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New to modelling: How to become a model...hints, tips and how to's

By Russ Freeman, written 1363199016


If you are new and want to get the most out of your modelling, and your PurplePort membership, we recommend you read the following. It's full of useful information to help you further your modelling career and includes:

  • Setting up your Purpleport profile.
  • Selecting the best images to use.
  • Finding and arranging shoots.
  • Your safety.
  • Typical rates.
  • Getting the most out of Purpleport. 

Also, check out How to Become a Model - Top Tips & Advice posted on The Purple Blog. It's a must-read for anyone who aspires to become a model and is full of tips and advice that you can use to begin, and boost, your modelling career.

Stats and sizes - accuracy

There is no point in inaccuracy associated with your stats, sizes or age. Ensure you measure yourself properly and stick to the facts. There is a place for practically any gender, size, shape or age model so don't think if you put in smaller sizes you'll get more work. If you get booked based on false information you sure won't get a repeat booking especially if the team has purchased items based on your false size information!

Bust - Should be measured around the fullest part and generally across the nipples and should be measured whilst wearing a bra. Try to relax and breathe normally. Do not suck in a big breath to expand your chest!

Waist - Measured around two inches above your belly button or the smallest part of your midriff. Do not hold your stomach in when measuring!

Hips - Measured at the fullest of your bum or roughly 8 inches below your waist.

When measuring yourself measure as close to the skin as possible but do not pull the tape measure in!

Portfolio - notes and names

When creating your portfolio you have a choice about what name to choose. There are a lot of ways you can go wrong with this and send out the wrong message, so take care. Try to keep your name on modelling sites like PurplePort simple. Stay away from xxxSexyMum1975xxx type names as you will only attract the wrong sort of attention or it may result in people unfairly pre-judging you.

There is no reason to use your real name and in fact, it may harm you later if you do depending on what career path you choose later and the types of images you decide to shoot. Instead, it's a good idea to always use an alias. It doesn't need to be fancy or complicated, it's just best if it's not your real name. By all means use your real name on shoots but on sites like PurplePort dream up an alias to use instead.

Your portfolio notes represent a great opportunity to introduce yourself. You don't need to repeat the stats, sizes, how long you have been modelling or any of the other information you have already entered, the site will create that in tabulated form for you.

Instead, focus on what makes you special. Do you have any skills such as gymnastics, ballet, or anything else that will make you stand out? Perhaps you have a vast vintage or latex wardrobe or perhaps you have access to somewhere special like a villa or modern apartment to shoot in. 

Don't put your email address or phone number in your notes!

Genres you work in

Do you have the look and outfits to pull off a pinup look? If not don't select it. Only select the genres you are capable of delivering. There is, quite literally, no point at all in saying you can do something when you are completely incapable of delivering it.

Are you happy with lingerie or nude images of you being seen by friends and family? If not don't select it. Once an image has been taken then it could appear anywhere and in front of anyone. Do not rely on the promise that the images are "for personal use" unless you sign a contract saying as much and have had your lawyer look over it too!

Be careful - once images are taken they can appear anywhere and may be viewed by someone you least expect, and once on the Internet they will never be removed!

Choosing and adding images to your portfolio

Photographers want to see two basic things; What you look like and what you are capable of.

For a new model simple, clean, unaltered images are best. It doesn't matter if a professional photographer has taken them or whether your mum, sister or boyfriend took them on a camera phone or point and shoot camera. As long as they show what you look like that's all that matters. Photographers look at such images and decide whether you are suitable for their projects and then they will make awesome images with you.

Images you really should have include;

  • A clear, bright, head-shot with minimal or no make-up. Preferably unedited.
  • A clear, bright, full length shot preferably wearing a bikini or similar, or tight-fitting clothes.

Images to avoid include; 

  • Blurry, low light photos of you on a drunk night out with your friends.
  • Pictures of you with other people.

Adding images to show what you are capable of is important too. Can you pull off a full-blown beauty shot, can you get into fabulous and interesting art nude poses, do you have what it takes to have a clean, mean and crisp fashion look? Such images can, of course, have all manner of editing done to them, and that's fine because at the end of the day photographers will look at these images both as a benchmark of what you are capable of and what they might be able to achieve thanks to working with you.

Don't upload a whole bunch of images that are essentially the same. There is no point. Be very picky about which images you add to your portfolio. Generally speaking, you would, at most, want to add one image per set.

