Tony Brook Photography

Introduction

Over the years, I have worked with a very large number of new and experienced models and, through my discussions with them, I have learned a great deal about both how to succeed in modelling and how to avoid the pitfalls.  The aim of this section of my site is to give all models my best advice.

Below, you will discover a little about:

1.     Different Modelling Styles

2.     How to Become a Model

3.     Best Model Portfolios

4.     Model Agencies & Self-Marketing

5.     Avoiding the Pitfalls

Models who work with me, as either clients or employed, are always welcome to call or e-mail me for professional advice and support.

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Modelling Styles

Everyone who wants to become a model needs to be familiar with the main modelling styles and related work opportunities:

Fashion Modelling.     Fashion and catwalk modelling is often perceived as the ultimate modelling style, due to a few well known and very highly paid celebrity models.  However, these lucky few are a tiny minority in the modelling world, and for every girl who is accepted by a top fashion model agency for such work, there are literally hundreds of aspiring fashion models willing to do catwalk shows for free, in the usually false hope that they will get selected by a top agency.  Most successful fashion and catwalk models owe their success to their “clothes hanger” figure and ability to “display” clothes, both on the catwalk and in photographs.

Catalogue Modelling.     Catalogue modelling is the mainstream element of fashion modelling.  Every on-line clothes retailer and every catalogue clothes retailer has to retain models to be photographed in their clothes each and every clothing season.  So, their is a great demand for suitable models.  Successful catalogue models cover a range of dress sizes and a range of figures, to meet the different requirements of different clothes retailers.  Unlike tall catwalk fashion models, catalogue models are usually of average height, with a “look” that appeals to the clothes buying public: in other words, catalogue models are selected because the retailer thinks their buyers will relate to the model’s appearance.  Successful catalogue models generally have an average to high level of natural beauty, and are often contracted to a retailer for one or more seasons.

Lingerie & Swimwear Modelling.     Lingerie and swimwear modelling is a special sub-set of catalogue modelling, for those models with the correct figure and bust size and shape: some lingerie and swimwear retailers will want slim athletic figures to display their products to best effect, whilst some will prefer larger bust sizes to show-off how their products support larger figures.  A lucky few lingerie and swimwear models are contracted by one of the top brands for one or more years.  Successful lingerie and swimwear models generally have an above average to high level of natural beauty.    

Commercial Modelling.     Commercial modelling is the least well known modelling style outside the modelling industry, yet is by far the biggest element of the modelling world.  Commercial modelling encompasses all advertising for all products and services advertised in magazines, posters and TV advertisements.  Commercial models are selected by the marketing departments of retailers as being representative of their target audience: so there are requirements for teen models for teen clothing, 20-something models for related products and services, 30-something models for the widest possible range of products and services, from home improvements to family holidays, and for older models for the more mature target market.  So, successful commercial models can work continuously from their teens through to their thirties, and sometime beyond. Successful commercial models often combine such work with catalogue, lingerie and swimwear modelling, generally have an above average to high level of natural beauty, and a good acting ability, in order to portray different emotions on demand in-front of the camera.   

Glamour Modelling.     Glamour modelling is a very well known and often mis-understood style of modelling, often perceived as being purely Page-3 style, when it actually covers a much wider range of work.  The glamour modelling industry and related opportunities have changed a lot over the last decade or more, as male tastes have shifted from the fantasy look to the girl-next-door look, as girl-next-door magazines publish readers’ pictures rather than professional glamour images, and as the Internet becomes more popular than printed magazines.  However, there is still a significant market for those few models who have the face, figure and personality to do glamour modelling.  Whilst some successful glamour models limit their working styles to implied topless (topless but with the nipples covered), most are comfortable posing topless and to either implied or full nude.  Clearly, glamour models have to be very self-confident about their figure.  Whilst many think glamour models’ figures and particularly their bust shape are most important, the most successful glamour models actually have a very distinctive face: the top page-3 models have a face that “lights up” when they smile, and others have a sultry or other distinctive look.  Successful glamour models undertake a variety of work, from the classic magazine photo-shoots to publicity work at shows and other events, often including trips abroad for beach shoots, etc. Successful glamour models have to be well managed throughout their career, to carefully balance “supply and demand” and maximise each model’s income, and have an average to high level of natural beauty.

Art-Nude Modelling.     Art-nude modelling is a quite specialist style of modelling, catering to a popular art market.  Successful art-nude models often have a dance or gymnastics background, with an athletic figure and a great sense of body shape and poise.  As with glamour models, art-nude models have to be very confident about their body, often walking around the studio completely nude for most of the day, to ensure are no clothing marks on their skin.  Good art-nude models are quite rare and the successful ones can have a long international career.

I Want to be a Model

Many girls (and a few men) decide in their teens or early twenties that “I want to be a model”, either because they are attracted by the perceived glamour of the industry or because they, or their friends, believe they have a distinctive look that would make them a successful model.  The fact that someone says “I want to be a model” is important, in that they should have the self-confidence and determination to succeed in a very competitive industry.  A few lucky girls are able to break into modelling quite easily, because of their unique look and natural beauty.  However, most new and aspiring models have to work hard to get noticed and, therefore, have to be determined that they want to be a model.

