A successful long-term career in the modeling industry is now more accessible than ever. The industry is seeing a powerful shift as it embraces greater diversity and inclusivity. Here’s what you need to know and what to consider in order to kick-start your career as a model in Australia.
There are more branches of modeling than a layperson may realise, and finding your niche is key to your success. Examples include:
- Runway modeling
- Commercial and print modeling
- Parts modeling
- Fitness modeling
- Curvy and plus-size modeling
Runway modeling has the strictest physical criteria. Models signed by major agencies are often size six or smaller, between 14 and 20 years old, and between 5'9" and 6".
Commercial and print modeling, however, often look to capture the everyman and everywoman. These mediums depend on finding individuals who can authentically embody a mum, doctor, or member of a young family, for instance.
Next, consider your geographic market. Where will you find the most jobs? Australia, Sydney, and Melbourne are the largest hubs, but you may find other, more specific opportunities in Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.
Agents say that a just-the-basics approach to putting together a modeling portfolio garners the most interest. This strategy is also your best bet for managing your money as you get your footing in the field.
Agents want to see a handful of clear, naturally lit snapshots (typically a chest-up, full-body, and side profile). A photo taken against a plain wall with a smartphone camera is sufficient. Wearing a simple, form-fitting outfit such as skinny jeans or tailored pants with a tank or T-shirt and little to no makeup is ideal. Shots like these, paired with your contact details and measurements, are all you’ll need.
As you progress in your career, you’ll likely need to build a more substantial portfolio. This should generally contain:
- Professional headshots
- A collection of test-shoot or published images
- A modeling CV (résumé)
- A modeling reel
- A link to your personal website (optional)
- Links to your public social media accounts (optional)
Instagram plays a significant role in both uncovering and promoting the modeling superstars of today. It’s a fantastic space in which to experiment when you’re starting to define your image and build a noteworthy following. You can then refine and reinforce the types of photos you post over time. To generate publicity and collaboration, hashtags and mentions are great features to utilize.
Most importantly, you’ll want to have your comp card (also called a Z-card) on hand at all times. This will serve as your literal calling card. It should include three to five images, your measurements, and the contact details of your representation.
While securing a modeling agent isn’t an absolute necessity, having one on your team will invariably increase your opportunities. If you have an existing following, an agent will help you manage incoming requests and negotiate the best terms and conditions of employment. If you don’t have one, an agent will be able to introduce you to people and get you into rooms that would otherwise be difficult — if not impossible — to access.
Research is critical to finding the best rep for you. Read our Top Modeling Agencies in Australia guide here.
Put together a list of agencies that check your boxes. Keep your niche, location, the kind of work you ultimately want to do, and the agency’s track record in mind. Reach out to models who are already repped by these agencies on social media to ask about their experiences. If they have time, most will be happy to oblige.
Applying for representation will either be done via email, online form, or in-person walk-in. Read and adhere to the agency’s online submission guidelines carefully.
It can be hugely tempting to sign with the first agency that offers. Keep model Liris Crosse’s advice in mind: “Your booker should be so excited about you that they want to work their butt off to represent you and get you work.”
Practice is particularly crucial when you’re starting out. Both camera and industry professionals will be able to detect your confidence — or lack thereof.
Modeling agent Gary Dakin says, “Practice in the mirror so you know your angles and your body and where your body looks best…. It sounds awkward and weird, but get in front of the mirror.”
Dakin also recommends spending time going through magazines and catalogues to study what models and photographers are doing. Can you replicate the professionals? He also advises asking a friend or family member to take pictures so that you can review the results objectively. What are your strengths? What elements of your technique need further development? Fostering this self-awareness from the get-go will keep you in good stead.
Set up test shoots (meaning non-professional photo shoots) with photographers who are looking to flesh out their own portfolios. Instagram is a great platform to use to reach out to these individuals and later showcase your work together.
A long and rewarding career awaits if you focus on longevity, especially when you’re facing some of modeling’s biggest challenges. Significant factors may include:
- Holistic well-being: As Victoria’s Secret Angel Alexina Graham says, “Successful models need to be the absolute best version of themselves at all times…in the same way as an athlete or dancer does.” In practice, this includes following a healthy, balanced diet; staying hydrated; exercising regularly; and getting enough sleep.
- Dealing with rejection: As in acting, odds are you’ll hear “no” fairly frequently. Cultivate a mindset that enables you to power ahead undeterred. As commercial model Sharlene Rädlein says, “You have to have thick skin. You’re going to be turned down more than you’re going to be hired for the job.”
- Financial security: A full-time modeling career may be within your reach, but there may be a period when you’ll need to have a survival job to tide you over. Look for something flexible to accommodate for the irregular nature of modeling work.
A support network: You’ll strike up incredible new friendships on your modeling journey, but you should also continue to nurture your relationships with friends and family members outside of the industry. A group of positive, supportive influences around you will prove indispensable, as they can help you maintain perspective.
Your well-being and safety is your number one priority as a model. This isn’t to paint a negative picture of the industry; however, the following points are essential when thinking about your health and self-care.
- Being asked to attend an online casting or agency go-see (e.g., via Skype or Zoom) is not industry-standard, though some practices have shifted since the pandemic. Research accordingly to find out if the agency is holding online castings in order to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
- Any requests for nudes or photos in lingerie should raise a red flag.
- Reputable agents earn their paychecks on commission, based on the work they find for you. Application fees and upfront costs aren’t the norm. Ensure that this is confirmed on their website (usually on an FAQ page) or clarified in their correspondence. Investigate the agency further if they do require payment.
- If you’re out on a new assignment, tell a friend or family member where you’ll be.
While the model’s life is often perceived as one of glitz and glamour, the work itself can be anything but.
The following points are helpful to keep in mind ahead of your next booking. As Miguel de Cervantes once wrote: “To be prepared is half the victory.”
- Downtime: Modeling involves a lot of waiting around. Bringing along something to read, a favourite leisure activity (e.g. a piece of knitting or a puzzle book), and/or a smartphone power bank is a wise move.
- Snacks: Keep your energy level steady with healthy snacks (nuts and fruit are great options), and stay hydrated. Catering isn’t always provided at photo shoots, and even when it is, the offerings aren’t necessarily the most nutritious.
Rights: You always have the right to inform the team or leave production if any of the crew members or the demands asked of you make you feel uncomfortable. Having an agent, manager, or industry mentor you can call in these situations is invaluable.
Check out the latest Australian Modeling Jobs on StarNow.