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A Guide for New Models

Updated on November 21, 2011

I have a friend who is trying to get into modeling, and as a photographer, I've been helping her to build her portfolio, give her some advice, and get her on the right track to making this a career. I personally have done some small modeling things in the past, but thought I should share some advice for anyone who is looking to get into the modeling career.

First off, if you're looking to be a Playboy Bunny, Victoria Secret model, or on the cover of Vogue - you might want to rethink your plan. Unless this is a serious goal of yours for your life, I'd start out small. Modeling doesn't happen over night, and it can take years before you really get noticed for serious paying shoots.

Of course, everyone has to start somewhere, and as a new model, don't expect to even be paid right away. It is more important to build up a portfolio - this is key when it comes to modeling and if you ever want to be noticed. If you don't have a good portfolio, no one will be interested in hiring you.

So, how do you build a portfolio? By going to shoots, of course.

**NEVER EVER EVER include pictures you took of yourself in your portfolio - this includes "mirror" shots, any shots where you hold the camera out in front of you, etc etc etc. Theses look BAD!

Planning and going to shoots is easy enough. Some studios in your area will gladly take some pictures of you for you - of course, you may need to pay these people.

There are, however, websites that are very helpful for new models, even photographers and make up artists. Model Mayhem is an excellent example of a website like this, and is one I highly recommend. By joining this site, you will be exposed to photographers all over, even in your area. You can talk with them and plan shoots - and most of them offer their services for free! It's usually called a TFCD or TFP shoots - trade for cd or trade for pictures. This means that they will offer their services for free if you offer your services for free. They will take pics of you to help you build your portfolio and they will use the pics they take to help build theirs. Note: this does mean that your pictures will be displayed online! That's how photographers usually display their portfolios. If this is not okay with you, then maybe modeling isn't for you. The point of modeling is to show off, and if you want to be on the cover of magazines, you need to get used to being shown on the internet. That's how it works.

This also means that, if you don't want nudes of you plastered all around and getting in the wrong hands, then simply don't do nudes. I personally suggest, as a new model, not to do nudes, anyways. Some photographers out there aren't as legit as others, so it's important to be wary of who you talk to.

Planning a shoot is easy. Once you find someone who agrees to work with you, you need to be sure you're prepared!

Here are some suggestions:

The night before the shoot, make sure you have everything ready. Shower, shave, etc. Take off chipped nail polish, or put a new coat on. Get all your clothes together - make sure to bring lots! You can never over "pack" for a shoot. Bring dresses, skirts, shorts, jeans, skinnies, leggings, shirts, boots, shoes, heels, sandals, etc etc etc.

Don't forget a good supply of make up and other accessories. Tons of hair elastics and even hair spray, curling iron, straightener - you can honestly never be too prepared, and you never know what ideas the photographer might have, so it is important to keep all options open and available.

Be sure to arrive early to the shoot and discuss any ideas you may have, and ask the photographer for their ideas as well. Make sure you're relaxed and of course excited!

Generally, the photographer may ask you for specific poses, but mix it up with some of your own as well. But, don't just change your head angel slightly, or go from a serious expression to a smile. Really use your body. Have fun with it and do what you want, while using the photographers suggestions as well.

You should expect to do shoots like these for a while. Remember, the point is to build up a good portfolio. The more you have, the better you look! And mix up the photographer as well - everyone has their own unique style, and it's good to have a variety in your portfolio. Plus, by doing this, you will build up your connections. You will be able to work with people you've worked with before, gain their trust, and create a relationship. And, through them, you may meet other photographers, models, and other people in general that may be able to help you move up in your career.

Again - this isn't something that will happen over night. You need to constantly plan shoots with photographers and even take part in events that are going on. Some photographers put together calendars - volunteer for these things! The more you put yourself out there, the better your chances are at getting noticed.

When you finally get that first paid gig - be sure to do your research! Not everyone who offers you a paid gig is legit - especially if they offer to pay for you to fly to Paris! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! No one is going to pay a model who has never been featured before to be on the cover of a magazine. Don't expect these things right away! Start small and do your research. Start with modeling for clothing companies like Sears, JCPenney, American Eagle, etc. From there, you will gain more experience, more connections, and will have a better chance to move up.

It's all a process. You have to start small and work your way up. There is no way you will be able to become a Victoria Secret model over night, but as long as you have the patience and ambition, you can go far!


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    • thesingernurse profile image

      thesingernurse 6 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Modelling is a very competitive field. Everyone wants to be on that spotlight. What a new model could do (just like what I did when I was starting out) is just to be himself and just let it show in all his photos. Being a model is not all about the beautiful body or cheekbones. Sometimes, it's more on the genuineness and radiance that you show or project in your photos. Let the photographer capture those things! :) Great article for modelling starters. :) Keep it up!