How To Be A Model

Photo by Zach Leung

It’s pretty likely that when I was a little girl and someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up that a career as a famous model was on the list. I’m sure many of us have fantasized about being on the front cover of some mainstream magazine, or imagine jetting off to private islands and villas where we get to see the most beautiful scenery in the world while getting paid to do what we love. I’m here to remind you that modeling while seemingly beautiful and a breeze is actually a lot of hard work. It’s an art and not something to be entered into lightly. Whether you are fantasizing about being a hugely famous model or a smaller local model who’s focus is mainly Instagram it will still take loads of practice. So, the question is. “How does one go from dreaming about being a model to actually becoming one?”

Let’s start with a little bit more about modeling, shall we? In the United States, there are three different types. The majority of people are familiar with High Fashion modeling. High Fashion Modeling spans anything from designer runway shows, the advertising photos you see in highly popular magazines, the spokesmodels for glamorous products, and of course the models featured on the front pages of elite fashion publications.

The second type of modeling is known as commercial modeling-national. On a national level, this includes advertisements for everyday household items, restaurants, chain stores, food items, etc. Campaigns such as these will appear in down-to-earth magazines such as Good Housekeeping, People Magazine, and hundreds of others.

The third type is called commercial modeling-local. Models of this type will do photo shoots for photographers intending to sell photos online for stock images, or who require models for other purposes. This is essentially where models are hustling the most because they are trying to get their name out there and build an outstanding portfolio. I myself and a majority of my friends fall into this category.

Now, that you have an idea of the different types of modeling I want to get into a few things you should ask yourself and consider before you dive into trying to make a career out of it.

1. Why do you wish to become a model?

This is a question to be asked in any career and you should be able to answer it simply and right away. For example, if your reason to become a model or anything in life for that matter is because “it looks fun.” you’ll need to brace yourself for a very strong dose of reality. Not to say that it won’t be fun, but naturally, there will be many challenges along the way and if you are not prepared for that then you won’t be very happy or successful. Modeling is already a unique career because it is largely based on your physical appearance. The world of modeling is less flexible than we all think. It’s not all about looking beautiful as a photo is snapped, it’s so much more. It’s making sure you fit the mold for whatever you are modeling for. It’s making sure that you are marketable and can sell yourself. After all, there are millions of models in this world so why you?

2. Do you have what it takes to become a model?

Today, 2018 you are in luck. It is a lot easier to gauge if you are suitable for a career in modeling than it was during its inception. Historically the industry mandated jumping through some pretty arduous, and expensive hoops if you were an aspiring model trying to make their way up the chain. The best way to get an idea if you are fit for the career is research. Know as much as you can about all of the types by investigating the specifics this way you will be able to make the best use of your time, money, effort, and energy.

Photo by Zach Leung

Ok, now that you have asked yourself those two very basic but effective questions you can start to chase your dream. The most important thing you can do is start. It can also be the hardest. Now, I am nowhere near as famous an Instagram model as saying Charly Jordan or Indy Blue, but we all have to start somewhere. For me starting small was the best option, and when I say small I mean really small. I began modeling in front of my own bedroom mirror. I have this huge closet with all glass doors, it’s the only place in my house where I can get my whole reflection. This was where I began, and it was also witnessed by some very embarrassing selfies, and poses.

Thinking back I laugh, but none of that beginning evidence of my modeling incompetence will ever see the light of day, and yet this is where I began to learn. I learned my best angels, how I should pose in various positions to make myself look the most flattering. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but more often than not it takes more than one try to get that perfect shot. I learned that most of the time I would be uncomfortable in a lot of poses because it wouldn’t be the natural way I would stand or sit, and just think this was only when I was focusing on my body forget about facial expressions that took a whole lot more practice. Honestly, though it’s all about trial and error and finding what looks best on you.

I am also not a fashion expert and I applaud anyone who has a decent sense of what to wear. I have never been able to effortlessly throw something together, I would scroll through Pinterest searching things like, “perfect fall outfit” and “best falling snow outfits” and from there I would try to find something similar in my closet or I would command the help of my very knowledgeable fashion-loving sister. She was very good at hearing what I was envisioning for a shoot and making that image a reality. Once I began to take modeling seriously she helped me pack for all of my road trips to make sure I wouldn’t look like a total dork in photos.

