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Model Criteria

Modeling Types | Female Fashion Requirements
Male Fashion Requirements | Plus-Size Requirements
Commercial Model Requirements | FAQ's


Do you want to be a model? Do you have what it takes? Do you know what that is? And how do you start, anyway? The first thing we would suggest, is to do some research. If you learn about the business, you can avoid wasting your time and money.

What is a model? Modeling types:
There are two main types of modeling, as well as a few subcategories. You should figure out what type of modeling you want to do, and if you fit the qualifications to do it. Then you will need to find an agency that represents that type of model.

A few of the different types of modeling are; commercial modeling, plus-size modeling, high-fashion modeling, juniors modeling, modeling for artisans, swimsuit modeling, glamour modeling, and parts/specialty modeling. Most people are interested in getting into either fashion or commercial modeling.


Whatever type of modeling you want to do, and are qualified to do, the next step would be to get some pictures. You don't need professional pictures to get started, but if you want them, many commercial/fashion photographers will "test shoot" for free. Check the modeling job boards here and on other sites, you can usually find postings from photographers willing to trade prints for time. Or you can have a friend or family member take a couple snapshots. You need at least a headshot and a full body shot, to send out to the agents. Most good modeling books will tell you what type of photos you will need, and what the agents look for in a photo.

Your next task is to find out where the reputable agencies are in your area, and go see them, or send out a letter of inquiry along with copies of your snapshots. There are several modeling agency directory guides published annually, and available in your local library, bookstore or online.

Fashion Models

Fashion models model fashion. They are the ones that walk the runways, appear in fashion magazines, and are generally also the ones that sell beauty products as well. The word 'Supermodel' applies to high-fashion models. When starting out, you are usually sent to the European or Asian markets to build your portfolio. You should be living in one of the major fashion markets, such as LA, New York or Miami. There is strict criteria one must fit for becoming a fashion model. Recently, some of those rules have been relaxed a bit, but the general guidelines are below.
There are occasionally exceptions to these rules, and each agency sets their own standards. The "in" look is constantly changing, but agents generally like symmetrical features, a well-proportioned body with long legs, clear skin and good teeth. Before going submitting your photo or visiting an agency, call first to make sure that you fall within their criteria for height, size and age. Most fashion agencies only want to see two photos of a potential model, a headshot and full-body shot. The comp card and/or portfolio is generally developed after the model is signed.

Females:

  • A minimum height of at least 5'7, with most models being 5'9-5'11.
  • You must be at least 14, up to 24. Many agencies won't see people under the age of 17. A few exceptions are made for older models, and some of the larger agencies now have "sophisticated" divisions, but these are primarily designed for those who are already in the business, not new faces.
  • A size 6 with a thin build is preferred, as that is the standard designer sample size.

    Examples of female fashion models:
    Hint Fashion Magazine Model Mania
  • Males:

  • Between 5'10 and 6'2, with 6' being the preferred height.
  • Late teens into the mid twenties, and sometimes older.

    A size 40 suit is the standard sample size.

    Examples of male fashion models:
    Models.com Top 50 Male Models

    Examples of both female & male fashion models:
    MODELS.com - ModelCulture - Model of the Week

    Plus-Size:

    Plus size modeling has more relaxed rules, but there are still guidelines.
  • Women should be at least 5'8 to 6', but can be outside these ranges.
  • At least 15 to 25, but can be older.
  • Should wear between size 10 to 20, although a size 8 can model occasionally in this division as well.

    Example of a plus-size models, including more info on getting into the industry:
    Christine Alt website


    Commercial Models:

    Commercial models model for products and services, other than fashion. They are the "real people", the characters and the people who look like the general population. Commercial models have more opportunities for work outside of NY/LA/Miami, than fashion models do. They can work locally, and do not have to travel as much. They rarely achieve much notoriety, as fashion models can, but can work throughout their lifetime. Many commercial models are also actors, often doing television commercials. Wild character looks, grandmother types, the plain jane, or your average cute joe can all earn a living as a commercial model. Commercial agents may choose not to represent children, or those under a certain age, so it is still best to call to check on what their agency looks for, before sending in your photo. Most commercial agents prefer to see either snapshots or a current comp card.
  • There are no height or weight requirements.
  • There are no age requirements. Commercial models can be six, or sixty. They can be infants, or grandfathers. Teenagers, or mothers.
  • Since commercial models don't sell clothes, they can be any size, shape or look. All types of characters are needed.

    Examples of commercial models:
    Happy models


    Answers to your FAQ's

    How much does it cost to get started?
    It can cost you nothing, or you could spend thousands of dollars. There is no fee to visit or sign up with an agency. You are not required to buy professional photos to get started, nor are you required to pay money to have a professional photographer shoot for your comp card. Modeling schools or classes are not necessary to break into the industry, and a model is never asked what training they have had. Your agent takes a percentage (usually 10-20%) off of the money you make from work you've booked through their agency. Unlike some fashion agencies, who may assist a model in getting together their comp card/portfolio, most commercial models pay for their own comp card, but do not need a portfolio.

    How do I find a reputable agent?
    If you are looking to get into fashion modeling, visit with the big agencies, with names well-known in the industry. Elite, Ford, Next, Boss and Wilhelmina are all in the Miami area, and there are other good fashion agencies around the state as well. If you know a successful model, ask them who they use. Commercial models can visit the Screen Actor's Guild website (www.sag.org), they have a list of franchised agencies. Those marked "Full Service" represent commercial models as well as acting talent. Or you can try using one of the modeling agency directories.

    I think I could be a model, how do I know if I have the right look?
    If you have a basic idea about the modeling industry, perhaps you've looked through a book or two, you know what an agent looks for in photos, and you've learned what the laws are--so you're confident you can tell the real deal from the shysters, then what are you waiting for? Go and visit the agencies in your area that represent the type of model you think you are qualified to be. They will let you know if they are interested.

    What is a comp card?
    A composite card, also called a comp card, laser card, sed or zed card, is a model's self-advertisement, not unlike a large photo business card. It is used by your agent to send to clients to help you obtain work. It is also what you hand out on go-sees, castings/auditions, or when networking with potential clients. It is typically a 5.5" x 8.5" card, with headshot and your name and agency on the front, and 2-4 photos and stats on the back. It is usually in color, but can be black & white. There are many variations, and different agencies prefer different styles. Some comp cards are only printed on one side with a single photo, some fold like a traditional greeting card, and contain more images. Fashion agencies generally have a specific format that all their models follow, while commercial agencies often have all different types of modeling comp cards, that were chosen by the models, not the agency. A comp card is usually best when it contains a really great headshot, that shows a model's facial features in a flattering fashion, eyes that can communicate with the camera, and a selection of 3/4 and/or full-length shots that show the model's figure and range of looks. It is best to have on your composite card the type of shots you are most suited to doing. If you are only 5'4, it's probably not in your best interest to have only a selection of fashion-type shots, as it is unlikely that will be the type of work you are going to be hired for. Your agent can help you figure out what looks are most marketable for you. An example of one type of composite card is below.


    modeling composite card sample      modeling composite card sample

    UPDATED 09/27/12

     

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