Getting started in “the Business”

Dreaming of a modelling carreer? Love doing make-up and want to make it your job? Is taking photos a passion? Or do you just want to follow my footsteps and do hair? (Just kidding!)

Starting out can be tricky business, especially for models. Here are some tips to help you on the way.

  • Make sure you know your stuff. Interested in make-up or hair? Take a make-up course in your town or city. Most big cities have these educations, Google is your friend! Photography courses are everywhere, too.
    As a model, there’s not really a “model-education”. What you can do is study fashion magazines, look at the poses, facial expressions, and practise in front of a mirror.
  • Keep on practising. There is no such thing as too much practise! Once I read that a “genius” at a certain field has to have more than 1000 hours of practise. Make-up artists, practise on as many diferent kinds of people you can. Light skinned, dark skinned, young, old, … Same for hair! Try to practise on different hair types.
  • Keep on educating yourself. Just because you got a diploma, doesn’t mean you know everything. Keep on watching YouTube videos, buy books,  learn from other artists, …
  • Find examples and people you look up to. What I did, was browse Facebook and Model Mayhem to look at photographers or models I would love to work with in the future. Even if I was not at their level, looking at their work helped me up my standards. Start at the bottom, but don’t stay there. Keep climbing that ladder and eventually, you will find yourself working together with your idols.
  • Start at the bottom. If you have NO experience at all, you need to gather it. Try to work with as much people as possible and build a portfolio. A portfolio is a series of images of your “best work”. It’s never steady; as you keep getting better, so will your photos. Don’t be afraid to toss out pictures that don’t match your standards anymore. (This is why I don’t recommend getting your portfolio printed in a book. It looks cool and professional, but you can’t keep it up to date. What I do is buy a binder or a book with plastics in them in which you put your printed pictures, and you can easily take them out as well.)
  • Make a Facebook page. You don’t need a fancy company name, but if you have one, go ahead! Make sure it’s easy to spell so people don’t credit you wrong. Facebook has a very easy system to make pages – once you have one, invite your close friends and family to like and share it! Make sure you have a nice avatar and cover photo that shows your work.
  • Get into the “scene”. Every city/country/state has a photography “scene”, with local models, photographers, etc. Most of these scenes are active on Facebook. Become a member of different TFP photography groups and make an introduction post. What should be on this post?
    – (models) A (decent!) picture of yourself. Selfies are usually frowned upon, the best thing is to have a clear picture of your face and one full-body.
    – Your age. (I wouldn’t recommend starting in the business under age 16-18.)
    – What you do
    – Pictures of some of your work (this can be from your courses, or just things that you try on yourself or friends)
    – Your location
    – The message. A good example would be:
    “Hello, my name is Anna and I’m just starting out as a make-up artist. I have finished my education at [name of school] and would like to build a portfolio. In the pictures you can find some looks I had to do for my exam. I live in Brussels and would like to work with like-minded people in the area.”
    A bad example would be:
    “I’m Becky
    Looking for photographer to make free pics
    [ 5 selfies]”
    (I swear to God I’ve seen messages like this flow around on Facebook groups.)
  • Raise the bar for yourself. This is tricky business. When are you at someone’s level, when are you “above” them? It takes a good eye and self-knowledge to decide this. Pay attention to your environment. They will point out if the photography is too weak for you, or if you should look for a better make-up artist.
  • Be open for constructive criticism. Learn the difference between a person hating your work and a person pointing out what is wrong with it in order to help you out.
    An example of hate: “this sucks” “are you fucking serious”
    An example of constructive criticism: “I’m not sure about the lighting here, was it intentional?”  “I don’t think that eyeshadow fits very well with your skindone.”
    Listen carefully to these criticisms and learn from them. I always ask people to be as blunt as possible, because if everyone says “oh it’s so gooood!”, you will never see your flaws and work on them.
  • !!! Models: Watch out for predators !!! The photography world is an amazing place for artistic souls, but unfortunately, also for creepy old men. People who got themselves a camera for their old day as a hobby. In some cases, this is an excuse to be around pretty young girls. Please always be aware that these people exist and be on the lookout for red flags such as:
    – Asking for “artistic nude photos” right away
    – Refusing to let your parents or partner accompany you to a shoot
    – Calling you names such as “sweetie”, “baby”, “honey”, …
    – Touching you at shoots without asking for permission.
    If you notice some of these red flags, don’t be ashamed to walk out of the shoot immediately. It’s always a good idea to take someone with you. If you go alone, notify some people where you are, give them the name and adress of the photographer.
  • Get better and better. Getting better depends a lot on your team. If you are an amazing model, but keep working with people who are not on the same level, you won’t achieve much. Don’t feel bad to move on to new teams and meet new people. Once you’ve achieved a certain skill level, start sending emails to people that you really admire. If one wants to work with you, they can talk about their experience with you to other people, and your name will be more known.

Good luck!

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