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Starting a Career as a Fashion Model

Aug 17, 2007
In order to enter into a career as a fashion model, the first thing that you'll need is an attractive figure and appealing looks. If you don't already have these, it's going to be that much harder to break in. It isn't all that difficult and most people can manage it, if they try right and try hard enough. If you are going for strictly a photographic modeling career, your standards can be dropped a mite, since today's imaging technology can work miracles in erasing blemishes and altering the final appearance of a photograph.

As in any industry, there is a fine line between success and failure in modeling. To have a chance of becoming a successful model, you first need to think and act like a successful person; or as they say, act like a winner and the world will treat you like one. Once you begin to see yourself as a successful model you'll naturally start doing the things to make it happen. Not to sound like it's that easy, of course; it does require work but so does working a nine to five job. So, now that you're thinking of yourself as a successful model, let's get to some basics you must know.

If you plan to model, especially as a high fashion or runway model, you need several demanding physical attributes. The standard is that you need to be at least 5'8" tall or taller. Your body weight and proportions need to flatter your height; fashion models notoriously diet and exercise all their lives. You need to have a good skin complexion without lots of pimples or blemishes, and you need to have relatively little body hair and to tan well. Your hair should be in good shape with no excessive split-ends or damage from over-dying. Your teeth should be well taken care of, straight and white; the only acceptable option here is having a dynamite smile.

Look closely in the mirror and be brutally honest with yourself. We all have limitations; and the fashion industry has developed unbelievably high standards. Some of these things listed above you can work to improve and some, like your height or your skin tone, you were just born with. Even if you don't have all these model attributes, don't give up hope; there are other opportunities in modeling not specifically related to walking a runway or getting your photo in a glossy magazine. In addition, you've probably already considered extensive cosmetic surgery - this is a given in the fashion industry.

The next thing is of course to get noticed and get recruited by a name brand modeling agency. Actually, it's good to keep in mind that these agencies need you as much as you need them. They are constantly on the look out for fresh young faces and if you're hanging out in the right places they might spot you out all by themselves. But it isn't a very good idea to hang around and wait for that to happen. These days to get noticed you have to be proactive and push things yourself. Your first step in this direction would be to get a list of agencies that recruit models and send your professional portfolio of photographs to them. Simple photographs should serve the purpose well enough, so you don't have to spend money on creating an expensive portfolio. Agencies also often have open castings that you can attend to get selected. Find out from the agencies in your area when they have these and when they are planning their next event.

Another leg up is the movie and film extras agencies. It's very easy to get cast in one of these agencies, and anything like a byline can only help. Another possibility is to gain experience working as a live model for small businesses. Perhaps a public appearance at a convention or a local event at a department store can help beef up that portfolio.

The real action starts after you've been picked up by one of these agencies through your smart networking. You may have to relocate and live away from your family, or at the least you will have to travel the world. It may take time to get your first major job, and you have to be both patient and disciplined until then. Make sure that you attend all the casting calls, and show up for shoots on time. The top stars in this career can get away with having people wait on them, but you can afford no such luxury when you're starting out.

Present yourself in a natural and relaxed way; confidence is half of the game. The agency that takes you in will be presenting you to their clients for consideration in modeling needs. If you are relaxed and simple, your chances may be much better at getting selected than if you are heavily made up, put up artificial postures, or are trying hard to impress. Just as this is true of almost anything, being relaxed and not worrying too much about what's going to happen will be the most common sense approach.

If you're going to be a model, you better learn to love the camera and the studio environment. It goes without saying that you don't hesitate to show yourself off. Fashion models get body coaches and practice poses to find out what type of posture suits them best and try to do those. Every fashion model is a little bit of an exhibitionist, so you might as well decide now that you like to be looked at. For instance, take it as a given that a fashion career will include some nude modeling along the way.

The kind of work of a fashion career demands a submissive disposition. You will have to be where they tell you, wear what they tell you, and move and pose how they tell you. The photographer, filmer, or director will be in charge, and you'll have to be good at following directions. Modeling and acting are intimately intertwined, so get used to the idea that you are a performer and not just an ornament.
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Freelance writer for over eleven years.

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