their career specializing in one type of modeling and then advance into another style as they gain experience.

Unlike some other artistic pursuits where having a niche you focus on might be important, modeling more so relies on you putting yourself out there and seeing where your talents are needed/wanted by clients.

For instance, you might not think of yourself as a hand model, but if you can start by booking hand modeling jobs that can help you get your foot in the door, that’s a great place to start! From there, you might make connections and be able to start booking some glamor jobs, which could even lead to some editorial campaigns as you gain experience.

Don’t let yourself be pigeon-holed into one style of modeling. Get out there and see what type of modeling is best for you by gaining experience.

What Are Some Examples Of Models?

Most of you probably already have a handful of examples of famous models at the top of your mind, but to give us a more realistic look at modeling for the everyday aspiring model, check out these examples. With some work, this could be you!

Valeria Herrero

The first thing you’ll notice about Valeria Herrero’s website is its simplicity. Her home page only shows modeling shots from her portfolio and some simple links to other pages on her website, including her full portfolio, her about page, and a contact form.

While you might be tempted to include as much information as possible on your website, sometimes following Herrero’s example, and keeping things as simple as possible can work out best.

If you would like to achieve a similar portfolio, Valeria Herrero used the Obsidian theme from Format.

Jaenna Wessling

Looking through Jaenna Wessling’s portfolio website, you’ll quickly notice how easy it is to navigate. Wesslin showcases her work with an accessible left-hand menu linking to her various types of modeling specialties as well as her social links, about page and contact page. You’ll notice that it is quite a minimalist design, showcasing mostly images.

As a model, your photos are your most important asset, so giving them a prominent spot on your website that is free from distractions is an example worth following. On Wessling’s portfolio website galleries feature large images and a horizontal scroll galleries.

If you would like to achieve a similar portfolio, Jaenna Wessling used Gloss theme from Format.

Karissa

Again, immediately upon clicking on model Karissa’s website, you come across professional photoshoot images, with minimal distractions.

In fact, with this website, there are so few distractions that really all you’ll find on the home page are images of the model. This is an excellent approach for showing off the model’s capabilities and style; and includes a detailed about page and links to her social media pages.

If you would like to achieve a similar portfolio, Karissa used the Horizon theme from Format.

If you want to dive deeper into model examples, we highly recommend looking through this list of model examples.

Do the Hustle

While you work towards being the world’s next supermodel, this is a great time to advocate for yourself and make yourself your number one client. Use Instagram to your advantage. Take inspiration from other models to see how they create a professional account:

  • No food pictures. Casting agents don’t care about your dinner.

  • Unless you’re holding or posing with them, keep your pets on your personal account.

  • Harass your friends to take your picture so your feed isn’t all selfies.

  • Pay attention to trending hashtags and use them properly.

  • Blog. A lot of influencers and models we all know and love started as vloggers, bloggers, and Instagram personalities. Blogging creates valuable content for your digital portfolio and allows you to work on smaller passion projects that may not be right for your portfolio.

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Deciding What Kind of Model You Want to Become

An important step to take to become a model is deciding on what type of model you’d like to be. Different types of modeling will have different model requirements, such as height, style, and clothing size. The style and concept behind each shoot for different modeling niches can differ. There are almost as many types of modeling as ice cream flavors, so here’s a brief rundown on just a few of them:

Fitness Model

Do you like to hit the gym? Do you lift? Does the idea of being covered in baby oil and flexing your hard-won muscles for an appreciative audience appeal to you? Sounds like you’ve got the what it takes to become a fitness model. A fitness model is dedicated to displaying a healthy, toned physique and focused on maintaining highly defined muscles. Fitness modeling has become a driving force in the industry. Beyond the dedicated competitions, there are several industry and commercial magazines ripe with opportunities for gym buffs.

