Tips for Models Starting Out
By: Molly Roxx
I have been involved in the modeling world since 1986. Yeah…I’m old lol but I have modeled for big labels, small boutiques…3rd party magazines, national magazines, runway oh so much runway…I have modeled for free, and I have modeled for thousands…I have been a size 0 model and a size 26 model. I have lived and learned, and I am willing to share my knowledge with everyone who is serious about modeling. If you’re not serious, that’s cool, but I am writing this for those who are…
#1 You have got to be clean in your photos, you just have to be! The camera picks up your greasy hair and unbrushed teeth…Seriously, if you want to be a model you need to take time and effort to do so. It is not just jumping in front of a camera. It is a lot of prep work before and after jumping in front of the camera and I am going to start posting a few tips a week to help out those who want/need some help.
So, tip #1 Is always be clean! You, your wardrobe, your shoot area…
#2 If you use a stage name, Google-search it first to make sure it is not taken. I have met so many models named “Honeybee” it’s almost ridiculous! Then, pick a name someone in the industry can actually call you. No one is going to call you on the phone and ask to speak to “Fluffy Muffin 678” because it’s stupid. You want people to take you seriously as a model, then you have to take being a model seriously. Also…do not include terms like “da model” “Plus Model” I am” or any of that in your name. If you are a model and you are at a go-see or you are applying to be in a magazine, we know you’re a model so there is no need to have it in your name. And don’t make your name an entire sentence. I have had models apply to model for me with names like “Jade the green eyed jewel”…just don’t…
#3 Don’t be an asshole! Look, I am not here to sugar coat anything. People apply for modeling jobs and when they get turned down, they throw fits and insult the people and places they applied with and that is an instant “black ball”. The industry talks and they do not want to work with anyone like that. I don’t care if you have modeled for Coco Chanel herself, if you are a bitch to the person who shoots the Walmart circulars, you will be black balled. Always carry yourself with pride and dignity and show courtesy and respect at all times. Also, maybe you have modeled for huge labels and small labels and everyone in-between. Maybe you have never been turned down for a job, you know what that makes you? That makes you employed. That does not make you better than anyone else. That may make you more experienced, but in no way does it make you superior to anyone. It does not make you smarter than anyone. Keep your ego in check.
#4 To become a model, practice posing in front of the mirror, take photos to put together a composition “comp.” card and portfolio, and send applications and go to casting calls. Find local agencies and talent managers to send your composition cards to. NEVER pay these people to model. They pay you and they get a percentage from 10-15%.
When practicing your posing in the mirror, don’t forget to practice facial expressions. Dead eyes or “resting bitch face” with a great body does not a model make.
You have to get a professional comp. card put together to send around and then get started on a portfolio. If you do not have a professional photographer, make sure you have someone with a high-quality camera and you use a professional print shop to put everything together for you. Also, you need to get your name and face known. Social media is a huge part of today's modeling world.
#5 If you apply for a modeling job/project with photos where you have cropped the photographer’s logo/watermark off…Well, that is against the law, and it does not automatically mean that you own the photos. Copyright laws are very serious. Make sure you have the permission of the photographer to apply for all modeling jobs and projects. If you need un-marked photos, ask the photographer to send you the files. When you apply make sure to ALWAYS include all credits. Make sure people know the name of your photographer. The name of their studio. Their link(s), and so on. Do the same for your wardrobe and MUHA…Credit is VERY IMPORTANT in this business. Don’t send “screen shots”. The quality is never as good as it could be, and they are usually very tiny. Now if your outfit is from Walmart and you did your own makeup and dad took your photos, you do not need to give credits, but you still should in my opinion. It comes across as more professional. You don’t say “my daddy took my pics,” you say…’Photographer: George Bennet’ or whoever. You do not say that your wardrobe is Walmart, you say it is Terra & Sky or whatever the actual brand is. You do not need to mention a hair or makeup person if it was you, but if it was a friend, give them their creds.
#6 If you’re applying via email for modeling jobs do not send the same photos to 5 different places. Actually READ all of the requirements for applying for the modeling job. You would be surprised at how many models don’t even include their names in their emails. It can’t just be on the subject line, your info HAS TO BE in the actual email. If you want to be treated like a professional, you must act like one. If you do not have the time or energy to send new and different photos to each and every place you apply, this may not be the industry for you. When I was younger, I went to shoots that lasted up to 16 hours. Time and patience is the name of the game.
#7 When you see an advertisement for models wanted online…don’t just comment the word “interested.” Read the entire ad. Most of the ads tell you how to apply, so follow the directions and apply the correct way. If a person or company takes the time to put together an ad to recruit models, you can take the time to read the ad in its entirety. Also, don’t send selfies, just don’t. It’s an insult. It’s you saying to the person, brand, or company that you feel that their work is un-professional and that will not bode well for you. Get a camera with a timer and a tripod. Have your mom take your pictures. Anything but selfies, PLEASE!
