While working on my FAQ page on my site, I noticed that the topic of 'modeling tips' was one of the most often asked about. At first I was going to write up a page regarding it, and just placing it on my members-only section of my site. However, due to the amount of times I'm asked about this topic, I decided to put together some suggestions and post them for everyone to see.
1 - This is something I can't stress enough. BE PROFESSIONAL. Its so simple yet so sad how many people I've seen fail at this. Act professional and you will be treated as a professional. Nothing can lead you to more jobs than a good reference from most or all of the photographers, designers, stylists, make up artists, etc. that you have worked with.
2 - Network Network Network. With the internet at your fingertips, you can reach thousands of photographers. Unless you have some major traffic already coming to your profiles, you need to get your image and name out there in order to get work, whether it be for a portfolio shoot or a paid shoot. Networking will help you build a strong portfolio and meet some fantastic artists. Don't take it for granted.
3 - Be self sufficient. Yea, at some shoots the photographer or company might be very nice and hire a wardrobe stylist, makeup artist, and hair stylist. However this is unlikely on the start of your portfolio. There's nothing more impressive, besides your actual modeling, than to be able to style it all yourself. If you don't have the makeup skills yet, watch tutorials online and experiment with cosmetics yourself. If you're bored go practice on some possible looks for a shoot. Test out what styles of makeup look best on your face, including color combinations and how to put them together. Step outside the box, if you're worried to do this at a shoot, then go crazy in front of your mirror at home. You might be surprised at how great a certain look will turn out. If you learn how to do your own makeup and hair, and how to do it well, you will have full control over how you look at a shoot.
4 - Posing and expressions, its not the photographer's job, its yours. How can you leap past all the other models and into photographer's hearts? Pose yourself, and do it well. Practice if you have to anyway you need. In front of a mirror, with a friend, whatever, just do it. The key to posing is making it all look natural, no matter how unnatural the pose is. This might sound like some crazy talk but, learn to feel your body. You should know when a pose will look ridiculous or when you should be looking good, without a mirror! Posing in overdrive is also a no-no, looking like you're over-posing is just not pretty and looks painfully awkward. You're a model and an acrobat combined into one, not just an acrobat. Expressions are a given, the focus in the image is probably your face and body. Nothing worse than a face that looks lifeless and vacant. If need be, try to think about various words that describe the expression you're going for. Or, they might just come naturally once you dress up for the part and you are in front of a camera.
5 - Regarding nudes. No I can't give you the right answer to "Should I or shouldn't I?" If you love nudes, and you are comfortable with your body no matter what shape it is, then go for it if you are 100% comfortable and are also entirely sure you will have no regrets. Remember, once a nude of you is up on the internet, consider it permanent. It's going to be up there, downloaded, saved, shared. There's no way to go around it. Prepare for the fact that there's a good chance your family or friends will find them, and they may not all support you. If you aren't prepared for this then you might need to consider passing on the nudes. I've known models who's families fully supported them, and others who completely disowned them. My take is simply that family is important, and so are your dreams. It's up to you which one you decide to choose should you need to.
-Will it ruin my career? I don't know, are you trying to become the next mainstream figure loved by kids of all ages? Yea, I would say that would ruin your chances. Do you work under a conservative office or as some kind of public figure for your community? Probably not a good choice either.
BUT, even if you have all these road blocks in your way and you still want to do nudes, more power to you.
6 - Agencies vs. Freelance. I have done both, and personally I love freelance a lot more. If you have enough work coming to you and you have the time to handle all of your own bookings, then I recommend the freelance route. Flexible scheduling and you are your own boss, what could be better? At the same time however, managing yourself will take up a lot more time than having an agency do it for you. Prepare for endless emailing.
If you prefer having somebody else manage you and your schedule, and you can find the right management for you, then the agency route may be the way to go. There are a lot of scams out there, be sure to meet with your agency in person if you can, read over your contract or agreements thoroughly. Unless you're purchasing something like cards, you shouldn't be paying them. Most agencies seem to work on a percentage deal, where they keep a certain percentage of every job they find you. Some agencies require exclusivity. Think carefully on whether you're prepared for the kind of commitment to a single agency, and if they can provide you with sufficient amount of work.
7 - Be unique. Why in the world would you want to be some copy of someone who does it better? The easiest way to stand out is to be yourself and to make your unique self shine the best way you can. Yes I know a lot of things have been done hair, makeup, and style-wise. There are a lot of themes and genres of modeling that have been beaten to death. Your job is to take bits and pieces of your own inspiration and putting it together in a unique way. Its how the creating world works, in everything from music to art to science. We advance using stepping blocks from the past. Some are larger than others.
Good luck and happy shooting!
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