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The world needs models, but it is certainly no easy feat to become one. There are countless pitfalls to avoid and situations to navigate, so by deciding to become a model, you've already set yourself on a long and difficult path. In this often-cutthroat industry, you need every advantage you can get in order to succeed. Everybody makes some modeling mistakes at least once, but you can help ensure your future success by avoiding them as often as possible.
Wasting Your Money Early On
Just like in almost every career, there are some start-up expenses to consider if you want to become a model. One of the most tragically common mistakes made by new models, however, is dropping way too much money too early and needlessly. Expensive photo shoots and modeling classes are fun, of course, but if you're just getting started in the modeling industry, your money is far better spent on taking basic snapshots and sending them to as many modeling agents and scouts as possible.
One of the most common modeling mistakes made by new models is that they underestimate the importance of snapshots. These unprocessed photos, often referred to as "Polaroids" or "Digitals," are actually much more important than professional photos for budding models. Unlike professional photos, which are often doctored and touched-up, snapshots provide agents and scouts with a realistic view of your bone structure, your body proportions, your skin health, and other factors.
Writing Unprofessional Emails
The first point of communication between hopeful models and their potential agents is usually a letter or an email that includes snapshots alongside a letter of introduction. In addition to having control over their bodies, models must also display professionalism in their correspondence. Typos and overly familiar language are immediate red flags to potential agents. Keep your letters and emails concise, professional, and, of course, free of spelling errors.
Obviously, being enthusiastic in your quest to become a model is important, but there is a fine line between being excited to work as a model and being overly eager to the point of abrasiveness. Aspiring models who say they will "do anything" to get a modeling contract are actually a huge red flag to agencies. On the other side of the coin, if an agent, photographer, or anyone else wants you to compromise your integrity as a model, you should get yourself out of that situation as quickly as possible.
Limiting Your Exposure
Presence is perhaps the single most important trait when a client seeks to hire a model. The fewer markets you're in, the more you limit your presence and marketability as a model. Tyra Banks and Gisele Bundchen didn't earn their fame by only being able to work in one modeling idiom. Working in as many different markets as possible increases your versatility, ensures that you will cover the range of the types of photographs every model should have in their portfolio, and heightens the chance that an agency will want to represent you.
Taking Rejection Personally
Modeling can be a cutthroat industry, and it can be hard to separate the business end from the personal end. New and aspiring models have to understand that being told you don't have the "right look" is never a judgement on your character or qualities as a person. More often than not, it's something simple—maybe you look too much like another model on the shoot, or they already have enough models with your hair color. These simple judgments are common mistakes, and have nothing to do with your personality or your skills as a model. Don't take them as such.
Not Being Punctual
It sounds totally obvious—and really it should be—but so many otherwise talented models never make it past their first few shoots because they couldn't show up to the gig on time. Time is money, so your clients and photographers will not be happy if you make them wait. Showing up late practically guarantees you won't be hired by that firm again. If you establish a reputation for tardiness, you cannot do a photo shoot from start to finish. This can kill your career before it even truly begins.
Taking Bad Photos
Again, this is something that sounds obvious, but it's a concept that needs to be understood. Models who are trying to enter the profession for the very first time may be tempted to edit their own photos. While there's nothing wrong with taking your own photos and knowing how to use photo editing software, this isn't what potential agents want to see. The first pose you need to learn is whatever pose gives the most honest and appealing view of your natural posture, expressions, body proportions, and bone structure, as some of the reasons why your photoshoots don't look good include bad posture, terrible angles, and over experimentation.
Wearing Inappropriate Attire to Casting
One of the most frustrating modeling mistakes to see is when a model doesn't have the awareness to dress professionally and appropriately to a casting call. "Inappropriate" can mean a lot of different things here, including dressing too casually, dressing in potentially offensive clothing, or dressing in something that is overly revealing. When you're on your own time, wear whatever you want, but potential clients and agents want models who can present themselves as professional and respectful.
Throwing in the Towel
Above all else, perseverance is the absolute most important trait for avoiding most modeling mistakes and having modeling careers that succeed. Just because the first few agents you talk to don't have a place for you doesn't mean that you should give up prematurely. Gisele Bundchen reportedly met with, and was rejected by, 42 agencies before finally landing a contract. If Gisele had given up after the first 30 or 40 tries, she likely would never have become the multi-million dollar superstar she is today.