You do not need a big or expensive book or modeling portfolio.
You do not need experience, in fact it can sometimes hurt you.
You do not need to be 5’9″ to be a commercial model (but you do to be a fashion model).
You can become a fashion model without spending money, even without a modeling portfolio.
College can be very helpful, especially for commercial models, actresses and hosts.
Simple ways to help yourself:
Agencies want to see what you really look like which is not what photographers want for their books. With fashion agencies, “Polaroids” are what they want to see.
We take them upon request at CAT-Shoots and create Digital Polaroid Contact Sheets to submit to agencies. However, you don’t need to book a shoot with us to get these important images. We’ll show you how to take them yourself in one of the articles in the MUST READ ARTICLES section.
Important things to understand and do:
Read the articles in our MUST READ ARTICLES called:
The Genres of Modeling: Identify which genre(s) of modeling you are qualified for.
Positioning: How to best position yourself for the genre you are qualified for.
And use the step by step instructions on taking your own “Polaroids” in the step by step article about them.
How we can help directly:
At CAT-shoots we get you the right type of images to submit to agencies. We can also tell you how to get a list of all agencies, which to visit, and those to avoid.
We also help you identify your proper genre and help help you with positioning.
Read more about CAT-Shoots, or if you already have you can book one here.
GET WORK AS A FREELANCE MODEL
We are not going to delve too deep into this subject. The reality is that you are not likely to make a decent living working solely as a freelance model. To be career model, you need to be signed to a modeling agency, and a great one at that.
We offer a casting guide to help you become more successful at castings and go-sees, and also our mailing list so you can submit to jobs we shoot for our clients, as well as others.
If you are dead set on modeling after unsuccessfully applying to agencies, here are some ways to find some work:
Work as a promo model at events, trade shows and nightclubs.
Shoot with aspiring photographers that pay girls to help them build their portfolios.
Build a very large following on Instagram where you can get paid to endorse and promote products.
Again, the holy grail of modeling is getting proper representation by a respected agency. Big clients rarely hire freelance models. having the book for them builds a safety cushion far more important than any single model is worth.
TRUTHS AND MYTHS EXPLAINED
These FAQs are designed for aspiring models. Advanced and agency models please go directly to our MUST READ ARTICLES, or the blog.
It takes less than 5 seconds to get rejected. Modeling is a first impression business. To get work as a model you need to immediately capture the attention of “casting agents” (anyone that makes a decision on you getting an assignment or signed). All casting agents have one thing in common: Too many models, too many emails to open, and too many pictures to look at.
Casting agents rarely look past the first picture or two so it’s very important to show the right ones, and they aren’t the type of images you might expect. Coming off too strong or not getting straight to the point can also use those precious seconds up.
Most email are opened by interns who operate under strict guidelines. One of the common instructions is to delete any incomplete emails. You may have the best look, perfect picture and be an ideal candidate and never get seen. Read casting notices carefully and use bullet points for the things requested.
If you get past the first 5 seconds and pass the intern test, your email will still get read very quickly. If it’s too long, important points you are making may get lost. Use bullet points, especially to outline the requested information!
You want to make sure they immediately see any information specifically requested in the casting notice.
Be it the person that makes the decision, or the twitchy fingered intern one inch from the delete key, you need to keep in mind they have an ego, as well as moods. Set yours aside and make them a friend from the get go. How? You can smile with words and don’t be shy to close with a smiley emoticon ￼
The cost is high when you use the wrong images: You don’t get the job, you don’t get signed.
DO NOT use overly artistic pictures – they detract from the subject (you). Dramatic lighting with strong shadowing may look great, but is ineffective. What casting agents can’t see, makes them suspicious.
No matter how beautiful they may be, don’t send high fashion shots unless it’s a tear sheet. Casting agents don’t want to see what a great job photographers or stylists do, they want to see the real you.
When casting you want simple, crisp, images that only show you off and come off real.
A common mistake is too many unpublished images. Before you get signed, you get Googled. Here are things that can work against you: A lot of activity on amateur modeling websites. A big portfolio of unpublished “modeling” images on your Facebook or website. Flyers of you “hosting” nightclub events. Showing up on too many hobby photographer websites or profiles.
