From outside, we see modelling as a very glamorous career. However, this is not true. If you are serious and want to become a model in your life, then you need to know the insides of modeling.
You have to learn everything about the fashion industry and where do you fit in the industry as a model. He or she has to know his/her place in the fashion industry otherwise they are going to lose in the crowd.
Therefore, this article is an attempt to guide young wannabe models to choose their career wisely. After going through this article you will get an idea how to steer your modeling career. So keep on reading.
Usually modeling career does not require any special qualification. If you like, then you can start your career right after 10+2 or high school. In other words, you don’t require any college degree to kick start your modelling career.
In USA, female models start their modelling career as young as 16. They are just out of high school and start working with a modeling agency. So educational qualification is not an issue.
In countries like India, you can become a model after the age of 18.
However, you do need to meet certain criteria based on your physique and personality. As you read this article you will come to realize modelling is all about physical attributes and attitude.
Why You Want to Become a Model?
Before you embark on to your new modelling career you need to ask few questions to yourself. Like why you want to be a fashion model?
What Are You Going for?
Do you want to be a model just for fun or considering it as a serious career option? Many young aspirants want to enter this field for a short period of time, make some quick bucks and leave this industry permanently.
On the other hand, there are aspirants who want to take modeling a serious career option. They are up for a long haul. They even had a dream of acting in movies or television. So you have to decide what you are going for.
Parents Must Be Consulted
You may surprise to know, modelling is a family decision and not personal one. Especially if you are starting at an early age.
You can’t go on your own without taking your parents into confidence. You have to tell them everything like the modelling agency and photographers you will be working with.
- Things like ‘does it involves nudity’?
- What type of people you are working with?
- Are they professional?
- Is it safe?
- Are You going to move out?
- Who is going to pay you?
- Is it a scam?
- They must know everything that entails modelling job?
How Long Does it Take to Become Successful
The short answer is, “yes, it take time”. It takes few years before you break the ice. As I said earlier in this article, from the outside modeling looks glamorous and attractive however from inside you have to slog it out.
In modelling you have to keep on improving your portfolio. You always add something new to it once you have completed a project. You have to build your portfolio great enough so that you start getting big projects. It takes time before you achieve that.
Does the City You Live in Matter?
Yes, it absolutely matters what city you live in. If you live in a relatively small town or city, then it is bit difficult to get started.
A small city lacks basic infrastructure of a fashion industry like modeling agencies, agents, photographers, shows, designers etc. Big city has all of this and it is easier to get started.
Hence, I recommend you to move out to a bigger city where opportunities are in abundance for a modeling career.
Reality About the Modeling Industry
Fashion industry may look glamorous from the outside but being a model you have to face realities of this industry.
Where do You Fit in?
To be honest in fashion industry a model is placed at the bottom of the pyramid.
Here is the hierarchy.
- Art Director
- Creative Director
- Fashion Editor
- Hair and Make Up Artist
On the top of the pyramid there is a designer then editor and so on. Model works under the stylist and make-up artists. So you do not have any contact with designers and others in the fashion industry.
Being model is very normal in the fashion industry. You have to work very hard.
What Should a Model Look Like?
The standards are very high so you must possess the necessary physical attributes and personality traits. Height and weight is the two most important factors. (More about physique and personality in later paragraphs).
Competition is so tough that if you don’t have perfect looks then you will fail to make in this industry.
A young model can be taken advantage off at any given level. But most of the time it is the photographers who cheats a new model. Even modeling agencies can cheat you by not paying the money you rightly deserve. So the modeling industry can be full of sharks and you must be aware of this fact.
How to Become a Fashion Model?
In order to become a successful model, you can divide the entire phase in 3 different stages.
Stage 1: Filtering Process
First stage is filtering process. You have to be realistic here. Not everyone of you can be a model. Hence those of you who don’t have required attributes needs to filter out themselves. Modeling is purely an image based industry.
Basic Physical Attributes
- Height: For female it must be 5.7” and above, for male 5.10” and above.
- Weight: Both male and female must look skinny.
However, height and weight are very basics. You also need to have attractive face. It must be photogenic. Some people have great face but they are too short.
While others have great height but the face is not good enough. You need to have both of them. You must know your clothing measurements like dress size, hip, waist, chest/bust and even shoe size.
