Exploring this Job

If you are an aspiring model, you should read about the modeling industry and contact modeling agencies to gain an understanding of what their needs may include. Experience in fashion modeling may be obtained via local fashion shows. Many fashion design schools stage fashion shows for their students' designs and need amateur models to donate their time.

You may want to talk with the buyer or fashion director of a large local store or seek the advice of a commercial photographer, who often help new talent get started, about your opportunities for a successful modeling career and the special areas for which you may be qualified. You may also contact modeling agencies for their opinions. It is important to assess your chances for meaningful work before moving to a big city or investing in expensive modeling classes, photographs, and wardrobe.

The Job

Models generally are grouped according to the medium or media in which they work. For instance, models who perform with movement in fashion shows and for retail stores (on the floor) are known as fashion models. Those who pose for artists are known as artists' models, and those who advertise products and services in print are known as photographic models. In large cities there are modeling agencies that specialize in handling petite, plus-size, specialty, character, beauty, photographic, and high fashion models.

The work of artists' models is to pose for an individual artist or for a class of art students. When posing, models must stand or sit in one position for several hours at a time. A quick break for relaxation is usually given once each hour. Often the model must pose on a platform under hot and bright lights and sometimes wear little or no clothing. One job may last a day, while another may last for several weeks.

Photographic models pose for photographs. Their job is to lend attractiveness to an advertisement and enhance the desirability of the product. These models encounter a great variety of situations in their work. One series of photographs may be taken in a studio under hot lights with the model wearing a heavy fur coat. Another may be taken outdoors in midwinter with the model wearing only a bathing suit. One job may last only an hour, while another may require an entire day. In their work, models may travel to other states or even to other countries to be photographed in beautiful, unusual, or exotic settings.

Rarely do photographic models work full time. Days or weeks may pass between one job and the next, especially if they work on a freelance basis. If models contract with a modeling agency, however, their schedule may be fuller because the agency will be able to secure modeling jobs for them.

The photographic model who has some acting ability may secure a job in a television commercial. Although television modeling is very lucrative, it is very difficult for the average model to break into this field, mainly due to lack of training in acting.

Specialty models must possess particular features that are photogenic, such as hands, feet, legs, hair, lips, or ears that will help sell specific products.

Fashion models differ from the other types of models in three basic ways. First, the models usually work for clothing manufacturers, fashion designers, or department stores on a full-time basis. Second, they do not merely pose in one position, but walk around and assume a variety of poses in their display of the clothing. Third, they often speak to prospective purchasers to inform them of the model number and price of each garment.

Some fashion models may be employed by clothing manufacturers as showroom and fitting models. In many large department stores a staff of full-time models, known as floor models, is employed to promote the sale of various garments or accessories. The store may have a regularly scheduled style show during the daily lunch hour; at other times, models may walk throughout the store showing apparel and talking with customers about the garments and accessories being worn. Those models hired by a distributor to hand out free product samples, such as perfume or food, are known as sampling demonstration models or product promoters.

All fashion models employ certain techniques to display their clothing in the most effective way. Immaculate grooming is basic for most models, from the proper application of makeup and hair care to the smallest personal details. Models must walk gracefully with an erect carriage and master the techniques of pivoting to show the sides and back of a garment. They must know how to carry their hands and arms gracefully, as well as the body positions needed to emphasize certain details of their costume. They must also be able to call attention to accessories, such as purses, jewelry, and gloves.

Some fashion models do not work regularly but are called only for special style shows or certain buyers' showings. Some prefer to freelance since they may have other jobs or responsibilities. The most successful models work in all areas of the field, from live fashion modeling to print work to video and film modeling, as well as acting and live industrial and promotional presentations.