Understanding Professional Modeling and Getting Started.

Posted by Jerry Avenaim on November 14, 2008 – 3:04 pm

Fashion models in the past had to be about 5′ 9″ and a certain dress size. Men were always 6 foot and a 40 regular. And of course you had to be beautiful.

The reason for the standard height and size was that fashion designers made dress and suit samples in one size and it was easier to find a model in that size than to make a sample in a different size. As the plus sizes and petite sizes arrived and super models of varying sizes came on the scene, these old rules had to change some. At the same time the “fashion look” for a season changed as to what is considered beautiful.

Looks go through cycles; one season the look is an anorectic drug addict, the next, innocent and medieval. I think the classic beauty look has always been in style no matter what the cycle. In the secondary fashion markets, the look that might be needed can vary even more. When it comes to commercial modeling, size, look, and age can vary wildly. In a secondary market the more you can vary your look rather than having “a” look, the better your chances of getting booked on photo shoots.

So, it comes down to a few things:

1) Having the look that someone needs for the project they are working on at that time.

2) Making life easier for the art director and the photographer so they will want to work with you.

3) Making sure the client, photographer, and art director know you exist and want to work.

4) Having the right photographs in your modeling portfolio. Those that sell you!

Practice makes Perfect
If you are starting out, then I strongly urge you to buy the fashion magazines you are striving for and get in front of the mirror! Practice and perfect each look you are trying to achieve. I always suggest doing this in a two-piece bathing suit or your underwear; you have to know what your body is doing and how it looks best. It is imperative that you are always aware of your body language, facial expression and most important in a shoot, the clothes!

Once you book the job (even if it’s a test shoot) you want to be prepared, knowing what you’re doing in front of the camera and understanding how to take direction from the photographer is key. This will make for a successful photo shoot and you will leave with a happy client and great pictures.

Putting together your Fashion Portfolio
Find the right photographers and make sure they work with a great team. If you are unsure of a photographer, do a Google or Yahoo search on their name and see what others have to say about them. Putting together a modeling portfolio isn’t always the shortest distance between two points. One of the biggest mistakes new models make in their portfolios is putting in every photo from every photo shoot they’ve done just to finish the portfolio. Three words don’t-do-that, I would rather see five amazing fashion and beauty photographs than twenty that are just okay. Don’t put ‘filler’ in your portfolio; all it will do is dilute the great photographs you have worked so hard to get!

The Supermodels
One thing to consider, the days of the real Supermodels have been over since the late 90’s. In a transition of visibility that has spanned the last decade with names like Cindy, Naomi, Linda, Tyra and so on, it is the celebrities that reign supreme, and dominate the scores of magazine covers today. But not to worry, there are more magazines now than there ever were. Also, there is a greater demand for different types of looks than ever before.

Guidelines for what it takes to be a model
The first thing you have to consider is what type of model do you want be? If you are trying for high fashion modeling the runways of Paris, the cover of Vogue, etc., the requirements are more defined. If you are hoping to do commercial modeling (such as product or lifestyle) there are much broader requirements. If you want to be a glamour, or pin-up style model, it has its own set of requirements. There are many magazines where height and size don’t matter. These range from Maxim to FHM and Stuff just to name a few.

So lets consider the job market when considering types of modeling projects and if you can make a living as a model. In a large marketplace like New York and Los Angeles there is an enough work in a given category of modeling that a model can specialize. A model can be just a fashion editorial model or fashion catalog model or even a plus size model and be able to make a living. In smaller markets one would have to be more versatile to make it.

Here are some genre’s to consider where you may fit.

High Fashion
Runway
Editorial
Beauty
Lifestyle
Catalog
Plus Size
Commercial
Swimsuit
Lingerie
Maxim

Remember, no matter what your market, there is a genre for you.

Jerry Avenaim

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4 Responds so far- Add one»

  1. 1. Carlos Demond Said:

    Jerry I would like to thank you for posting this blog. It has so much info and for a Model Just Starting out, like myself. I find it very Helpful, I have been To a Few Agencies in NYC and I have been told I have more of a commercial Look, which is Cool since I like Smiling and Stuff so Hopefully one day You will see me in front of Your lens 🙂 wishful Thinking on my part. Keep up the Phenomenal Work

    Carlos

    [Reply]

  2. 2. Michelle henrick Said:

    Gorgeous gorgeous GORGEOUS work! How’s that for being original. Certainly you haven’t heard that before 🙂

    [Reply]

  3. 3. Deb Fujiwara Said:

    This is a great article. Really informative. You’ve offered a lot of helpful tips here. I think the vast array of different modeling opportunities that may be out there is something a lot of people may not be aware of. Because of the demands of the fashion world, we have it so ingrained in our heads that models need to have certain stats and fall within a fairly limited age range, when in fact, that isn’t always the case.

    Thanks for sharing this article, which is perfect for models just starting out.

    [Reply]

  4. 4. Michael H Dean Said:

    Nice articles bud. How ya been? I will have to visit the site more often now. I was getting a little tired of the “True Story Lines” you know what I mean…LOL We will have to meet again soon. Take Care

    Grest stuff you have shared with everyone.

    Michael H Dean

    [Reply]

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