Becoming a model requires confidence, resilience, and a distinct sense of style. Many young girls dream of becoming fashion models, yet reality can often prove different than they expect, as Ashley Mears, former model-turned-sociologist explained on NPR’s TALK OF THE NATION program.
Models must spend considerable time and energy preparing for shows and photoshoots. From hair and makeup changes to being scrutinized for every movement and expression they display during an appearance or photo shoot, models spend hours honing their craft before their next show or shoot.
1. Get Representation
Modeling is an intensely competitive industry and prospective models cannot expect to get signed instantly by an agency. Instead, aspiring models should work towards gathering digital of themselves as they practice poses such as posing, walking, and other techniques that make them marketable while waiting for responses from modeling agencies. Furthermore, it’s wise for them to build up their social media following to improve their chances of representation by modeling agents.
Fashion models typically retain an agent as part of their professional representation to help find work and negotiate contracts on their behalf. Models may approach an agent directly themselves or through friends, family, or industry connections for referral.
Step one to finding representation is researching and compiling a list of agencies in your area. Check each agency’s website to understand their branding, booking practices, model types, and any other details that give an impression of their type of work.
Once you have identified several agencies that seem suitable, reach out and schedule an in-person meeting with each. Before attending the meeting, do some additional research about each agent so you can discuss industry practices and experience with an informed voice.
Be prepared for questions from agents about why and how you want to become a model, your work ethos, and whether or not you pose or walk for them during an audition process. Bring copies of your portfolio as well as business cards so you can network effectively while networking.
2. Build a Work Portfolio
As a model, it is necessary to have a work portfolio showcasing your best photos. Your portfolio can take the form of either physical prints or online images; regardless of which form it takes, ensure it contains images that demonstrate your ability to play different types of roles.
Your modeling portfolio should begin with a headshot/portrait featuring minimal makeup and no visible smudges around the eyes, to provide potential clients with an accurate representation of your facial features. Next, include a full-body shot in simple clothing so they can assess your body type; add fashion shots that showcase your ability to capture current trends; then round off with full-length dress shots and swimsuit shots to show how versatile you are as a model.
Establishing the appropriate images in your modeling portfolio is key to landing modeling gigs. A diverse collection of photographs that appeals to various potential clients should be included – aim for at least 10-20 images per photo shoot and update it frequently.
Your work portfolio should include more than just modeling photos; it should contain pertinent details about you as an individual, such as age, hair and eye color preferences, height measurements, and any unique characteristics that might appeal to clients (tattoos, acrobatic skills, or birthmarks for example). In addition, creating a website dedicated to your work can give it greater exposure – potentially landing more work if done professionally and affordably through site-building services such as Sitebuildr!
3. Learn the Art of Posing
Posing is one of the key challenges of becoming a professional fashion model. Even with state-of-the-art camera equipment and stunning models at your disposal, without knowing how to direct them in an effective pose that looks natural yet flattering in the end, failure may still occur at work.
Posing is a crucial skill every photographer should master, and there are plenty of resources online that can assist. One such tutorial by Manny Ortiz breaks down the “art of posing” into an understandable, step-by-step process that anyone can follow. He and Diana take their tutorial into Chicago Park on a windy day to show how you can start with simple poses like one-handed “go-tos,” before adding more complex ones over time.
Picture Perfect Poses by photographer Roberto De Angelis is another resource you should check out; this course teaches all the components of a great pose, from the expression of balance and force through action lines, construction with proportion and construction in mind, and more. Perfect for photographers as well as models alike! Picture Perfect Posing can provide a solid foundation of knowledge about posing, making you an expert poser quickly!
This course also covers more advanced poses, including arm poses, wall and chair poses, boudoir bed poses, and more. Furthermore, lighting techniques with detailed diagrams and photographic examples will be discussed along with using body language effectively so your model feels confident with their pose and their presence before the camera.
4. Practice Makeup
Fashion models typically work with teams of stylists, photographers, and artists to craft their images. A makeup artist might apply foundation and highlighter before having their hair styled by a hair stylist; additionally, nail technicians may help shape feet and hands for their shoots.
As a makeup artist, you must practice on various faces and skin types. A great way to do so is by finding willing volunteer models or those preparing for special events who need help getting ready for an important occasion. At Vah Vah! MUA students are encouraged to find these volunteers; both parties benefit greatly – the volunteer gets the chance to try new makeup while our MUA students gain invaluable practice applying beautiful makeup looks in different situations and environments.
As part of your makeup training, it’s advisable to practice on different kinds of heads to create good habits. For example, resting your hand on a mannequin’s head is fine but be careful not to touch a sensitive client’s face as this could damage their complexion.
Mannequin heads with various skin tones can be purchased in stores selling makeup and beauty supplies, or online. If you plan on providing makeup services to multiple clients in the future, having several with different skin tones is highly beneficial.
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5. Practice Walking
Models’ walks are an integral component of their appearance at fashion shows and photo shoots, drawing attention to what she is wearing and drawing an audience in. Models must walk gracefully but confidently with long strides while shifting weight between feet. In formal garment modeling situations, they must also move their hips slightly when modeling to show off curves for an elegant impression.
Prospective models seeking to perfect their walk should regularly practice with friends or mentors who can offer constructive criticism, watch videos of real runway shows, and practice posing and turning in front of a mirror. If possible, having access to a long hallway will allow for uninterrupted practice sessions without leaving straight lines when walking the runway.
Not only should models make sure to walk at an even pace during shows, but it is also crucial that they become acquainted with their outfits before wearing them on stage. Examining clothing, particularly shoes, helps models understand how much movement they have available while on the runway; too restrictive an ensemble could feel cumbersome or awkward upon being put on.
Models must pay special attention when moving their arms while walking, avoiding any tendency for them to ball up or swing wildly. Furthermore, models mustn’t turn their backs on their audience at any point, as this would break up the flow of their walk and appear awkward. In an ideal world, models should attempt to focus their eyes on one point in the distance similar to dance spotting to avoid becoming distracted by crowd noise.