Makeup Artists (MUA)
There is a place for engaging makeup and hair specialists however, if you are not good at makeup yet. Some Makeup Artists (MUAs) are available TFP, which makes them very affordable, or pay someone with good referrals on their StarNow page. Also consider doing a short makeup course, as models who do their own can be considered above those who don’t, resulting in less cost for the photographer and less arrangements needed.
Consider doing a short course on makeup at a college or some makeup suppliers who sell through individual representatives, (like Avon or Amway) may be able to arrange a course. There is no need to pay a lot for this experience.
Left: before makeup. Right: After. Photographic makeup can be great for photographs, if not overdone. If you have oily skin, a flat base stops shine from the flash
Some photographers or Agencies invite models on “Tests”. This is much the same as TFP, where they photograph you, you receive some photographs and you may get an assignment or photographs. In fact the “Test” may be a test for a future job, because your photographs did not have the look for the assignment.
When you have a good set of photos, prepare a folio (Portfolio) or Look Book* of 8x10 inch photographs. 8x10s they are often called, are photo enlargements just short of A4 letter size. Photo printing is one of the few areas where sizes are still in inches. 8x12 size which is almost exactly A4 is also available at many labs, including (probably) Officeworks.
Albums are also available there and photographic stores or online. Usually Models pick a black book with black pages, a bit larger than A4. You can use double-sided tape to keep the photos in place. It’s also good to have a few loose 5×7 or 8x10 photos when you visit an agency, in case they ask to keep one or two.
* Look Book is also used to describe a book or web page of sample poses the photographer or client wants to shoot.
Quality is paramount
Make more top images with photographers and put together your portfolio. The key with your Portfolio and StarNow site is quality, not quantity. The same applies to your modelling resume. If you are just starting, you may need to mention high-school plays and the like, however as soon as you have been photographed by professionals, drop those references and list every photographer and assignment.
Agency or not?
You can choose to be only contactable via your StarNow page, or also start with an Agency. Of course if you are under 18, your StarNow page will be managed by a parent, to avoid any stranger contact. Your main photograph needs to be the very best photograph you have, and rotate it as you make better images. Not having any photograph as your main image (as some models do) almost guarantees no work. Your face is your fortune.
Nearly all models who progress up the ladder, in time are also registered with a “bricks and mortar” Modelling Agency. Though some choose to always only be on a web Modelling page. When you only represent yourself, it’s called “Freelance”. As a Freelance, you decide who to accept assignments from, and the rates you charge.
Choosing an Agency is difficult, as some that rave about you and name-drop (like “we are casting for Dior”) are more interested in your money - through fees - than getting you work. Those Agencies come and go regularly.
Talk to other models and photographers for recommendations and look for an Agency that does not appear to (only) want you to pay for photos first. This is where it gets difficult to explain which Agencies are good and those who are not, as the top Agencies cannot afford to give you free photos and a free printed “Composite Card” either.
Seek advice from other models and photographers and you should be able to determine the dodgy “agencies” who never arrange assignments. Take in your folio with you for an interview. Try to avoid an exclusive Agency, unless they appear to be a top Agency and do not make big charges. Most Agencies allow you to be with StarNow for direct work.
Keep in touch
If your Agency said you are suitable - the big ones will only put you on their books if they were impressed - then call every 3 -4 weeks to ask if any opportunities are available. There is a balance between being a pest and making sure the Agency remembers you. Occasionally ask the Agency if you can drop off some new photos, as a way of re-visiting. Always look like a model when you visit.
Contract and printed Composite Card
Before signing a contract ask to show it to family or a legal person you know. Some of the good (and bad) Agencies will suggest you have a printed Composite Card with 3 or 4 of your best photos, your stats and the Agency name. The good Agencies will charge around $250-$300 for that.
Be loyal and prompt
If an Agency sends you out on a job and a photographer asks you for your details "for direct work with him", keep in mind the Agency got you the contact first and may not like you working direct with that person. So in that instance, a polite reminder to the photographer that you are with an Agency is advised.
Come to assignments a little early. I was in an Agency once when an extra cast in a TV series rang them to say they would be late. “My car broke down”. Knowing up to 50 Actors and crew were waiting, the Agent told them the correct answer: “Lock your car and call a taxi and get there on time”. If you ever don’t show for an assignment, you are taken off the Agency records immediately.
