Starting out in modelling isn’t the easiest of tasks. The industry seems mysterious and inaccessible. Looking through Instagram under #instamodel you will see people with hundreds of thousands of followers, and some with just a handful – but it is rarely clear what differentiates the two.
I decided to try out modelling about a year ago. It was something which I knew I’d enjoy but didn’t know if I’d be any good at! Over the past year I’ve learned a lot about the industry (though there is still so much I don’t know!) but in this post I’ll try and share with you the information and lessons that I have learnt.
Work for free
In order to build a portfolio you will have to either pay for shots to be taken of you, or work for free. I decided on the later.
I’ve heard some nightmare stories about ‘companies’ which charge huge amounts to build a portfolio for you. If you do choose to pay for a portfolio make sure you use an established and reputable brand before you shell-out £100s for amateur photos (I’ve even heard stories of no photos at all turning up).
Once I had signed-up to some online casting sites I started applying for TFP shoots. TFP stands for Time for Prints, and means you get the copies of the photos in return for your time. Sometimes I’d get the entire real of photos, sometimes (and slightly annoyingly) I’d only get the few that the photographer edited. A photographer will take hundreds of photos on a shoot, but will only edit a handful of what they think are the best ones.
Create a portfolio
After I’d done three or four TFP shoots, I had managed to build a diverse portfolio. Once I had this I made sure all my pics were uploaded to my social media and website. So if anyone wanted to see them I could easily direct them to the right place.
Punctuality & reliability – be memorable
If you turn up on time, are helpful, constructive, and a pleasure to work with, people will remember you. I hear so many stories about models not turing up, especially for TFP work, so when you do actually turn up on time the team can be pleasantly suprised. You have already made them happy and you haven’t started modelling yet. There is an abundance of people out there who want to be models, so it’s a buyer’s market. If you do something which means you are anything less than a pleasure to work with, it is just giving people a reason to choose someone else over you next time. Modelling might be fun but it is a real and serious profession and requires professionalism at all times – at the same time as having fun!
Finally, ‘working smart not working hard’ is a philosophy which I have employed for a long time now, not just in modelling but in pretty much everything I do. Think about how you can maximize your time to get the most out of each experience, and choose what you sign-up to carefully. I see a lot of adverts for TFP opportunities in student films, but I’ve heard that these can take all of your day, and the quality of video you get afterwards can often not be great and not useful for your portfolio. Instead you could spend one hour with a photographer and get some amazing shots.
To summarise, starting out in modelling is never going to be easy. It is a hugely competitive industry and won’t always feel fair. I think confidence and self-belief is everything, and if it is somethiing you really want to do, then go for it!
Leave me a comment about you experiences starting out in modelling? I’m sure there is plenty of other advice out there…
Some of my TFP pics.