So, I guess I'm a Model Now?
Updated: Mar 6
How an awkward 21 year old got herself signed to a modelling agency.
Brighton is a great place to take a photo. When you have a city filled with laid-back people and a range of colourful urban backgrounds at your disposal, it's the perfect place for a fun street shoot.
Balamory style houses? Check! Get yourself down to Baker Street for some rainbow hues.
Want some interesting shop fronts to pose in front of? The city has you sorted. Walk through the famous North Laine.
Need a painted mural featuring all your favourite classic musicians? They have that too! Walk up the hill to the Prince Albert pub.
As you can see, Brighton is a place where anything goes. The Keep Brighton Weird Facebook group will vouch for it.
I was lucky enough to live in that vibrant place for three years. For the duration I was there, I lived in a grand total of two, surprisingly nice student houses - barring a few cases of mould.
I was also lucky enough to live with a bunch of open-minded housemates. They were the kind of people that liked to write poetry and paint abstract art and make music downstairs and fill every single room with potted plants. There was nothing to hate really. I mean, you get used to the smell of weed wafting through the corridors and really start to appreciate how a vegan burger can taste better than the real thing. A fun three years it was.
The Attack of the Photoshoot.
For the last half of third year, I had been drooling over street style photos I saw on Instagram. (I did my dissertation too, don't worry). I adored the atmospheric ones with incredible backgrounds and confident women wearing colour coordinated outfits. Now, these weren't your typical Instagram influencers wearing beige roll necks and white trainers - though there is nothing wrong with that - but a colourful sub-type. A group of Instagrammers who are not afraid to experiment with personal style. They also aren't afraid of colour:
I wanted in!
This would become an exciting project to work on. Perfect for a fashion addict who wanted to start sharing her favourite outfits with the rest of the world.
My only worry was how I might look on camera.
I have three main phases in my life when it comes to getting photographs taken.
1. When I was little and full of energy. I'd pose eccentrically for the camera with the biggest smirk on my face.
2. Those awkward years from age 12 and onward. You know, when you're going through puberty and feel unsure of yourself - uncomfortable facial expressions included.
Exhibit A: This tight, close-lipped, and sleepy smile.
3. Me now. (A slightly more evolved gal but still has a long way to go)
Luckily, I looked better on camera than I thought I would.
Yes, I did watch various Youtube videos on how to pose before I left the house. It had to be done and was a big help.
Here are some photographs taken in my last year of university. They're not the same quality as many of the Instagrammers I admired, but who cares? I had a blast getting them done.
Where else would you find an Adventure Time student house?? It was a baking hot afternoon. I.e. A wonderful chance to get a sunshine glow.
I really wanted a pink background for this look. It's a great thing that a bright pink convenience store was only a few blocks from the house. Puts the convenient into a convenience store really. (Hazel almost had a van ram into her whilst taking this photo. Thanks for risking your life for a quality shot). @classichazel_
As I was getting more confident, me and Saraya put on a fun shoot with three different outfit changes. This rainforest background remains a fabulous recommendation to this day. It was also a few blocks away from the house. @sarayadaisymay
What You're Here For.
You are probably not reading this for my life story.
Here's how the whole modelling thing came into the picture. a.k.a. The juicy bits.
Since I was getting too big for my boots after only a few likes on Instagram, I thought I'd apply to different agencies. It would be a bit of fun. After all, modelling was something I'd never considered before. But, to be honest, I was beginning to enjoy how it felt to be in front of the camera and a part of me wanted to take it to the next level. You can't get any better than the elite modelling agencies right? Premiere, elite, IMG, the list goes on. After graduating, many online forms were filled...
No one replied.
This didn't upset me to be honest. As I'd said before, back then it wasn't serious or anything. Even if an agency did reply, they'd find out that i'm just under 5"8' - too short for the high fashion runways I'd pictured in my head. And so, I focused on my other passion. Fashion writing.
That was until I noticed an Instagram user that was always snooping through my stories.
Attention! Quick note before I completely go off topic: Instagram is an amazing way to get found! Tag modelling agencies in your photographs, use popular hashtags like #scoutme, and research, research, research what they're looking for. Keep at it and you may get somewhere. Having lots of followers might help as some agencies now have an influencer category on their website.
BAME Models had around 60k followers. The BAME feed consisted of high-quality photographs of their models with some motivational quotes scattered in-between for good measure. Looks legit right? It was also refreshing to see so many beautiful models from different ethnicities. My Half-Thai and Half-White self would fit right in.
After exploring the BAME webpage for a while, I noticed that a few of their models have gotten some pretty great jobs for companies like Charlotte Tilbury and even Dyson. Yes, high-end editorial jobs might have seemed out of reach, but commercial modelling gigs did not. (The pay is better too!)
At the end of my agency research I found their application page and thought, "why the hell not?" This could be my time.
