How to Become a Model
How to Become a Model
The word “model” brings to mind a gorgeous woman, thin as a rail, wearing the finest high-fashion clothes and stomping her way confidently down a runway. But fashion models, also known as runway models, are hardly the only types of working models. There are “editorial models” who display clothing and looks for articles in fashion magazines, “catalog models” who wear clothes for sale displays in catalogs, “print models” who take photographs for print advertising, and dozens of different subcategories of modeling. The type of modeling a person does depends on their body type, experience, and “look.”
Interested in becoming a model? This quick guide to the career of a model will help explain what it takes to become a model and the ins and outs of the modeling industry.
Model Salaries – How Much Do Models Get Paid?
The modeling industry is famously very secretive about model salaries. Models are like actors–they work for agencies which help book jobs and advertise the model’s services. Many models hardly ever “see” their money; after travel expenses, hotel room fees, and meals (yes, models do have to eat) there’s little left over for young and inexperienced models. Their biggest “salary” is getting exposure from being in a top of the line magazine, runway show, or photo shoot.
A model’s salary also depends on the type of modeling they do and their name recognition. If Tyra Banks does a thirty-minute photo shoot, she’s guaranteed to make more money than Jane Smith who’s never worked as a model before.
Despite all the unknowns, a good range of pay for an inexperienced model on a magazine shoot (with a top notch magazine) is between $250 and $500 an hour. Lesser known magazines will pay less than half that figure. Different modeling agencies pay different rates.
As for runway shows, the salary goes up. It is more difficult to “land” a job on a runway show, so the pay is more exclusive. A model just starting out who manages to book a runway show can expect about $300-$500 an hour.
The days of the billionaire supermodel are long gone, but there are still a handful of “top models” making millions of dollars a year doing little more than looking pretty. Gisele Bundchen is the top-earning model these days, with $33 million in salary in the last year. The second-highest paid model is Kate Moss, whose $9 million in income is nothing to sneeze at.
How do they do it? In Gisele Bundchen’s case, she works her butt off. She’s part of 20 different campaigns and her name is licensed to a German shoe manufacturer. Kate Moss has a similarly full schedule, though some of her campaigns are ending thanks to that old enemy of the modeling business: getting older.
What Kind of Training Does a Model Need?
Modeling doesn’t require formalized education or training of any kind. Experience modeling is its own school. Modeling agencies are looking for specific things when they hire models, and each agency has their own set of criteria.
There are any number of “modeling classes” and “modeling schools” around the country designed to teach models how to walk, how to wear high fashion clothing, and other aspects of the modeling career. These classes are not necessary–modeling agencies will train a new hire to walk and look the way that agency wants anyway, so wasting time and money on modeling classes isn’t advised.
Successful models are those that can take criticism and listen to advice from their agency about how to walk, how to act, and how to pose and be photographed. Every modeling agency has their own way of training models and their own set of standards to teach, so becoming a model is more about being willing to change and adapt to the agency that hires you.
That doesn’t mean that models shouldn’t prepare. Taking classes in “interviewing” or even dance will help develop the skills necessary to make a modeling agency stand up and take notice. Regular exercise keeps the body toned and in shape–well-developed legs will help a model stay on their feet for the 18-20 hours a day it sometimes takes to get a job done. Learning how to behave in an interview will help an aspiring model land more jobs.
Finding Model Jobs
Models get hired by agencies in different ways. There are dozens of online modeling sites where wannabe models upload photographs and other information about themselves hoping to attract the attention of modeling agents and casting directors, but for the most part the work available at these sites is on the cheap side–shopping mall fashion shows and bit parts in B-list horror movies.
The only guaranteed way to find work as a model is to walk into the office of a modeling agency and get yourself noticed. This is called “the old-fashioned way,” and it is still the best way for a young model to get a job.
Before you plunk down $30 on an eBook that promises to teach you “how to get discovered,” realize that most models did it the hard way first. Taking modeling jobs for no pay in crappy shows that had about a 1% chance of getting them noticed by a modeling agency. Other people hit the streets of LA and New York, talking to casting directors and modeling agents, handing out portfolio shots to anyone who would look at them.
Getting work as a model is similar to finding work as an actor. In the beginning, you may have to take low-paying work in roles you don’t like in an attempt to be discovered by someone high up enough to give you a job as a runway model. Models work their way up over time, and must be confident and smart, not just sexy and sassy.
Becoming a model is a long and difficult road. The pay is often low and the jobs difficult. These days, “supermodels” who don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day simply don’t exist. In the year 2011, you have to work hard to become a model, and you shouldn’t expect to be the next Christie Brinkley. They just don’t make models like that anymore.