A guide for aspiring models
From MySpace to Magazines
From ‘just wondering if I could’ to appearing in magazines, this book can
offer realistic advice to anyone wishing to get started in the modeling
Other books in the series may be able to assist those models that have a
healthy start to their career, but would like to move to the next level.
Not just for newbie models, the advice and points in here cover virtually
every aspect of modeling from playing dress-ups in the mirror, to achieving a
While there are other aspects of modeling, we will look primarily at the
Fashion & Glamour Modeling industries in this book, which is the part of the
industry that covers the vast majority of aspiring models.
While this is not always the case, I have referred to the model in the
feminine and the photographer in the masculine for clarity.
Styles of modeling
Being seen on the cover of Vogue is one of the ultimates in the modeling
industry. Not everyone is going to make it, as the Fashion industry is the most
difficult to break into and has the toughest requirements for a model.
The job is simply to sell clothes. Nothing else. This is done by creating a
mood that is suitable to show the clothes, and having women want to look just
Dress designers all make sample size garments to fit a particular body size
and shape, if you aren’t that size & shape, you simply will not succeed.
The general requirements are: 5 feet 9½ inches to 6 feet tall, dress size
(US)2, bust size A cup.
If you don’t fit this sizing, chances are you will be a Fashion Magazine
reader, and not a Fashion Model.
Glamour Magazines want a variety of shapes and looks. In general, they are
appealing to a male audience, and the product that they are selling is not
clothes, but you. The idea is to look enticing and available, so that men will
want to look.
This is an area that often pays more money the less clothes you wear, and is
one that is favored by many photographers. Although the pay is generally not
wonderful, there is a never ending requirement for models, in different moods &
I wanna be a model
Firstly let me state that nothing on these pages condones modeling in any
non age appropriate style. Although young people appear to be very mature, there
are laws and reasons. The age limits for nudity, sexual or suggestive
photographs are taken to be age 18. If the law is different in your area, please
amend any information here to reflect those laws or cultural practices.
Any model under the age of 18 should be accompanied by a parent, and no
photographer should consider working with an underage model, without a parent
being present. Your welfare is important, and this is non-negotiable. If the
photographer wants you without a parent, their motives are highly questionable.
Chances of stardom
There nearly 7 billion people on the planet, and only about 7 super-models.
That gives you a one in a billion chance of being the best of the best. The
reality is that there is a wide range of work for a wide range of looks, but
real stardom is not a realistic expectation. Come down to earth, have fun,
explore your talent and be happy that you can be an expressive person, that you
will gain some recognition, and that you might even make some money.
Delights of self-expression
The huge opportunity to be able to express yourself as you wish to be seen,
to have others recognize your talents and ability and to be a part of history,
photographed for people to see and admire for years to come is reason enough to
get started. Whether as a part-time hobby, vacation job or a full-time model,
you have an amazing opportunity to learn about yourself and the way others see
Creating an image
Who do you want to be? Of course you want to be yourself, but what sides of
you do you wish to explore? It is important to have a clear image of how you
want to be seen, how to know when you are achieving your goals.
It’s a wise idea to write down on a piece of paper, the personal goal that
you would like to achieve within 12 months. Stretch yourself, but don’t make
this goal totally unrealistic. Seal that paper in an envelope and put today’s
date on the outside, then put it away, where precious things go.
Hairdressing can make a huge difference to your looks. Consider talking to a
hairdresser and a photographer, to see if you can arrange a free hairstyle, if
the photographer supplies low price or free photos to the hairdresser. You’ll be
amazed at how often you will get a positive response, if you treat it
Makeup Artists will also provide services in the same way, on occasion. Of
course, if you can arrange all of these people to assist you on the same day,
your chances of getting a better range of shots increases dramatically.
Shaving underarms and legs is important to do the day before the shoot, to
allow your skin to repair from any nicks or bumps that occur.
Nails need to be kept in impeccable condition – always ask the photographer
if they want clear or colored nail polish before the shoot.
Tattoos are a fashion fad that many people want to experiment with. The
problem is that they are there for life, and even with expensive laser
treatment, they can still leave unsightly marks. If you are committed to
mainstream modeling, you are better to not have tattoos at all. I know of
hundreds of models that have asked me if there is a cheaper or faster way to get
rid of them, as they are really limiting the styles of work they can do.
Body Piercing falls into a similar category, and should be considered
carefully. Many piercings can be removed and therefore require minimal
retouching later, but like tattoos, they show you as someone else’s art, and not
a clean canvas.