Within a few days I got the anticipated email reply.
They were interested in me. Wow.
First I went, "yay!"
Second I went, "Oh my god, it's actually happening; I have to get up and go to their office and everything, gregtrggetrgtrg (inaudible)"
The nervous preparation began.
Since I was a total newbie to the world of modelling and agencies, I had to do the good ol' Google search to work out what the hell I had to do at the interview.
Apparently, there are a lot of unsaid rules in this business:
- Be fresh-faced faced. Let your natural beauty shine through.
- Dress in simple but flattering clothing. Nothing too loud or over-the-top that will distract from you.
- Wear heels.
- Be on time. No one likes a time waster.
- Don't forget to smile!!
- Mention your other hobbies when you tell them about yourself. You don't want your whole life to revolve around modelling as it makes you look one dimensional.
- Ask them questions.
A few of these rules were quite difficult for me. My dress sense is a mixture of wallpaper patterns and vintage toy box colours. It would be hard to find something plain.
Also, I have never mastered the art of asking questions. Even when I spend hours prepping beforehand and try to figure out the right things to say, I still end up not coming up with anything. (I like to use the"if I think of anything, I'll tell you later" excuse).
For the interview, my final outfit looked a bit like this:
Believe it or not, even I have a plain black top in my closet. And those Levi jeans are the comfiest pair ever since the beginning of mankind.
I was all set.
As I hold the world record for having awful recall ability, I will tell you the events of my meeting in brief but, I hope, useful detail instead:
I got to their office. Had to get an Uber from Charring Cross as the destination was in a part of London I'd never been to before. Could have saved money but was far too scared of getting lost.
Got to the door. Buzzy intercom. Fun! Spoke to them through the intercom and door opens. Went up the perilous staircase in my red high-heels. Did not fall down stairs. Greeted by one of the bookers. Made to wait in the office. Head booker came in. Cool guy. Asked me questions like "how long have you been modelling for," and "how do you see yourself in the future?" Answered to the best of my ability.
Next, staff took my measurements. Then time for photographs. In-house photographer got took my Polaroids - inside and outside. (Polaroids are very important photos as they show the client what you really look like and how you come across on camera!) Got given contract. Read through it. Read through it again. And again. (Cannot stress this enough. Make sure you go through the contract thoroughly; multiple times even. Know what you're getting yourself into. Ask about anything you don't understand). I signed the contract.
Spoke to the new faces booker about getting test shoots done to begin building portfolio. Conversation done. Said thank you. Good bye. INTERVIEW COMPLETE.
I hope those blocks of text told you most of the story.
My modelling career had just begun...
What to Expect After You're Signed.
This is when your agency finds you a photographer to collaborate with. Once arranged you'll experiment and take some photographs together. The benefits go both ways: the photographer will have some awesome new photographs for their portfolio, whilst you will have some for yours. Make the most out of these shoots. I know they're unpaid, but it's so important to build up a strong portfolio as this will help you get jobs! Also, a bit of practice never hurt anybody.
NOTE: If you have a friend who's a photographer, it's a great time to collab. *cough* @vanessabarrettphoto *cough* They get to work with a signed model and you get to take photos with someone you're comfortable with. Candid laughing photos, yes please.
Here's some photos from my first test shoot:
If your agency has assigned you to go to a casting, it's time to take extra care of yourself. This means making sure you're well rested, your skin is looking good, and your hair is kept healthy. A casting is like what an audition is for an actor. It's a visual interview where you present yourself in front of a client. If it's for runway you'll bring heels with you and do a walk. If it's a commercial gig they might take photographs or videos of you to see if you have the look they're searching for. You must be professional at all times. Good attitudes please.
- Some castings I get are video castings. This is when you self-tape yourself fulfilling a specific brief. In the past, I've done one where I've have to film myself walking and strutting down an imaginary catwalk. Another one included a self-recorded clip of myself pretending to be jealous of someone else's food. You ain't seeing those videos.
An Actual Job!?
Yes, a brand might be looking for models on your agency website. They could come across your portfolio, think you're a great fit, and hire you for a job! Time to celebrate.
I Managed it All Somehow.
So, there you go. That is how an awkward person - who used to look so uncomfortable in front of a camera - became a signed model.
You really can't predict how your life will turn out. I know for a fact that I wouldn't have been able to do this a few years ago. The confidence glow up hit me at just the right time.
To keep things real, it's not like I'm a huge career model or anything as I've only just got my first paid job. (That I am so proud of!) But, if I keep at it, maybe I can succeed within the industry...
Future Holly in 10 years time: A fashion editor and a part-time commercial model.
But, knowing how unpredictable life is, I might just end up on Mars instead.
Till next time,
P.S Share and comment if you enjoyed this! I love you!
BIG SHOUTOUT - The people that are always supporting me. It's also thanks to you that I keep going in the fashion industry. <3