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How To Become a Model: A Step-by-Step Guide

June 29, 2021

Modelling is a career that involves skills that can give you poise and confidence. In this career, you get the opportunity to travel to new places, meet creative professionals and earn a handsome income. Given the competitive nature of this career, however, you should be well-prepared before entering this profession. In this article, we explore how to become a model, what they do and what skills and qualifications they need.

What does a model do?

A model uses their physical appearance to help a company advertise a product or to help an artist create or display a work of art. A model might work with a photographer to create fashion pictures or walk down a runway to introduce a fashion designer's latest clothing line. Artists often hire models to pose for them while they draw, paint or sculpt. Companies hire models for advertisements and marketing campaigns.

How to become a model

These are some common steps you can follow to become a model:

1. Decide what kind of model you want to be

There are many types of models including fashion, commercial, runway, shoulder and neck, fitness and hand models. Additionally, you can specialise in modelling for still images or videos. Given this extensive range of options, it is important you begin your modelling career by identifying the type of modelling that best suits you.

2. Start practising at home

You can begin practising for a modelling career at home. Look for videos of professional models and study the way they move and pose. Imitate your references to learn basic poses, postures and mannerisms. You can observe and perfect a runway walk in front of a full-length mirror if you have one.

3. Train and exercise

Consider using a local gym or dance studio to develop a training regimen. You can also start monitoring your diet and exercise to build your physique and maintain it. Modelling can be a very demanding career and maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help you stay mentally and physically well.

4. Build your portfolio

You will eventually need to invest in a photographer to take professional shots for your portfolio. Make sure you have a good range of pictures in your portfolio showing you in different poses, costumes and characters. You can also experiment with props and make-up.

5. Look for an agent

Most clients prefer working through a modelling agency, so you should try to find an agent. When you visit an agency, take your portfolio and be prepared to audition. You should know all relevant information about your body, like height, weight, eye colour, costume measurements and shoe size.

6. Take relevant classes

There are modelling schools that teach about the industry and train models for performing at photo shoots and maintaining good health and nutrition. If you want to take classes to complement your modelling skills, consider acting or dance classes. Acting classes might help you in a photo shoot where you have to convey a mood or character. Dance classes can help you develop poise and good posture.

7. Look for opportunities to be noticed

You need to invest some time in self-promotion to succeed as a model. Always look for opportunities to model that could get you noticed by potential clients. You could, for example, work with portrait photographers who can give you some exposure by featuring you in their social media or portfolio.

8. Use social media

The Internet is a great way to promote yourself since you can post photographs and videos that potentially thousands of people will see. Through social media, you can build followers and develop a platform to showcase your work. If you do not already have a professional social media presence, start building one. Focus particularly on visual platforms that emphasise pictures and video.

Essential skills and qualities for modelling

If you want to start a career in modelling, you should consider developing the following skills and qualities:

  • Passion: You have to be passionate about what you do and cultivate a professional interest in facing the camera. Modelling is not entirely about looks. It is also a craft that has to be practised and developed with consistent efforts.
  • Technical knowledge: Although not mandatory, basic technical knowledge of photography, cinematography, lighting, set design, costumes and make-up will help you work smoothly with skilled technicians. A good model can make the work of photographers, costume designers and make-up artists easy.
  • Looks: Models need to be aware of the strong aspects of their visual appearance. They should also be able to bring out these aspects in front of the camera consistently. Maintaining a fit, toned body is essential for most modelling careers.
  • Confidence: Having a confident personality on and off the camera can help you succeed in your modelling career. You should be confident enough to wear all types of garments and carry them with ease and elegance.
  • Determination: Modelling is a highly competitive field, so it might be difficult to find regular work when you start out. However, you should consistently try and build your work experience and portfolio. You will also have to follow strict diets and exercise routines for different assignments.
  • Stamina: As a model, you may have to work on long shoots where you have to go through multiple garments, backgrounds and styling in a day. Holding poses for an extended period of time takes a lot of energy, and you may have to repeatedly do this while working with visual artists.

Related: Soft Skills: Definitions and Examples

How do I become a model with no experience?

If you do not have any prior experience in modelling, follow these steps to get started:

1. Create content for your portfolio

Start photographing yourself at home and try to build material that can go into your portfolio. Give yourself a variety of modelling assignments and document your performance.

2. Develop your personal social media profile

Your personal social media handles will help you get reliable feedback from people you know. You can use this feedback to identify traits that appeal to a larger audience and build your style accordingly.

3. Attend workshops and take courses

You can attend a modelling workshop or take a professional course to learn from established practitioners. Such engagements can also go on your portfolio as an indicator of your knowledge of modelling.

4. Collaborate with professionals in associated domains

Collaborate with professionals in domains associated with modelling, like photography, styling and costume design. Many practising professionals develop content for their portfolios and market themselves through collaborations.

5. Take part in pageants and competitions

Try your luck at competitive events to see where your qualities stand in comparison to other aspirants. Competitions provide good opportunities for networking and help you get noticed by your peers and other professionals in the field.

Related: Writing a Resume With No Experience

How can I start modelling?

Once you are confident of your skills and expertise, you can start sending your portfolio to modelling agencies and production controllers. Appear for auditions whenever possible to improve confidence and build your presence in the field. You can start tagging agencies and productions in your professional social media posts, to get their attention. Ensure that the tagging you do is relevant, and do not overdo it. Once you start getting assignments, try to develop a client base to ensure a steady supply of work.

Related: Show Hiring Managers That You're Ready to Work

Basic qualifications for modelling

While senior secondary education can be useful, you do not need a formal education to pursue a career in modelling. Fashion models can be as young as 14, so finishing school is often not a requirement. However, you will have to read contracts and budget your income and expenditure. So you should at least have basic language and math skills.

Modelling courses are primarily offered by private institutions run by experienced professionals in the industry. You can pursue short certification or diploma courses in these institutions. The duration of these courses typically ranges from a few weeks to a few months.

How tall do you have to be for modelling?

Some job roles for models come with minimum height requirements. However, these requirements are not standard across the industry. Here are some general height requirements for models.

  • For runways and fashion shows, the minimum height requirement for male models is typically 5'10'' (178cms). For female models, the minimum height requirement could be 5'7'' (171cms).
  • Pageants like Mr India often require male models to be taller than 5'7'' (171cms).
  • For print ads and commercial modelling, most casting agencies prefer females with a minimum height of 5'3'' (162cms) and males with a minimum height of 5'7'' (171cms).

Options like face and hair modelling, neck and shoulder modelling, nude and artistic modelling, hand modelling and fitness modelling do not have minimum height requirements.

How much do models get paid?

The average base salary for a model is ₹4,01,005 per year. Your pay as a model will depend a lot on your work experience and reputation in the field. There is no fixed salary in this industry. Modelling jobs will have different pay ranges depending on the type of shoot and the project budget.


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