Want to become a Model but don’t think an agency is for you?
Perhaps being a freelance model would suit you.
I spoke to successful freelance model Amy Pankhurst about her experience in the freelancing business and some advice for those aspiring to be freelance models.
What is freelance modelling?
Freelance modelling includes modelling work where the model is not represented by an agency and are instead self represented in the industry.
Where to start?
Model mayhem is a great place to display your portfolio to a more targeted and direct audience in the industry.
How do you market yourself?
I have a few social media sites that display some of my portfolio including Facebook and Instagram but marketing myself directly as a model didn’t have to continue once I’d worked in the industry for a while. A lot of my work is received from recommendations from previous creatives (designers, photographers) I have worked with.
How to find work?
Be a nice person, I can’t stress this one enough as I have witnessed a lot of models loose work or stunt their career because they are difficult to work with, if you’re easygoing and able to work with a team of people well then you’re more than likely going to continue to get work as a model as a lot of being a freelance model is based on word of mouth and how well you did on your last shoot. Be picky about who you work with as the better the creative team, the better the final images are and the more likely you’ll get picked up for future jobs. There are several Facebook pages that accommodate for models in Perth, some are *TFP only and some are specifically for paid jobs.
*TFP stands for time for print. “… generally a creative team will work together and create an image and everyone works for free so no one gets paid but they’ll normally get published as their reward or ‘exposure’…”
Rates and how you get paid?
I charge on average $100p/h for photoshoots and I invoice the client straight after the shoot based on the hours I worked.
How do you protect your rights, and prevent being exploited?
I am very picky about who I will work with as there are a lot of amateurs in Perth who are chasing a pipe dream but will not further your own career in the industry. These days I mostly will only work with professional photographers who work full time in the industry. I will often speak to people who I know have worked with the photographers in the past before agreeing to take on a job. Even professionals can be very unprofessional so it’s important to know who you’re working with before the job arises. I am very verbal about what I expect from the shoot and from the creative team, especially if there is nudity or implied nudity involved. Some photographers do really get into the scene just so they can have the opportunity to shoot half naked women and have then uploaded images and out-takes of models to websites for men to ogle without the permission from the model. I make sure to read through every release form that I am given and make sure I’m comfortable with where the images may end up and what images are okay to share.
Things to look out for?
Mainly amateurs posing as professionals. There’s no harm in turning down a shoot with a photographer. Make sure they shoot a style you are comfortable with and check out their portfolio before working with them. How the photographer addresses you is also important, professionals won’t call you “babe” or “sweetheart” it’s important to make sure they value you as a professional but also as a person too. Ask questions like “Have they been published before? if so what publications?” This will often give a good indication of their level of photography.
Are there any Websites/ apps that help?
Facebook is great because it is interactive and you’re able to get a pretty good idea of who people are before agreeing to a job. When I used a model mayhem account it was actually quite useful in gaining paid work (there’s a fee for joining) but still be aware anyone can pay to have an account so having one doesn’t automatically make you a professional.
Are there any physical requirements to being a freelance model?
Yes and no. Being fit and tall helps a lot as it is what is required of most successful models but if you’re good at modelling height shouldn’t be an issue for photographic work such as portraits. The more versatile you can be the more likely you’ll get paid work as the industry goes through phases of what they consider beautiful and a lot of the time that has nothing to do with the model’s opinion. Models who have a versatile look, changing from shoot to shoot can find a lot of success so shooting different concepts in your portfolio can be very beneficial.
What does it take to be a successful?
A versatile look, a positive and light demeanour with clients and creative teams and the ability to not take yourself too seriously. Most models (even very successful ones) still rely on another income. Staying fit and healthy helps too! Networking is invaluable as many paid jobs will be from clients who have already worked with you and have the confidence in you to deliver.
Words of advice for those wanting to get into freelance modelling?
Stay grounded and don’t be offended if you don’t end up on billboards as your success won’t be judged on whether you’re a nice person (which is more important). Sometimes the industry is looking for something particular so don’t be disheartened if you don’t get every job you apply for. If you’ve been in the industry for 6 months and are not getting paid, don’t expect that will likely change. Often those models who are approached by photographers and designers are the ones who will end up making decent money from modelling as the model really doesn’t control their own success in that way which is a hard concept to grasp. Being ambitious does not equal success in this industry, so it’s best to go with the flow and see where it takes you. Lower your expectations of a career in modelling and make sure you enjoy every moment.