Breast implants are another area that causes controversy in the modeling
world. Some girls feel inferior if they don’t have a D cup and it can play on
their self-esteem. Of course they are not required for Fashion work, even if you
have a size A minus cup. But Glamour work does often expect larger breasts, and
if you are going to be uncomfortable with what nature provided, then it can be
understandable. Of course, breast size is largely genetic, and it would be
wonderful to achieve your goals, based on who you are, not who you think others
want you to be.
Fashion Wear photography
This is right up there with the most sought after modeling work in the
world. It is a symbol of prestige, a mark of success. While there are local
parades, charity events and a host of opportunities to be involved, the real
prestige comes from the top magazines. If you are lucky enough to be sought out
for this style – fantastic, but chances are, it won’t happen.
Runway/Catwalk parades are run at a number of levels. The Haute Couture
(High Fashion) events are always populated with models from the top agencies.
This is not the work you will get to start with, however there are student
fashion designers, charity events, hairdressing shows and local shopping centers
that require fashion models from time to time. A great way to get some practice,
and although the pay is usually non existent, or maybe a free item of clothing,
you do get to see the other side of the industry.
Casual Wear photography is often done with arts students and amateurs. It
often refers to a Casual Shoot, where there is little or no preparation, but
correctly refers to shots of a model in day wear, e.g. jeans and tee-shirt etc…
Of course there can be every reason for this to be a professional shoot,
then it is often for an Editorial Layout rather than a Clothing Commercial.
Swimwear photography is favored by many as the introduction to Glamour
photography. It is quite non-threatening as you are wearing ‘outer wear’ not
under wear, and is often done on location and in public at beaches, rivers and
pools. It is a great way to show your figure without feeling quite out of place
Lingerie photography has a greater element of the sensual to it, and is
rarely shot as a catalogue of clothing, but as an enticing glamour look, here
the product that the viewer is looking at is not clothing, but you. The shots
will often be aimed at photographer’s folios, calendars and magazines as well as
Artist’s modeling is where a painter or sculptor requires a model for
sketches or photographs to help them produce another art work. These are usually
in a studio and are often aimed at semi-nude or nude images. Many schools and
colleges also require Art Models for their classes, and in that case, the model
is often required to hold a single nude or semi-nude pose for up to 30 minutes
at a time and in front of a mixed class of 10-20 people. Not always ideal for a
model starting out and certainly the shots need to be age-appropriate, but the
style can increase a model’s confidence enormously.
Fine Art Nude photography is where the model is shot in a way that depicts
more about the shapes and shadows and less about the model. It is often aimed at
making an artistic statement, rather than a very glamorous image of the model.
Of course both can happen at the same time, but the photographer’s first
consideration is about the balance of the whole image, rather than beautifying
the model. Often for books and exhibitions, these images are admired by artists
and art lovers around the world.
Glamour photography is generally seen as the magazine style, often in
lingerie or less, the main purpose of these images is to sell magazines, or
subscriptions to pay websites. The styles vary enormously and fit somewhere
between lingerie and erotic photographs.
Erotic/Fetish photography depicts a highly stylized and usually sexual style
of image that can focus closely on body parts, often in contrast with an unusual
objects or actions. While this work is generally highly artistic, it can
challenge people’s values and morals, especially if seen out of context. The
dividing line between erotic photography and pornography is often very fine, and
it is just this definition that artists often challenge with their work.
Adult Nude photography is specifically about arousing the viewer.
Many girls that are desperate to get started in modeling decide to go to a
Modeling School. Almost all of these schools are well known by people in the
industry, to create clones that walk and talk the same as all the others. From
their beginnings as Finishing Schools, to create well mannered ladies, these
schools generally add a Runway component and will accept anyone that has the
money to pay them.
Unfortunately they foster unrealistic expectations of the model and can
truly hurt them, when their dreams are broken. The huge waste of money that goes
into a business practice that should not exist, is amazing. Every year, all over
the world, Modeling Schools are closed down by authorities, only to spring up
again in the next town.
As a photographer, I have seen what works best for aspiring models, and it
Dance classes are the best! Classical, Jazz and Hip hop are fantastic.
Personally I love the poise and elegance that comes from Classical Ballet – the
best models are dancers.. trust me!
Gymnastics is wonderful for fitness, shape and of course general health –
Martial Arts creates strength shape and an ability to take direction.
Often a young model is approached by a modeling agency, and then is asked to
pay to be on the website, and then on comp cards and then for lessons in how to
walk, and then, and then…
If they charge, run!
