Friday, March 31, 2017

How To Get Into (Alternative / Goth) Modeling

Several people have asked me about modeling, and even though I don't consider myself a model, I guess I have SOME experience and can give some tips for the complete beginners.
Can I just say one thing though? I've been seeing people tossing around the word modeling regarding their selfies or webcam photos. THAT IS NOT MODELING. I personally don't really consider it modeling unless it's printed in a magazine, but that might be a little too harsh. You can definitely model for brands, photographers or even friends for projects and still call it that.

My own experience with modeling comes from friends / acquaintances who are photography students or photographers, who thought I looked interesting enough to be their subject. I have done some projects, modeled for clothing brands and been a brand promoter (for those I took my own photos). To some this might seem amazing, but I don't really consider it enough to call myself a model. I just have respect for the word as a profession / side income / hobby. I have never been paid, but I have gotten compensated.

So, if you want to get into modeling, but have no experience and no clue how, what do you do?
My first tip is to practice. Make someone you know take pictures of you, and practice poses in the mirror. What I've seen in a lot of people who've never modeled before, is that they are really uncomfortable and giggle a lot and get embarrassed. So before you think about getting in touch with photographers and brands, teach yourself how to relax, and be confident in your facial expressions, your poses and where you put your hands. Those things are really important, and modeling usually isn't comfortable for your body. Usually photographers will help you to pose, but it helps them out a lot if you already know what angles and such look good on you.

Now, to get in touch with photographers and brands! Sites like Model Mayhem or local Facebook groups can help you out there. At least in my area there are tons of groups with photographers and models, usually looking for TFP shoots (that means the shoot is free, and you can both use the photos for your portfolio). When it comes to brands, you probably have to search local there too, unless you plan to travel. Take a chance and ask! The worst thing you'll hear is no, and that won't change anything - everything will be as it was. So don't be discouraged!

From a shoot with my boyfriend's family by Helle K. Hagen

Other things to think about: Usually at TFP shoots there won't be a make-up artist, so if there isn't, you need to know how to do your make-up well, especially for photos. Use the right foundation color (so you don't have to cover every exposed bit of skin), and keep in mind that face products with SPF will make you look like a ghost when flash is used. When in doubt, keep it simple!

Not all photographers do this, especially at beginner level, but a contract is a good idea. That way you are both clear on what the photos can and cannot be used for. It's not always necessary, but it can put your mind at ease. Probably this will also guarantee you WHEN you receive the photos, which sometimes can take a long time for TFP. Kind of related, but it's something I've become aware of: You may shoot for several hours, but still only get a few photos. You may not even get to pick which photos are to be retouched. At TFP level you usually get to be involved in the process, but keep in mind that there will be hundreds of photos taken of you, with minor differences. I have gotten good at quickly eliminating photos of myself, but often a photographer knows best. If you mind this, talk to them beforehand, tell them if you don't like a certain angle / pose / lighting and so on.

Decide what you want beforehand. Whether it is what poses / look / feel for a shoot, what I mentioned in the last paragraph or what your limits are. Do you want to only model with your hands or feet, for example? Do you want no implied nudity or anything of a sexual nature? How do you feel about posing with cigarettes, alcohol, drugs or fur? Stuff like that. It's much better that you think about this and tell the photographer beforehand. It will be super uncomfortable if stuff like this pops up in the middle of a shoot. But if it does, be professional and say that sorry, you don't do that, or if you are unsure, that you'll think about it for your next shoot. Don't make rash decisions. If a photographer is ever pushy about things like this, leave. There's no shame in that.

Now, for something more serious. I'm sure everyone has heard horror stories about girls going alone to model for some guy, and it went horribly. So please be safe when you start out as a model.
Some red flags are if they send you a message using teen slang and give you a lot of compliments about your looks, wanting to take photos of you, if they write anything that can be regarded as sexual towards you, or if they promise you money, fame and publication. Not good at all.
What you should be looking for is that they discuss ideas for a shoot, that they say it's TFP or otherwise immediately and give full details, and can show to a portfolio. Don't just accept anything and everything that comes along just because you want to model. Look through the photographer's portfolio and see if their style suits your image. This way you can contact other models they have worked with before, and ask about them. This is a good thing to do at the start.

Taken by Helen Sævold

A big safety tip I can give is bring an escort - in the modeling world that means bring someone you know to the shoot. This can give you security when you've never worked with that particular photographer before. If the photographer refuses, don't do the shoot at all. That's definitely a red flag. Though some photographers think that escorts can be distracting, so if there's gonna be a make-up artist, hair stylist, stylist, assistants and so on there, there obviously is no need to bring one.
But then again, you can always have someone on call to check up on you when you're supposed to be done, and / or pick you up afterwards.
If you want to be even more thorough, give your safety person the adress and time, the photographer's name, number, car license plate. Bring your phone charger, and your own drinks, medication and so on. Also make sure that you have at least looked at the map of the area so you have an idea of where you are.

I'm not trying to scare you or anything, I'm just showing you reality and what can potentially happen. Not everyone out there has good intentions, and it's so easy for young, naive girls with stars in their eyes excited to be models to be taken advantage of. As long as you make sure you're safe first, and you think that the shoot will benefit you, get out there and have fun! Modeling isn't something that's easy, mindless and glamorous. So that was all I could think of. Hope it helped you if you want to get into modeling, and gave you some insight.

Now for some shameless sharing of previous shoots I've done! I'm 18 in all of these except for the last two, where I'm 17. I used to do so many shoots in my teens! This isn't even all of them. It was fun, I should get into it again.

Taken by the owner of

A school project in high school.
Collab between us hairdressers and the photographers.
I only have the name Viktoria as credit, sorry.

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