What is a Model?

Also known as: Art Model, Plus-Size Model, Pin-Up Model, Parts Model, Fitness Model, Petite Model, Spokesmodel, Promotional Model, Promo Model, Glamour Model, Print Model, Commercial Model, Runway Model, Catalog Model, Fashion Catalog Model, Editorial Fashion Model, Fashion Model, Figure Model.

Models pose for artists, photographers, or customers to help advertise a variety of products, including clothing, cosmetics, food, and appliances. Having the right look and talent is inherited genetically. The other part of modeling is knowing what to do, how to market yourself, and deliver what the client needs. Professional models constantly look good in front of a camera, show the expression(s) needed on cue, show up on time, and make the shoot go quickly, efficiently, and successfully. The part after the genetics is what makes a professional model and leads to a career in modeling.

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What does a Model do?

Models are hired by companies to advertise their clothing or product by way of magazines, television, newspapers, catalogues, billboards, and online. Print models participate in photo shoots, in which they pose for photographers. Models change their posture and facial expressions to capture the look the client wants. The photographer usually takes hundreds of pictures of the model in different poses and expressions during the photo shoot.

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.

Models typically do the following:

  • Pose for artists that are 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

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 modelled 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.

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. The models who are picked 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.

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 basic knowledge of hair styling, makeup, and clothing. For photographic and runway work, models must be able to move gracefully and confidently.

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Further Reading

  • Types Of Modeling – Modeling Industry Genres And Categories

    Here we will describe the many types of modeling you will find in the modeling industry. Some models only fit into one category, while another model may fit into multiple. With that in mind, here are the modeling categories at a glance...

  • What It Takes To Be A Plus Sized Model

    Hour Glass… Curvaceous… Zaftig women can make over $200,000 in the plus sized modeling business. That's a whole lot of dough - so to get started, here's what you need to know…

  • The 10 Things You Didn't Know About Being A Model

    Have you ever wondered what it's really like being a model? We got the lowdown from model and writer Rachel Woods – and you won't believe what she had to say…

  • New Models

    Where to start when taking your first modeling steps...

  • How To Be A Model: A Guide

    There is always someone who wants to be the next Kate or Naomi, but despite what the movies tell us, becoming a model isn’t just about being tall and beautiful. It’s about having the uniqueness, talent and drive to back up those looks.

  • Modeling For Girls

    So you want to be a model? Do you have what it takes? Many pretty-in-person girls make terrible models and sometimes the plain Janes just take your breath away on film. It takes much more than just a pretty face and a slim figure to make it as a mainstream model.

  • What Models Really Get Paid For NYFW (Spoiler: Not What You'd Guess)

    We've all heard about the insane salaries pulled in year after year by the world's biggest supermodels — the figures can be truly jaw-dropping. But when you get down to it, not everybody is making big bucks like Gisele.

  • Real Talk: How Much Models Actually Get Paid

    In reality, most models spend their days schlepping to casting after casting, usually being rejected from each one. They live in model apartments with three other girls, and celery is for dinner only because they can’t afford much else. How do I know? I’m a model myself.

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