Payment preferences

If you are a new model then it's incredibly unlikely you will be able to find paid work initially. It's not impossible and it depends on the images you add and what you have to offer but it is unlikely. Sadly the scales are not tipped in your favour as there are a lot of models with more experience than you chasing the same modelling jobs.

It's probably best to select 'negotiable' to begin with and change it later. If someone contacts you wishing to collaborate and they don't make the grade then you can just politely decline, suggest part paid/TF, or send over your rates. Remember to be polite at all times!

Guide modelling rates

Rates vary a lot! Your look, experience, location and genres you shoot all affect the hourly rates you will charge. If you set your rates too high you won't get any work at all and of course there is the danger of setting your modelling rates too low.

Below are our UK hourly guide rates:

  • Fashion: £20-25
  • Lingerie: £25-30
  • Topless: £25-30
  • Art Nude: £25-35
  • Glamour Nude: £30-40
  • Adult: £40-60

Most models will also offer discounts for half-day (4 hours) and full-day (8 hours). Most models also don't take bookings for less than 2 hours but whether you do or not is entirely up to you.

Building your portfolio

Your portfolio is your storefront and needs to be dressed accordingly. Many people will pass but only a few will stop to look further. Knowing, and accepting, this will help you.

As a new model, you will have to accumulate images that will, as I have said, show what you look like and what you are capable of. Your camera-phone snaps will only take you so far.

Your goal now should be to work with talented photographers to build a portfolio of images that will show off your skills and natural assets.

How you do this falls into two basic categories; Find collaborators or pay to shoot with whoever you want.

It doesn't matter which option you choose because, if you are careful, you will fundamentally end up with the same; Some fabulous images that will go on to earn bookings for you.

Choosing photographers to work with may not be as easy as it first appears and it may not necessarily be a quick thing.

Once you have decided what your work genres will be you have narrowed down potential photographers to work with to help you create your portfolio. You can use the search feature of PurplePort to find photographers that work in that genre and you should then browse their portfolio, and the "Credited photos..." button below their portfolio, to see whether they are capable of delivering the images you want. Be as picky as you like!

The next problem is convincing them to collaborate with you. How you do that is entirely up to you. Many photographers will jump at the chance but many will also be too busy with paying customers. Don't be offended if a photographer says no to a collaboration. It's natural, normal, and happens all of the time. Say thank you and either move on or offer to pay them.

When you first as a model on PurplePort you will likely get a lot of collaboration offers from photographers but remember that you do not need to agree to every shoot that is offered. Study the photographer's work and decide if they can indeed improve your portfolio. If you don't think they can then politely decline their work offer. If someone is persistent you can just block them from communicating with you. Read our article about TF/collaboration expectations and agreements.

Communication and arranging shoots

It doesn't matter what device or communication mechanism you use it's vital to always communicate clearly.

Do not use txt spk, don't call a photographer 'hun'or 'babe'. Don't sign off communications with 'xxx'as it will send the wrong message. You might be fine with these things but many people are not. Be professional and courteous. Try not to ramble on too much.

If you want to shoot with someone then ask them. The worst they will say is 'no thanks'. It might feel like you are being rejected but it's not personal. Maybe you don't have the look they are shooting right now, maybe they are too busy. Either way, if someone says no just accept it and move on.

If you don't ask then you won't know. It's better to ask and be rejected than not ask at all. Most photographers are flattered when asked for a collaboration shoot. Trust me; Ask!

Photographers generally love working with models who have ideas to shoot so don't be shy about approaching a photographer and offering your ideas. On the flip side when a photographer has booked you for a paid shoot then it's very likely they will want to shoot their very specific ideas but don't curb your enthusiasm. Photographers love enthusiasm from people they work with!

Make sure that you agree with what you will get for a shoot and how long it's for before shoot. If it's a paid shoot then make sure the payment amount is agreed by both you and the photographer. If it's collaboration then ensure a commitment to a number of images is agreed and a delivery time scale for them - and also what quality (web, full resolution) images you will get. Getting an agreement before the shoot saves a lot of aggravation afterwards.

If you are collaborating to build your portfolio and you want a printed portfolio then web-sized images are useless because when sized to print you will only be able to print them small or they will be very blurry. To print an 8x10 or A4 based portfolio, you will need full-resolution images.

Casting calls

Casting calls are your primary method of finding work either by advertising your availability or by applying for casting calls.

When applying for casting calls be sure to check your suitability for them. If the casting call asks for a 5''9 dress size 6-8 model and you are 5''3 dress size 10 there is little point in applying. Be sure to mention your availability, your rates, and perhaps extol your virtues for the shoot.