Moreover, hair color, eye color and skin tone also matters. You have to jot down all your physical measurements. If you don’t have required stats mentioned above, then you may not apply or even think of becoming a model.
Physical appearance is very important, modeling is all about having a great body and personality. Your top to bottom will be analyzed. So be realistic and ask yourself, do you really possess above mentioned attributes.
Match Your Modelling Goals with Your Body Type
You have to match your modeling goals with the type of body you have. Usually there are two types of models, editorial and commercial. Although these two types can be interchangeable but they have a big difference.
Editorial models have really high standards. Models that you see inside the pages of a magazine. They are the most beautiful girls with a perfect body and are at least 5.9’’ (female) tall with a pretty face.
These models are specifically for high fashion. Editorials models absolutely don’t look like an average person. You can call them super models like Kate Moss, Gisele Bundchen, Tyra Banks etc.
On other hand, commercial models are Girl Next Door type. They may look like average person and have lower physical standards compared to editorial models.
You can see these models on advertisements like diet coke or Walgreen etc. So you have to choose between these two types according to your body.
As a matter of fact,in the industry only 10% to 20% models are editorial models, rest of them are commercial models. Those models who can’t become editorials models end up becoming commercial models.
Different Categories of Modelling
Editorial and Commercial models can be further divided into different types of modellings.
Fashion models comes under editorials models. These high fashion models can be seen in advertisements and magazine covers for most popular brands like Channel, Prada, Armani, Dolce and Gabbana etc.
Runaway or Ramp Model
They are also editorial models but they will walk down the ramp. Ramp models or runaway models must have perfect body and attitude.
Print models can be seen inside magazines, newspaper, calendars and other forms of still photography.
Still Model – Show Room or Trade Show Model
Still models can be considered as commercial models that can be seen in show room, trade shows etc. They can be hired by textile companies or retailers, posing for their garments and other products.
TV models can be seen on TV commercials for different categories like clothing, grocery items, medicine, health and fitness etc.
Promotional models are like brand ambassador for a product. They are going to communicate between the product and the people. They can be seen in events or functions organized by their companies.
Swimsuit and Lingerie Model
These models are only for posing swimsuit and lingerie products. They must have perfect body.
A Plus Size Model
If your body is full and curvaceous then you can become A Plus size model. To put it bluntly, women who are bit plump come under this category. There are other types also like child models, mature models, fitness models etc.
After reading this section you will able to choose a category depending upon your body type. If your body type is of an A Plus Size model, then you can’t go for a high fashion editorial modelling. So choose your exact modelling type.
Stage 2: Building Your Portfolio
Once you know your modeling niche, you need to start building a killer portfolio. Your portfolio is everything.
What is a Portfolio?
Portfolio is just like resume which candidates apply for a job. Your modeling career will much depend upon how well you build your portfolio. So your first and foremost step should be creating a Portfolio.
You are going to show your portfolio to various modeling agencies, fashion designers and advertising firms. They are going to select you as a model only after looking through your portfolio.
A portfolio contains professionally clicked photographed of yours. These photos must bring out best in you. All the photos must reflect your best features like eyes, jaw, face, smile.
Include stats and all other salient features of your body. If you have already done some projects, then include all your work in the portfolio. You must know what you have to put in your portfolio.
All your photos in the portfolio must be professionally taken. Always be honest while putting photos in your portfolio. Building a killer portfolio is the first step in your modelling career.
Taking photographs on Your Own
You will read in the last paragraph that the portfolios are all about taking excellent photos. So you have to take some great photos of yourself. How are you going to do it? Either you can take on your own or hire a professional photographer.
Let us assume that you do not have enough money to hire a photographer and you have to take photos on your own.
So how you can take excellent photos in your home?
- Do not take photos from your Smartphone and use a quality digital or a Polaroid camera.
- Always take photos for headshots, body shots and profile shots.
- Take few headshots up close without any makeup on a plain background.
- For body shots, you should always wear swimwear or lingerie so that agents can see your body clearly.
- For profile shots take photos from side showing features like jaw line, nose, chin etc.
- No heavy makeup and daylight look is preferred. Take photos under the sunlight rather artificial lighting.
- You must be wearing very professional clothes that are not distracting while walking into a modelling agency.
- All your photos must be clear and filtered that shows all your important features and characters like skin tone, forehead, full face, eyes, jaw line, nose, height, entire body.
- Resize your photos. They should not be too large to send. Photos should be of size 8 X 10s.
