Being a more “mature” model and having the experience I do have; and I am often asked to help out with suggestions or advice with or for other models and photographers.
Here are a few top tips:
1. Are you sure?
Being a “shmodel” is not always as cracked up as you think it is. Especially in our country where you are limited with exposure (certainly not much for the average model in Europe or the States). To be on the cover of any comercial magazine would take more than a pretty face. In fact it would take a “someone” to believe that you have potential.
So be prepared for a lot of hard work. A lot of casting calls – these you will have to look for and pitch up to. Every. Single. One.
Should you wish to work as an editorial, beauty or commercial model – join an agency. A good one. One that has proven success in placing their models.
And be prepared that this can be a soul destroying job – if you allow it to be.
2. Build a Portfolio
Your CV in the modelling world starts with a few images of you. Do your research and find a professional photographer that has experience in assisting models with their portfolio shots. The pricing various however you would look at anything between R1500 and R3000 for a set of portfolio images. If you join an agency; they would assist you in your portfolio shots.
These images would include:
* front and side shot of your face including shoulders (hair back WITHOUT make-up)
You DO NOT need to have any nude images nor would you be expected to be semi naked in any portfolio shots.
3. It starts within
As in many other industries; this industry can be unforgiving and people talk. ALOT.
So if you do not look after yourself (your diet, water intake and training) it shows. It shows in your eyes, teeth, hair, nails, skin and BO. YES. Body odour.
Make sure you drink at least 2 litres of water and train regularly. Eat clean meaning no junk food, no sugar.
I have been at so many jobs where I hear some of my fellow model friends being discussed; how dirty their feet are or how they smell of alcohol, or their breath smells or their skin looks terrible.
4. Take it seriously and everyone will take you seriously
As in the corporate world, you need to be professional. This means being on time. This means having the respect and courtesy to engage with your client and to let them know should your plans change, your waist size change; you are sick etc. Be friendly – no one likes a grumpy ass. Be mindful of your language – not everyone appreciates a foul mouth. Don’t get too comfortable – no matter how lovely your client/ photographer is; it’s still a job. Respect that! Respect them; and most of all respect the job! No one likes a diva.
5. Safety First
You HAVE to do your research on whoever and where ever you shoot. Too many girls arrive at a job and realise that the photographer is not who he said he was. Or that the job required a lot more than what was explained.
When you communicate with your client, ask a few questions (see point 6) and perhaps talk to other models who worked with him before.
Make sure you tell at least two of your family members and/or friends where you are going, who the client is and their contact details.
Whenever I go to new clients; I send a location pin on WhatsApp to my husband and a few friends. This way; should anything ever happen they have my location.
Also remember that if anyone ever tells you that you can’t bring someone along; then start investigating why? You should be able to bring anyone with you – as long as you ensure that the said person will not interfere with your work (unless you are in danger)
6. Questions to ask
A few questions that I would strongly recommend you ask to ensure you are well prepared for the job as well as safe
a. When and Where? The obvious questions. Make sure that you save these details (including business name and address) and should you be unsure of the location ask. Ask the questions of parking and security.
b. Mood board. Should your client not have a mood board; they will provide you with reference ideas.
***Mood board is an arrangement of various colours, ideas, images, text etc to evoke or project the feel or desired result your client would want
c. Ask for references of people who your client worked with in the past – contact these references to confirm what their working experience was with your client.
d. Ask for your client’s portfolio – this should be readily available.
e. Ask for your client’s social media pages and handles. Should they not have any; investigate why. We live in a generation where social media is a critical tool for any business. I personally get worried when someone says they don’t have social media.
f. Should you be approuched by someone on social media; ask them for their business names, address, contact number and email address. Then ask them to contact you via email with the specifications of what is required. OR ask them to call you in order for you to have a professional conversation. Should it sound dodgy; you could always block them. Also should they not have a profile image or any images or posts that suggest what they do; ignore and block.
g. Ask how long they will require you for the job and what you will need to bring along.
h. I would always recommend requesting a pre-meeting to meet your client prior to the day. This will also ensure that you meet a “real” person, and should you feel uncomfortable you do not waste your time by accepting the job.