Legitimate agents are supposed to only make money when you do. They charge
between 10 and 20% of your pay and that is all. No up-front fees, no web charges
– nothing – ever.
If they have 1000 models, but no clients, run!
You will know when you need one, that’s when you are not able to manage your
Online Modeling sites (models)
Creating an ID
As a general rule, steer away from IDs that are too expressive.
“xHotBlonde69x” maybe fun for MySpace, but is hardly professional for a model
that wishes to create a business profile that will be seen by photographers and
advertising agencies around the world.
A simple Melanie M style of ID is enough to give you a degree of anonymity
from the casual observer, but be very realistic when you are actually meeting
Similarly, stay away from tXt sTyLe ov riTinG it might be cute, but it is
certainly not professional.
Creating a Profile
“I love shopping, going out with my friends, and being the life of the
party”, fits well for MySpace, but I suggest that you list your years of Dance,
Voice Production, latest hair style, or other specific experience. We guessed
you liked shopping and parties.
Be very selective when you begin uploading images to your Modeling profile.
Even if they aren’t professional as yet, there are some basic requirements.
A Face shot, a full length shot and a few ‘preferred style’ shots help
identify you for selection and in your preferred modeling styles
Working the site
Having a profile online is never enough. Some of the better modeling profile
sites like Onemodelplace.com send out advisories to photographers, letting them
know that a new model has joined in their area. This is an automatic service
that allows photographers and agents a chance to see who is joining the site
If the modeling profile site does not have this service, search the members
to find the photographers in your area. Find those whose work you admire, and
wish you had’ve been the selected model for, and send them an email, to let them
know you are available for their style of work, in their area. Sending emails
Commenting on images
Dealing with photographers
Know more about them, than they know about you
There is a simple security about having a little more knowledge of those
that contact you, than they have of you. Just looking their name up in Google is
often helpful, but we also expect that they will have linked models on their
site. An email to a few of the models asking if there are any tips they can give
you about working with photographer ‘X’ can tell you a huge amount, and help you
understand what may be expected of you on the shoot.
Always keep emails from photographers in your preferred mail system. Perhaps
create folders that define “From Photographers” or “Wants to Shoot”. It’s
amazing what those emails may reveal over time. You will gradually get an idea
of how that photographer thinks and even what they think about you.
You will also get undesirable emails. Not just spam, but from those posing
as photographers, or who are less than professional in their approach.
In the worst cases these need reporting immediately. Every online modeling
site has a reporting method. Of course some of the emails will be just a waste
of time – keep them, you may find that the senders will attempt several
approaches to get hold of you.
Look at the work of the photographer that emails you. Decide if your style
and his, really fit. If their work is suitable, look at the models that are
displayed on their site and have no hesitation in following a link to some of
the models he has dealt with before, and asking their advice or opinion. Learn
to use this ‘Back Channel’. This method works amazingly well for spreading the
word about the quality of photographers. Not all models will be helpful, but
most will offer some advice.
A simple email like, “Hi, I’ve been discussing doing a shoot with
Photographer X, do you think our styles will match?” can give you that extra
confidence to organize a great shoot.
Parents and girlfriends can also assist you to decide on a meeting, a shoot,
or even an email approach. It’s really important that someone knows who you are
contacting and who you are meeting. Never go to a shoot without having sent a
text or an email to someone responsible stating where you are, who you are with
and what is your expected return time.
Shortly after arriving on a shoot, phone home, or receive a pre-arranged
call from someone. It’s fine that the photographer knows that someone is looking
out for you. It’s never childish or immature to be safe.
Arranging a photoshoot
Before making any appointments, double check your commitments in your
diary/planner etc... Take a name and phone number and agree to make a last
minute confirmation as you are leaving home to go to the meeting.
Always turn up, and always on time… that’s five minutes early.
Have your standard modeling kit ready to go at all times. This includes hair
and makeup kit, extra hair ties and accessories can always be useful, clips pins
and rubber bands. A full list is available to print out from the website at
Bringing an escort
Boyfriends usually make the worst escorts for young models. Often they are
jealous, moody and butt in during the shoot. Instead, if you are taking an
escort, take someone that is helpful for you, often a girlfriend, cousin or
workmate that can assist or be transparent. Of course, models under 18 years of
age should have a parent with them at all times.