You can do all of these photos on your own without hiring a professional photographer.
Hiring a Photographer
What if you can’t take photos on your own and you need to hire a professional photographer?
Although hiring a photographer is unnecessary but if you can afford them then there is nothing wrong in it.
- Always hire a professional photographer with reputation.
- Hiring a photograph can cost $200 – $2000 depending upon his experience.
- While hiring a photographer you must keep in mind that not all photographers are genuine. They may use your photos for their own personal gains. Cheating is very common.
- You can hire through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Few Things to Consider Before Submitting Portfolio
Before you build your final portfolio for submission you must be mindful of few things.
- Take very natural looking pictures with very minimal make up. You must come off very natural and raw in your photos. No Photoshop.
- There should be no weird poses. Stick to three poses, headshot, body shot and profile shot.
- All photographs must be recent, taken within one month.
- You will be going to so many casting so keep on developing your portfolio.
- Be honest with your body measurements.
- Finally, the most important thing about portfolio is honesty. It is not going to work if you look so different in person from what you look in your photos. A modeling agency will really get angry when they find out you absolutely look different from what you are in your portfolio while meeting them.
Stage 3: Applying and Getting Signed On
Once you are done with creating a great portfolio now you need to start applying.
Choosing a Modeling Career
Before you apply for a modeling job you need to know some basic facts about the industry. Here network and connections with people matters.
You have to stay in touch with all the relevant people like photographers, agents, agencies etc. I want to give a piece of advice, treat modeling like a serious job.
You have to be professional and polite. It is a full time occupation and demands your attention. Otherwise you are not going to survive in this industry.
Opportunities are really great, you can start with fashion shows and after some time feature in music videos/films/TV.
Most Important Thing for Applying
Applying for a modelling job is the most challenging phase in a model’s career. There are different ways you can apply. You need to try each one of them.
If you are rejected at one place for some reason, then you might get accepted at some other place.
Getting Discovered by an Agent
If you have a great body, face and personality then you might get discovered by an agent.
What Are Agents Looking for?
Physical Attributes: If you have great physical attributes like body, height, face, eyes, jaws then you might get noticed while you are in college or school.
Attitude and Personality: Just physical attributes are not enough if they are not complemented by attitude. If you can move your body and walk confidently then an agent will pick you up.
However, let us face the reality not everyone of you will get discovered by an agent unless you have great body and face. So you have to explore other avenues.
Visiting a Modelling Agency
First research about the modelling agencies online. Go to their website and find every small details about them. After getting an appointment you can visit their office in your city and present them your portfolio.
You will be interviewed by agents there. They will look into your photos and make a decision whether they want to sign you or not. Dress politely, wear makeup, clean and full bodied hair, wear heels if you can.
You must be confident and have a smiling face. If they ask you to walk, then show them your catwalk. Agency will examine you for all your physical attributes and attitude. Don’t be argumentative and accept criticism.
You need to follow up the agency.
Going for an Open Call
In cities like New York or LA you have open calls lasting anywhere between two and three hours. Open call is a specific time that agencies set aside to hunt new talent.
In open call you are allowed to just walk in without any appointment. You have to go there and show your portfolio and they will decide on spot. If they like you then the agency may start pushing you for the editorials. So you get more exposure in front of a camera.
Do not be afraid of walking out of a shoot. Attend open calls that every agency has. Don’t give up and try different agencies.
Model Hunt and Search Competition
Another way to approach is applying for contests and model hunts sponsored by Garment industries, cosmetic companies and modeling agencies.
If you are very active in your college, take part in college level fashion shows and other events, then you may get noticed by these companies. Always apply for such contests.
You can also apply online by going to the website of the modeling agencies. You can fill up their form and follow their instruction.
Enter the network of photographers, designers, models, agents, through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Social media can be one of the best places to get leads and help from the people in the modelling industry and other aspirants like you.
Avoiding Modelling Agency Scams
Modelling Agencies can be full of scams if you are new to the industry. Here are few solid pointers to identify and avoid modeling scams.
- If an agent wants to sign you up without even meeting you then it is a scam. A reputed agent will always like to meet you in person and then sign you.
- If an agency is asking you some kind of joining fee, then they are not genuine. Don’t pay them anything.