Glamour Model

Lights! Camera! Smoulder! Glamour modeling is surprisingly diverse. Unlike many other types of modeling, there are no industry standards or limitations to body size and shape. Glamour models embrace the sexier and sultrier side of modeling. Bikini, boudoir, and lingerie modeling all fall under this broad umbrella. Glamour models sell a high-end lifestyle—whether it’s in a music video, an art house print, or a bikini calendar.

Alt Model

Do you have an ever-expanding collection of tattoos and piercings? Is your everyday look other people’s idea of a fancy dress costume? Alt, or alternative, models don’t typically fit in with industry norms when it comes to beauty and style. With their tattoos, piercings, radical hair, and wardrobes brimming with spikes, corsets, and PVC, alternatives models are the wild children of the modeling world. Alt modeling is usually a cross between glamour modeling and art modeling.

Plus Model

With the majority of American women falling into the plus-sized category, this type of modeling has been growing at a rapid pace. Traditionally, plus models were sizes 6 to 8 US (4 to 6 UK), but with the plus fashion industry changing as rapidly as it has, the industry has seen a rise of models of all shapes and further size diversity. Plus size models are gaining a lot of traction, especially on social media, and designers are continuously expanding their size ranges to embrace this growing market.

Runway Model

Divas to the runway please! Runway models are the crème de la crème of the fashion world. Adhering to strict regulations regarding height, weight, and measurements, these models travel the world and are often seen walking for the best of the best designers and fashion houses. Some runway models even go on to create their own fashion lines or agencies.

Editorial or Commercial

Finally, we have editorial models. While all of the above can also be editorial or commercial print models, editorial models know how to really interact with the camera and create interesting shapes with their bodies to show off a garment. Depending on the theme and mood of the photos, anyone can be cast for an editorial shoot. Print models tend to be the most varied and versatile of the group.

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What Else Do I Need to Know About Becoming a Model?

Now that you’ve built a modeling portfolio and understand the type of modeling, you want to make sure you’re well equipped with the tools to become a model. Whether you want to become a fashion model for high fashion, a glamour model, or a plus size model, here are some extra tips for aspiring models on how to become a model.

Do You Need to Go to Modeling School?

If you’re looking to get started in the modeling industry, you might be considering going to a modeling school. However, it’s not a must. In fact, many models start their modeling career by simply submitting their headshots to agencies and scouts. That being said, if you’re looking to find professionals to teach you and learn how to be a model, how to walk down the runway, and how to pose in front of the cameras, you can choose to enroll in a modeling school.

In addition to posing, they may teach you other skills, such as makeup application, portfolio development skills, and understanding lighting and camera angles. Aside from modeling schools, you can also take workshops and classes to improve your poses and catwalk to help you develop the skills needed to become a model. If you’re new to the industry, taking classes will also allow you to meet other aspiring models.

How to Find a Reputable Modeling Agent

Finding a reputable modeling agency can be daunting especially if you’re new to the industry. When searching for a reputable modeling agent, make sure you do thorough research.

You can look at local modeling agencies in your city and reviewing their website. In addition to boutique agencies, there are also large international modeling agencies that have offices in many cities. Head over to their website and social media platforms. Take a look to see the type of models they’ve signed and the work they’ve done previously. Understand the companies and partners the modeling agency has worked with to get a feel on the brands you may be able to work with. If you’re looking to become a high fashion model and walk the runway in New York, you would want to see whether the modeling agency has had experience at those popular fashion events.

Finally, take a look at online reviews for the agency or reach out to your network in the modeling industry to find reputable agencies they are currently working with. Remember, find an agency that matches your needs and requirements. Once you’ve chosen the right agency, submit your modeling portfolio to them, and prepare for your audition.

How Tall Do You Have to Be to Become a Fashion Model?

In the modeling world, height requirements can vary. Depending on the type of modeling you’d like to pursue, being lean and tall may not be a critical factor. That’s why, aside from height, the agency will often look at the other features too.

