Tag Archives: How to become a model



As a fashion model, there are more ways to get paid than just for your time. Bookings have specific fees, such as terms and usage rights, which can compensate for expenses and add up to more money in your pocket. Terms and usage rights can get very complicated, though. If it’s a photograph, you’ll need to consider things like how long they will be using the images, what they will be using the images for, if it’s print or digital, how many impressions will be made, etc. Terms might be if they will be paying for travel, or what your day rate is. For example, most models have at least a 2 hour minimum and are paid by the hour.


All these conditions need to be put in writing, which means negotiating with clients and drafting contracts. Years ago I googled “model management contracts” and a website called IndustryContracts.com came up. It was my goldmine. They gave me the option of downloading individual model contracts, or all the artist contracts for not much more. I don’t know what I paid at the time but to me it was chump change after considering the time I’d spent hassling with trying to figure it out on my own. Having dealt with contracts before, I knew how to read them and what to look for. The contracts needed to be tailored to my agency needs and I made sure to read through them thoroughly, but as a precaution, you should always consult a lawyer if you don’t understand something.


Although simple enough, there are other options that may make more sense for you. The stock photography business has helped to simplify the purchase of photos for everyone because they let you pay a single rate for all of the fees, rights, and royalties associated with an image. Some stock photos are royalty-free, because most of the rights, fees and royalties are bought in a single, one-time purchase. Models can book their jobs the same way- one rate with all fees, rights, and royalties lumped into one sum.


Another option is having the client write up the contract. Often times they do have their own contracts, anyway, and will require you to use theirs. Keep in mind, just because they want you to use their’s, though, doesn’t mean you can’t use your own as well. A great way to use work with a client’s contract is with an addendum, which is an extension of a contract and a way to modify it to fit the needs of both parties. Again, one reason you may want to consult an attorney.




IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A PORTFOLIO book full of images, it would be an efficient use of your resources to target an audience that uses those types of images. If you have commercial images, target a company that distributes clothing catalogs. Beauty headshots can attract cosmetics companies, designers that specialize in swimwear want to see a model’s figure, and so on. Don’t start over if you don’t have to.

IF YOU HAVEN’T STARTED building your book yet, read Sell Yourself to learn the most effective way to build your book from scratch. If you establish your market after you have built your portfolio and the two don’t pair up, you may need to get all new photos taken in order to tailor your look to that market’s brands and services. By building your book first, or tailoring your images to fit your market, you can really maximize your sell-ability.

Let’s say your target market is commercial print and your target brand is White House Black Market. HERE ARE 7 CHARACTERISTICS that make WHBM attractive for someone who fits their mold:

ONE. Through the practice of traditional marketing by way of regularly  mailed catalogs, they produce an almost dead- yet quite effective form of marketing for them and many booking opportunities for you.
TWO. Having a parent company that sells multiple brands allows for more exposure where you can cross-sell to each of those brands.
THREE. The brand’s target audience fits your marketable age range making you a more likely sell. Their customers would easily be able to picture themselves wearing the things you model.
FOUR. An online presence offers more face time.
FIVE. Sharing similar features with their past models makes them more likely to book you.
SIX. Keeping things fresh by continually changing up their models is a favorable circumstance for a new face trying to break into a market. Still, if they hire you, they’re likely to book you more than once.
SEVEN. They frequently release new collections and advertise accordingly, creating, yet again, more opportunities for them to book you.

This example has demonstrated  that the target brand not only understands the value of advertising and is willing to fork out some dough for models, but they shell out several opportunities for one to seal the deal, too. Although not a guaranteed job, you’ve at least done your homework and can FEEL CONFIDENT TAILORING YOUR PORTFOLIO WITH THEM IN MIND.



Understand that while modeling for Gucci or Prada would be ideal, it is unwise to start at this point. Most high-fashion does not pay because of it’s prestigious place in the industry. Most models trade this work out because looks good in their portfolio. To designers, this is no secret. Gucci and Prada pay well, but the competition is hot. A good way to look at it is the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of paid bookings are high-fashion and eighty percent  are commercial. Eighty percent of commercial bookings will be paid work and twenty percent of high-fashion bookings will be paid work. Commercial bookings pay a lower dollar amount than high-fashion but the bookings are more frequent. Is it more important for you to work to get paid or is it more important to add more photos to your portfolio (trade-for-print)?

If you’ve developed your portfolio book already, there’s no need for you to continue doing trade unless it’s for a well-known brand and you can get a tear from it. Abercrombie, for example, doesn’t pay their models because they know they have enough people that would be willing to do trade-for-print. Another benefit of TFP is if you have a full portfolio already, but it’s missing a particular look for a market you’re trying to break into. These two examples are great ways for you to receive the images you need and submit yourself to a target client.

Now, you won’t want to consider all paid bookings. What if a company is willing to pay you a fee but their product is intimate apparel? Are you prepared to model in your skivvies? If so, you’ll want to make sure they’re willing to pay a higher rate- your rate for that type of work.

Establish a minimum day and hourly rate that is worth your time. You’ll also want to increase this amount as your time gets more valuable- say, when you start getting a lot of paid bookings. Say you’re day rate is $200 for an 8 hour “day rate”. This would make your hourly rate $25. Most models-and agents- require a minimum number of paid hours in order to accept a booking. You may want require a client to book you for a minimum of 2-4 hours for it to be worth your time. Consider you’ll have to travel, make arrangements in your schedule, and cover expenses, for example. Know where you draw the line before negotiating so you don’t end up regretting it when you accept your next booking.


