Becoming a Model – Part 1

“I want to try modeling, can you give me some advice?”

I seem to get this message via email or social media at least once a month. Instead of writing individual responses, I decided to make it public (plus someone who doesn’t know me may find this helpful). Becoming a model has helped me evolve into what I am today so I don’t mind sharing my experiences. First, let me say this: I did not take classes or join a modeling troupe. I just did what I do whenever I want to pursue something….RESEARCH.

There was a site I found online called New (it still exists). It’s basically a website full of information from a book on how to begin a modeling career. They share enough valuable information for free to kick start your research, buying the book is optional. I can truly say this site assisted me greatly. But don’t stop there! Research involves gathering information from various sources to better understand the desired topic.

I also joined Model and got feedback from the members in forums. There were people on there that took time to critique your portfolio and many times they were harsh but in this industry, or any industry, you MUST  be able to take criticism. It enables you to see yourself from different perspectives and learn to grow. A group of “fans” that will only praise your work will eventually hinder you. Model Mayhem assisted my research for photographers in Memphis and other areas. I made a wish list of the photographers that I liked and surprisingly, I was already on a few radars! I was a new face and I had features that stood out from other models. Many contacted me to test and I paid a few to build my port.

When I began to book shoots, there was a list of rules I made for myself:

1. If I was not comfortable with their type of work, I will not agree to shoot.

2. We were assisting each other. If I agreed to shoot their project, I expected to get images I can use in my portfolio…even if it is just a headshot. It is important that you clarify this agreement BEFORE you shoot. Also, don’t be a diva! The photographer has no obligation to shoot you and if they don’t want to test, pay them. Investing goes both ways for a model and photographer…camera and studio equipment isn’t free or cheap.

3. Test up! This is extremely important. If the quality of their work is not as good or better than the last photographer I worked with, then I will not shoot for test/TFP.

4. Do not agree to shoot with everyone that has a camera. Be selective. You have to consider yourself as a product. The less it is produced, the higher the value/demand.

5. Never and I will repeat…NEVER flake (no-show) on a photographer! If you cannot make the shoot as scheduled, notify them as early as you can and be honest. Lying about a “death in the family” or any other lame excuse is played…photographers have heard them all plus there is social media available for them to confirm your story. Photographers go through a considerate amount of work to prepare for a shoot. Do not waste their time because there may not be a “next time” and it is likely they will tell another photographer about you. Photographers refer models to other photographers and they also share their bad experiences.

As a model, you are selling your body so you must know your body. I know how I stated it sounds illegal but essentially it is what it is. So, with that said, you must know your facial expressions and your angles. Modeling is not about just standing in front of a camera doing poses that you think are good. It is about knowing how you look doing the poses. Stand in front of a mirror and practice. If you don’t look good in that pose, don’t try it in front of a camera. Practice making facial expressions in the mirror…if you can, record yourself with a webcam and then review it. Take notes on what you did that was different (in a good way) and what to avoid.

Modeling isn’t just about a “pretty face”. Many times it is about what makes you different from the others…it could be cheekbones, large lips, small lips, freckles, hair, jawline, neckline, eyes, long legs, etc. Ask yourself, “What features do I have that are different?” It could be something you were teased about as a child. That feature is your asset…learn to sell it!

I hope you found these tips helpful and check back for more in the near future. My next post will be about the different types of modeling and how I got signed with an agency. Until then……Stay Focused! ~ Charlisha Renata


Here’s the link to continue reading this series: Becoming a model -Part 2