Diaries of a Model: Volume II

1 Jun

A recent conversation with a photographer got me thinking again about modeling and what makes a professional model.  I think a lot of people wonder this and some raise eyebrows at you when you say that’s what you do.  Modeling can be defined very broadly, which leaves the door wide open for interpretation when you say that’s your profession.  If you are anything like me, the last thing you want people to think is that when you say you model it means “Ya, I dance on tables wearing a Hooter’s shirt”.  Don’t get me wrong, I have no issues with that, that’s just not my personal definition of modeling nor what I aspire to do.

So how can you determine whether you have the right to call yourself a professional model?  Well, I’ll tell you one thing, it really helps to get some experience under your belt.  You will feel more qualified and legitimate.  Until that point though, the bottom line is you need to believe in yourself, your goals and your ability.  Here are some things that I think qualify you as a professional.

1)      Take yourself seriously.  This is not a hobby.  Not something you say, “Well, if this doesn’t work out oh well, it’s just a hobby.”  That’s actually fear talking by the way, but that’s a topic for another blog post.  You approach your craft with the attitude that this is who I am, I am giving it 100% and I will make it work.  You don’t whisper to people “I model”.  You say it with conviction.

2)      Study your craft.  You have a lot to learn and the good news is that you will get better.  Every single model had a first and most, when you talk to them, will tell you that they probably looked ridiculous on set.  Find those around you who do it and do it well.  Identify people from whom you want to learn and take classes from them, ask for coaching, find a mentor, follow others.  I heard someone say the other day, “I never watch what others do”.  Really, I thought to myself?  That’s truly on of the best ways to learn.  I’m always watching and learning.  Watching and learning is different from copying others, keep that in mind.

3)       Be professional.  I cannot stress this enough!  If this is your job and you care about it you had better be professional.  That means you show up on time.  You give 200% of your energy.  You follow-up when necessary.  You come prepared, meaning rested and showered and energized and ready to go.  Bring your business cards, your resume, and your comp card if you have one.  Study the company, the brand, the organization, whatever it is that you are representing.  Separately, if you are auditioning the same principles apply.  Figure out what they want and decide if you fit the mold.  Practice!  Understand for whom you are aiming to work.

4)      Define yourself.  You will obviously not have a completely clear vision of the kind of work you want to do as you get started in this industry.  Part of that comes with practice, opportunities and growth.  You should; however, invest a significant amount of time thinking about who you are and what you aim to represent.  Who do you resonate with and which clients would find you marketable?  Find those and focus there.  Let’s face it; I could spend the next five years marketing myself to Victoria’s Secret.  Am I going to get hired?  No, I’m sure I won’t.  Why, I not 23.  Unless for some weird reason they decide to do “meet our cast of 38-year-old of moms” I am likely never going to get that job.  If you are perplexed, ask someone you respect.  Sometimes they can see things in you that you can’t see in yourself.  Think about what you love to do, who you spend your time with, where you shop, where you travel to, what your passions are and start there.

 5)      Be grateful and humble. I live by the saying that hard work trumps talent when talent doesn’t work hard.  Sometimes it’s not the prettiest, or the most talented, or the most experienced, or the most athletic person that gets the job.  It’s the person that is willing to work hard for it and is grateful for the experience.  Landing one job does not mean you land another.  Build relationships and earn trust.  Give more than you get, period.  Celebrate every opportunity and give 100%.  Do things for the right reasons.  Don’t forget to help others along the way.

6)      Don’t compromise. This is an important factor in the modeling/talent industry.  You will be pulled in so many directions, challenged by people who expect things from you that you are sometimes uncomfortable with.  You will be told by one client this is the way it’s done and something completely different by the next.  Your job is to make it happen, whatever they want.  Remember that modeling is not about you! With that said, when you find yourself in a situation that screams “this isn’t right”.  Just walk away.  Be true to what you represent.  Be polite and professional but don’t ever let anyone pressure you into doing something that doesn’t feel right.  Once something is out there, it can’t be taken back.  Aim to please but do not compromise your brand.  People will respect you for that.

These are my points I remember every day in trying to craft a career in this industry.  Be professional, be humble, it’s not about me, give more than I get, help others, represent things I believe in, find mentors, learn from those who have walked this road before me, surround myself with people who believe in me, believe in myself and my abilities, trust that I will improve with every job, be the person the client remembers because I am organized, timely, friendly, and professional.  Treat every single person with respect.  Above all, respect myself and remember that I am doing this because it’s what I love.  Find ways to use my experience to empower others and give back.  Always give back more than you get.

Good luck in your journey.  May you have more highs than lows.  Whatever it is you aim to do, if you believe in yourself and work hard enough, you will get there.

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