- If an agent is pressing you to sign their contract, then you should not do it. Reputable agencies allow you to take documents to your home and consult with your lawyer. Don’t ever sign up a contract without consulting a lawyer or a concerned person.
- Many of these so called agencies are not even genuine modeling agencies. They just want to sell their modeling course for a fee to wannabe models.
- If an agent talks too much about the money, then there is something fishy. And if they are promising you a guaranteed bright career, then do not fall for it, because nothing in this industry is guaranteed.
- If an agent asks for an interview on weekends or after hours, then there is something wrong. They may want to take advantage of you. Modelling is absolutely a 9 to 5 job.
- If an agency is recommending you to an expensive photographer for taking your photos, then do not go to the photographer. Such agencies will charge you a fee for taking your photos and then you never hear from them again.
- This is very common in the industry that cheating photographers may want to take advantage of you. Do you want to do nudes or not? You should not compromise and know your values.
What Do You Have to Pay For?
Before you start making money being a model you need to invest something. Usually a model has to spend on following three things.
For creating professional portfolio or model book you have to pay for your first set of photographs. Your first shoot is called test shoot. Agency will choose a photographer for you.
Agents will have a package deal with the photographer and makeup artist so that you pay less for the shoots. Usually test shoots can cost anything between $400 and $1600.
Although it is going to depend upon the agencies but on an average it will be $1000 (including paying photographer and makeup artists).
Total Test Shoot Cost
- $800 – $1000 for a Photographer
- $150 – $300 for Hair and Makeup
- $200 – $300 for Stylist
Total Cost = $400 – $1600 for a test shoot.
If your agency is asking for more than $1600 then there is something wrong. Paying for an experienced photographer is really a great investment. Otherwise you will get cheap photographs.
Model book is usually given by the agency and it can cost over $100.
Printing your photos can cost you $10 per photo. So adding up all, you have to spend anything between $1000 and $2000 for starting your modelling career.
Cost may vary from country to country.
Here few things to keep in mind whenever you visit an agency for an interview or casting.
What to Wear?
1. For casting you can wear white T Shirt, hair brush and light makeup like mascara, lipstick etc. Just basic make up kit is enough.
2. Make sure you do not wear baggy clothes because agents would like to see your body shape. So wear tight clothes.
3. Wear matching lingerie or swimwear under your clothes. Agents may ask you to strip down to see your inner body.
- Confirm whether you want to bring your own makeup artist to the site or not.
- Always be truthful about your body measurements to the agency.
- You can also make a video by yourself and submit to the agencies.
- Do not sign consent forms without consulting agents and your lawyer.
- After the interview you need to ask them how long do you have to wait to hear back from them.
- Ask them for the feedback.
In Case of Rejection
This is quite normal that 8 out of 10 models get rejected by a modelling agencies. So if you are one of them what do you do next?
First of all, keep on trying with different agencies. But if you are still being rejected then you have to reassess and ask yourself whether this line of work is really for you or not?
How Much Money Can You Make?
How Do You Get Paid?
You get paid by the agencies that hires you. Models are hired on contractual basis. You will have to sign a contract with them. You will do shows and other projects for different designers and companies and your agency will pay you the money.
How Much Money Do You Make?
How much you get paid depends upon the country you are living in. Earnings in India for a new model can be anything between Rs 5000 and Rs 10,000 per show.
However, with experience you can make up to Rs 50,000. Top models can even make between Rs 25,000 and Rs 100,000 for a single ad campaign. It will depend upon the show and brands you work with.
How much you make will also depend upon your experience, physical attributes and ratings.
How Do Agencies Make their Money?
You might be interested to know how these agencies make money. Well they make a percentage when they hire you. They get paid directly by the companies and designers for which you are doing fashion shows.
Modeling Training Institutes
If you want to hone your modelling skills and need professional training, then you can definitely join a modelling training institute or an academy. You can find many popular modeling agencies in your city.
Theses school will groom you for facing camera and help developing your overall personality. They also tell you how to walk and move your body in front of a camera.
Here are some of the best model training institutes in India.
- Frankfinn Institute of Modelling and Acting
- INEGA Models
Model training institutes in USA
- Elite Model Management
- IMG Models
- Ford Models
Model training institutes in London
- Elite Model Management London
- Marilyn Agency
Model training institutes in Paris
- IMG Models
- Elite Model Management
I hope you’ve got sufficient information on how to become a model from this article and you will start your modelling career soon.