The world of modeling is much more than travel and excitement. First and foremost, it is a business that requires dedication, craft, and hard work. In this ultra-competitive industry, newcomers must learn to work hard, work smart, and avoid the pitfalls of the industry if they want a chance to fulfill their dreams.
01 Getting Started as a Model
If you ask a little girl what she wants to be when she grows up, there is a good chance she will say “I want to be a famous model!” When she becomes a teenager, the childhood dream accelerates as pages from Vogue, Glamour and Elle decorate the walls of her bedroom. And for the very determined, the fascination will gain momentum and ever so gradually, a sense of urgency will emerge. At its pinnacle, her fantasy will ultimately beg the question, “How do I go from dreaming about being a model to actually becoming a model?”
02 The Three Types of Modeling in the U.S.
The first thing to understand about becoming a model is there are different types of modeling. The type with which the layperson is most familiar is “High Fashion.” High Fashion modeling encompasses designer runway shows, the advertising photos you see in top-ranked fashion magazines, spokesmodels for glamorous products and of course, the “Cover Girls (boys)” who grace the front pages of elite fashion publications.
The second type of modeling to which one might aspire is known as Commercial Modeling-National. Commercial Modeling on a national level includes advertisements for everyday household products, restaurants, chain stores, adult beverages, food items, and the like. These print images are found in down-to-earth magazines such as Good Housekeeping, People Magazine, Redbook, as well as hundreds of others. Opportunities at a national level also include catalogs for major department stores, brochures, and online-marketed goods and services.
The third type of modeling is Commercial Modeling-Local. Local commercial models will do photo shoots for photographers intending to sell photos online as stock inventory or in need of models for other purposes. Sometimes the shots will be for smaller businesses, a local line of products, tea-room modeling or fashion shows in a variety of events, such as a bridal fair or car show. Models also work for national brands in need of local talent to promote their products i.e. energy drinks at state fairs, military bases, special events, conventions, and sport’s games.
03 Why Do You Want to Become a Model?
If you desire a career in modeling, the most important question to ask yourself is, “Why do I want to become a professional model?” If your reasons include, “It looks fun!”, “My friends all say I should be a model!” or “I want to be on magazine covers!” you will need to brace yourself for a strong dose of reality. While those reasons are all valid explanations for wanting to become a model; the only answer that matters in the real world of professional modeling is “I have what it takes to be a model and therefore, I am marketable.”
Modeling is a unique career because it is all about your physical appearance. Unlike other industries which offer advancement for working harder, attending higher levels of education, or earning additional certifications, the world of modeling is not flexible. Ironically, the modeling industry will take you and your appearance, literally, at face value.
04 Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Successful Model?
It has never been easier to ascertain your suitability for a modeling career than it is today. Historically, the industry mandated jumping through expensive and arduous hoops before an aspiring model could make their way up the chain, only to find out that they stood no chance of succeeding as a model.
Today, each category of modeling mentioned above, High Fashion, Commercial-National and Commercial-Local, has a distinct standard for acceptance and success. If you are taking the first steps towards a career in modeling, it’s best to investigate the specifics of each category so that you can make the best use of your time, money and energy.
05 High Fashion: Standards & Requirements?
High Fashion Is Highly Competitive & Rigid
Of all the types of modeling, High Fashion has the most rigid and easily determined standards. Although there are always exceptions to the “rules,” there are some basic truths about the industry that are indisputable: you must be tall and thin, period. You may have read about or heard interviews with models who have defeated the odds, but the cold, hard reality is that for every single exception there are literally thousands and thousands of hopeful individuals who failed. And, while the world of fashion has seen an influx of plus-size modeling, the demand for models who break the mold has not yet permeated the traditional model.
While this may sound both discriminatory and cruel (muck like the world of horseracing and jockey selection), there are reasons for the rules. For fashion designers to truly show off their work, those wearing the pieces must not detract from the lines and subtleties of the clothing. Further, the taller the model, the greater the material exposure and the sleeker the fashion will present and cast itself as finely proportioned.
World-famous expert, Paul Fisher has demystified the world of High Fashion modeling in two television shows: “Remodeled” and “I Can Make You a Supermodel”. His journey began in 1987 when he founded IT Models. His career and notoriety in the industry grew to remarkable highs when he represented supermodels such as Naomi Campbell, Carol Alt, and Stephanie Seymour. Fisher recommends that anyone interested in the world of High Fashion take a measured approach when assessing their own chances of success in the industry. Anyone who is serious about a career should begin by taking the following steps:
• Research the Industry:
At this juncture, you must treat the industry as any other you would consider entering. You must do your homework. Fisher advises, “Find this out: Do they want what you have? What are their clients looking for?” They way to research the industry, per Fisher, is do a thorough survey of the website “models.com.” At the site you will find the following categories:
• Become a Statistician:
Chart the height, weight, hair color, age, shoe size etc. of the top and up-and-coming models. Find out which agencies are representing each model. Read about what the clients are looking for; what the designers want to see; and who the photographers clamor after for photo shoots.
• Analyze Your Data:
Make charts and/or graphs. Then determine if your appearance, thus far, is meeting the profile of the successful model. If the answer is yes, go on to step 2. If not, you will want to investigate other options in the industry.
• Take Pictures Without Make-Up:
Ask a friend or family member to photograph you. Find an area with a neutral background and without distractions. Wear a bathing suit and include full body shots from front, back and each side. Also, take head shots. Do not enhance or edit the photos in any way, shape or fashion. If you have long hair, pull it back in at least one head shot.
• Submit Your Photos to the Top Agencies:
According to Fisher, the next step is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. You are to send your photos to the nation’s top modeling agencies. Before doing so, review their websites thoroughly; there may be a process you’re required to follow. Be sure and follow it exactly as indicated. They receive thousands of photos; be sure yours is one they look at because you followed the rules. At this point, it is a waiting game. It could take some time. But ultimately, you will find out what the top modeling agencies think about you. With regards to High Fashion modeling, Fisher says, “Send them your picture. You will hear back from them. If you do not hear back from them, don’t model.”