These days, it seems like everybody is a model – all it takes is one quick flick through Instagram to easily draw to such a conclusion. But when it comes down to reality, is modelling still a viable career option? The answer is yes; but it’s really not an easy route.
Getting Into Modelling
Paid modelling work can take time to secure. After all, anyone can pose online for a camera, but it takes real determination, talent, and a little bit of luck to actually make a living from it. Of course, not everyone can model. Although the industry is becoming more and more inclusive, you still need to have a certain “something” which sets you apart from the rest.
Unlike a myriad of other jobs out there, it’s not quite so easy as trawling through the job sites or popping down to the local job centre because you fancy a bit of work. Some models are scouted in person, while others are found through submitting portfolios.
Creating a portfolio can be difficult if you’re new to modelling. There are companies who can help you, such as UK Models, who can talk you through the different stages, and set you up with a portfolio, a collection of images which best highlight what you can do, and showcase your look.
If you would prefer to go down a different route, you can also build a portfolio by modelling for experience. In the industry, this is called “Time For Print”, or “TFP”.
There are plenty of websites online to start or display your portfolio, such as ModelMayhem or PurplePort. Sometimes you’ll find paid work from these sites, and other times, they’ll provide valuable opportunities for photographers or smaller companies who like your work to work with you on a mutually beneficial TFP basis. You could even approach them for collaborations, and you’ll be able to read about how they work with others (alongside important visual evidence).
You can also apply to agencies directly, however, you should never pay an agency to join – any money paid to them should come out of your first commissioned job earnings as a percentage or pre-arranged rate.
Types Of Modelling
Although catwalk modelling is the kind that everyone instantly thinks of when the word “model” is said, there are many other kinds. However, conventional catwalk modelling can prove the most difficult to get into, as it has the most conventional rules when it comes to aesthetic. Women must be 5”8, while men have to be at least 5”11 but less than 6”2 in most cases, with slim or toned figures to match.
In recent years, there has been a space for plus-size models, thanks to body positivity movements and the reflection of consumers buying clothing in society. Shorter models are also finding more work, especially outside of the catwalk, where sample sizes are made for taller bodies.
These days, many models freelance. This is becoming more and more popular, when you consider things like brand endorsements on social media. This requires a lot of hard work, and understanding of marketing principles, and a good following online.
Catalogue modelling, appearing as an extra, promotional modelling, alternative modelling, glamour modelling and pin-up modelling are just a few of the other kinds which you could get into. There are agencies which are best-suited to each of these specialties, but sometimes, you will work with a particular brand or publication directly.
Safety: An Absolute Priority
When you’re starting out and building a portfolio, it’s natural to want to work with as many different photographers on as many different shoots as possible. Doing so will work wonders for you – it allows you to dip your toes in the water, build your confidence, and secure yourself a library of images to show to potential clients.
However, you have to be aware that some people will try to take advantage of you. Some photographers have some very sleazy intentions about working with young models, and so you should always research photographers and their work, to get a feel for their style. It’s okay to talk to other models as well – if the photographer has a credible name for themselves, it’s likely that people will be willing to recommend.
Set boundaries for yourself before you go, and don’t let anyone convince you to shoot outside of those comfort zones. Inexperienced models can be easy to exploit, so keep an eye out for the warning signs. Where possible, take a friend with you. If you’re afraid of looking unprofessional, you should tell someone where you will be at all times, at the very least. Unfortunately, some photographers do have a dark side to them, especially when shooting girls for glamour modelling. Be aware at all times.
Of course, it goes without saying; when you’re under 18, a parent or guardian must be with you at all times. Any agency, brand or photographer who does not adhere to such strict rules, is honestly not worth working with in the first place – they’ll be breaking all kinds of laws, and so this is a major red flag.
Scams are also rife within the industry, with many agencies and companies trying to extort money from you. Go through any contracts carefully, before earning (or parting with) any money.
You will need a thick skin to be a model, and the confidence to speak out if something isn’t right.
Where Could Modelling Take You?
Modelling can honestly take you all over the world, and ensure financial security. However, this is not guaranteed, and you will need to be prepared for times where this is not the case. Taking care of yourself is imperative, and so you should ensure that you’re eating correctly and exercising. This can be challenging for some, so it’s important to realise that to achieve success, you also have to do this sensibly.
Models at a certain level may be flown internationally at a moment’s notice. Those under 18 will need to be accompanied by an adult, and permits will need to be attained for those still of a school-age.
Adults involved need to remember that this life can potentially be lonely, and less glamorous than it looks, which could leave you isolated from friendships. However, in exchange, there’s potential to get to travel the world!
What About Life After Modelling?
Although there are mature models out there, you do need to be realistic. The majority of the models that are featured in the fashion industry are incredibly young, typically in their teens or early twenties. Most are under 30.
If you have intentions of entering the industry as an older model, or remaining in it, it can still be done, but it’s incredibly wise not to put all of your eggs in one basket.
Think about why you want to be in the modelling world to begin with. Hopefully, the desire goes beyond the benefits that come along with it, which means that an interest in all things fashion is a plus.
When modelling, try to learn as much as you possibly can about the industry, while you’re blessed with the opportunity. Pay attention to trends and the way that the industry actually operates, ensuring that you’re aware of “who’s who”, and what each of their jobs entail. Learn terminology, and take an interest in styles and trends.
After your time as a model is over, you experience will be incredibly valuable, if you have taken the time to learn, and crucially, to network. You may find yourself respected in a number of fields, from design, to fashion journalism, through to managing different fashion departments or brands. Depending on your other skills and interests, you could be writing, doing PR, or mentoring – the possibilities here are endless.
Things To Remember
Modelling will require lots of confidence, as there may be many times you are rejected, before catching a big break. You should also be prepared to work hard, especially in the beginning, where you may need another job to support something that starts as a hobby. Dedication is required, and this isn’t the easy way out!
Before you “make it”, practice working with different poses, angles and lighting, to catch your best side. It’s not just about how you look, it’s your understanding of how best to accentuate that.
You can’t start out as a diva, either. You won’t get anywhere by making demands, before you’ve proven your salt. Always be professional, and remember to network – this will be important for your future.
If you’re devoted to your craft, you will be more equipped to achieve success, but there is no guarantee. If you have a genuine interest in the industry, it’s a good idea to focus and learn as much as you can, so that you can find your place – no matter what that may be.