Growing up, modeling was never a thought for me. I was teased by my peers because of my dark skin, I had low self esteem and no self confidence. All of that changed when I got to college and saw one of my friends had a nice photo of themselves hanging on their wall. I thought to myself, “Why don’t I do a shoot like that so I can have something nice to look back on?” I did one shoot and the rest is history. Fast- forward 7 years later and that shy young girl is now Amanda Finesse, the model.
Are you interested in modeling but don’t know where to start? Here are a few tips to help you break into the industry:
1. Build a portfolio.
Sites like ModelMayhem.com are great for finding photographers to work with to build your portfolio. Although this site may be a bit dated, there are still a lot of fashion industry professionals who post castings looking for models to work with. If you’re just starting out, you’ll mainly book the TFP shoots (which stands for trade – for – print), but that’s okay because you need to build your portfolio before you get the paying jobs.
Post a listing on Craigslist looking for photographers to work with. Often times you can find student photographers or photographers looking to shoot for free in exchange for something different. Just beware of scams and be smart about the people you interact with.
2. Use social media to your advantage.
Social media is a huge platform to find new talent, so you make sure you use that to your advantage! There are several Facebook groups where agents and photographers will post model castings. You can also find castings on Instagram by searching the hashtag #modelcall or #modelsearch. Because Instagram is such a visual platform, it’s a great way for industry professionals to share their work. Find new photographers in your area by searching the hashtag #(location)photographer (i.e. #nyphotographer) and don’t be afraid to contact them and ask if they would like to work with you. Some will give your their rate, but if they like your look they might be willing to work with you for free (or discounted rate).
3. Put yourself out there!
Part of being successful in this industry is networking and advertising your talent. Making sure you have the proper networking tools will let others know that you are serious about modeling, not that you just want to be “Instagram famous”. Get professional business cards; I recommend Moo.com because the cards are high quality and you can have a mix of up to 10 photo designs in one deck of cards. This is a great way to showcase several modeling photos without having to pass out cards with the same photo. Also make sure you have comp cards, which are postcard- sized cards that include a variety of photos, your stats, and your contact information. These are especially helpful when going to castings and it makes it easier for directors and agents to have all of your info on one sheet. A great place to get your comp cards printed is Vista print.com. I just designed the comp cards in Photoshop then uploaded the image to the website, and it cost under $50 for 100 comp cards (you won’t go through that many anyway).
4. Know your niche and get in where you fit in.
There are so many different types of modeling, and when I first started out I thought I wanted to be a high fashion model. After much trial and error, I learned that not everybody is cut to be a high fashion model. You have to be super tall and a size -0, and that’s not the look I wanted for myself. I switched gears and started to do more beauty and commercial shoots, and that’s when my career started to flourish. There are all types of modeling, high fashion, editorial, commercial, beauty, and parts modeling. Make sure that you research each type and study the models to see which category fits your look best. Doing the proper research will save you lots of time and energy, and you’ll get further in your career faster.
5. Practice makes perfect!
Practice your modeling and your poses as much as you can. Take time in the mirror to practice so you can see what you look like. I also like to set the camera timer on my phone to take photos so I can practice before my shoots. Look at fashion magazines and study the model’s poses and try to copy them. One of my favorite learning tools for modeling is the tv show “America’s Next Top Model.” Not only is the show entertaining, but you can learn so much about modeling through all the shoots and challenges. I listen carefully during the critiques and study the photos as the judges study them, so that I can learn from the model’s mistakes. Constantly practice your craft and it’ll make your shoots a lot easier and more enjoyable for the photographer to work with you.
Last minute tips:
* Be smart about the photographers and people you work with. There are actual professional photographers, and there are “guys with cameras” who just want to take advantage of naive aspiring models. If it’s a photographer you’ve never worked with, don’t be afraid to ask if you can bring a friend with you. If the photographer doesn’t allow escorts (because some don’t want the distraction of extra people on set) make sure to tell at least one person where you’re going and give the name of the photographer you’re meeting with. Also trust your gut, if it doesn’t feel right or seems sketchy, don’t do it, no matter how good the opportunity seems!
* Be persistent! Success doesn’t happen overnight, and sometimes it can take a long time before a model starts getting recognition. Don’t give up, your hard work will pay off eventually.
* Have fun! I started modeling as a way to boost my self-esteem and now I use it as a fun way to escape from the daily stresses of life. Modeling should be enjoyable; if you hate it, consider doing something else or switching to another type of modeling. Think about what makes you happy and do that, even if it’s not originally what you set out to do.
* The statement “models never pay for anything” is a myth. If you’re just starting out, you’ll have to pay to get some great photos for your portfolio. Once you build your portfolio, you can negotiate whether you get paid or if the photographer will shoot you for trade. Even then you might still pay the photographer if their work is amazing or if they’re shooting you for business purposes (like I do with my blog photographers).
However, one thing you should never pay for is castings. If a casting has a “registration fee” stay away! The company holding the casting is using this as a way to make extra money. No reputable company or agency in the industry will ask you to pay to attend a casting. Same goes for fashion shows, you shouldn’t be required to sell tickets to participate.
Try these tips, and good luck!