Next came facial expressions. Everyone has had their picture taken during some event of their lives. We are taught that when a camera comes out and is pointed at us that we must smile and look happy. I was good at that. I was also good at facing away from the camera and posing on the edge of some pretty impressive scenery. When it came to staring directly at the camera I was always nervous. At first, the camera and it’s deep almost haunting lens made me squirm. I felt too exposed and my self-confidence was not high enough to manage that. What did I do? I broke it down. First I told myself that I needed to learn how to act candidly in front of a camera and not change what I was doing when a lens became pointed at me. This was something I couldn’t practice in the safety of my room. I needed to be out in public and it was hard. I think a lot of people when they first start are constantly stressing about what others are thinking of them. It’s not even about the camera in some cases but rather the random people who may be passing my on the street as you pose outside a movie theatre. Either way, it makes you question how your performance is and the discomfort bleeds through the photos.

Photo by Zach Leung

My advice:

Go on as many photo shoots as you can. This allows you to practice in a real setting, it builds your portfolio and brings you more exposure.

2. Review the photos you have taken. This means selfies and professional. Look at them, pick out things that your life first about what you did. Then find 2-3 things you want to work on before your next shoot. It’s important to remember to not be overly critical because no one is perfect.

3. Watch Youtube. There are so many great tutorials online that can help you begin your modeling career. It’s good to watch, listen, and decide what might work best for you.

4. Ask questions. Join online forums and communities, meet people, and ask them how they do it. The opinions of others can be very instrumental in helping you form your own. Word on the street is that The Hub is a pretty awesome community of creators to join 😉

5. Find your inner confidence. Yes, I know this is easier said than done. Trust me, I am still working on it, but it’s important to feel comfortable and happy in your own skin. The moment you do this then your modeling will become extremely authentic and you will feel more successful.

6. Learn to embrace rejection and even criticism. Remember, even the most talented models in the industry have been told no. Rejection is part of the territory and the sooner you realize and accept that the better off you will be. Whatever you do, never ever base your own self-worth off of your appearance or anyone else’s approval of you. Start practicing now.

7. Make yourself constantly look better. At first, this may sound really superficial. In reality, it is not because the better you feel about your looks the better you will model. So take care of your skin, your hair, your body, and health. It’s your body so take care of it as best you can.

8. Build your social media following. Be wise in your social media strategy and message. Know what you stand for and be able to show your followers your authentic self. Engage with them regularly, and post great photos from all of those shoots where you’ve been practicing. Take it one step further and consider starting a blog or Youtube channel of your own.

9. Commit to work. Like I said it’s not all about a fun and glamorous lifestyle. Are you prepared for the hard parts of the job? Like working a 12-hr shoot in freezing cold weather in clothes that offer no warmth? Can you handle the unexpected rain that begins to fall and still get the perfect shot without complaining? Can you handle being away from friends and family for long periods of time? Can you stick to a strict regimen when it comes to self-care? In other words, you must be ready to commit no matter what in order to truly be a model.

10. Finally…never let your pride down. You are always first and foremost a person with valuable feelings, thoughts, and opinions. If anything ever crosses a line or makes you feel uncomfortable you must be able to speak up and voice your opinion. Whatever it is you stand for make it known from the beginning and stick to it unwaveringly. Know when to say no and always have your own back.

I know a threw a lot at you guys if you have any questions let us know in the comments below. When it comes down to it being a model is up to you. Some of this stuff may work for you and some of it may not. It’s ultimately up to you to decide what will grant you the most success. All of this is a starting point, a way to make the most difficult part of the process a bit easier because honestly finding the courage to chase a dream is often the scariest part of it all. The most important part of all of this is to simply be you. We tend to lose ourselves when we are chasing a goal that we forget why we were reaching for it in the first place. So work hard, put your fears aside and be unapologetically you and trust me you will be surprised at how much you can achieve as a model.