Take it with a grain of salt, because what do I know? Really.
A lot of young girls have been reaching out to me on Instagram recently asking me for advice on how to become a model. My advice may not be what they’re expecting, it is what I have to give.
As a new model, get in front of the camera as much as you can. But when you do, make sure that you are true to your self while you are there. We have Iskra Lawerence and Ashley Graham tearing down stereotypes and trailblazing for models all over the world so that when young girls like you get in front of the camera, you can be unapologetically yourself and demand that the world find what is beautiful about you. You are there to exist in front of that camera and the photographer is there to capture what you do with your time there. Be beautiful by being YOU.
Set your boundaries before you even start modeling. For me, my boundary is the difference between celebrating my sexuality and exploiting it. What does that mean? I decide before the shoot when the mood board is created. Certain poses give certain vibes and that is in my control. If a photographer gives you a direction that you aren’t comfortable with, don’t do it. Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable and feel like you should leave, leave. I have walked out on a shoot once in my time as a model, and I am happy I did. Respecting yourself is your number one priority! Do not stay for fear you may lose future “opportunities.” YOU are the opportunity. Know that and own it.
I’ve worked with dozens of photographers. 99% of them are wonderful people. But there is that 1% that you need to steer clear of. Do not go to your shoots alone until you know your photographer well. I typically bring in my own make up artist or a person to assist with lighting, ect. If a photographer you don’t know has an issue with you bringing your parent, boyfriend, friend, aunt, sister, who ever, then you don’t want to shoot with them.
If you are modeling just for fun, stop reading here. The rest is business advice. What works for me may not work for you.
Find an agency. Love your agent. They are there to help you build your empire. They are there to have the tough conversations for you, so that you can show up to set and be a ray of sunshine for the client. If an agency “requires” you to take a class or purchase certain photos, they are not legitimate. An agent does not get any money unless you do.
I have received hardly any paid modeling work on my own. 99% of the time small businesses do not want to pay you. You’ll hear a lot about “exposure," “being on the website," "professional tear sheets" but at the end of the day if someone is making money off your face, you deserve to be compensated for that. When you're just starting out, its not a bad idea to do the freebies to get some credits on your resume, but once you have that you've exhausted what is useful about a free photo shoot. Let the girl from craigslist do the free e-commerce shoot. At the end of the day, you are a business, and you can’t pay your rent with nice photographs, or shove that free t-shirt into your gas tank and hope it runs.
It is better to be over prepared than under prepared. I take my “set bag” with my modeling essentials to every shoot. There is a check list below. But what is more important than the things you bring, is remembering why you are there. You’re there to get the hero shot. You are not there to complain, or to talk about other work that you’ve done, or to chat up anyone who works there OR be on your cell phone. Seriously, don't be on your phone. Our job is to work with the photographer get the hero shot for the client. Do what you need to do to make that happen.
What’s in my model bag:
Nude under garments that match my skin tone
Straws (your make up artist will thank you)
Portable hand held steamer (saves the day all the time)
I also have a retractable and foldable clothing rack that I keep in my car. It came in handy a few times, but MOST of the time, there is someone on set who will have most of these things for you. But if they don’t, its better you have them then go without.
Oh and I almost forgot to tell you, modeling isn’t glamourous. You’ll get the occasional “too goo to be true, but it is true” gig. But, be prepared to be really poor. Contrary to popular belief, models do not make a ton of money, especially at first, you'll need another job. It took me two years to be able to go full time.
Also, most of the time you’ll be in the warmest, coziest, cuddliest knit sweater on the most humid day of summer, spring essentials out in the dead of winter, a swim suit in a freezing cold pool. Don’t worry about your hands turning purple from freezing to death because they can photo shop that out. Remember, don't complain.
Speaking of photo shop, they are making leaps and bounds against the horrible parts of photo shop. Do not take it to heart when they change your face or your body for their shot. You are beautiful and one day, they’ll stop that nonsense.
Don't forget to HAVE FUN! Modeling is fun and connecting with other artists is what it is all about. If you love what you are doing it will shine through in the quality of your work. If you feel compelled to jump in front of the camera and create something, do it. It is ALWAYS better to create.
Always good vibes,