Whether your interest is in runway, commercial print, or high-fashion modeling, the industry is still centered around photography. To market yourself to the best agencies and prospective clients, you MUST have the following:
1) A portfolio, a collection of pictures that best represent your quality as a model and show what you offer a prospective client, displaying versatility as much as physical attractiveness.
Early in your modeling career your portfolio will consist almost entirely of photographs taken from test shoots—photo shoots with professional photographers that you set up specifically to get photographs for your portfolio.
Even top models constantly upgrade and update their portfolios. As you progress through your career, you’ll replace some of your test photos with examples of actual work, typically from magazines, called tear sheets. The best portfolios offer a selection of both test photos and tear sheets.
2) Composite cards,or “comps”, are your business card. They’re typically 5½” x 8½” cards printed with a headshot on the front and several of your best pictures, your measurements, and your agency information on the back. The image quality should be the best that you can afford, but digital photography and printing technology makes composite cards much less expensive than they used to be. Even more convenient is that many agencies now use the internet for this. It is more simple to upload a models photos and measurements to a modeling database and send this directly to interested clients. It is easier for the clients as well for they can scope out the agencies talent on any computer. Though, agencies will still charge a fee for this.
Your agencies will need copies of your comp to promote you and suggest you to clients. When you go to a casting, you’ll be expected to show the prospective client your portfolio, and then to leave a composite card to remember you by.
3) Developed modeling skill set. Modeling is far more than just the way you look. Modeling involves a specific set of skills that you need to develop to achieve success.
These skills include knowing exactly how you photograph best (finding your most marketable face and body angles), knowing how to move and convey different expressions and emotions in front of a camera (how to “work the camera” and not appear “stiff”), understanding self-styling and all the nuances that make for a great model, as well as knowing how to walk a runway like a runway model.
There is a huge difference between an experienced model that has these skills and an inexperienced model that does not – even if they share a similar look. Clients pay top dollar for models that know what they are doing – and will often show contempt for a model that doesn’t (as well as the agency that promoted them).
If you dream of agency representation with the best agencies in the most lucrative world markets, or if you hope for repeat business with any client, you’ll need these skills at a world-class level.
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