The wise girl’s guide to modeling

If you search for books on modeling you will find very little, and certainly almost none written by active models, so seeing that gap in the market, I decided to write “The wise girl’s guide to modelling” based on my own recent experiences. Every day, hundreds of wannabe models put up profiles on modeling sites. Most have been encouraged by friends and family who’ve often said “You should be a model,” and most think that the work will flood in. But it’s not that easy. In the first few days, they are besieged with offers of work in exchange for images, and often persuaded that this is the only way they are going to build up a portfolio, and thus get paid work, but within a couple of months, most have given up. The paid work just doesn’t materialize because what the new model doesn’t realize is that modeling is about much more than just having a pretty face and a shapely figure. It requires a set of intrinsic skills which need to be acquired and practiced, and the freelance model also needs to learn how to market herself.

Fawna Latrisch
Model: Fawna Latrisch

My book is already a best-seller, and is highly rated on both the UK and US Amazon sites. I’m nineteen, have been modeling for two years, and am very successful. I do over three hundred paid shoots a year and have traveled to shoots all over Europe (I’m based in the UK).

It aims to cover all the main issues facing a new model, including: What kind of modeling should a new model do, choosing a modeling website, what to put in a profile and how to manage it, TFP/TFCD/Collaboration, how to arrange and prepare for a shoot, how to conduct oneself at a shoot, how to pose, shooting at home and away, chaperones, types of photographers, what to do after a shoot, applying to agencies, and constructing a personal website.

Much to my surprise, the book is proving even more popular with photographers than with models, and most of the feedback on the Amazon site has been written by experienced photographers who have found the book useful.

I’ve just signed a contract with a publisher to bring out a bigger version next year, so I’m hoping that both models and photographers who read the book will write to me with suggestions for additional content.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be providing excerpts from my book. Here’s the first part.

What do you put in your profile?

Don’t lie about your stats: Each website has its own lay-out for uploading your profile which enables you to put in basic information like your age and measurements. It’s VITAL that you don’t lie about your measurements because if you turn up to a shoot and the  photographer was expecting you to be 5’6” and size 6, but you’re 5’2” and size 12, he will  rightly show you the door. Mention any tattoos and piercings – some photographers hate them, but they are fine for things like alternative and fetish shoots. Also declare any large scars or birth marks you might have. Telling the truth at the outset might lose you some work, but concealing the truth certainly will. Mention also the levels (topless, art nude, etc.) you are comfortable doing.

Check your spelling and grammar

There is also usually space for you to say a little more about yourself. Take your time with this. Put yourself in the position of someone reading it, and try to see how you come across. Make sure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes – you don’t want to appear thick or uneducated. If you’re not quite sure what to say, look at some other profiles. On mine, I stress that I am professional in attitude – punctual, efficient, hard-working, etc., and that I try to give good value for money. This is what someone who is going to pay you money wants to know. They won’t book you if they think you are sloppy and disorganized.

Quote your rates

You might wish to mention your rates, and whether you give discounts for half or whole days – most models do – so decide what you want to charge for each level. Again, look around to see what others are charging. You can see my rates if you go to my website: Mention, also, whether you would expect to get traveling expenses for away shoots.

Take some truthful photos

Most important of all is to upload some good photos, because no one will look at a profile which doesn’t have them. To start with, it doesn’t matter how technically good the photos are – with the help of a friend and a decent camera, or even using a mirror for a self-portrait, but make sure they show your face clearly from front and side views, and also several different views of your figure.

Keep the camera low

If a friend is taking your photos, tell them to take full length photos from waist height or lower because this shows your body in proper proportion. (If a tall friend takes a photo of you looking downwards, it will make you look very short!) It’s good to have a headshot or two, and a full length in a bikini or lingerie, even if you only want to shoot fashion, because a photographer wants to see your true body shape before booking. It can also help to establish which styles of clothing suit your body shape. Once you’ve had a few shoots, you can start to add better photos. If you do any “collaboration” or “TF” shoots, the photographers should give you a selection of fully-finished photos. Even for paid shoots, most photographers are happy to hand over a few, but make sure you give credit to the photographer when you upload the photos onto your profile.

What happens after you put a profile on a modeling website?             

Don’t just sit back: Within minutes of putting up your first profile, you will almost certainly get a lot of messages… to start with. But they soon die away unless you are serious about wanting to model, and have a business-like manner. It’s no good just expecting the work to come to you – it won’t. Being a model involves a LOT of hard work. Looking good is just a starting point – you also need good computer skills, to be well-organized, literate, hard-working, punctual, full of energy, and ambitious. If you don’t have those qualities, then you might as well give up before you start, because modeling is fiercely competitive. Only a tiny fraction of new models who arrive on the websites are still doing it six months down the line.

How to manage your profile                

Be pro-active: You really need to check your profile every single day, maybe even many times a day if possible. Photographers will soon lose interest in you if you don’t reply promptly. You need to be proactive. All the sites have several means of communication, other than messages. These include friendship requests, photo comments, listings, tagging, and followings, and you usually get notification by email when someone has communicated in this way. I ALWAYS respond to these, even though they are not direct forms of communication. If someone comments on one of my photos, lists it, asks me to be a friend, or adds me to a list of profiles they are “following,” I write immediately to the photographers, thanking them for their interest, and asking if they would like to book a shoot. It’s called marketing yourself. It’s not exactly cold-calling, because they made the initial move, but it’s the way to generate business. More often than not, they will reply, saying they’d like to book you, or will book you when they have the cash, or are next in your area. It’s how I get most of my work.

Finding work

Another way of getting people interested is to post casting calls, travel and availability notices. These are ads, telling people you are available on a certain date or time, and saying what you are offering, and for how much. These ads arrive in the email boxes of photographers who may not have noticed you before, so they draw attention to your profile.

If you’ve enjoyed this excerpt, please do buy the whole book. It’s only £2.05/$3.00, about the price of a coffee, and is tax deductible!

Fawna Latrisch

Fawna is a UK based professional model. She has been published internationally and worked in many countries, including Portugal, Spain, France, Isle of Man, Thailand, Mauritius and Madagascar. Fawna studied fashion and makeup and is now pursuing a photography degree. Her first book, "The wise girl's guide to modelling," is on sale now.

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