What does a Model do?

What is a Model?

Models pose for artists, photographers, or customers to help advertise a variety of products, including clothing, cosmetics, food, and appliances.

What does a Model do?

Many modeling jobs are for printed publications, such as magazine covers and articles or magazine, newspaper, catalogue, billboard, and online advertisements. Print models participate in photo shoots, in which they pose for photographers to show off the features of clothing and other products. Models change their posture and facial expressions to capture the look the client wants. The photographer usually takes many pictures of the model in different poses and expressions during the photo shoot.

Models typically do the following:

  • Pose for artists taking photos or creating paintings or sculptures
  • Promote products in commercials
  • Display clothing, such as dresses, coats, underclothing, swimwear, and suits, for a variety of audiences and in various media
  • Display accessories, such as handbags, shoes, and jewelry,
  • Promote beauty products, including fragrances and cosmetics
  • Work closely with photographers, hair and clothing stylists, makeup artists, and clients to produce a desired look
  • Wear designers' clothing for runway fashion shows
  • Create and maintain a portfolio of their work
  • Travel to meet and interview with potential clients
  • Conduct research on the product being promoted—for example, the designer or type of fabric of a particular article of clothing.

Models also pose live in a variety of locations. At fashion shows, models stand, turn, and walk to show off clothing to an audience of photographers, journalists, designers, and garment buyers. In retail establishments and department stores, they display clothing directly for shoppers and may be required to describe the features and prices of the clothing. Other models pose for sketch artists, painters, and sculptors.

Almost all models work with agents, who provide a link between them and clients. Clients often prefer to work with agents, which makes it very difficult for a model to pursue a freelance career. Agents look for “fresh faces,” advise and train models, and promote them to clients in return for a portion of the model’s earnings. Models may also work with hair stylists and makeup artists to prepare for photo shoots or fashion shows. The stylist and makeup artist may touch up the model's hair and makeup and change the model's look throughout the event. Models might sometimes be responsible for applying their own makeup and bringing their own clothing.

Models spend a considerable amount of time promoting themselves by putting together and maintaining portfolios, printing composite cards, and travelling to meet potential clients. A portfolio is a collection of a model's previous work and is carried to all client meetings and bookings. A composite card contains the best photographs from a model's portfolio, along with his or her measurements.

Because advertisers often need to target specific segments of the population, models may specialize in a certain area. For example, petite and plus-size fashions are modeled by women whose size is, respectively, smaller and larger than that worn by the typical model. “Parts” models have a body part, such as a hand or foot, particularly well suited to model products such as fingernail polish or shoes.

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How to become a Model

No formal education is required and training is limited. Specific requirements depend on the client, but most models must be within certain ranges for height, weight, and clothing size to meet the needs of fashion designers, photographers, and advertisers. Some aspiring models attend modeling schools that provide training in posing, walking, applying makeup, and other basic tasks. Attending such schools, however, does not necessarily lead to job opportunities. Some models are discovered when agents scout for “fresh faces” at modeling schools, but most agencies have “open calls” and allow applicants to email photos directly to the agency. Models who are well liked are then invited to be interviewed and seen in person by an agent. Some agencies sponsor modeling contests and searches.

Because models' advancement depends on their previous work, maintaining a good portfolio of high–quality, up-to-date photographs is important to getting assignments. Models advance by working more regularly and being selected for assignments that have higher pay. They may appear in magazines, print campaigns, commercials, or runway shows with higher profiles. They may work with clients who will provide them with more widespread exposure. A model's selection of an agency is an important factor for advancement in the occupation: the better the reputation and skill of the agency, the more assignments a model is likely to get.

Specific requirements depend on the client, but most models must be within certain ranges for height, weight, and clothing size to meet the needs of fashion designers, photographers, and advertisers. Requirements may change slightly from time to time, along with common public perceptions of physical beauty.

Models must interact with a large number of people, so it is important to be polite, professional, prompt, and respectful. A model's career depends on the preservation of his or her physical characteristics, so models must control their diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep to stay healthy and photogenic. Haircuts, pedicures, and manicures are necessary work-related expenses.

Models must be able to manage their portfolios and their work and travel schedules. Competition for jobs is strong and clients' needs are specific, so patience and persistence are essential. Models spend most of their time being photographed. They must be comfortable in front of a camera for photographers to capture the desired look. Models must have a basic knowledge of hair styling, makeup, and clothing. For photographic and runway work, models must be able to move gracefully and confidently.

What is the workplace of a Model like?

Models work in a variety of conditions, from comfortable studios and runway fashion shows to outdoors in all weather conditions. Schedules can be demanding and stressful, although some models may enjoy the frequent travel to meet clients in different cities. Many models work part time, often with unpredictable work schedules. They must be ready at a moment’s notice to attend photo shoots or shows. Most models have periods of unemployment.