Getting Started As a Model

If you enjoy being in front of a camera and have the confidence to pursue your dreams of being a model, I would like to share some tips from you from my personal experience.


Does Size Matter?


You may have heard that you have to be tall to be a model. Well, this is true and false. Most high fashion runway models are 5 foot 8 inches or taller. This is because fashion designers do not make different sizes of their clothing. It's one size fits all, and a petite or plus sized model would just not display their designs in the best light. As a runway model, your job is to display the pieces the designers put on you and make them look their very best.


Does that mean a petite model can never walk the runway? No! You must have perseverance. Swimsuit and bridal shows will often use petite models. Also, sometimes designers are looking for a certain look. The key is to network! Social media is a great way to begin networking once you have some looks to present.


When seeking out representation, definitely keep your size in mind. If you're between 5 feet and 5 feet 4 inches, specifically look for agencies that have a petite section. If you're a plus sized model or fitness model, there are niches for those as well.


First Things First


Are you ready to be zoomed in on camera? Bikini ready? No matter your look, petite or plus-sized, you need to be camera ready. Photographers will expect you to show up ready to shoot. This means smooth, clean skin and healthy hair. Modeling means you will have to take your body. Start on the inside. Drink plenty of water, eat healthy, and exercise.


For my diet, I each meal includes a protein, complex carbs, and lots of veggies. I exercise daily including some weight training but mostly body weight exercises including jump squats, lunges, core work, and push ups. You don't need to overdo. Just focus on eating the right foods and staying active.


Check out this plan for a 3 day body weight exercise plan! Bodyweight Basics: 3 Day Bodyweight Workout Plan


I usually start my day with eggs. Whether an omelet with veggies, or eggs with grits and berries, eggs are a great source or protein.

Practice Posing


Selfies and posing in a mirror are great ways to practice facial expressions and posing. Try to master the pouty look without looking angry and learn what angles look best for your face. Learn the different poses that photographers will want you to know. Use the mirror to try them out and practice changing your poses over and over.


You will get faster at this and gain muscle memory so that you can do them and look your best without a mirror during a shoot. You can look up some guides on posing online, but just remember the angles and curves...pop your hip, shoulders back, and chin up.


Begin to Submit to Agencies


If you have the height, you can begin to submit to agencies. Many have online submissions and prefer camera phone, simple shots with no makeup. If you're like me and are petite or have a different look than a high fashion model, you may not be able to submit to many online that have height requirements. In that case, keep reading.


Book a Good Photographer

So, you're feeling and looking your best, what's next? It's time to book a photographer, and not just any photographer. For your first shoot, you want someone with a lot of experience, both with models and fashion. Yes, you should pay someone. This is part of your investment in getting started in a modeling career. Experienced photographers will be worth the cost in getting good initial photos for your portfolio, giving you posing advice, and knowing how to properly use lighting.


You can choose to pay for just one look or several based on your budget, but ideally you should have at least 3 wardrobe changes. These should include a simple black or white tank top with pumps to match and jeans, a high fashion look like a dress with a fancy jacket you can use for posing, and if you're 16 or older, you will want a swimsuit photo as well.


Shots You Need For Your Portfolio


To build the ideal portfolio, you will want to have several specific shots these include:


1. Full-length Body Shot

2. Beauty Shot/Clean Headshot (this means no to very little makeup)

3. Editorial/Fashion Shot (fashion magazine type)

4. Commercial (think catalog)

5. Profile Shot (face to the side)


This is a headshot example done by the talented Arthur Marroquin.

Collaborate With Photographers


Now that you have some basic portfolio photographs, you can start to build your brand. What kind of model would you like to be? What kind of shoots should you specialize in? Are you going to freelance and get your own work or use an agency that will find you jobs but keep some of the profit? Whether on social media or your website, always remember your brand.


The best way from here to proceed is to continue practicing by collaborating with photographers. Look for local photographers via social media or other sources that are not as experienced and willing to collaborate. This is called TFP or Time For Print. This term is from before the digital days when photos had to be printed.


The photographer is donating their time and equipment to the shoot. You will bring to the shoot whatever outfit style you have agreed on, makeup and hair done, and your time. It is important to have everything agreed on upfront and doesn't hurt for you both to have a signed document. Remember that the photographer always retains copyright to the photos and you must agree on how you can use them.


Here is a good example of a model release document for TFP.


I hope that helped to give you some basic information on how to get started in modeling. Stay tuned for more information and even more details on being a model.

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