Be fun to be around
Leave your problems at home and be fun to be around. For many models this is easy, as modelling is their dream. Lots of smiles and enjoy your work. It will make for better photographs and you will be booked more often. Also if you are permitted to bring a chaperone, they should be a quiet observer and never make suggestions. You can, but closely watch your comments are highly appreciated and if you get the impression they are not, then stop immediately. I have worked with models that made excellent suggestions.
If you are under 18, a chaperone is essential. Your safety is important and the photographer may also ask you to sign a document. Before signing ask for time to read it and ignore comments like “It’s just the standard form”. There is no such thing as a standard form!
Chaperone for over 18s models.
You may still prefer to have a chaperone along, however ask first, don’t just have them arrive. I did a shoot once with the model’s boyfriend right beside me and I felt the shoot was negatively impacted by his distraction.
Check the credentials of a photographer
Especially if you are going on a nude or glamour shoot. Look for their referrals. Some inexperienced photographers think models are potentially girlfriends. So look for Photographers who are the real deal.
Watch out for Casting Calls by photographers who are looking for a model. These can be good paid opportunities or TFP, where (if you are chosen) you gain experience.
More top experience
Do a search on StarNow for photographers in your area and those who have great fashion and/or portrait images, then offer to pose for TFP, or a commercial shoot no charge, “provided I receive a set of images".
Write (email) local magazines, photographers, Newspapers and businesses, saying you are a new model available to work for free until you finish building your folio, provided you receive copies of the photographs.
Attach one photo that suits, for example if a sunglasses company, attach a portrait.
Look for manufacturers and printed publications first - shops rarely commission photos, though some in tourist areas may be interested.
Small suitcase of outfits and shoes
Photographers appreciate models who bring a bag of outfits to an assignment, so bring lots of outfits, a few pieces of jewellery and shoes in a compact wheeled suitcase or bag. A model once arrived at my shoot with no suitable shoes. I had to send an assistant out to buy some! Even if the client is supplying some latest fashions, the style coordinator will sometimes use your jewellery.
Tattoos and piercing
Most commercial shoots do not use models with tattoos and piercing. So consider this before going in that direction. I have seen some stunning models ruin their chances by face and figure embellishments. There are a few edgy magazines and sites that love tattoos, but they will never make you an income - quite the opposite. I have been very impressed with some models, then found their tatts in some of her photos and chosen another model. In fact I have never done a shoot with a tattooed model.
Do you want to be a nude model or just see how you look in one shoot? This field can result some timeless photographs to treasure always. It requires more care with security and pays more than most models receive, other than leading fashion models.
If you did a test shoot for figure modelling, and liked it, but don’t want to do more in the nude field, don’t put nude photographs on your Model site. Otherwise that's all you will be asked for. Perhaps implied is your limit usually?
On the other hand some figure models that do enjoy this speciality, travel the world with assignments in every country they visit, with higher than usual income than fashion freelance models.
Tip for figure modelling or swimwear/lingerie that shows your figure
Came to the assignment in a loose fitting dress. Wearing a bra or tight jeans leaves red lines that show.
Practice poses. Also look at magazines that would suit your style. You don't have to spend top dollars on magazines or dresses, some Op Shops (charity stores) have them at a fraction of the price. And some tiny fashions that you could make look sensational, have been donated near new, as the first owner overestimated how slim they were.
Celebrate your figure! If you are slim and small-breasted, be aware your look can be exactly what clients look for. Curvy girls may get in mens magazines for a while, but slim is in too!
Social Media and web pages
You can start a Instagram page and/or Facebook. Both can get some work. I know one swimwear manufacturer who only has an Instagram page and does really well. Photographs must be for general exhibition if you want to ensure your site is not deleted, even if you put a “label” over a part of your figure that’s a bit revealing. Also remember if you are still employed in a business or looking for a job, the first place many employers go to is your Social Media.
Consider a web page too. There are online sites that enable the inexperienced to make good portfolio pages and I sometimes make a web page for models after a shoot. Why a web page? Many people do not visit Social Media pages regularly.
Modelling can be fun, but success does not come overnight, so keep your job and education. Who knows ...
You may be the next top model!
Below, Andre photographed in my studio in Melbourne. He has been in Neighbours 50 times and in other films and TV series ...
Photo assignments can be fun!