#8 DO YOUR RESEARCH! IF YOU’RE APPLYING TO BE IN A MAGAZINE OR ON A WEBSITE…If you’re applying to do a runway show or a commercial audition or catalog shoot…Look up the company. Visit their website. Buy a copy of their magazine. Know what you’re getting into. You don’t want your beautiful face on something that you think isn’t right for you. You don’t want to be portrayed in a light that is unflattering to you. Modeling is a lot of work. It takes a lot of time, and you need to have a business mind to do it. Even if you get an agent and/or sign with an agency, you have to check out everything and everyone. Your agent/agency wants to promote you, but they have dollar signs in their eyes and not always your safety in their hearts.
#9 Do not send photos that you have plastered all over social media to be hopefully published in any type of publication. If you want to post your photos on social media wait until after they have been published.
#10 Don’t let people know what a slob you are. Don’t take pictures inside your house next to an unmade bed and a full hamper. Your kids are adorable but get them the heck out of your photos! Kissy faces are cute, save them for your Boo. Stand against a blank wall…Go outside…Stop taking pics in the bathroom!
#11 Buy yourself a fashion magazine. Vogue for example. See how the models are posed and practice their poses. The more awkward you feel the more likely you are to be doing the poses correctly. You also have to practice bringing out emotion in your face and making sure that your poses match your emotions. If you look sad in your photo but have your arms and hands held up to the sky, the photo will make no sense. If you look sad in your photo and your head is tilted down a bit and your arms are wrapped around you in a self-hug, your picture will make sense.
#12 Agents and brands want to know what you truly look like. When you go to an audition/go-see/tryout you need to be a blank canvas. Plain clean, well-fitting pants, simple heels, a solid color top, no makeup, hair pulled back. The designer/brand/agency needs to be able to imagine you in their products and labels. If you are dressed to stand out it will be too distracting.
I started modeling right before my 12th birthday. I was the Sears catalog queen! I was 5’11” and 117 pounds. I had the figure of a boy and that made me desired and loved in the fashion world. I modeled under my birth name at that time. I have since changed my name, but that’s another story. As I aged up, I did runway and ads and store signage. I was on coupons and an extra in a few movies and in a few local commercials. I was in magazines, on covers and really doing quite well and then…I got knocked up. I stopped modeling and raised my child and gained 150 pounds as a side effect of the postpartum medication I was put on, and suddenly, I’m 34…I want to model again, and no one wants me. I am old. I am fat. I am not fresh. I do not have the figure of a hanger. And, I said…FUCK THAT! I started the Utopia Gals and The Ample Angelz. 2 places where people of all shapes, sizes, ages, races…could model. Screw what society thinks, I believe we all have beauty that needs to be seen by the world! I believe if you cannot find the opportunities you are looking for, make your own damn opportunities, and that’s what I have done, and it has opened several doors for me. I have modeled for several others since starting my two brands and now I have 14 modeling projects for people which I participate in, and I am in 6 or 7 other publications and on 3-4 websites a month that are not run by me. You must create your own demand. Ok, let’s get back on topic and back to the modeling tips.
#13 Know your business. Know current designers, lines, magazines, models…
#14 Start sending your photos around to small magazines and websites. Exposure is the key when trying to become a popular model. The more exposure you have, the more likely it is that you will be accepted by bigger publications. When starting out, take on as many little modeling jobs as possible. Doing so will give you some experience and make it that much easier to market yourself as a model.
#15 Put together your own website, complete with an online portfolio. Not a site that is wix.com or something like that. A website that you own the domain name of. Be professional, not cheap. It takes time and money to be a model. Not a lot of money. You never have to pay to model, but you sometimes have to pay for promotion. You build a website and purchase the domain for like 50 bucks, and it is very worth it. Hell, I can do it for you, but like all professionals, I do charge for that service. These days, everything is done online, so along with a look book (picture portfolio), you will also need a website. The site should mostly consist of photographs of you as well as contact and booking information for you. No selfies or non-modeling photos should be posted. Be sure to keep it updated often with your newest photos and latest modeling credits. You must establish a web presence that will get you noticed. Which is the purpose of my 2 promotional modeling agencies. I promote the hell out of people!
#16 Update your portfolio regularly as you book more jobs and get more photos. The best resume in the modeling world is experience, and you want to prove to companies and casting agents that you have it!