How to Become a Model

There are three main routes into modelling:

1.     A very few girls become a model by walking into a top model agency, with a few amateur pictures of themselves or none at all, and be tested and accepted as a new model.  An equally very small number of girls are talent scouted and sent to a top agency.  This is exceptionally rare and only happens for a tiny minority of girls with a unique look and unique aptitude to be taken on by one of the top agencies, and groomed by them for a career in modelling.  When this does happen, the girls are usually in their early to mid-teens, and the agency signs them on an exclusive contract and waits till the girls grow more, before starting to introduce them to castings.  Only a small minority of the girls who are signed by an agency in this way actually grow into an ideal model and have a successful career.

2.       Many girls who want to become a model are either asked by a photographer “in the street” if they would like to try modelling and do so, are “talent scouted in the street” and sent to a bogus agency that then charges them a large amount for poor quality pictures, or create a profile on one of the Internet model sites and undertake unpaid “time for prints” (TFP) shoots to try to build-up a good modelling portfolio and model career.  All of these routes to become a model are time consuming and often expensive.  A few lucky girls may be offered a free shoot with a very good photographer, and an even smaller number may get high quality images from a few TFP shoots; however, the vast majority of girls following this route to become a model will spend large amounts of time and money getting a poor to average quality portfolio, when they could have been winning paid jobs throughout that period.  The worst element of this route is those girls who want to become a model, that are targeted by bogus model scouts for photography businesses that specialise in selling grossly over-priced poor quality portfolio images to gullible girls.

3.     The best route to becoming a model for average to good looking girls is to invest in a high quality initial model portfolio, which they can then submit to model agencies and photographers.  Professional photographers only charge around £400 to £500 for a full-day portfolio shoot, working across a range of styles and looks, to give the aspiring new model a broad solid foundation of images.  This initial cost is a small outlay, that can be recovered in just 2 or 3 days paid modelling work, and allows the new model to start seeking paid jobs within a couple of weeks of the portfolio shoot.

Model Agencies & Self-Marketing

Traditionally, models sit at the bottom of the food-chain, below the agencies, photographers and publishers, who can easily choose to exploit models to their financial benefit.  This is slowly changing, as more models work selectively through both agencies and freelance, managing their own careers and maximising their own income, with a good understanding of the industry and appropriate pay rates.  Do you know when you should expect to be paid £200.00 per day, and when you should receive £5000.00 for one day’s work?

Model Agencies

Most new models believe that being signed by a model agency will automatically bring paid work and professional success; however, this is not necessarily true: as with most things in life, there are good and bad model agencies.  The challenge for new models is knowing which is which.  The are a relatively small number of established successful agencies, that only retain models when they are confident that both they and the model will have a mutually beneficial relationship: in other words, when they are confident that their clients will want to book the model regularly.  There are then a large number of small agencies, that usually have a very large number of models on their books, and rarely provide each model with much work: even worse, these agencies often waste models’ time sending them to castings, when there is little hope of the model winning any paid work.  Lastly, there are many unsuccessful and bogus agencies, that operate good web-sites but rarely provide any paid work for their models: instead, they make money from the models, by charging them to join the agency and/or to have photographs taken by them.

The best way to approach agencies is with a good portfolio of images, that highlight your modelling aptitude.  It is also good to approach the smaller agencies first and slowly apply for better and better agencies, obtaining feedback from each as you go.  Agencies receive lots of applications and you should not be discouraged by one or two rejections!  Whilst agencies may reject you because they do not believe they will be able to source paid work for you, they may also reject you because they already have one or two models with your “look” and don’t want another one, or because your “look” does not fit with their client base.  As and when you are accepted by a model agency, they may offer you an exclusive contract, which means you cannot accept bookings through any other agency or privately: only sign an exclusive contract if you are confident the agency will get sufficient work for you.

Please remember, no agency should ever charge a model to have new pictures taken!  At worst, an agency may insist that you are photographed by their own photographer, and the cost of that shoot should be deducted from your future income from that agency.

Self-Marketing

More and more models now manage their own modelling career, either operating as a freelance model only or combining freelance work with non-exclusive contracts to one or more agencies.  Most freelance work is sourced using one or more of the various Internet-based model and photographer networking sites, although there are risk and issues in using these sites (see Avoid the Pitfalls page).  However, if you have the maturity and strength of character to “cut through the crap” on these sites, there are ample paid work opportunities to be won; indeed, I know many successful models who earn a good living using these sites alone.  In fact these sites can be so good, that I believe any average to above-average looking model can have at least one year’s successful paid modelling work by using them correctly: the good models can easily get several years’ paid work.

How to Avoid the Pitfalls

Sadly, there are many potential pitfalls for new and aspiring models, and I can only mention a few of them here: I spend time during my model portfolio shoots briefing new models on the risks to avoid.

