Modeling 101 Tips for Aspiring Models

Modeling 101 Tips for Aspiring Models

In this issue of PLUS we are bringing the information to you. If you are an aspiring model and require some direction or if you are at a stand still in your career, consider this your “Modeling 101” cheat sheet.

What is the Criteria for Plus Size Modeling?

Generally sizes range from 6 to 16 for print, 12 to 16 for runway and size 18 for fit modeling.
Height 5’4 and under for petite, 5’8 and above for print and runway.
A toned and healthy body.

Note: Some women and teens still find work even though they don’t fit these statistics exactly. It is well known throughout the industry that size 12’s and 14’s get the most jobs however, clients have been pushing for curvier models in recent months. The modeling industry has and will continue to change.

What if you don’t fit the criteria?

Even if you don’t fall within the fashion modeling requirements there are designers and retailers who have opened up the doors for models that do not meet the exact statistics of plus size models.

Commercial modeling, also called lifestyle modeling, involves capturing the ‘feel’ of a story and/or the promotion of products and services. For this type of modeling there is no height or size requirement. You have to “look the part”.

Opportunities for work include ; Print (magazines, catalog, web, etc.), television commercials, infomercial’s and trade show promotions.

Some of these models/performers have VERY lucrative careers in commercial modeling.

Additionally: Having the right statistics is only the beginning. As an aspiring model you must research the industry. You should know what is expected of you and how to develop yourself as a model.

What kind of photos should you have?

As an aspiring model, you do not need a portfolio for starters. It will take you some time in front of the camera to develop the quality pictures you need to develop a good portfolio. What you need to begin are a few simple shots to submit to agencies, similar to Polaroids. Your clothing should not be flashy but should show your shape for example a pair of jeans/white tank and minimal makeup. Most client’s will be able to tell if you have the right look for their company and most agencies will be able to determine if you have the right look for their board.

I want to begin testing, how do I begin?

Testing refers to models shooting with a photographer for their portfolio. In the very beginning your photos will help you in many ways. Find a photographer that shoot’s plus size models and that has a good reputation of being able to work with aspiring models. You want to work with someone that will not just stand in front of you and shoot but will offer feedback on how to take the best photo.

Look at other professional plus size models online portfolios. Let their photo’s help you to determine the types of looks you should be trying to shoot. If you are looking to be a commercial model then your pictures should define this industry. Look at the types of facial expressions they have in their pictures. Standing and what to do with your hands and feet are essential for a good photo.

What is a TFP?

A TFP or TFCD refers to “Test for Prints” or “Test for CD”. When a photographer offers a model a shoot for TFP/TFCD the model will not receive monetary compensation. Instead the model and photographer will come to an agreement where the photo’s or a CD of the photo’s are given to the model for use and the photographer will also be able to use the photo’s for his website. When you are shooting for a TFP/TFCD you should be clear about what is expected from you and the types of looks the photographer is looking to do with you.

What kind of photos should you send to an agent?

Agencies usually require 2 types of photos for submissions – 1 head shot and 1 full body shot. Many aspiring models only send a head shot. The agency needs to know that your body is curvy and toned!

What kind of photos should you never send to an agent?

NEVER (and we do mean NEVER) submit photos to a legitimate agency that are sexual in nature. Legitimate agents are offended by the photos and will find you unprofessional. Also, if you include pornographic pictures in a submission to them, they will assume that these photos are also on the internet. Legitimate companies will NOT hire models who have pornographic pictures floating around on the net!

What should you know about working with a professional photographer?

ALWAYS view their portfolios before shooting with them!

Find out exactly what charges you will incur, if they have a good makeup artist and/or hairstylist they work with and exactly what you will be getting from the shoot. You may not be able to get exact photo counts from the photographer since most photographers shoot until they feel they have enough “good” shot’s of you.

If you don’t own the negatives, make sure you know what you are signing away. Be sure to read the photographer’s release form before signing it.

If you decide to book with them, they will give you a list of requirements for the shoot.

Building an effective online portfolio…

When you build an effective online modeling portfolio, you provide yourself with potential opportunities that might otherwise be unavailable to you.

Now that the internet has made it easy for agencies and companies to find and book curvy talent online, you can bet that they are looking for specific information to be included, as well as excluded, from your online portfolio.

What kinds of photos will capture a client’s attention when I build an effective online modeling portfolio?

A flattering first photo that makes them want to see more of your portfolio. Working models are always looking to shoot their next great head shot. A simple yet stunning head shot is essential when your looking to make a great impression.

A head-to-toe photo that shows the shape of your body. A body shot should be fun and show a great energy. Don’t be afraid to smile or to show your fun side in your body shot.

Photos that show your vibrant personality

Photos that show your versatility

Clear and recent photos; Clients need to know what you look like TODAY, not 10 years ago! When you are hired for a job, you need to be able to show up looking like you did in your portfolio.

What kind of photos should I exclude when I build an effective online modeling portfolio?

