How to Get Started in Modeling

**Summary - How to Get Started in Modeling**


Copyright 1998 John G. Blair Photography -

excerpted from "The Modeling Manual - A Step-By-Step Guide to Getting Started in Modeling"

by John G. Blair


1. Determine your goals

a. Full or part time?

1. Difficult to find an agency unless you are available during business hours.

2. Difficult to make much money part time.

b. To make money or just have fun/adventure etc.?

1. If you want to make money, you must treat it like a business, not a lark.

2. If you just want to have fun/adventure, call professional photographers

a. Tell them you are starting as a model. Are they doing any testing?

b. Look under commerical photographers (not portrait/wedding)

c. Determine the types of modeling that interest you.

1. Artists model -generally figure (nude) models.

a. Drawing, painting, sculptors - both artists and students

b. Illustrator's model

c. Artistic photographer's model

2. Catalog (fashion)

3. Commercials (acting)

4. Editorial (magazine, non fashion)

5. Fashion (magazine, editorial)

6. Glamour (sexy images featuring the model's looks rather than the clothes)

a. Swimsuit

b. Lingerie

c. Figure (nude i.e. for men's magazines)

7. Print advertising (fashion)

8. Print advertising (nonfashion)

9. Runway

10. Tradeshow

11. Speciality or feature (parts modeling)


2. Read as much as you can about modeling (see separate list for suggestions)


3. Find a list of modeling agencies

a. Bibliographies in modeling books.

b. Local film commission.

c. State or local model/talent agency licensing board.

d. Yellow pages. Last choice-all it means is that they have a phone.


4. Check out the agency

a. Other models.

b. Chamber of Commerce.

c. Better Business Bureau.

d. Have you ever heard of them in fashion magazines.

e. Drive by and look if possible.

f. Agencies don't generally need to advertise to find models, especially not in "throwaway papers"


5. Call agency

a. Understand that most agencies will want you full time.

b. Receptionist will decide if you meet their current requirements.

c. Call will be short and impersonal (they get 100's of calls each day).

d. They will ask vital statistics (height, weight, ages, measurements).

e. Be prepared and don't "fudge" your answers.

f. If turned down, ask for referrals to other agencies.

g. If turned down, call the next agency

h. You don't need photographs or a portfolio to visit an agency.


6. Freelance modeling (if turned down by agencies)

a. Start by calling professional photographers.

b. Look up in yellow pages under "photographers-commerical"

c. Call professional associations to get a list of photographers near you.

1. ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers)-609-799-8300 (on the web:

2. APA(Advertising Photographers of America)-

3. PPA (Professional Photographers of America); specify commerical photographers

(404-522-8600; on the web:

d. Tell them you are starting as a model. Are they doing any testing? (testing means you model for free, sign a release, and they give you a free print in exchange)

e. You will need to build a portfolio and then look for clients. It is very difficult to get work without photographs.

f. Try students at local colleges in art or photography departments.

g. Last resource you can hire a photographer to make your portfolio.

h. Ask any photographer to see their "tearsheets" (published work), as well as their portfolio.

i. There are several discussion groups on the web for modeling.

j. You will usually have to supply your own wardrobe for testing and sometimes for client jobs.

k. You will also often have to do your own makeup, especially for smaller clients.


7. Going to an interview (either agency or photographer)

a. Be on time or early, otherwise you may lose your chance.

b. Dress nicely and professionally. Choose an oufit that shows your figure to the best advantage. Easy on the makeup. Wear your hair down, but off your face. Make sure your grooming is good.

c. Bring a portfolio or any photographs if you have them.

d. Generally very short appointment (just a few minutes).

e. Both are busy places and you may have to wait a while.

f. Always ask for referrals to other agencies and photographers


8. Clients for Freelance Models

a. Build a portfolio and get composite card (also called Zed card. It's a card with 3-5 photographs which models use as a business card).

1. The portfolio can have from 12-20+ photographs of different "looks".

2. It will generally take several sessions tocreate a nice portfolio.

3. The ideal portfolio has tearsheets and the work of several photographers.

4. Don't have more than one photograph in the same outfit/background/location.

b. Look through local newspaper and magazines to find companies that use models that look like you (tear out their ads/editorials and put in notebook).

c. Try temporary employment agencies - Tradeshow Models

d. Try local colleges art departments - Artists Models

e. Try to meet as many professional commerical photographers as possible.

f. Call local advertising agencies (they will probably ask for composite).

g. Participate in the web-based discussion groups.


9. Final Advice

a. Watch out for scams, ripoffs, unnecessary practices, and dangerous situations.

b. Modeling is not like other professions. Modeling schools generally do not help you to become a model. Avoid them unless you just want to have fun.

c. Don't pay any money to an "agency". (Its against the law in California). You will have to pay for photographs for your portfolio, but that money goes to the photographer, not the agency.

d. Be suspicious if an agency only recommends one or two photographers (they may be getting a kickback). A good agency will get you in for "testing" with photographers they work with.

e. Never meet in a hotel room unless it's a large, nationally known organization (i.e. Playboy is in town interviewing).

f. Expensive contests rarely have a good chance for success.

g. Reputable modeling agencies rarely or never have to advertise to get models. If they do, they never use the "Pennysaver" or similar throwaway papers.

h. For safety, use a PO box number and a voice mail phone number.

i. Take a friend when visiting a photographer or agency for the first time (they won't be able to watch any photo sessions). Avoid bringing a boyfriend or husband. They will get "too involved".

j. If you have a pretty face and a nice figure, there are plenty of opportunites to be "published" even if you are short. You won't make much (or any) money, but can get tearsheets for your portfolio.

k. Don't give up when you get rejected. All models have rejection. It is a fact of the business.

l. Remember, everytime you change your look (weight gain or loss, hair length or style, etc), you will have to replace all of your photographs with new ones.

l. Anyone can be a model if they work hard enough and meet the right people. Don't sit back and wait for someone to find you. Go out and look!

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