As you move further into your modeling career, you will be able to anticipate the items you’ll need for a booking. Just like a photoshoot on the beach may require swimwear, some bookings need items specific only to their type of job. No matter the job, there are items you should almost always bring. Gathered in an expectantly large bag, we call this a model bag.

Business Materials

In this day and age, one can accomplish several things with a single small device. You can access your contact list (often effortlessly imported from a Facebook or Google account), manage your schedule, compile lists and set reminders, take notes and store documents- even make purchases- all completely virtually.  Prepare things you’ll need to represent yourself professionally and manage your career. You never know when you’ll meet a new potential client and need someway to document their digits for future contact. You may even need to hand them a comp card and show them your portfolio. What if you’re on a photoshoot that goes longer than expected? This type of scenario calls for water, snacks, and cash. If the snacks aren’t enough, you have a way to purchase something more substantial. Cash can also be handy for parking but don’t be caught without a credit card either- these days a parking meter may only take plastic or paper, and not the usual coin. Consider additionally the list below which is a list of items you’ll need most of the time:

Undergarments, Clothing, & Accessories:

  • Robe to wear while getting makeup and hair done and for changing
  • Scarf (when changing, place over your head to prevent makeup from getting onto the clothes, smearing makeup & having to re-do your hair)
  • Black and nude bras and underwear
  • Black, white, and nude slips
  • Black and nude pantyhose
  • Various belts
  • Black and brown shoes/heels
  • Costume jewelry (bracelets, earrings, rings)

Mending, Pinning, & Tucking:

  • Masking tape (used on the bottoms of your shoes)
  • Safety pins & clips
  • Double sided tape
  • Mini sewing kit

Make Up and Skin Care:

  • Cleanser & makeup remover
  • Face and body moisturizers icon
  • Sunscreen icon icon
  • Cotton Swabs icon& Q-tips
  • Chapstick
  • Mirror
  • Foundation to match your skin tone
  • Mascara icon(bringing your own prevents spreading eye infections)

Personal Hygiene

  • Clear deodorant icon
  • Nail polish remover
  • Nail kiticon
  • Tweezers
  • Razor
  • Comb & brush
  • Hairpins & hairties
  • Curlingicon or Flat Ironicon (also great for ironing out wrinkles)
  • Toothbrush, mouthwash, & floss
  • Pain Reliever
  • iconBandages

How Do I Get Into Modeling

The first thing people do when getting into modeling is go see an agent. The agent evaluates whether they can market you or not. Before they can decide that, they need to know if you can move in front of a camera. If you don’t have photographs already and they feel it’s worth the investment, they may send you to get photographed. If you photograph well, they will build you a portfolio book and get you up to speed on your technique. A reputable agency will never have you pay for things like training, photographs, or composite cards.

Reputable agencies make money when you do. If you get a lot of no’s, don’t get frustrated, give in, and sign with whatever agency will take you. Do your research and make sure you’re signing with a good match. An agency that says all you have to do is get a portfolio, etc., “oh, and by the way, that will be x amount of dollars” doesn’t have your best interest in mind and most likely makes money off you instead of the client. Most “scam” agencies are a thing of the past, but still some exist. 

If you don’t want to go the route of finding an agency, and decide you want to try it on your own, you will need to market yourself. In order to market yourself, you will need a portfolio book and composite cards. Depending on what type of modeling you want to do, you may also need to be able to walk down a runway. Later I will post some photo movement and runway techniques, as well as a link to a video for demonstration. We will also talk in more detail on how to break into your market, getting auditions and bookings. The first step is to start with a portfolio book, and then comp cards. 

A portfolio needs to be black and measure between 9″X12″ to 11″X14″. The prints should also measure to fit the size of the book, and they should all be consistent in size. The pages of the book should not be removable and should have a pocket in the back used for comp cards. The book should consist of a variety of looks, including commercial and catalog,  high fashion and editorial, beauty, figure, headshots, 3/4 shots, and full length, to name a few. This is to show your versatility and make you appeal to a wide audience. Some people specialize in certain markets and demographics, and build a portfolio that appeals to those specific clients. I specialize in beauty because I have high cheek bones, and bridal and cosmetics because of my location and area demographic. 

A comp card measures about 5″X7″, has images on both sides, your name on the front and measurements (height, bust, waist, hips, shoe size, etc.) and contact information on the back. The front typically is of your best headshot and while the back has 4 other images that best represent you and provide versatility to your market and demographic. Again, something that shows your full length, a closer up shot like 3/4 length, and something that shows the condition of your body like a figure shot, to name a few. 

For comp card printing, you can try MoldingBox.com for pricing and quotes. 

For portfolio books, you can try Amazon.com. Pricing for a 9X12 book can run between $40-$70 depending on the quality.




IMM Introduction

Independent model management is based on the idea that any model- or aspiring one- can represent themselves as effectively- if not more effectively- than a modeling agency. We all operate with our own best interest in mind. The best interest of a modeling agency is to book models- not necessarily you or any specific model- just as long as they represent the model. Because of this, a model can end up competing with other models within their own agency. Model management is really nothing more than sales. Sales are the core of every company. Without sales, a company cannot profit, therefore, cannot exist. In this case, you are the product. As an independent model, you simply need to be a good sales person. With or without an agent, you have to represent yourself at some point- why not just skip the middleman and cut right to the chase? Here we will offer advice, stories, and testimonials, and test the theory that a model can be just as successful, if not more, on her own- and fire her agent!

To take it even further, we will test industry stereotypical standards and follow changes in the “norm”. The modeling industry hasn’t been around long, and it’s standards have changed from the blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroes to super tall Claudia Schiffers, and waif thin, heroin-chic Kate Moss types. Let’s explore age limits and height expectations, and see less-metropolitan markets develop models to become super in their own right!