When creating a casting call be as specific as you can. It's fine to leave dates blank if it's an open-ended call for collaborators but it's much better to set a date range.

The title of your casting call is very important. People skim past casting calls but if the title is interesting, or specific, then it's likely you'll get more interest. A title like "Want to shoot?" is not likely to yield much interest but a more specific title like "Latex shoot in a car park" is much more likely to attract attention.

Ensure you select the correct payment options and who you are interested in collaborating with.

In the description of the casting call include as much detail as possible but at the same time try to keep it concise. Casting call content is sales literature and needs to be well written and well-formed. Gibberish, txtspk, all on one paragraph casting calls are unlikely to be read through. You can include images on PurplePort casting calls as well as bold, italic, bullet points etc. so why not use them to make your casting call look as good as it can. Consider it a sales leaflet!

Away notices can be set for either when you are unable to shoot or when you are travelling and still able to shoot. If you tour the country then these can be quite powerful on PurplePort. When you set an away notice and set a location, then anyone in that location will see your away notice highlighted in a few places on PurplePort. This can, and does, yield collaborations and bookings so go ahead and use it.

Away notices can be set in advance and even though you are not away yet it will still be highlighted to any photographers in that area who view your portfolio.

Model release forms, proof of ID, use of images

A model release form is something a lot of photographers will require you to sign - in the UK it's essentially nothing more than a proof-of-age form. Make sure you read it and sign it before the shoot, not afterwards! It's a legal document so treat it as such.

In the UK there is no requirement for a model release form to publish your images wherever the photographer likes and the photographer owns the copyright on all images unless a contract has been signed to say otherwise.

If a photographer says the images are 'not for publication' then insist on a contract that states that clearly states the images will not be used for publication. Without a contract, the photographer can do as he pleases with the images.

Safety and chaperones

Modelling is as safe as any other pastime or profession regardless of what styles of images you wish to create but there are some things you can do to increase your confidence.

When booking a shoot with a photographer always check references by asking a few models they have previously worked with. It doesn't matter whether you are collaborating or taking a paid shoot. It takes a few minutes to send a quick 'What was like to work with' message. Practically every professional model I have worked with does this and it's something you should do too.

Leave the contact details, address and estimated arrival and departure times with a friend/relative so they know where you'll be and what time you are expected home.

Take travel money with you because if you travel to meet a photographer and they don't turn up to greet you then you'll need to get home somehow. Seems so obvious but needs to be said.

Text your loved one or close friend when you arrive and when you leave. Again, it takes just a moment to say "arrived" and "leaving" but it makes you and everyone else feel happier.

Whilst shooting don't be afraid to say "no" to an idea you don't like but try to be diplomatic. If a shoot isn't going well and you feel uncomfortable just leave. Simple as that.

When you first start working with photographers you may feel that being accompanied by someone, a chaperone, will help you. It may indeed help you but bad choices for a chaperone include a family member or boyfriend. A glaring boyfriend on a shoot is a very painful experience for everyone involved, not least them, and a family member can be overpowering. If you must take a chaperone take a close friend who will happily sit and read a book.

Often it's fine to take someone and the photographer has no problem with it. Even better if all they do is they drop you off to make sure you go to the shoot safely and they pick you up afterwards.

PurplePort Groups

On PurplePort we have a whole bunch of groups you can join to network, share and learn.

Posting in groups is quite important to how you are perceived and whether you manage to network with potential collaborators. Join in and have fun!

Say hello in the Welcome group. It's a great way to get instant exposure on the site and is a good opportunity to introduce yourself.

We have a Games group where you can play many photo/related games. It can be a lot of fun and again increases your exposure on PurplePort.

As a model, you also have access to the Model Chat group. Only models can view or post in this group so it's fine to share beauty secrets, tips, and to ask modelling/beauty/fitness related questions without anyone else seeing.

Resolving Disputes

Generally speaking, you won't have any disputes with people you work with on PurplePort. You'll arrange shoots, you'll shoot and everything will be fine. However, if things go wrong we can only arbitrate when the communications about the shoot are on PurplePort.

We have no problem whatsoever with you communicating via email, facebook or texting but if you ever have a dispute none of that evidence can be used to support your case. Our view is to keep all communications to PurplePort.


A big thank you to the PurplePort Community Team for helping me with this by suggesting new sections, rewriting my gibberish and correcting my mistakes :-)

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