What a wonderful way to get a start with some shoots. This is where you work
with a photographer so that you both have use of the shots for self promotion
and no money changes hands. The idea is that you have a need for some shots to
benefit you, and the photographer has a need of some shots for their own
benefit, you learn about their styles as well, and everyone can benefit.
It is common to receive a CD of the shoot, often on the day, and some follow
up edits shortly after. Depending on the particular arrangements, you may
receive a few prints as well. Not all photographers or all models continue to do
this practice after they are established, but it’s an ideal way to begin.
Once you have begun to get your styles and ideas down so that your profile
reflects more of your real quality, it is often wise to contact the more
professional photographers and pay them for a shoot including the addition of a
Makeup Artist (MUA) to make sure you have the very best images in your folio.
You will gain both experience and recognition by working with top quality
photographers, so it is certainly worth your while. If you are paying for
photographs, you can expect to get every shot taken on the day, and depending on
arrangements, multiple edits also.
Amateurs and GWCs
Boyfriends, college buddies or amateur photographers, can help to give you
more hours in front of the camera, but they will rarely come up with the best
shots. They will also not be able to help you with the professional aspects of
dealing with the industry. GWCs or Guys with cameras, will approach you often,
these are usually non-photographers, or unprofessional ones, that are ever
hopeful of a date, or of seeing a naked or partly clothed girl teasing them. At
the worst, these people can act unprofessionally and attempt to train young
models to interact with the photographer to produce a wider range of photographs
than the model is really comfortable with.
If you are contacted by an obvious GWC, it is wise to ignore them, if you
discover on a shoot that this person is only a GWC, make your excuses and leave.
They will not help your career, and will leave you feeling worse about yourself,
Professionals are clear about their motives, their needs and they have a
body of work to show that displays a commitment to their style. They realize
that the pose is for the shot, and not for their personal gratification. They
are passionate about their work, and have creative ideas and style.
Getting continual work
Your professionalism shows whenever you are invited back to do a second
shoot. You exceeded the photographers expectations as a model, and they are
pleased with the results. So make an impression, be respectful and fun, be open
to new ideas and work to try to achieve them. Quality shows.
Getting Paid Work.
Don’t attempt to get paid work for the first ten shoots at least. Be happy
to do your apprenticeship, make some contacts and learn about the industry.
Remember, your photographer has probably years of experience, an investment of
thousands of dollars in equipment and will rarely get marketable shots from your
early sessions. He is investing his time and equipment to help bring you up to a
standard that is better than any school can teach.
However, if the photographer is being paid for the shoot, or is able to sell
the shots to a magazine etc… then you have every reason to start charging for
your time. Don’t price yourself out of the market, there are always other models
out there, and always have some time available for TFP/TFCD with photographers
that will add considerably to your folio.
What to expect from photographers
Like models, photographers have a wide variety of opportunities to display
their work on profile sites, usually as a separate member class on the same
websites as models. It is wise to spend time looking through photographers sites
and even commenting on their images or their site, if you think their work is
appropriate for your needs. Read their profile carefully before emailing or
commenting, as they may have specific needs or ideas that will only work with
some models, and it will show that you are interested enough to have followed up
When a photographer contacts you, he should make reference to his site, and
ask about working with you. Assuming you are using a professional site like
www.onemodelplace.com it is already understood that it is not meant to be a
dating site, so pickup lines are not acceptable and also that any reference to
you or parts of your body should be done respectfully and strictly in keeping
with their requirements for an image. No professional photographer would ever
consider asking an underage model to work in semi or nude situations, or send an
underage model requests that required that style of image.
A pre-shoot meeting is often arranged, especially for new or underage
models. Traditionally these meetings will be either at the photographer’s
studio, or at a coffee shop or other public place. The idea of these meetings is
to allow the model (and parent if the model is under 18) an opportunity to
ascertain the character of the photographer in a secure environment, before
committing to a shoot date.
At the meeting, discuss any costs or fees that are to be paid (if any),
locations or studio address, what styles will be shot on the day, the
availability of change rooms, makeup artists, hairdressers or others that may or
may not be with you on the shoot, what clothing to wear on the day, what makeup
to wear to the shoot, what else needs to be brought with you in the way of
accessories, props and clothing etc… Also discuss exactly what you will receive
from the shoot. This may be a CD of some or all of the low resolution images for
use on your modeling profile, it may include high resolution images suitable for
printing, it may include low or high resolution edited images, it may include
prints and it may also include a cash payment, travel allowance or a tear sheet
from a publisher. Ask about each of these things at the time. A checklist to
take with you is available at
Be clear as to who is responsible for what by taking notes, and also arrange
for a time to exchange phone calls for a last minute weather/traffic check.