#17 Applying for jobs where you have to write your bio, your name, your credits…Learn to spell! If you’re applying for a job and you accidentally spell you name wrong, it will get published that way. You say your dress is by Vera Wang and you spell her name wrong…Ooh, that reflects poorly on you! Take your time. Use your business mind. Show the employers how smart and put-together you are. It’s important. Other than being rude and disrespectful when misspelling a well-known name, it shows that you don’t care enough to double check yourself, so why would anyone want to work with you? If you’re not willing to take time on how you portray yourself these brands and designers and magazines…will feel that you won’t take time to portray their products in their best light either. Modeling is about being seen, so be seen and smart, caring, and put together.
#18 Applying for a modeling job with one application and then forwarding the application to numerous emails? Don’t do that. Each job you apply for deserves their own application filled out correctly. You need new and fresh photos and be willing to take the time and show the potential job the respect it deserves. Getting an emailed application that shows it has been forwarded to 12 different places, well I don’t know about you, but I am not gonna publish that person. I don’t want the same exact photos as 12 other magazines. I want my company to show new and inviting photos, not copies of the same pics in magazines that are similar to mine. All brands and labels and agencies and websites/publications want to stand out. Help them to stand out and the word about what a good model and courteous person you are will get around and you will eventually get more jobs.
#19 Before showing up to a photoshoot, go over your physical appearance, your personality, and your character traits. Successful models must have endless amounts of patience, and nerves of steel and stamina, while being full of charisma and positive energy. You also must always come across as composed and confident, even if you’re not. Be warned though, there are some photographers who will not be willing to work with you. Some have a fat phobia. Some just don’t like blondes. Some photographers have egos larger than life and no matter how they treat you, you must be graceful with them. Smile. Say thank you anyway and leave calmly. Then go home and make a voodoo doll of them and stab it in the genitals with a fork. 😊
#20 Research everyone and everything! In the modeling world, there are no guarantees. You will not get a job as soon as you sign a contract, sometimes it takes years, and if anyone tells you differently, you may want to think twice about working with them, as they are not honest.
#21 Stay away from modeling schools. Never pay to model or pay to “learn” to model. There are a few real and valid schools that offer education and opportunity for aspiring models, but most still teach the same things that they taught in the 70’s and they basically teach you to model incorrectly. Then, you have wasted your money, and time, and learned how to model wrong. Casting agents can tell who has been to “modeling school” and who hasn’t, and they usually try and stay away from all who have been to “school” because they do not know what they are doing. Many schools are simply expensive schemes designed only to exploit potential models’ desires to be famous
#22 Practice safety, especially when you're working without an agent. Research photographers and check their references before collaborating with them, and always be clear and up-front about your comfort zones. Don't allow yourself to be pressured into improper situations. If anything like that happens, just leave, and leave quickly!
#23 Let’s be honest, if I am a modeling agent looking to represent new models…I want to see how the new models photograph. IDGAF what the landscape around the model is. Have your photographer take a step closer to you. Let’s see you! If you are an inch tall in an 8 x10 photo, who’s gonna even notice you?
#24 Are you wearing a white top with long sleeves in your shoot? Don’t cross your arms for any pics unless the goal is to look like you’re in a strait jacket.
#25 If the sun is so bright that you are squinting in each of your photos, switch places with your photographer, it’s ok if they squint.
#26 The 5 most important things to do when entering the professional modeling world, or trying to enter it…
Get an honest evaluation by several experienced professionals. Your mom and your best friend are not the people to do this for you.
Get as much exposure as possible. Don’t limit yourself to local markets. Get anywhere and everywhere you can with your face, your look, your style, and your name!
Don’t spend money on expensive photo shoots. Snapshots are all you need. Use a good camera and if you want the photos edited, use a professional, though most agencies want to see unedited photos to start.
Modeling schools are not necessary to become a model. In most cases they do more harm than good. They teach you outdated modeling techniques and are only in it for the money.
Only work with established, legitimate modeling agencies & scouts. Do your research. You want to be in a magazine or on a website, actually read the magazine and visit the website! I have people applying to be in my magazines and then when I accept them, they ask the name of the magazine. You need to know who and what you are dealing with to make sure that you are always portrayed in the best light. This is your life, career and possible future. Take it seriously.
#27 First impressions are sometimes all you have…
Be on time!
Always have a positive attitude.
You will hear “no” more times than you’ll hear “yes”. Don’t let it affect your self-esteem or poise.
#28 When at auditions/interviews/go-sees…
Wear basic makeup. Basic makeup includes light powder, concealer, and mascara. If you need more coverage, you can also use a tinted lotion or light foundation. Blend, blend, blend!
Wear a simple outfit, like a white or earth tone colored top and a pair of jeans or black leggings, and high heels. Not stilettos, just a nice pair of pumps. You need to let your natural beauty shine without looking too trendy. Agents, labels, lines, they want you to be a blank canvas that they can play dress up with. You are there to be their hanger. To show off their merchandise…not yours.