Why? Major brands don’t like talent in their ads appearing in lesser works. Also, shooting outside of commercial shoots breeds bad habits and understandings – they know that. And if you sign a model release for this type of imagery you can’t even control where it appears! Bad exposure is worse than no exposure. Even if you got paid for it.
The boom of amateur modeling portfolio websites has created a dilemma for casting agents. The photographers and stylists on these sites spend inordinate amounts of time collaborating to create highly stylized images. Some of these images look great, as does the model, and the retouching.
This is a problem for casting agents who can’t distinguish real, from contrived. Therefore, these types of images are discounted, as are the people who create them, and the models in them.
Tear sheets rule. After that branded images by respected photographers that include copyright dates enhance your credibility. Casting agents want to know the picture is real, and recent.
You may need images to cast for work or send to agencies, but now you know you need different pictures than you probably thought. Un-retouched digital images with little makeup work better than images you will get from most photographers (see Get Signed and read about Polaroids in the blog).
So, what are all the thousand plus dollar photo-shoots you see advertised for your modeling portfolio? Profit. There is no pot of gold to the truth about pictures, and the pictures that come from those expensive photo-shoots rarely get you more work. The same goes for images from workshops, shoot-outs etc. In fact, those can be the most damaging when trying to get signed.
This may be somewhat self-serving, but there are huge myths on amateur modeling portfolio websites. One of the biggest is that professional models don’t pay for pictures. Trade (or TFP) is for beginners and so is being paid by photographers!
The reality is that professional models pay for images all the time. Photographers that do trade work usually do so because they need them for their own books.
You may have already understood what we’re about to say when we pointed out what images you need to cast with, but think of it in these terms: Images that get photographers, stylists, and makeup artists work, are much different than those that get models work. You need images that get you signed and work!
In certain markets, some agencies will sign you if you are 5’8″.
If you are young and still growing, and the agency forecasts you to grow to their minimum height, they may sign you (see more in Teen Models).
That’s it. If you do not fall into one of these categories, it’s pretty much absolute. You will need to consider another genre of modeling (See “The Genres of Modeling” in the blog and read Get Signed in the Model Portal).
You need to have believable pictures and you can take them yourself. In fact, they are far better when applying to fashion agencies than anything you will get at a trade shoot. We explain how to do this in Get Signed.
Even better, in the blog there’s an article with step by step instructions on how to take them yourself.
There are more things that will keep you from getting signed than there are that can help. Appearing in unseemly places. Having the wrong type of pictures show up when you get Googled. Even having signed too many model releases!
Except in rare cases, commercial modeling agencies do not want recognizable faces. And fashion model agencies want to mold you. The only thing lots of online exposure may help you is if you are a promotional or amateur model doing mostly insignificant work.
Even “implied” can hurt you. The only genre of modeling it helps is adult modeling, and arguably some promotional gigs. If you have done any nudity and are trying to get signed, make sure that when the agency Googles you, they don’t run across any of it!
The best practice is to not shoot nudity – even without having signed a model release.
Commercial agencies have large, and often times conservative clients. Aside from finding talent, their job is also to protect these clients from potential embarrassment. Even tasteful nudity can be deemed embarrassing by many clients, therefore commercial agencies shy away from models that have participated in nude modeling.
Fashion models may do some implied work both for advertising campaigns as well as editorials, especially in Europe where even topless can be introduced to the mass market. However, your participating in nude work before you get there will hinder your chances of getting signed to both fashion and commercial model agencies.
No, it will hurt you. Period. Especially with modeling agencies.
Get Facts about Hosting
There are many types of hosts of course, but almost every model we meet that uses the term really means it as being the host of a television show or segment. This field has become increasingly popular with large influx of reality contest shows and entertainment television magazines.
While most hosts are attractive, they don’t often come from modeling When they do they usually carry credentials and experience. Common backgrounds are as entertainment news reporters, actors, or experts in a certain field. Hoping to get discovered as a host from modeling, unless you are already a very successful model, is a bad approach.
