By far, the question I am most often asked as a photographer, is “how do I become a model?” After several years of working closely with modeling agencies in Boston and NYC, I have learned what it takes to become a model and find agency representation. The first part deals with models who are aspiring to work with a modeling agency, rather than freelance.
- Be scouted. Let’s just get this out of the way first. The easiest way to become a model, is to be in the right place at the right time and catch the interest of someone in the industry. They will approach you, tell you that you’re beautiful, and give you a contract (more or less). I say this not to discourage anyone, but to be realistic. Read on for what you can do instead of waiting to be scouted.
- Build a quality portfolio before you visit an agency. Not doing so is a common mistake that many aspiring models make. Obviously as a photographer I am biased, but I strongly recommend working with a photographer who specializes in model photography, and creating a set of images that is in keeping with the market you hope to work in. Visit the website of the agency you plan to apply to, and see what types of images the models have. You might notice most of the images are subtle, classic, and show the model’s true appearance. There are very few elaborate images full of heavy makeup and dramatic lighting. Thus, you must train your eye to understand the agency look. I have written a full blog post on this topic, which can be found here: Understanding the Agency Look
- Find the open call day.
Almost every agency has an open call day, or drop off day. On this set day of the week or month, the agency allows models to visit, drop of their portfolios, and hope to receive a follow up appointment. It may sound like a scary premise to visit in person, but you may as well get over that sooner than later, as your entire career as a model will repeat this process. Some agencies will allow you to submit your images online.
- Dress like a model. Whenever you visit a modeling agency, be sure to look the part. Yes, a model agent can tell what you look like regardless of what you’re wearing, but you may as well help yourself out and look like a model. According to model agent Jason Werner at Model Club Inc, “Girls should wear skinny jeans, heels and a form fitting top, black or white, keeping it very simple and making it easy for agents to assess the models features. Minimal or no jewelry. In the event that a model catches the agents eye, they may be asked to stay behind and have polaroids taken.Girls should also come prepared with a hair band to pull their hair back for a profile picture. Men should wear fitted jeans, a fitted black or white t-shirt or button down shirt and shoes.” To add to this, girls should not wear too much makeup. As I’ve said throughout this post, you really have to undo your concept of “looking hot.” You must present yourself as a blank canvas.
- Understand the Model-Agent Relationship. At the core of your working relationship, you must understand that the primary objective for both parties is to earn money. The agency is a business, and if they are signing you, they have decided that you are marketable. With that being said, the agency is also there for you, and you should use them as a resource. They will be taking a % of your income after all. Keep this in mind before meeting with the agency in the event that you are offered an interview after your portfolio is reviewed.
Stay tuned for more information in Part II. As always, you may contact us in order to book a model development shoot and get your modeling career started.