Take It One Step At a Time...
I often get emails from aspiring models talking paragraphs about how much they want to model and need to know this, that or the other about the industry. Based on what they write, I can usually tell whether they have an inkling of how things work. Most of the time they don't, which is okay since no one is expected to be an expert on this stuff right away. But I do have some helpful quick tips for anyone that ends up getting bitten by the modeling bug:
1) Do Research First. Have questions about modeling? That's what the Internet is for! Aside from my blog there are tons of resources online. Even if you aren't sure of what you're reading, browse through as many websites as you can. Take time to read through what you find and digest the information. Still have questions? Then use your Internet skills to find people in the industry (like myself) that you can ask specific questions to. Chances are you will be more successful if the nature of your questions don't deal with basic stuff you can find out on your own. Being a model requires being a self-starter and being motivated. No one will do the legwork for you so be your own detective and discover what the industry is all about. There's plenty of info out there to keep you busy for a while.
2) Make Sure You Will Make The Cut. Anyone can say "I want to be a model!" but not everyone can actually "be" one. Once you've decided that you want to model be sure to know what the requirements are before you proceed any further. Be realistic as well. If you're 5'5" and don't think you're going to grow, look into commercial/print agencies, not fashion agencies. Hold off on submitting to fashion agencies until you actually grow more. Agencies won't "wait" around and take your word that you'll get to be 5'8" or taller. If you are much shorter (5'0" to 5'3") just know that the petite industry is not where the demand is and the chances of getting signed is not highly likely in most cases. In this situation, you may want to look into freelance opportunities instead.
3) If You Think Modeling Schools Are Your Way Into the Industry, You Are SOOOO Not Ready! I get so many emails from aspiring models asking me to refer them to the best modeling schools or asking what education they need in order to get signed to an agency. This is a HUGE indicator that you do not know even the basics about becoming a model and are NOT ready to pursue it. Modeling schools should be the absolute last resort, especially since submitting your images and attending casting calls are both free ways to get in touch with agencies without paying a "middleman." (If you've had a positive experience with a modeling school, that's great--but please don't send me comments or emails to try and argue why I should believe this is a legitimate alternative. You're entitled to your opinion as well as I am)
4) Hold Off On the Photoshoots. The idea of planning a photoshoot to prepare for putting together your portfolio is exciting but not necessary in the beginning stages (unless you're pursuing the freelance route). When it comes to inexperienced models, agencies prefer non professional, digital snapshots. While they will consider professional images, snapshots should be your priority. Besides, if you are not familiar with the modeling industry it will be even more of a challenge to learn how to find photographers and arrange your own shoot. However, getting signed with an agency will ensure that your portfolio will be put together properly under the guidance of your agent.
5) Understand The Way Agencies Work. Despite the success stories of your favorite supermodels, agencies do not come to you. You have to go to them, unless you happen to get lucky enough to be scouted or otherwise "discovered." Many aspiring models ask me get them information about the best agencies in New York are or other large markets but when I ask them for the specifics (height, measurements, etc.) they are nowhere near meeting the standards that the agencies are interested in. Nor are they located anywhere near that market. Relocation is usually the only option if you are not local to any good, reputable agencies. However, even relocation is not practical for most people. This is mostly true for print models (of course there are exceptions to the rule but I'm not talking about those). Usually this kind of modeling involves doing a lot of local gigs. Fashion and runway models are the jet setters 9 times out of 10. Learn to look locally and use the Internet to find the agencies--believe it or not, you don't already have to be an expert in modeling to know how to get this kind of information.
If you are in rush to make things happen and do not take the necessary steps to learn the industry, this will open you up for a lot of disappointment, not to mention making yourself more likely to be taken advantage of. Becoming a model is a process that doesn't always involve being discovered overnight. Many models get into the industry by their own efforts and that includes taking the time to do the research, having a good grasp of what is involved in the process and knowing exactly where to start. The more you know, the better results you'll get in return.
Learn accountability and take your career into your own hands but do it the right way.