New Model Army Photography Blog

So you want to be a model (part 2)

Wow, I really didn’t expect last week’s blog to get so much attention, but a big thanks to everybody who took the time to read it, it’s appreciated.

So, in my last blog, I think my message was pretty clear – you’ve got to practice. But practice what? Catwalk is different to editorial, which is different to glamour, which is different to fashion, which is different to other disciplines and styles. The good news is, the basic principles are all the same (except possibly for catwalk, which involves another set of distinct skills) and hopefully, this blog will give you something to study and aim for. See how I said “study”? This isn’t something that you’re going to achieve overnight. You’re going to have to work bloody hard for it.

First thing’s first, and this applies to anybody. Look after your body, this includes your skin and hair. Caning it every weekend in town may be fun when you’re younger but believe me, it’ll soon start to show. In this game, you need to be fit and healthy, and scoffing cakes, biscuits, processed foods and alcohol won’t do you any favours.  There’s a term in computing called GIGO – garbage in, garbage out. Remember that. And one of the best skin tips you can get? Supermodel Carolyn Murphy’s top tip is to drink plenty of water. Sounds obvious but hands up all those who drink enough. I don’t, which is probably why I have skin like a kangaroo’s scrotum. What else? Sleep. Get plenty of it, and that’s the advice of Victoria’s Secret model, Hilary Rhoda. Getting four hours’ shut-eye after a night on the tiles isn’t going to impress anybody, unless you’re deliberately going for the homeless panda look (and that’s *sooo* last decade).

I suppose the next biggie is how to actually model. Remember, it’s a skill you learn, much like anything else. You may think you look like the mutt’s nuts in your latest profile pic but I bet you’re pulling all kinds of poses without realising what you’re doing and why. At this point, please allow me to introduce Jen Brook, a genuinely amazing model and also an all-round good egg. She’s worked with some of the biggest photographers in the world, including Von Wong and Brooke Shaden to name but two. Jen’s travelled the world in the name of her art (and trust me, it is an art with her), so when I say you should read her blog on posing for new models, you really should read it. If you don’t, then you’re going nowhere. This woman knows what she’s talking about. In fact, her Tumblr’s a mine of information, so bookmark it and have a read when you have a spare 10 minutes every so often.

To give you an idea, here’s a series of ten shots I took of Jen a couple of weeks ago. (Hey Jen, does that put me in the same bracket as Ben Von Wong and Brooke Shaden? Haha, I wish! Study, learning and practice applies just as much to me as anybody else.)

According to my camera’s timer, these were taken in the space of 14 seconds. None of them required any prompting from me, she just knew what to do. Jen was instinctively aware of where the light source was and how to shape herself accordingly to accentuate the dress she was modelling. 

This wasn’t just some happy accident, she knew what to do and how to do it. This has come from years of perfecting her art, from studying others and learning from them. And please excuse the fact that I haven’t edited them, I was in a bit of rush to get this out; I shit you not, I’ve been getting people asking when I’m going to be posting this follow-up.

As with everything in life, time is money. Photographers don’t want to spend time telling models how to pose for every single shot, it just won’t work. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE working with new models, it’s hugely rewarding when you get somebody out of their comfort zone and produce a piece of work that’s bang on the money. However, in a professional environment, you won’t be afforded that luxury. The clock’s ticking and every second counts.

Modelling is about fluidity and movement. Watch this Frederick’s of Hollywood video (with one of my favourite models, Emily Ratajowski) – the models in it aren’t just stills models, they’re also having to act. And that’s what you’re being asked to do – act. Even if it’s for 1 shot, you’re acting. You’re being asked to portray a role, and that’s what’s expected of you. By the way, Frederick’s of Hollywood is a ladies’ underwear company, so only watch the video if you’re prepared to see that kind of thing!

So there we have it, that’s a small insight into the art and craft of modelling. There are countless other resources available in books, videos, blogs and websites but be careful, as a lot of them are absolute rubbish. Learn to separate what’s useful, such as this from Tyra Banks, and some old guff you might be fed by a two-bit model coaching company being run by a failed photographer with no idea of what he’s doing, who’s only in it to screw you out of a few quid.


In the next blog in this series, I’ll be addressing the questions around photographers and portfolios, and why you should (or shouldn’t) shoot with somebody. If you’ve got any questions you want me to address, go to my Facebook page, send me a message and I’ll do my best to answer you :-)

Ciao for now!