It takes time to become a professional

Do you have what it takes to be a professional model? It may be easier than you think. It only takes great looks, determination, and thick skin – if you know what you are doing.
Modeling is a career not only for the rich, famous, and ridiculously lucky; it is also for the everyday attractive person. However, if you are not born into money or haven't been scouted by a model agency, you must work hard and put some effort into it. Just like an engineer must study at a university, a model must equally put in some work before it begins to pay off. Here is your guide to graduating to a working model.

Figure Out Your Look

Every model has a signature look. Even the copycat fashion models have a special something about them that makes them famous. The more successful you are, the less noticeable these differences are – but they are definitely there.

Think about the supermodels, for example. Sure they are all tiny, tall, and fierce – but each supermodel is famous for his or her uniqueness.  For some, it is their short hair while others it is their short height. The point is the tiny things – the ones that make them different – make them famous.

As a model you will need to look a certain way, yet you should still have a signature look that makes you stand out from all the rest. Develop that look early in your career and never lose it.

Amateur vs. Professional

Modeling is a business, just like anything else you get paid to do.  Like any other business, you need to have certain skills and materials before you can truly do work.
One thing you will need is a portfolio. A portfolio is a model’s professional experience. It is proof that you can deliver, and how well you deliver.

A portfolio includes a variety of pictures (published or not) that the model has completed. They should be the best pictures, as well as pictures that show ability to model in different styles. Portfolio pieces should be taken by professional photographers who will naturally show your best side.  Working with amateur photographers will most of the time result in an amateur looking portfolio.

Starting Your Business on a Budget

There is a reason professional models typically already have money. It is because getting started as a model costs a lot of money. Even if you do not spend hundreds of dollars on an agency, you will still spend money on makeup, clothes, and photo shoots. If you are looking to model as a way to make money, it is easy to make little to no money at first (if it doesn’t end up costing you).

The best way around this is to work with photographers who are willing to give pictures under a time for print or time for photos agreement (TFP). This means they will provide photos (either digital or printed) for free.

This is an amazing deal, especially if you are able to work with a good photographer. Time for prints gives you pictures that can be used for your portfolio, allow you to practice working with a professional photographer, and possibly provide exposure to the photographer’s clients. The best part is – you are paying with your time, not your money.

TFP does not equal free modeling

Many new models are not willing to do TFP photo shoots. This is a shame because time for photos shoots are an excellent way to build a portfolio, and portfolios are absolutely necessary for working as a model without an agency.

If you do not build your portfolio with TFP photographers, you risk spending hundreds of dollars on photo shoots that are not appropriate for modeling.  High school senior type pictures will not work in a professional model’s book!  Photographers who are willing to work for trade are typically the same type of photographers that are looking to work with models.  This means they are more likely to create a photo that you can use.

Approaching a Photographer for TFP

One of the most intimidating parts of getting started as a model is finding a photographer to work with. When you have little to no experience, it may be hard to convince the best photographers to work with you.  The most important thing to remember is that you are providing the photographer an exceptional service: free models.  Hiring an agency model costs them money – typically in the hundreds – so don’t think you are bothering them by offering a cheaper alternative.

If you have little to no experience in modeling, let the photographer know that. It also helps to send them some candid pictures of yourself – ones without editing or makeup – social media pictures work great! These pictures help the photographer understand how comfortable you are in front of a camera and how much editing your pictures may need.
Even though the photographer is getting free models, they likely don’t want to spend hours editing the pictures into something they can show off.

Following these steps will get you started as a model, but how far you go is completely up to you.