Why good photos are important

Your photos are your selling point. They are your only chance to make a great first photographic impression. A viewer will make judgments about your personality, your professionalism, your eye for detail, and your level of expertise based on what they see in your photos.

It doesn’t matter if you have 5 years of modeling experience if that experience isn’t reflected in your photographs. Conversely, you can have very little or no modeling experience, but if your photographs have “wow factor”, people will be more likely to want to work with you.

So you owe it to yourself to only put up your very best. Less is more.

When you’re first starting out (and from that point on!), good photography is important. It baffles me to see what some models use to market themselves. Just a quick scan of many of the portfolios on modeling sites, such as Model Mayhem or OneModelPlace, will reveal an abundance of poorly lit, poorly exposed, uncropped, out-of-focus, and badly composed photos. Photos that would look bad in a photo album, let alone a model’s portfolio!

If you were an agent or a model scout looking for talent, who would you pick, the aspiring model with mediocre photos or the model whose images really catch your eye?

Putting “snapshots” in a gallery online and calling it a “portfolio” does not make you a model. Be critical. Get good photos. Avoid representing yourself with photos that do not accurately reflect your potential and level of expertise.

Variety is important in a portfolio. When creating a portfolio, the photographer you work with should be willing to think outside the box. The last thing you need are photos that make you look exactly like everyone else. I have seen so many photos taken by photographers where the model doesn’t really matter at all in the photo. She’s just filling a space. It could be anyone. You want to create photos that show you, your diversity, and what you are capable of. If it’s been done before, trying to do it differently will help.

I’ve seen a number of models fall into the trap of “Since I worked with a professional, his photos must be good”. Not true. It is true that working with a professional photographer will absolutely increase your chances of getting some decent photographs. However, it is only the best of the best of these photos you should use. No photographer gets an outstanding photo with every click.

Even when all is said and done, there is absolutely no guarantee that good photos will create demand for you. However, bad photos can be damaging to your career and aspirations.

Modeling as a business. Why you should invest in yourself.

If your business is to be a model, then you will need to put in the time, money, and effort in order to be successful. Modeling is work and business is an investment. If this means having to pay a photographer to in order to get attention grabbing photos, then it is something you should absolutely consider.

Starting out in modeling does not have to cost you a lot. However, it pays to be selective about who you work with. As with any investment, it is important to think long-term and to plan out the steps of your career carefully. And in many cases, it pays to pay. And it pays to be prepared.

Try to associate yourself from the start with those people who can help you advance in your career. Who you know and work with in this industry can be just as important as what you know and what you do. Collaborate with people who can make a difference in your future. And continue to do so!

You will need a strong portfolio (which is built up by working with strong photographers). The more experience you gain as a model and the better your portfolio looks, the more legitimate and more seriously you will be taken by clients and photographers.

Only the strong models survive.

If you are serious about progressing your career, modeling will be hard work. Many jobs will be fun, but some will also involve working in difficult conditions (cold, wet, etc), wearing uncomfortable outfits, or holding uncomfortable poses for significant periods of time.

Persistence is important. Being a model will typically mean having to deal with rejection and criticism (not all of which will be constructive). You may be told you are too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, too fit, too out of shape, don’t have the right look, are not intense enough, are too intense, are not relaxed enough, etc. The point it, you may be criticized in any number of ways depending on who you are working with and what their needs are. It is important that you develop a positive means to be able to deal with criticism.

Dealing with the difficulties associated with modeling will often lead many models to give up before they’ve really given modeling a chance. If it was truly that easy to make a living at modeling, then everyone would do it. As with any career, the rewards of success can be great, but you generally have to earn them.

Why modeling involves more than just good looks.

You are unique. Just like everyone else.

Many aspiring models feel that because they are “beautiful”, photographers will line up to take their photos. In some rare instances, this might actually be true. But at the same time, you need to position yourself in a way that advances your career and uses all of your available resources to your advantage.

I’ve worked with numerous models that are substantially more attractive than major successes like Brittany Spears or Paris Hilton. So why aren’t they also huge successes? Because being extremely successful in this industry generally involves more than just good looks.

It is important to recognize that there are thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of aspiring models out there and they’re all seeking work. If you are serious about advancing your career, then it is important that you take steps to distance yourself from the pack and give yourself every advantage you can over the countless others all seeking the same things.

Don’t settle for situations where working with someone will not benefit your portfolio or your career. And by all means, if you’re at all serious about modeling as a career or a potential source of income, be extremely discriminant about the photos you use in your portfolio. I will say this repeatedly in these pages, your portfolio is not a scrapbook.

With that said, a career in modeling usually requires a model to start from the bottom and work her way up. This means that not all jobs will be glamourous or high paying. And sometimes the best opportunities in your career will barely seem like opportunities at all. It is important to consider all opportunities very carefully. And if you’re already accustomed to getting paid for your time, it is important to consider when collaborating with a photographer for “free” may be worth more than any monetary reimbursement for time.

For example, photographers may sometimes work on creative projects that don’t involve compensating the participants. Yet the results from such a project could end up being worth their weight in gold and one of the highlights of your portfolio. A single photo could get you exposure leading to countless more paid opportunities.

Don’t be a flaky model. Why your reputation is important.

Just as it is important to consider who you work with, it is also important to take every aspect of your reputation seriously. Every time you work with someone, you are building onto your reputation. The impression you leave those you work with can have a potentially significant impact on your career. You will typically get much farther and progress much faster if you have a reputation that works for you, rather than have one that may be questionable.

Don’t be flaky. If you schedule a shoot with a photographer, don’t cancel at the last minute. Last minute cancellations are often done at great expense to the photographer who gave up valuable time to schedule working with you. When you cancel unexpectedly, it means that regardless of whether the photographer was paying you or getting paid, productivity is lost and that time is wasted. Photographers will often not work with a model again if she cancels a shoot without sufficient notice.