If you are interested in modeling for editorial, commercial prints, body parts, or catalogs, brands will look for models that can resonate with their brand. From body physique to facial structure, criteria for the model can differ for each job. However, if you’re looking to become a high fashion model, most modeling agencies may have a requirement of at least 5″8 to 5″11. Even so, there are a few high fashion models that are 5″7 or over 6″0 tall. Companies may make exceptions, as long as they fit other requirements.

Work that Runway

Now that you’ve had a primer on how to get into modeling and how to choose the type of modeling that’s right for you, it’s time to go out there and work! Love your body and find the type of modeling that you’re most interested in. Remember to showcase your modeling portfolio online to help you get noticed! Find your light, your angles, and your stride. You’ve got this. The single biggest factor that will help you become a model? Confidence!

How Do You Get Started As A Model?

As we just alluded to, getting your modeling career started is often not a linear path. It will likely require some trial and error, and you will likely have to book some jobs that don’t necessarily fall under what you might have expected from your dream jobs. Having said that, if you follow these steps, continue to work hard, and remain persistent despite what this challenging industry throws at you, you’ll slowly start to build the modeling career that you always dreamed of.

Follow these steps if you want to get started as a model.

Step 1: Learn, study, assess your strengths

Modeling doesn’t require any formal education, but you still should have a good sense of the industry that you’re about to get involved with. For most, this means studying the different types of modeling, which we listed for you above.

As mentioned, you don’t necessarily have to commit to one style of modeling, but before you start your career, you should at least have a good idea of the different types of modeling and what style would be best suited to your talents.

Knowing the type of modeling you hope to specialize in will also help you cater your portfolio to the right clients. We’ll discuss this more below, but in general, you want to make sure the images you share make sense for the style of modeling you want to pursue. For example, if you’re interested in fitness modeling, but most of your images are more editorial and fashion-based this could be confusing to potential clients.

Don’t discount the benefit of taking the time to understand the industry you want to pursue.

Step 2: Practice makes perfect

Because modeling doesn’t require any formal education, you’ll find that you need to take on a lot of that education for yourself. This means spending time studying other models, practicing poses, and understanding your best angels.

For runway models, even something as simple as walking takes on a whole new meaning.

And, don’t forget, modeling can be both physically and mentally demanding. Preparing for this by keeping your mind and your body in good shape during these early days of your career can help set you up for success.

Step 3: Build your portfolio

Always one of the most important steps for anyone looking to get involved in a creative industry, like modeling, it is absolutely essential that you spend time crafting a professional portfolio that will help draw potential clients to your work.

For modeling, this generally means sharing images of yourself to showcase what you look like, but also how well you photograph if you’re looking to be on camera.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when picking images for your modeling portfolio:

  • Don’t use filters or social media images. You want your images to be professional

  • Ideally, shoot in natural light or crafted studio light with a professional photographer. If you can’t afford a professional photographer, look for aspiring photographers who are just starting their careers. This way you can trade services and both help each other out.

  • While you might be tempted to alter your appearance for photos, it is best to use photos that actually look like you. Too much manipulation can be obvious and deceptive, depending on who you are working with.

  • As mentioned, use images that are close to the style of modeling you wish to pursue.

  • Lastly, only use your best images. You might be tempted to share every image you’ve ever shot as an aspiring model, but only showing off your best work will likely make your portfolio appear more professional.

Step 4: Hire an agent

As an aspiring model, you will likely find that you’re able to book more jobs if you work with an agent.

An agent essentially works as a liaison that helps to find and book jobs on your behalf. While you certainly can do this on your own, you will quickly discover that most clients want to work with agents and not directly with models.

Finding the right agent might take some time, but it’s worth the effort.

Step 5: Get out there

Modeling generally requires you to have an outgoing personality. Unless you just happen to be discovered by someone searching for a model with your exact look, most models need to put themselves out there in order to start building connections.