There are many schools that specialize in hosting and acting, but the overwhelmingly most important asset is to have a college degree, ideally in broadcast journalism. A normal career path is to intern at a local TV station – move up as an assistant – and to get experience reporting at times few people are watching. From there you may move into becoming a reporter is a small market and continue upwards from there. Shortcuts are rare.
While we mention broadcast journalism as the best degree, any college degree is helpful. And others are nearly equally as good, for example different communications degrees, especially with emphasis in media.
Of course, this means the wrong exposure but these days almost anything you do sticks forever online. A successful hosting job means working for a big corporation. Big corporations have HR departments and they are going to research you thoroughly before you get hired. Don’t give them the ability to come across things that will be embarrassing!
“Laurens makes every person he shoots look like a "10"! When Laurens takes your picture, you know he's good. When you see the picture, you realize that he's PHENOMENAL!”
HOST, FOX, CNN, ACCESS HOLLYWOOD, E! NEWS
Laurens was able to use his influence and incredible photos to get me featured in my first major national magazine. That exposure propelled my modeling career to a whole new level and has allowed me to expand into my dream of acting. He has provided some of the best photos in my portfolio. Not only is Laurens a marvelous photographer, he has a wonderful personality, stellar character and has become a great friend.
MODEL, ACTRESS (25+ MAGAZINES. 30+ FILMS)
"I have been modeling for a while and have come across so many photographers. When I was shot with Laurens for FHM the first time I didn't have any expectations, but the first shot he took, I literally shook like there was an earthquake! The whole day went great and the pictures were incredible! The second time was even more amazing and literally took my breath away! I sure hope I'll be able to work with the best photographer in the world again :)"
MODEL, ACTRESS, REALITY STAR
“Knowing his list of clients and fellow models, working with Laurens has been a career highlight. He’s 100% professional and honest, and simply put is one of the best photographers. I had a great time on set and I’m looking forward to my next opportunity to shoot with him again :)”
"Working with Laurens has opened so many doors for me. Laurens is absolutely great to work with and has gone out of his way to help me become successful. It goes without mentioning what a phenomenal photographer he is. Only after working with him do you realize what it means that he can capture "the shot" in the most difficult conditions!"
MODEL: NASCAR, SKOAL, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
"After 8 years of modeling if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that the right pics are what keep me working. I have a book full of tear sheets but every six months I do another CAT shoot wiLaurens so that I have images that work when I’m casting. He’s an amazing photographer and creates indescribable images. But the best part is that they make me money!"
MODEL: VICTORIA’S SECRET, HARLEY DAVIDSON
"I was very lucky to have my first professional shoot with Laurens… it literally changed my life!! My modeling career took off and now I’m hosting on TV!! I have worked with many photographers since that first shoot and Laurens isstill by far my favorite! With his endless experience and industry knowledge, I became a better model every time we shot together!! He is always there for me, giving career guidance and solid advice, and I can’t thank him enough for everything!"
MODEL, TELEVISION HOST
“Laurens is flat out amazing. He made me feel so comfortable and really listened to my ideas. I couldn’t have asked for a better photographer and the proof is in the absolutely stunning photos he takes.”
Correspondent: E! Entertainment
“I’m a seasoned model and actress and thought I already had what I needed in my book. My agency sent me to Laurens to get new commercial images for a Victoria’s Secret casting and am I ever glad they did! I’ve never been happier with images before and can’t wait to get more!”
"I was at work when I met Laurens and he offered to shoot me. Normally it would have sounded like a line, but he seemed so above board I went for it and was I ever glad I did! I knew of his work but I never expected what happened next! I got internationally published and then became FHM Magazine's first ever Digital Darling! After that I moved to LA and worked on some films, and continued to work shoot with Laurens and FHM even getting to travel internationally! Thank you Laurens!"
SHOOTS YOU CAN BOOK
THE ORIGINAL CAT-SHOOT
The most booked shoot in the nation (and probably the world). If you are curious, CAT is an acronym for Casting And Testing.