Models pose for artists, photographers, and other clients to help advertise products.
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Models typically do the following:
- Display clothing and merchandise in print and online advertisements
- Promote products and services in television commercials
- Wear designers’ clothing for runway fashion shows
- Represent companies and brands at conventions, trade shows, and other events
- Pose for photos, paintings, or sculptures
- Work closely with photographers, hair and clothing stylists, makeup artists, and clients to produce the desired look
- Create and maintain a portfolio of their work
- Travel to meet and interview potential clients
- Conduct research on the product being promoted—for example, the designer or type of clothing fabric
- Answer questions from consumers about the products
Almost all models sign with modeling agencies. Agencies represent and promote a model to clients in return for a portion of the model’s earnings. Models typically apply for a position with an agency by submitting their photographs through its website or by attending open casting calls and meeting with agents directly.
Models must research an agency before signing, in order to ensure that the agency has a good reputation in the modeling industry. For information on agencies, models should contact a local consumer affairs organization, such as the Better Business Bureau.
Some freelance models do not sign with agencies. Instead, they market themselves to potential clients and apply for modeling jobs directly. However, because most clients prefer to work with agents, it is difficult for new models to pursue a freelance career.
Models must put together and maintain up-to-date portfolios and composite cards. A portfolio is a collection of a model’s previous work. A composite card contains the best photographs from a model’s portfolio, along with his or her body measurements. Both portfolios and composite cards are typically taken to all casting calls and client auditions.
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 sizes are respectively smaller and larger than that worn by the typical model. Models who are disabled may be used to model fashions or products for consumers with disabilities. “Parts” models have a body part, such as a hand or foot, particularly well suited to model products such as nail polish or shoes.
Models appear in different types of media to promote a product or service. Models advertise products and merchandise in magazine or newspaper advertisements, department store catalogs, or television commercials. Increasingly, models are appearing in online ads or on retail websites. Models also pose for sketch artists, painters, and sculptors.
Models often participate in photo shoots and 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 also display clothes and merchandise live in different situations. At fashion shows, models stand, turn, and walk to show off clothing to an audience of photographers, journalists, designers, and garment buyers. Other clients may require models to interact directly with customers. In retail establishments and department stores, models display clothing directly to shoppers and describe the features and prices of the merchandise. At trade shows or conventions, models show off a business’ products and provide information to consumers. These models may work alongside demonstrators and product promoters to help advertise and sell merchandise.
Models often prepare for photo shoots or fashion shows by having their hair and makeup was done by professionals in those industries. The hairstylists and makeup artists may touch up the model’s hair and makeup and change the model’s look throughout the event. However, models are sometimes responsible for applying their own makeup and bringing their own clothing.
Discipline. A model’s career depends on the person’s maintaining his or her physical characteristics. 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.
Interpersonal skills. Models must interact with a large number of people, such as agents, photographers, and customers. It is important to be polite, professional, prompt, and respectful.
Listening skills. Models must take direction from photographers and clients during photo shoots and commercials.
Organizational skills. Models must manage their portfolios and their work and travel schedules.
Persistence. Competition for jobs is strong, and most clients have specific needs for each job, so patience and persistence are essential.
Photogenic. Models spend most of their time being photographed. They must be comfortable in front of a camera in order for photographers to capture the desired look.
Style. Models must have a basic knowledge of hair styling, makeup, and clothing. For photographic and runway work, models must move gracefully and confidently.
- Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private
- Junior colleges; state, local, and private
- Self-employed workers
There are no formal educational credentials required to become a model. Most modeling agencies allow applicants to email photos directly to the agency. The agency will then contact and interview prospective models who show potential. Many agencies also have “open calls,” whereby aspiring models can walk into an agency during a specified time and meet directly with agents and clients.
Some aspiring models may attend modeling schools that provide training in posing, walking, applying makeup, and other basic tasks. Although some models are discovered when agents scout for “fresh faces” at modeling schools, attending such schools does not necessarily lead to job opportunities.