What Does It Take?

What does it take to be a model?

Most modeling takes some basic training on movement, posing, and acting. This can either be acquired through "test shoots" and workshops, or through personal development at modeling schools. It really is a difference in ambition. It is very easy to get instruction through a modeling school -- but you have to pay hard-earned cash to get the training. On the other hand, getting "on the job" training is free, but you may have a hard time finding someone willing to invest their time, money, and equipment in working with you.

Besides some basic training, models do have to "look" appropriate for the type of work they are trying to get. This does not necessarily means that everyone in modeling looks like they came off the set of "Baywatch." Quite to the contrary, many models get lots of good pay because they have a certain special look or even "weird" appearance.

In any advertising that is trying to use humor -- strange looking people are often featured -- just to catch the attention of the reader. Of course a lot of modeling work is selling "sexuality" and "sensuality," so models have to be comfortable with their body and not be afraid or ashamed of showing it off.


One thing that all models need is a portfolio. A portfolio is a book of photographs and "clippings/tear sheets" from newspapers, magazines, and catalogs that the model has appeared in. The portfolio is a visual resume of what the model has to offer and what types of experience the model has. Often, a model can't even get an interview for a job until their portfolio and resume has been reviewed and approved by the client. However, in order to be taken seriously, you need professional quality photos in a portfolio. If you only have a bunch of snapshots, then anyone seeing your portfolio will think that you're only a part-time amateur. If on the other hand, you have high quality photographs and several "clippings" of ads you've appeared in, you've won the trust of the client -- he/she knows that you are serious and professional.

Normally a portfolio should have 10 to 20 prints of your best quality shots. The photos should be from a variety of locations, and outfits, and photographers. A great portfolio can get very expensive -- because hiring professional photographers and getting professional photos printed costs money. Also, your portfolio needs constant updating each time you change your "look," or at the minimum every 6 months. Every time you change your hairstyle, change your hair color, add or loose weight, or change your body toning (through exercise or lack thereof), you need updated photos. Since you are often "hired" based on your portfolio, if they hire a "blond" and you show up a redhead -- you've wasted everyone's time and money.

Because portfolios are so expensive (usually between $200 - $1000), many models choose to trade their time modeling for professional photographers in exchange for portfolio prints. Once you become more experienced (and your work has been in catalogs and magazines), photographers will be willing to provide you with free shots for your portfolio. Why would a photographer do this? Well, the first reason is because everyone wants to "know" a celebrity. If you are a fast and rising star, it's worthwhile for the photographer to take some time and energy and get some photos of you so that years later he can claim to have "discovered him/her -- see I've got pictures!" The other reason is that almost every photographer has "personal work" that they do just for fun. Often times these are nude photo studies, lingerie glamour photos, or humorous photo setups. Since the work is for the photographers "fun," he/she will want to find models who are willing to pose for that work without getting paid their normal modeling rates.

Finding Photographers

However, finding a good quality photographer when you have no experience is a lot harder. Since there are so many people who want to be models, and since a beginner needs a lot of "training" before the photographer can get good shots, often times the photographer will require that the model do posing for the photographer's projects in order to get the free portfolio prints. Many of these projects are glamour prints (steamy lingerie and semi-nude poses) and nudes. Others may be "stock" photos (which the photographer will sell to companies needing a certain type of shot for a story or advertisement. Still other projects are "mock" setups to include in the photographer's own portfolio to try and get additional paid work.

If the model is truly serious about modeling, then they will be willing to do the posing for the photographer's personal projects. If the model is not, then he/she should be willing to pay for the time, expertise, and materials required for their photos. REALIZE that any experience you get in front of the camera will be helpful, because you'll become more relaxed in front of the camera, and you will have more opportunities to study "how you look" on film. Try to work with photographers who can give you a "look" or type of shot which will enhance the pictures in your portfolio (don't work with photographers who don't have the skills to turn out great photos which will help your portfolio).

If you're interested in swapping your time for a photographer's, always realize that the "swap" has to be fair in order to work. The photographer is already bringing years of experience, thousands of dollars in equipment, and hundreds of dollars in film and processing to the deal. If you are not willing to do the types of poses the photographer wants you do do, why should he trade all of his "worth" for poses he doesn't even want? On the other hand, if you're able to give the photographer what he/she wants, then they will be very happy to work with you when you need "update" shots for your portfolio (your hairstyle or coloring has changed, etc.).