#29 Basic terms every model NEEDS TO KNOW:
Modeling is much more than photo and video shoots, which is why there are so many modeling terms you must learn if you plan to embark on a career in the industry. It is an industry full of art, fashion, design, and culture and the breadth of common modeling terms reflects that reality. Models in particular have to be trained and ready for anything when they step into a photo shoot or get ready to strut down the catwalk. While models are often stereotyped as being vain or spacey, models actually need to be incredibly alert and sharp when they are on the job.
The Art Director’s job is to develop the plan/theme of the editorial, ad, or other graphic presentation for a shoot.
This is a simple head shot where the model is photographed with a modest hairstyle and very natural looking makeup.
A form used by models to record the names of clients, job descriptions, hours worked, expenses, and pay rate(s).
A model’s portfolio of photos.
The person who books and schedules appointments for models.
Someone who tracks income and expenses of modeling.
This is an arrangement where a client will issue a model a one-time payment for their work, rather than residual payments. Very often used for freelance models.
This is a second audition/go-see before the client makes their final hiring decision. A Call Back is used to view the model one final time.
A Commercial Model is a model that can be booked regardless of age, size, or weight. Commercial models do not work in the realm of high fashion and instead are often seen in various media ads.
This card contains the model’s stats, photos, and contact information.
A contact sheet is a roll of film developed by the photographer. The photos are arranged on this sheet so that they can be easily viewed and selected.
This is another copy of a model’s portfolio.
These are the high fashion models that appear on elite fashion magazines and wear designer products.
This type of print consists of models shown in fashion magazines.
This type of models has the perfect body structure for modeling, but not necessarily the face or vibe of a print model. Fit models are utilized by designers and fashion houses.
This is a model who works without any agency/agent/manager representation.
A mass-interview where a bunch of models go to a client to get hired. This also allows the client to see the model in person as well.
This means high fashion in French.
A collection of photos that showcase the designer’s looks for the season.
This is another name for fashion capitals of the world. For example, “Paris,” “Milan,” and “New York” are all markets.
This is the modeling agency where the model is first discovered.
A model who is new to the agency and is still working to be booked by a client.
A female model who has bigger proportions and wears a larger size.
These models specialize in catwalks and live runway shows where the designer wants the models to walk and display their clothing.
A special purpose card that is used to bring attention to modeling agencies.
This is the model’s physical details including height, waist, hips, and bust.
A tear sheet is a clip from a magazine or other print job that the model has worked.
Test Photo Shoot-
A test photo shoot is a shoot paid for by the model for them to test different looks, styles, and angles to build their portfolio.
In modeling this term means “very slim”.
An invoice signed by both model and client. At the end of a job, the model will give the voucher to their agency so the model can be paid, and the client can be billed.
#30 Seriously, NEVER PAY TO MODEL!
I am always telling people NEVER pay to model. Now, here is an exact quote from the FORD MODELS website. "You should never pay to attend a casting." You should also never pay a registration fee, or a publication fee. Just never pay to model. Would you pay to work at McDonalds? Would you pay to work as a receptionist? Would you pay to work in a mailroom? Sure, you may take on some modeling jobs that do not pay, as they are basically internships, but they get you somewhere. They get you the experience you need to get one step closer to an actual paying modeling job, and all models do it. Even after their careers have blown up, some models still model for free now and again simply for the promotion of their name and look. You need to stay in the public eye to stay relevant in the modeling world. Oh, and by the way...Ford Models in the 2nd largest modeling agency in the world, so they definitely know what they are talking about.
As a model YOU HAVE TO treat all of those in the businesses and people in the industry with respect. We talk to one another. When a model has given me issues/trouble I let everyone know, via pm not on blast...and other people in the industry grant me the same courtesies and the model essentially becomes "black balled" never to work again. No one wants to work with someone who treats them like crap for doing them the favor of getting them published in a national magazine. No one wants to work with a model who has given negative reviews of anyone in the modeling industry, especially well-known established businesses and people. I have been publishing magazines since 2005. ! 17 years of experience. I have been modeling since I was 11...36 years of experience. You may not like my advice or agree with it, but I share what I KNOW to help everyone, and I NEVER steer anyone in the wrong direction.
#32 Why tear sheets are so important. Modeling tear sheets are a professional backup that almost acts as a resume. The more tear sheets you have, the more valuable, marketable and recognizable you become as a model. It will also get you better jobs and can be seen as a step towards becoming a model full-time.
Tear sheets in the modeling and professional world prove that you 've worked for the companies that you claim to have worked for. They are basically the publication or photographs that have enough corroborating evidence that you 've been published.
More tips to come…