If there's one statement or question I hear the most it would have to be; I want to model, but I don't know how to get started, how do I start?
I personally recommend, if you are looking to launch your modeling career, first research and then scout. As with every profession, the stars are often times the most dedicated, knowledgable and fearless individuals; and the same can be said with the most elite models. So first, do your research. Learn what genre or type of modeling your look fits best with and what genre of modeling you want to pursue. While you may want to pursue high fashion, there are strict standards regarding height, weight and measurements; so if you are 5'1 and have a burning passion to be a high fashion runway model, there is a certain cold reality you must face. Although I used height as an example of a limitation, please understand the 5'1 model can still have a full career in modeling. After all, how many of you can tell how tall a model is in print?
Once you've researched what genre of modeling you have the best chances of pursuing and being successful in, it is time to act! While there are an over-abundant amount of 'photographers' out there willing to shoot you for free, I highly recommend you searching for a professional photographer or studio and hiring them. There are several benefits in taking the time to research photographers or studios.
If you decide to work with a photographer on a TFP (Trade For Print) shoot there are certain risks you are taking that wouldn't exist with a professional. Trade for print means both the model and photographer are agreeing to work for free, however; because you are both working for free there are also no guarantees. There is no guarantee to the photographer the model will show up and be professional and vice versa, there is no guarantee to the model that they will ever see the images, or where the images will be seen. When you hire a professional your money gives you a certain guarantee that your time will not be wasted and you will see a result because you are paying them for images, therefore you have to see and receive the images captured.
If you decide to go the TFP route understand you are most likely working with an amateur. Someone who, like you is trying to figure things out. Thus you may not like any work they do, their skills may be very limited, they may have no post editing skills. They may not be giving you that polished look that a professional would in order to open doors. By hiring a professional you are hiring someone who has experience under their belt. That experience can guide you through your first shoot and the guidance may lead you to have better images; meaning a stronger more attractive portfolio.
When you hire a professional you can look through their portfolio and if they have a strong portfolio you can usually receive recommendations into other organizations, if your shoot turns out well. But if you choose the free amateur, what potential can they introduce you to by shooting with them? Most likely none.
As you are researching photographers keep these safety tips in mind. If you are not pursuing adult modeling, stay clear of any photographers whose portfolio shows explicit nude images. Chances are, even though the photographer may say they won't expect you to shoot nude prior to the shoot; they may still, and most likely will try and coherse you to shoot past your comfort zone during your photoshoot. Even if you stay true to who you are and remain classy, there's no guarantee what other's will assume of you by working with that photographer. When you work with a photographer whose portfolio contains explicit images, there may be people who just assume you shot nude with that photographer as well, even if there are no images and you never shot nudes.
The best defense is to never put yourself in a bad situation. Therefore, you want to hire a photographer who will take the tme to meet with you in a professional location prior to hiring them. There are plenty of photographers I have met with at a Starbucks or other public cafes and coffee shops that don't currently have a studio or office space, but are amazing with their craft and therefore should not be looked at as any less.
Your comfort during a shoot is crucial, so you want to find a photographer you have a natural comfort with. You also want a photographer who seems knowledgable and patient, this way they can give you guidene during your shoot and you won't feel as though your novice stage is annoying them. By hiriing a photographer with a portfolio you personally like, you're going into the situation expecting the best, already giving you confidence. When you shoot TFP you may experience extreme anxiety simply from not knowing what you're going to get at the end of the shoot.
Finally the last piece of advice I can lend you. After you have found a professional photographer who fits your approval then book a shoot date and NO MATTER WHAT STICK TO IT. I can't tell you how many people have reached out to me trying to 'start modeling' but cancel or never show-up because they don't feel like they're in-shape. Once you miss that first shoot it becomes easier and easier to find excuses to never shoot. So, if you need to get in better shape, consider that before you book your shoot date and allow yourself the time to get back in-shape. If you booked your shoot, and wasted that in-shape buffer time, oh well! SHOW UP anyways. Remember, this is your first shoot ever, so you can't walk-in thinking you'll be a supermodel, so if you're a little out of shape, WHO CARES. Let that embarrassed feeling of not being in-shape during that photo shoot motivate you to work out and be ready for the next shoot. USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE... TO MOTIVATE YOURSELF!! Also, since you did hire a photographer with images you like, you'll know even if you are a few pounds heavier than you'd like, they'll find a way to flatter you regardless, because isn't that why you're hiring them, for good quality images?
If you've done all the above tips, you now have a modeling portfolio and are ready to stay active, submit yourself to model castings and get booked, Remember, be creative, original, punctual and don't fear the NO's!