Bogus Model Portfolio Photographer & Agencies

There are several model portfolio photography businesses in London and other major cities that are devoted to exploiting aspiring models: they employ bogus talent scouts to target girls in shopping centres and clubs, entice them to photo-shoots with the promise of a modelling career, and then charge them extortionate amounts for poor quality images, web-sites and membership of bogus agencies.  Please avoid these!

Model Releases

All models should have a clear understanding of model releases and their legal rights when signing them.  All good photographers will require models to sign a model release at the end of a shoot.  In brief, a model release is a legal document which routinely states how much the model has been paid, that the images are owned by the photographer and how the photographer may use the images.  Models must always read these documents carefully before signing them.  More importantly, models should agree with photographers before a shoot what the images may be used for, and ensure that any agreed limitations or constraints on their use are accurately recorded on the model release.  If a model release is not accurate or appropriate, the model should either not sign it or annotate it with any agreed limitations on the use of the images before signing it.

Networking Sites

As mentioned in the Agencies & Self-Marketing page, the various photographer and model networking sites can be excellent sources of paid work for freelance models.  Unfortunately, these sites are also haunted by undesirable elements who target new and inexperienced models with offers of adult modelling work and even worse, often scaring-off girls who could become very good models.  So, only join and use these sites if you have the self-confidence and maturity to ignore such inappropriate offers  and to use the “delete key” extensively!

Unprofessional Photographers & Bad Photographs

Unprofessional and bad photographers fall into one or both of two categories: those that simply take bad photographs and those that behave inappropriately toward models.

Bad photographs of a new model, circulated on the Internet, can damage the model’s career before it has even started, so, it is best to avoid working for bad photographers.  This may seem obvious, but if a bad photographer is willing to pay you to model for them, you have the tough choice of accepting the money and risking the images being seen or declining the offer.  This challenges becomes common if you use the photographer and model networking sites, as they have many amateur photographer members and, whilst some of them are good photographers, there are many bad ones.

I hear numerous stories about both professional and amateur photographers behaving inappropriately toward models, ranging from simple rudeness to making sexual advances.  So, there are a few golden rules.  Firstly, before you work with a photographer for the first time, try to get references from other models and be cautious until you learn to trust them.  Secondly, photographers should keep a professional distance from models at all times - there is rarely any need for a photographer to be so close to a model that they can touch them: so, don’t hesitate to rebuke a photographer and tell them to be more professional if they get too close during a shoot.  It is much better to be thoroughly professional yourself and to expect the same from the photographer from the outset, than to try to be too friendly and allow the photographer to get the wrong impression.

What is a Model Portfolio

It amazes me that thousands of girls search the Internet every month asking “what is a model portfolio”, so I had better answer the question!  A model portfolio is simply a selection of photographs or other images of a model that show both her “look” and her range of experience.  Most good model portfolios comprise a natural head-shot, a natural full-length shot, plus a range of images that combine to evidence the model’s experience and modelling strengths.  A complete portfolio rarely requires more than 10 or 12 images; however, experienced models will have between 30 and 40 portfolio images and mix-and-match them depending on the type of modelling work they are seeking.

A model may carry one high-quality bound printed copy of her portfolio with her, but she should also have cheaper printed copies that she can leave behind at castings, etc.  Nowadays, many models keep a copy of their portfolio on their laptop, and take spare printed copies to castings. There is no need to pay for an expensive printed and bound portfolio!  Equally, there is very limited benefit in models having their own web-site.

How to Create a Model Portfolio

The best way to create a model portfolio quickly and efficiently is to pay a good professional photographer, whose images and style you like, to shoot a portfolio for you, for the reasons outlined on my Become a Model page.  Good professional photographers will provide you with the right images to launch your modelling career, both in terms of quality and range of looks.

I specialise in commercial natural beauty images and, coincidentally, these images are the essential foundation of a good model portfolio for any new or aspiring model, showing the model both naturally and at her very best.  I also work hard during shoots to ensure the model is relaxed and to get some excellent happy smiling pictures, as these are most successful in winning new work - photographers and clients want to work with models who appear to be fun and cheerful!  My images appear in many successful models’ portfolios and the models often tell me that my images win them more work than others.

Model Photographers & Model Portfolio Photographers

Please be warned, there are a lot of quite awful photographers out there offering model portfolio shoots at excessive prices.  Good model portfolio photographers will regularly work with experienced professional models shooting commercial material for magazines and others and fit model portfolio shoots in between their other commitments.  So, when you are choosing a model portfolio photographer, check their portfolio for evidence of the breadth and quality of their work.

Good photographers will have worked with a large number of models and will know how to get the best from each and every model, including new and aspiring ones.  Having said that, I am astounded how many models comment to me that I give them far more advice and help on posing and styling than other professional photographers: so, be warned, there are some professionals out there who may not get the best from you!  I always work with my model portfolio clients to agree the styles and looks before the shoot, I and my excellent make-up artists help them with styling and posing throughout the shoot, I help the models select the best images for their portfolio, and I “air-brush” the selected images in a very subtle but effective way, as model agencies will not accept “air-brushed” images.  So, whichever model photographer you use for your model portfolio shoot, please ensure you get the same level of service.