Act Like a Pro

How to Act like a PRO


Some Important Ideas

Modeling is unlike most other professions -- because you don't need to go to school to learn modeling. Most models learn while "on the job" doing non-paid work.

Unfortunately, that means that many models learn bad habits which are hard to break. This can prove fatal to a career because reputation is VERY important, almost more important than your looks. The following are indications of a "PRO" model, conveniently separated by category.
The Portfolio

Always have your portfolio, business cards, and comp cards nearby (if not on you -- in your car). You never know who you might meet who might be a prospect or contact needing to see your work.

Always keep your portfolio updated with your best work. You are only as good as the portfolio and composite cards you keep. As soon as you get a new print for your portfolio, add it in. If you have more than 25 prints -- then instead, pull out your worst photo (the one you like the least) and replace it with your new one.

Finally, when your photos in your portfolio receive criticism -- try to think of it constructively as ways to make your future photo shoots better. Remember that a large part of the photo has NOTHING to do with you and EVERYTHING to do about the photographer. While you don't always have to take the advice offered -- if several people give you the same advice -- it may be well worth listening.

Accepting Jobs

As a professional, you have a duty to thoroughly investigate the jobs offered to you BEFORE saying "yes" or "no." You need to ask lots of questions to make sure that you both WANT the job and that you CAN DO the job.

If you say "yes" it will mean that people will spend money, time, and energy preparing for YOU on the shooting set. If you back out after saying yes, no excuse will be good enough -- and you'll get a reputation as a "worthless flake." Depending upon the nature of the shoot -- you may even be sued for breach of contract and "shoot cancellation" fees.

It is YOUR responsibility to find out precisely what you will be doing and what is expected of you. For instance, a shot may require that you stand on the roof of a building. If you have a fear of heights -- but haven't found out what the shots required -- you may find yourself in a very awkward position.

At a minimum, you should request to see the "roughs" the advertising designer or photographer has worked out. If this is a "test" shoot rather than an advertising shoot -- then request to view work from the photographer which is the same (or near the same) type of work that you will be doing.

Carefully consider your decision. Once you say yes, you have an ethical and professional duty to follow through no matter what. It's far better for everyone concerned (and especially for YOUR REPUTATION) to say "no" at the initial meeting if you aren't comfortable with the assignment. If you feel you can't give an answer right on the spot -- say "probably not, but let me think about it until tomorrow." Again, if you say "probably yes..." the photographer or client may only hear the "yes" and start making plans assuming that you'll do the shoot.

The ONLY time you don't have a duty to complete the shoot is if you are lied to about the nature of the shoot. If you have asked to see the roughs and portfolio photos (for shots similar to what you will be doing), and then on-set you are asked to do something completely different -- simply say "that's not what I agreed to, so I'm sorry, but I have to leave." The client or photographer may dislike that you are walking out -- but they know it was their fault for your departing.

Arriving Prepared

Arriving to a shoot prepared means a lot more than showing up on time with your make-up on. It means getting a good night's sleep and being well rested and "energized" for the shoot. It means researching and preparing for the "role" you will be portraying. It means gathering up make-up, clothing, props, and accessories needed for the photographs. It also means getting directions ahead of time along with phone numbers -- so that you can call if you get lost or have a flat tire.

Once you arrive, it's not "social hour." You should get ready as quickly as possible. If there is a make-up artist -- let him/her know immediately about any problem areas on your body and some methods for "covering them up" if you've received advice before.

You SHOULD NOT wash your hair right before a shoot. Newly washed hair doesn't have enough natural oils on it to be "manageable." Wash your hair at a minimum at least six hours before the shoot, and if you must sleep on your hair -- wear a nightcap to keep it clean and less tangled.

For most fashion shoots -- do not wear underwear, socks, or tight fitting clothes to the shoot. Anything that presses on your body will leave red "pressure marks" which often take up to an hour to go away. Because the skin is actually "dented," they are nearly impossible to cover up with traditional make-up. Also realize that bras are usually never worn for fashion shoots, and that the only underwear most models can use are "nude" colored thongs. Anything "more" will leave undesirable lines in the fashions.

Also, on larger shoots, there are costumers and dressers which help dress the model. If this is the case, you should mentally prepare yourself to be nude in front of groups of people as they help outfit you for the shoot.

Professional Courtesy

Professional Courtesy has a lot to do with the Golden Rule of "Do Unto Others as you would like them to do unto you."

  • Always arrive on time (or early) completely prepared and well rested for the shoot.
  • Never cancel shoots regardless of reason or other offers that you might have.
  • Always act polite and courteous to the photographer, client, and all other personnel.
  • Provide your input where appropriate, but never argue with the photographer, client, or other personnel.

If you are asked, ONLY SAY POSITIVE things about the photographers, clients, and other models they've worked with. If you have nothing positive to say, simply decline to comment. People who here you say bitter things about others - will assume that you will say bitter things about them as well. By acting positively - you will actually get a lot more work. Everyone loves to work with a "happy" person -- especially if they can find something nice to say about a photographer or client whom everyone knows is a horrible wretched person.

Never talk about PAY or personnel issues to anyone except your direct report (usually the photographer or the agent who booked the client), and NEVER within earshot of anyone else. ("Professionals" only discuss pay and personnel issues during initial negotiations with the clients or photographer).

Put in 100% energy into each shot, and act "happy" even if you aren't.

A Few Last Tips

When possible, send thank-you cards with a few kind words to the photographer and client. The "extra touch" may mean the difference between getting rehired and not.

Where appropriate, volunteer your efforts or talents to local charities. They often need local celebrities to draw attention to their cause, and the added publicity and print which you receive will help your public image (make you look more like a "professional model").

Let other people know what you're working on. You don't have to monopolize conversations or constantly name drop, but when people ask you "what's new" -- talk about the "great photo shoot I just had with _________." The more people know about your career and the types of work you are looking for -- the more they will feel at ease "passing your name along" to people they know who might need your talents.