Spend some of the time together just swapping ideas or stories as it is really
important to get to know each other well enough to be able work easily together.
The day before the shoot, or whenever agreed, make a call to confirm
everything is set for the following day. Take any last minute notes, confirm the
time and address of the location and prepare yourself for the shoot.
On arrival at the shoot, be a few minutes early and expect the photographer
to show you around the location or studio before commencing the shoot. It is
common for a photographer to take a photo or a photocopy of your ID. This is the
correct procedure for him to be able to ascertain your age, and to be clear that
you are working as an over or under 18 year old model. If there is money to be
exchanged, it is reasonable for him to have details of your address, otherwise,
it is not really necessary, but if you don’t trust him with your address, what
are you doing there?
After hair, makeup and clothing requirements have been taken care of, move
straight to the shooting area – do not wait in the back room fussing forever.
As most photographers will be using digital cameras, you can expect to be
shown the images on the back of the camera as the photographer is working with
you. If he doesn’t offer you a chance to see the images, ask to see how they
look after the first few images, and whenever there is a major change in angle,
lighting, clothing etc… This allows you to understand the photographer’s
perspective, and also see what you are doing that’s right (or wrong) in the
posing and expressions.
Commenting on images
Some basic ethics
Arranging a pre-shoot meeting
First things first
Giving the model space
Directing the model
A little higher, a little lower
Fine Art Nude:
uses Nothing - not shoes, clothes, makeup or jewelry and rarely even looking
at the camera, its just about shapes and shadows. Any props are for artistic use
in the balance of the image. Images may include distant images of the model
within a room or landscape, through to extreme close-up shapes and body parts
with no background. Art Nudes are traditionally Minimal makeup, although
Concealer and Foundation/Powder may be acceptable if they are well done. Any
foundation needs to come down the neck and blend around the natural V at the
bottom of the throat, and all the way round to below the ears so there is no
distinct Mask Line. Western cultural rules really don't accept female body hair
as normal - go figger! So it's no wonder that women have got a name for spending
forever in the bathroom.
For Art books and exhibitions.
Often very close and personal, but the model cannot be identified in the
final image. This is ideal for first time nude models that are shy of being
identified, but also a legitimate art form that aims at shapes rather than the
Art books and exhibitions
The model is nude on the job, but body placement, props or shadows obscure
the pubic region. Ideal for those that need to convince mom/boyfriend they were
covered at the time.
Model folios & some magazines
The model is topless on the job, but nipples are effectively obscured, once
again by body placement props or shadows. Bare back shots may also fall into
Model folios & some magazines
Adds makeup, hair styling, shoes and maybe (junk) jewelry - with the
addition of sexy lingerie for some shots, always teasing for the camera.
Typically a Playboy model look. Body makeup (or Foundation and blush mix) can be
used over scars or suntan lines especially for this style - but then it depends
a lot on the style of shoot, and whether it is going to be seen as a Magazine
shoot (heavily photoshopped) or a more natural look.
Model folios, exhibitions & some magazines
Usually requires makeup, a too short skirt, too high heels and a blouse that
was never even supposed to fit. The idea is that everything is busting to get
out, and the model is loving it... usually teasing straight to the camera. More
of the FHM - Ralph look.
Model folios & some magazines
Is just about selling clothes - you are merely the clothes hanger. Every
move you make should be about showing a feature of the clothing better, or
creating a mood that is inspired by the clothing. The Vogue look.
Model folios & some magazines
Is simply creating a face/hair/figure that women want to kill you for. It is
rarely sexy, usually regal - perfect for Makeup Ads, Hair products, Jewelry
shots etc... The Vogue look.
Model folios & some magazines
Is often intimate shapes that show an activity or make a (sexual) statement.
It maybe as simple as close-up shapes, or with an unusual object, that gives the
viewer the incentive to examine closely. Often these are anonymous, but
intimately close-up - usually in sharp detail and strong contrast to bring out
the definition. Erotic is an Art form - but needs to be addressed well. Picture
a shot of a naked bikini zone, with nothing but a snooker 8 ball (8 ball in the
corner pocket) as the modesty spot. The mind is being played with, and the
contrast of colors, object and 'What the...?' grab the attention as much as the
Art books and exhibitions
is the engagement in an active sexual activity, for profit, solely to excite
the viewer. Models can make a fortune - but like virginity - you can never undo
what is done.
Websites & Magazines