1. What type of model do you want to be?
Plus-Size Fashion Model
Plus-size fashion models must be tall (5’7 to 6’0). Beware! While there are some very successful fashion models in the 5’7 height range, the industry tends to lean more towards models 5’8 to 6″0.
Plus-size fashion models must also be young. The industry standard age range for plus-size fashion models is usually between 13 years and 25 years old. Agents prefer that plus-size fashion models launch their careers in early teen years in order to compete with the high fashion international marketplace.
Plus-Size Commercial Model
Plus-size commercial models are of average or petite height. They must also be well proportioned, average height and average plus-size (8 Missy to 32w). Please keep in mind, however, that most plus-size commercial print models are at least 5’6. There are no strict requirements regarding age.
*All models, regardless of what category they fall into, need to have great skin, hair and teeth. They must be photogenic and their bodies toned. You have to look good in print as well as in person.
2. After you determine which category you fit into, start calling agencies. Locate those agencies in your local area or in the nearest large city. Call them and ask for the height and age requirements for their fashion and commercial print division. Many agencies have a submissions tab on their website that will provide you with this information as well.
At this time you will be asked to submit photos with your “stats” and contact information. Your stats are essentially your measurements including age, weight, height, bust, waist, inseam, hip, shoe, eye color, hair color. Male models stats should include height, weight, age, jacket size, neck, sleeve, waist and inseam. You will also include you name, telephone number and email address.
Some agencies accept submissions via postal mail only. When mailing your submission always include a self addressed stamped envelope. This is how the agency will reply to you. When you call for submission details ask the agency if they accept email submissions. You may be able to email your submission instead. You will also want to ask the agency to whom you should address your submission. Larger agencies will direct you to their new faces division. Some smaller agencies may direct you to a specific agent.
Most agencies hold “open call” days. These are specific dates and times that are set by the agency for new models to come in and be evaluated. The evaluations are very short lasting only a few minutes. Agencies do not charge a fee for the evaluation. If you attend an open call bring snapshots of yourself with you. Be sure to dress neatly and be well groomed. Do not wear too much makeup, jewelry etc. Your appearance should be very natural.
You can expect a return letter or a phone call from the agency 2 to 4 weeks after submission.
A note about snapshots: Keep the photos simple and refrain from wearing too much makeup.You will need a head-shot hair down, head-shot hair pulled back (one of these head-shots should show you smiling naturally to show your teeth), profile head-shot hair pulled back, waist up shot, full body shot and full body shot wearing bathing suit.
3. Once an agency has called to meet with you, prepare yourself. Make sure your appearance is clean and neat. Again, you should look fresh and natural. Your clothing should fit well and flatter your figure. Bring your snapshots with you to the interview. You do not need to have a portfolio or composite card, but if you have them bring them with you. Remember each agency has clients that require models to look a certain way and project a specific image. They will put together a marketing plan for you based on their clientele. This plan includes your portfolio and composite cards (a small marketing piece displaying a few photos of you, with your name and agency contact information also referred to as ZED cards).
Please be advised that even if you have a professional portfolio or composite cards, the agency may reject them. No worries. The agency has to make sure that you are marketed in a way that will get you hired by their clients.
4. When an agency decides to work with you or you are signed, it is best that you work with their team of photographers and have your marketing materials prepared their way. They know what their clients want. At this point you should be prepared to make some financial investment. Many agencies will advance you the costs of your photos and ZED cards and have you reimburse them when you start working. Others will require you to cover your own costs for photos and ZED cards.
Understand, the agency is not “charging you” or profiting from your marketing materials in any manner. These are the business tools that will get you work, so they must be the best. The agency can ensure that your marketing materials are the best, so take their direction and utilize their resources.
5. When you are signed to an agency you will need to remain in close communication with them. Also, you will have to keep your marketing tools current at your agencies request. If you allow your portfolio or marketing card to become dated, your agency will drop you.
A note about testing, portfolios, ZED cards. Remember, as a model, you are your own business. You are financially responsible for tests, updates to your portfolio and composite cards. You will also be responsible for travel expenses. Your agency may also ask that you take acting classes or modeling workshops to develop your skills. You will not be required by the agency to attend a modeling school but it is an option for you. All of the things mentioned here can be tax deductions as they are an aspect of your business.
Tips and Warnings
No legitimate agent or agency advertises or charges up front fees for representation. If your are asked to pay consultation fees, required to take classes as a condition of representation, or if you have a feeling that something is not right, walk away!
If you are not signed right away, don’t be discouraged. Continue to attend modeling agency open calls and submit photos to modeling agents and agencies.
Your modeling career is a business, always conduct yourself professionally. You must be confident, have a great attitude and be willing to work hard. Be courteous to others and be a team player.