While your agent will likely be the one booking your jobs, the most successful models also spend time networking and building their brand. This includes being outgoing in-person, but also requires you to build your digital presence through active social media accounts and a digital portfolio/website. Don’t pass on any opportunities to get connected within your industry (i.e. volunteer at fashion shows, go to open casting calls, and if possible, relocate to areas of the country that have more opportunities like New York City or Los Angeles).

For more details about becoming a model, you’ll want to check out this in-depth guide on building your modeling career.

How Do You Price Yourself As A Model?

Earnings as a model can vary greatly depending on the clients you work with, the type of modeling that you do, and your experience.

In general, there are two ways models get paid:

  • By the hour

  • By the day

Different scenarios will be more tailored to different pricing situations, so we’ll go over each to give you a better idea of how to charge for your services.

Modeling prices by the hour

If you’re only hired for a couple of hours during the day, you’ll often find that by the hour pricing is appropriate.

Hourly shoots are generally quick jobs that don’t require as much effort. While this isn’t always the case, most modeling shoots for bigger campaigns, editorial shoots, or advertising campaigns will be all-day or multi-day events.

Hourly prices also generally tend to be most appropriate when you’re not exactly sure what type of work to expect during that hour of work. For example, if you’re working as a promotional model and you’re not sure exactly what is expected of you, charging an hourly rate ensures that you are paid fairly for your time.

Hourly rates are also ideal if your client seems unsure about how long the project will take. This ensures that no matter how long or short the project is, you are compensated fairly.

If you have some experience, you’ll likely find that $50-75/hour is appropriate. If you have more experience, you might be able to charge $100+/hour. As you would expect, experience is key when pricing yourself as a model.

Modeling prices by the day

As mentioned, a lot of modeling jobs will be full-day events. In this case, most models prefer to be paid by the day.

Just be sure that you know exactly what “a day” entails. For some, a full day might be a traditional 9-5 day, while other clients might expect you to show up for hair and makeup in the early hours of the morning and work until the evening. It’s important to be specific about what your day rate includes, and if the job goes beyond that scope, what the hourly overtime rate is.

Full-day shoots generally range in price from $300/day for those with some experience to $500+/day for those with a good deal of experience.

Keep in mind that half-day shoot pricing is also popular. Again, be sure that you know what a half-day entails. If you’re not sure or your client seems uncertain, stay safe and use your hourly rate.

Things to keep in mind when determining your modeling rate

Determining your rate can feel overwhelming as a model, but if you keep these things in mind, you’ll have an easier time setting a rate that is fair both for you and your client:

  • Are there perks involved with the job? (i.e. is the client providing lodging, transportation, free product?)

  • Do you need to provide your own hair, makeup, and or/outfits?

  • How many hours/days are expected from the job?

  • What kind of job is it? (you can generally expect to charge higher rates for lingerie, swimsuit, and nude projects considering the nature of the job)

Rates when working with an agency

Keep in mind that the above rates are generally most appropriate if you’re a freelance model.

As you’ll remember, we generally recommend working with an agency since most professional clients will prefer working with an agency that they can depend on. However, if you want to avoid agency fees, you can certainly use the freelance modeling rates listed above.

On the other hand, if you want to avoid the headache of managing your own rates, working with an agency can make things simpler; however, keep in mind that part of your compensation will go towards your agency as “payment” for helping you get the job.

In general, most agency fees are about 20% of whatever you are paid.

Do you feel prepared to start your modeling career?

If you want to become a model, you need a lot of patience and determination. Modeling jobs will not just come to you. You need to work for them, especially if you decide to go the freelance route rather than working with an agency.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of becoming a model, start by building your portfolio. You might not have professional jobs yet, but simply getting professional photos taken and building your website can go a long way when you’re trying to book jobs.

Just be certain that your portfolio is professional and only displays your best work.

If you need help building a professional portfolio that helps you book jobs, you’ll find all our best portfolio tips for models here.

We can’t wait to see how your modeling career takes off!

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