Modelling – where do I start from?

It’s the Fashion Photographer’s personal view speaking here. I was thinking for some time it might be useful to share some information on starting with modelling as I often work with models on their first portfolio photo-shoot and it might be a challenge making your way without some guidance what first steps to take. So here it goes.

1.An exercise at home: ask a friend to take 2-3 full length photos and 2-3 close up photos of yourself with your mobile or small digital camera. For the close-ups make sure you are not making an awkward facial expression(duck face works for Facebook and Instagram but would not attract professional photographers as they can’t get a clear idea of your features) – a smiling, a neutral/sensual and a profile photo is what you need to start with. If you want to get a step further and help the makeup artist, take one photograph without makeup and one photograph with closed eyes. You can follow a similar pattern with the full-length snaps – front, side and back. Also, here you can start preparing a list with your measurements, current hair and eye colour, etc.

2. Find a professional photographer to make your model portfolio. You can get in touch with a passionate photography lover to gain some practice before you go for the model portfolio shoot, practice poses at home and watch through fashion photography magazines(including online) to gather ideas and learn from the models that have already made it out there. When searching for a photographer, make sure that they are experienced, that they would make you feel at ease, that they can show you examples of previous work and that you know exactly what you would get from the shoot – a standard is usually about 10 final retouched photographs in digital format.

3.Register on modelling websites. I usually recommend modelmayhem and purpleport as they are the most popular for UK. It’s free to join and they can get you spotted by local photographers, MUA-s and Hair-Stylists. At the beginning you can take part in selected TFP shoots where you get photographs in exchange for your time. This is also a good way to build a strong portfolio provided you are selective in the shoots that you are undertaking. Always make sure you notify a friend or relative about your location and the photographer you are shooting with and keep your mobile phone close by.

4.Search for local model agencies and apply for them. Make sure they are legitimate. Word of mouth is usually a great help but if you don’t have friends in the industry yet, be aware that a legitimate agency would never ask you for money up front, a trustworthy agency would gain money from the commissions you are undertaking. Another aspect to be considered is that some scam agencies would ask you to pay for a photographer to take your professional headshots, this is often used by agencies to make money but the agency itself may not be capable of finding you any paid work afterwards. A good agency would allow you to provide photographs taken from another photographer as long as they are high quality and show that you are versatile. The standard photograph agencies are looking for are studio shots on white background – with and without makeup, full length shots and an outdoor shot.

5.Taking over the internet space. Once a friend of mine was joking that I am successfully trying to occupy the whole internet space. Not far from the truth indeed. I have a Facebook page, launched Instagram last year, I manage my own website more than 5 years now, have registered for all free directories like Freeindex, Yellow Pages, have ‘mapped’ myself on Google Maps, registered for modelling and photography communities websites, etc, etc. You  should do the same. Get yourself out there, it’s a whole new world of opportunities(as cliché as it sounds, it’s absolutely true). Make a Pinterest profile, it’s extremely handy, especially when gathering ideas about future shoots, making mood boards and discovering new makeup looks. Start a blog to get to know people, to express yourself and to make yourself more easily discoverable.

6.Approach magazines. Once you have done a creative or Fashion shoot send e-mails/letters to as many Fashion magazines as you can, the more the merrier. All you would need is full credits of the shoot – MUA, Hair-Stylist, Photographer, Designer, etc. and the photographer’s consent letter. So not expect to get paid for it, it’s rarely the case(unless you are Cara or the likes), but look at it as free advertising for yourself and adding value to your image as a model.

7.Network. Attend fashion events, meet industry professionals and always, always carry your business card with you. You never know who you might meet! Having a chat with or following other models can teach you loads and in the long run can certainly open doors to you.

If you have enjoyed this read you might like my other article: Top 10 Tips About Modelling.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your day!

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