How do I become a glamour model or photographer?
Before I made a living writing about sex I spent a lot of time trying to capture sexuality in photos. Since 2004 I’ve modelled fetish, nude, glamour and editorial looks and in many respects my work as a model still generates more interest than my written creations… although you may not realise that much of my older work is mine.
I get asked a lot by models, photographers and designers about breaking into modelling, how to find models or to become a well-respected photographer and how to choose the best people to work with to enhance a brand. I’m by no means an oracle, but I now have a good 250-odd photo shoots under my belt and I’ve been working as a model for eight years so I guess I have something to say on the subject.
If you’re an aspiring glamour model or photographer (or nude/fetish/vintage), the best place to start is with a mutual portfolio trade. Try net-model.com and modelmayhem.com to help make connections. You’ll need some photos to start with, so if you’re an aspiring model ask a friend to take some photos that show your face at different angles and the same again for full length. For photographers, take some great shots of your friends to show off your skills. If you’re looking to shoot erotica but don’t have models for it, shoot portraiture and editorial-style shots with friends to show your skills.
Once you’ve got a basic portfolio up together you have something to work with and others will be more interested in collaborating with you. Models can see that photographers know how to take good photos and photographers can see potential as a model (models, be prepared to provide your own wardrobe and styling in the beginning unless you can get an aspiring hairdresser/MUA on board). The next step is to trade skills, contact models/photographers you’re interested in working with to mutually build on a portfolio. This is usually done on a TFCD/TFP (time for CD / time for print) basis, where the photographer will take photos and provide the model with images. Models, you should insist on a split-profit basis for these shoots as the photographer will own the copyright and any royalty rights if the photos sell. You should agree a 50/50 percentage split in your model release*.
If you’re looking to work with professionals as an amateur photographer or model then you should expect to pay for the privilege. Professional models and photographers make their money from their work and it’s poor decorum to approach a professional either asking for money or expecting to collaborate for free. Would you go into the office tomorrow for free?
As you build your portfolio, model or photographer, you’ll begin to earn a reputation. Models and photographers trade notes on who they’ve worked with, so make sure you behave in a professional manner as the world is small and word travels. As your photos improve and you show more of your potential, you may find that offers for paid work start to arrive. When it comes to setting your fees, keep them realistic and consider the shoot locations when quoting. Working in London will command a higher rate than working in Cheltenham, for example. For a model who is leaving the amateur ranks and starting to earn their first money on paid shoots £25 per hour is fairly standard. Photographers around £35 per hour or a set price for the number of retouched images requested for the job. Don’t price yourself too highly when you first start earning, it will cost you work. There are a lot of people who want to be professional and could well be, but still give their work away for free. It’s an unfortunate fact of the industry that you could always be replaced by someone willing to work for gratis.
Both models and photographers need to be prepared for heavy outlays. Investments in the form of clothing, make-up, accessories, props, wigs, travel, lights, cameras, flash guns, sets and all kinds of other things that help your images to stand out. You have to speculate to accumulate and creating amazing, unique shots can cost a lot.
Be your own PR. Once you have a solid portfolio, you need to invest time in promoting it. Contact designers, companies, publications and other work sources with a zip file portfolio, a rates list and your professional CV. Advise them that you’re interested in working with them in the future as a client and should they require a model/photographer and they like your work you’d love to hear from them when they’re next looking to hire. Spend time working on social media and making connections, the more your face/name/images are known, the more likely you are to be remembered and contacted for future work.
Finally, be prepared to accept criticism in whichever form it takes. The problem with computers is that people sitting behind them often feel an accentuated sense of importance. If they want to to tell you they hate your work, they won’t hold back on the venom. Don’t take anything to heart, but take constructive criticism on board and make the next shoot even better as a result.
Hope that helps!
*A model release is a legally-binding contract between a photographer and the model to confirm who owns the copyright and how the images may be licensed and distributed.
– Hella Rude