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What makes a successful model?

Modeling / Photoshoots / August 30, 2009

It’s interesting to be on the other side of the lens and experience what it’s like to be the photographer who is in control of the show. Since my preference is to take editorial-fashion-glamour-beauty images rather than inanimate objects, I find myself being very selective with whom I work with to test and then later whom I would call on when I am looking for models for work.

If you are/want to be a model, here’s some things to keep in mind as you go on shoots:

Don’t be pushy. This show is not about YOU and I know how easy it is to get self centered in this business. Be considerate and polite to everyone involved on the shoot, this is your reputation and us photographers remember who the easy going people are. No one wants to work with a Diva. People may give you compliments all of the time because you have some nice pictures but photographers see nice pictures every day. What will make you stand out is your personality.

Be in good shape. As an agency model you should be aware of this since you will need to fit standard size clothing. This point does not escape freelance models either though! I’ve been lucky that all of the models that I have worked with have resembled their model portfolio online however I know other photographers who have had models that showed up and didn’t look a thing like their pictures. C’mon people… if you understand that this is a no-no for online dating, why would you try to do this to book a job?

Keep your word. You’re word is your reputation so honor your commitments. If you said that you are confirmed for a shoot, show up or give a decent advance notice (>24 hours) so that no one wastes their time. Flakes never get a second opportunity.

Know your boundaries yet don’t be timid. If you are uncomfortable with your body, modeling is probably not the best choice for you. You don’t have to do nudity if you don’t want to (like myself) but the main problem with being self conscious is that it comes across on camera. At the end of the day, I can photoshop nearly everything EXCEPT a facial expression. If you got fear in your eyes, it shows.

Study pictures within your genre. Like any profession, you need to study in order to make yourself better. I often go onto Model Mayhem and study other people’s pictures to understand why it was so eye catching in the first place. The posing, expression, fashion, lighting, ambience, post processing. Your body is part of your expression so learn new poses and expressions. A model is essentially an actor on film. Everytime I do a shoot I try to convey myself accordingly using techniques such as making intensity in the eyes, holding my mouth a certain way, understanding head and body positioning relative to the camera, suck it in, stick it out, etc.

Network like hell. As you can see from what I’ve written above, this is hugely about reputation. Get out there and meet people in the industry, be friendly, socialize online in the modeling community with other models/photographers, keep your agency up to date on your activities (“out of sight, out of mind” adage). Keep all of the pictures in your modeling portfolio fresh aka < 1 year old.

Do test shoots with many other photographers to practice. Get different styles in your book and you always learn as you work with others. Everyone has a different style and it’s good for you. Remember, all you need is one good pic from each shoot for your book.

Natalie Minh

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Bodypaint - Photography: Natalie Minh Brussels, BELGIUM  

August 30, 2009
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