7. Fail to Prepare = Prepare to Fail
So now you’ve secured the job and booked for a shoot. The thing is that you now not only want to ACE this job; you want to leave a lasting impression. You want to be booked again; and most importantly; you want your client to recommend you.
a. You get enough sleep the night before – at least 8 hours. I promise you, lack of sleep shows and the retoucher will grumble whilst editing those dark circles or puffy bags under the eyes. Believe it or not – your skin tells on you (the traitor!)
b. DRINK WATER!! not just the night before; but the week before. In fact – water is any model, actress, athlete – anyone’s secret weapon for healthy skin, hair – ALLES.
c. Pack your bags. whatever was agreed with your client, pack your wardrobe/shoes/gown the night before to ensure that you wake up the next morning and just go.
d. Bring toiletries (face cream, vaseline, body lotion, deodorant, socks, a towel, soap, hair tie and clips, brush) along. These come in handy a lot of times.
e. DO NOT go out to party, or drink alcohol the night before – it shows and you will smell terrible.
f. Make sure you charge your phone the night before.
g. Pack your meals the night before. You do not want your blood sugar to drop nor do you want to become hangry 😁 You will thank me! Oh and remember to pack water!
h. Wash your hair the night before. No one likes dirty hair.
i. Self tan is a big NO NO – don’t do it. It streaks, sometimes your skin reacts weirdly, and sometimes on the screen your skin looks orange. Don’t do it!
j. DON’T squeeze pimples. They leave marks and more often than not, you will make them worse.
k. If you wax; make sure you wax TWO days prior. Not the day before; as waxing leaves a rack or inflamed red skin.
8. The D Day
Whilst on the job, remember you are being paid to be there. Therefor conduct yourself in a polite manner. DON’T use your phone whilst shooting – you are there to work. Unless previously arranged or agreed; do not take “behind the scenes” images.
This is not because people are fickle; but for professional reasons companies do have a confidentiality clause.
DO NOT chew chewing gum whilst shooting. Every client I have ever worked with gets incredibly irked with shooting someone that looks like a grazing cow.
Leave the restrooms, changing rooms and studio the way you have found it.
Once the shoot is over, drink a coffee but do not over stay your welcome.
DO NOT drink any alcohol with your clients/other models; and whilst working. AT ALL.
Do not exchange details with other contractors or other potential clients whilst working. This can be done once you have completed your job.
8. BE HUMBLE
It takes absolutely no extra energy to be kind and to be humble. There are thousands of other models in Johannesburg – let alone in South Africa. Being chosen for a job means that someone have seen value in you. However there is no reason at all; to ever act like a Diva. People follow people – if you’re going to act like a diva or b*&ch; then you will likely not be hired again. And remember what I said? People talk.
9. The long and short of it
Being a model would mean that your images would be released publicly. Remember that whatever you choose to do, or whatever direction you choose to pursue, you cannot undo images that are on the internet or on someones hard drive.
So for starters: Your public persona is important. Your clients will research you as you research them. Posting racial, political and other content that may upset some people would not be a good idea. Posting videos of you behaving in a disrespectful or ill mannered fashion, would again not sit very well at all.
Also remember that your opinions and comments on other peoples posts many be held against you. Airing your dirty laundry is tasteless. I personally do not share anything about my family as it is part of my personal life, and as much as I have chosen my career in the “public eye” they did not.
10. The “N” Word
One last thing that I must touch on. A lot of models go into this industry naive or ignorant about what is expected of them.
You do not – DO NOT – need to take your clothes off, or shoot nude to be a model. I will say this again : To be a successful model – you are not expected or obliged to be naked, semi-nude or undress in front of anyone.
My advice to any young model is to not even consider glamour or nude modelling until they have had at least 5 years working experience within the industry. There is no rush. Some say that your prime is at 21 – yes, for any modelling genre that may be the truth; but the nude industry is not nearly as strict and selective.
Once you take your clothes off in front of the camera – your images are on someones hard drive and your images will always be on the internet. Some models think it’s a great idea at the time, only to meet the man of their dreams who disapproves of that. Or they start a religious journey, that does not agree with nudity. Now you have to try and get all that content removed. Think very carefully before choosing to shoot nude.
There are so much more to this; however this is my “compact’ version. As with any of my posts : please do not hesitate to contact me on any of my platforms should you have any questions at all. I am a model coach and run workshops specifically dedicated for models. This includes do’s and don’ts, posing, and life coaching.