If you are looking for legitimate jobs with reputable companies, do not fill your portfolio with overtly sexual photos or ones that are pornographic in nature. These are never appropriate and will never get you legitimate modeling jobs and / or agency representation!

Do not include glamour shots since they do not show the real you.

Do not include portrait type shots. These include: school, family, wedding or prom/formal photos.

For the most part, do not include photos that have other people in them, they want to see you!

Do not include webcam photos since they will not do you justice. The angle of the shot usually makes people look distorted and the quality is too poor to consider using in your portfolio.

Do not include every photo you have ever taken. Show yourself in the best light by choosing only those shots that do you justice. Clients would rather see 6 great photos than 50 marginal ones! Also, as you take more photos, you will get better. So, remove the older photos that no longer show you in the best light.

I just shot with a photographer, how many pictures of each look should I include in my online portfolio?

It’s normal to be excited about your new shoot. Look through all your pictures and make a folder of the pictures that are portfolio worthy. Once you have accomplished this task, look through them and choose the two pictures that show your body, face and garments the best. You should use two pictures from each look maximum. If you are having trouble choosing you may want to choose the best 6 and send to other models who can give you honest feedback.

When I build an effective online modeling portfolio, what information should I include in the ABOUT section?

The ABOUT section is one of THE most important parts of your online portfolio! When companies are searching for talent, they usually are looking for a specific height, measurements or talent in a certain area of the country. Therefore, it is imperative that your statistics, contact / booking and information be up-to-date and accurate. By excluding information or posting incorrect information, you could be missing out on great job opportunities! (Note: There is no reason to list your weight, just make sure to post accurate measurements.)

What information should I exclude in the ABOUT section of my effective online modeling portfolio?

Do not include your home address, home phone number, social security number, etc. Try to use a free email account (ie. YAHOO) that you set up specifically for your online portfolio.

How often should I update my site for it to be an effective online modeling portfolio?

When you have new, flattering photos (remove any older, non flattering photos).

When you have new tear sheets.

When you have any changes to your ABOUT section.

Is there anything I should be careful of when I build an effective online modeling portfolio?

Absolutely! This website as well as any portfolio hosting website cannot vouch for the legitimacy of any company contacting you for work. If you have agency representation, you can have potential clients contact your agent to book you. If you are representing yourself, then you will need to do a bit more work. It is always important for you to make sure that jobs are legitimate and potential clients are who they say they are. Ask lots of question (ie. where is the job, what is required of you, what you will be paid, where / how will the photos be used, etc.) Always take a look at their website to see what kind of company they are. If anything seems questionable, walk away! No job is worth your safety or reputation. If you should have any other questions about the ethics or legitimacy of a company, you can always check with the following:

Better Business Bureau (BBB)
The BBB is a private, nonprofit organization with offices all around the country that can provide you with a report on local businesses. You can find the number of your local BBB in the white pages of the phone book or by visiting the BBB online at

They work for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit: or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.

State Attorney General
This is the chief legal officer of the state and can tell you if the organization in question has been charged with any crimes involving false advertising, money, drugs or sex. You can find this phone number under “State Government” in the government section of your phone book or you can look up your State representative and contact information at the National Association of Attorneys General or online at

Are there any online portfolio companies I should avoid?

Please do NOT use Myspace or Facebook for your online portfolio. Companies wishing to hire you would have to be a Myspace/Facebook member to view your images AND they do not consider this as professional as Plus Size Industry Professinoals, ModelMayhem and Musecube.

Should I create a professional email address for my modeling emails?

Yes, your first impression may be your last. If you email a client and the email begins with a curse or triple X’s you can bet they will not be taking you seriously.

Finding an Agency:

If you do not live in a major city, finding an agency may be a little more difficult but not impossible. The internet is a great tool in finding the information that you are looking for. If you are outside of the plus size modeling statistics then a commercial agency is what you should be looking for.

Once you find the agencies, call and ask:

-Do they offer an open call, when they will see aspiring models OR do they prefer a photo submission by mail?

– What is the agency’s criteria for submission?

– What do you bring to the open call OR what do you send for a photo submission by mail.

– If by mail, where and whom do you send it to?

Before going to an open call or mailing photos:

Put your name, phone number and statistics on the back of the photos that you submit. Also, never submit your original photos; you may never see them again.

Should I approach clothing retailers on my own?

Yes! Many models began their careers by getting tears and working for free for some of your favorite online clothing stores and magazines. You may have to pay your own expenses but the experience and tears you get will benefit your career.

When I approach a clothing retailer, magazine or designer by email/mail, what information should I include?

Keep your email or letter short and simple. Include your name, statistics (measurements, height and show size) and contact information. You should also include your online portfolio and state weather you’re an aspiring model or have some experience.

Modeling is like any other career. You must know the industry, study and develop yourself in the industry. If you are looking to become an overnight success then this is not the industry for you. It may seem like models have a fabulous life but modeling is hard work, you must maintain your image, portfolio and build good relationships with your clients and other industry experts.

Photographer: Luke Jones