The Mark of a Professional Model

There are lots of pretty/attractive/physically fit women out there, so while being any or all of those things can mean potential for modeling, it just isn’t enough to make you a professional model.

Let’s say you’re pretty/attractive/physically fit AND talented. Okay, good, but that still isn’t enough to be a professional model.

So then what am I talking about? What takes you that step further? Professionalism. Just as the title, Professional Model, implies.

Ron and I talk about this a lot on the Photographer and Model Podcast. When we ask photographers what makes a good model, most of the time they say professionalism first and foremost. If you’re not in the industry, you would think that the first item on the list would be “attractive” or “great body,” but if you are in the business, you take that as a given. So if you’re a model looking for gigs, you better be more than just a looker if you want to get paid.

I think there are some basic elements that demonstrate professionalism on the part of a model. Here’s a list for ya:

1) PUNCTUALITY – That’s right. Just like any other job, you have to BE ON TIME. Not only does it show respect for your coworkers’ time, it shows that you know how to manage your own. Remember, while you may be the subject of the photos, the shoot is not all about you.

2) COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY – This applies before, during and after the shoot. When someone is trying to book you, reply to their emails or phone calls in a timely and educated manner. In this business, first impressions can make or break you. During the shoot you need to give feedback to the photographer and his team. Remember, everyone is trying to capture the best image here, so if something is not working, you’re uncomfortable, you want to try something a little different (etc.), SPEAK UP. After the shoot make sure to follow up with any scheduling questions and make sure everyone has the necessary paperwork (releases, invoices, etc.).

3) APPLY SIMPLE RULES OF ETIQUETTE – When you go to casting calls or gigs, turn off your phone…especially if you have an obnoxious ringtone. Also make sure to leave any kids or babies at home with a sitter or relative. Finally, keep conversation topics to an appropriate subject. By that I mean don’t gossip about other models/photographers/MUA’s or bring up “taboo” subjects, etc.

4) ALWAYS HAVE THE APPROPRIATE MARKETING MATERIALS ON HAND – As a professional, you should make sure that you at least have a simple business card. That doesn’t mean you have to have some sort of James Bond metal business card or something, but it does mean that you should have a clean looking card that has all of your basic contact information. Models and actors should also try to get cards made that have a headshot and their stats listed. You should also have either one or both of the following: composite cards, headshots. I personally combine the two (kinda) by creating a bound “mini-portfolio.” It’s a spiral bound brochure of sorts that has a few heashots and full body shots along with pages that list my stats, contact and “about me” info. It’s got a clear cover and solid black back cover. It never fails to impress at casting calls.

And finally…

5) HAVE A PRINTED, 9×12″ PORTFOLIO (AKA “BOOK”) TO BRING TO CASTING CALLS/MEET-AND-GREETS – Okay, I know that the web has spoiled us into saying “go to my website and look at my portfolio,” but you STILL NEED TO HAVE A BOOK! A photographer who was casting for a job once told me that she was appalled at how many models showed up to the casting call with no book. She told me “How could they expect to come here, meet the client and the photographer but have nothing to show them?” Same goes for a meet-and-greet. If you’re going to one, you should bring a book to show the potential employers. Without it there is no proof of the work you have done or what you are capable of producing.

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