“oh.. so you’re like a real model?”

When I first started getting paid for shoots, I still didn’t consider myself a “model.” When people asked what I did I would always down play it, I’d say “oh well I do this & kind of model too.” I was afraid to tell people I was a model for a couple of reasons. First, I was afraid it would make me seem shallow. I thought that people would think that I thought I was somehow better because I was getting paid to take photos. & second, I thought that it would allow people to instantly judge & analyze me. “She is not pretty, tall, or skinny enough to be a model.” So I downplayed it for a long time. It wasn’t until modeling really became my main source of income that I started telling people with confidence “Yes, I am real a model.” It’s been about 2 years since I’ve really started taking modeling seriously. In that time I’ve become more familiar with this industry & it’s safe to say I have a love/hate relationship with it but nonetheless I am grateful for what it has taught me and brought me. Best friends and amazing experiences alike. There’s still so much I want to accomplish and with time I’m sure I will but in the meantime I’ll give you guys some tips on getting into this industry if that’s something you’re interested in!

Practice makes perfect.

One thing I learned quickly was that you have to be comfortable in front of the camera. The second you hear a click or see the flash you have. to. move. Change your pose or expression in some way. This is something that can take a while to get used to but the more you practice the better and more comfortable you’ll become. So practice poses & expressions in the mirror. Make your friends take iPhone photos of you. Whatever works, I swear. Reach out to photographers in your area & let them know you’re just getting started & would love to shoot with them for more practice.

Have fire digitals.

Digitals, or “digis” as we like to call them are photos of you on a plain backdrop, in a plain outfit or swimsuit, with very minimal makeup. Digitals are super important because they show agencies and clients alike what you look like right now, on a daily basis. It allows them to see you more as a blank canvas. That’s one thing I’ve learned about modeling, is when you go to a job or test shoot (a test shoot is a shoot that’s not paid it’s simply to add photos to your portfolio), you are expected to become what the client wants you to become. Good digitals are crucial because while agencies and clients will want to see your portfolio they also want to see a more raw authentic you.

Find a mother agency.

A mother agency is a small agency typically in smaller cities. A mother agency is responsible for guiding you, helping you grow, booking you jobs in that area, and then helping you sign other contracts in bigger markets. Once you have some good digitals, and photos from shoots you’ve been doing, start looking for mother agencies near you. Almost all agencies will have information on how to submit to them either on Instagram or on their site. I recommend a mother agency because it’s much easier than trying to handle the bigger cities, and agency’s all alone. Like I said they’re there to help you grow and guide you.

Be ready for a lot of rejection.

Rejection is something that I didn’t get very often. Anywhere. So when I entered the modeling industry and got told “no” all the time…. I was shook. From agencies constantly telling me that I wasn’t tall enough, to being on hold for jobs (this means it’s between you and 2/3 other girls) only to find out I didn’t book it was difficult. But the fact is it’s something you’re going to get a lot of. Be patient, & don’t get discouraged because eventually your work will speak for itself. When I worked for Sephora last year, I had casted for them 2 times before already. The first two times they passed on me, but on the third they decided to book me for the job. So sometimes the “no’s” don’t mean no forever, instead it means not right now.

Have thick skin.

This industry is shallow & that is just that. It is based upon beauty & your body which is messed up but the sad reality. You’re going to get told no often, but you are also going to get told everything that is wrong with you. (or what the agencies and clients think are wrong with you rather). My weight is constantly fluctuating, it always has. Sometimes I’m very tiny & sometimes I’m thicker, especially my butt. Last year I remember my agents telling me that I needed to lose two inches off my hips…. two inches. Believe it or not two inches is a lot, the only way I was going to achieve that was by not eating & that was something I had already done. A trap I had already fallen deep into when I first entered the modeling world. It can be so hard to not listen when people are constantly critiquing your body. So yes, take care of your body, workout, eat healthy, but PLEASE don’t starve yourself or stick your fingers down your throat. It’s not worth it. (I’ve been there, I know it’s not). Stay true to who you are maintain a body you are proud of, regardless of what that damn tape measure says.

Test. Test. Test.

Test shoots can certainly be annoying sometimes but like I said practice makes perfect. You think athletes make it to the league & then quit going to practice? No. So once you’ve signed some contracts don’t stop the test shoots, test more. Get better. Evolve. When you’re testing though, pay attention to who it is you’re shooting with. Sometimes photographers can be really creepy & try to take advantage of models, especially when they are younger or newer in the industry. If it’s your first time shooting with someone & you feel uncomfortable take someone with you. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, don’t be afraid to say no, no to concepts or no to photographers whose shooting style doesn’t fit yours. For me, shooting nude is something I’ll never do. If someone asks me to shoot & their Instagram is full of half or fully naked girls, my answer is no because it can be.

Don’t forget that your agents work for you.

I think a lot of us get scared of our agents. We want to keep them happy. They tell us to jump & we have to ask “how high your majesty?” But once you sign don’t forget that they do indeed work for you. You are the reason they’re making money. Don’t be disrespectful but also don’t tolerate disrespect. They. Work. For. You. but beyond that you are still a human being who has a life outside of modeling.

Keep going & enjoy the ride.

Modeling is something that seemingly fell into my lap but I am so glad I decided to pursue it. Like I said there’s still so much I want to accomplish but I’m proud of how far I’ve come. It’s something I genuinely love doing. It’s brought me a lot of growth, and so, so, so, many amazing people. If it weren’t for modeling I wouldn’t have ever went to LA, eventually moved, or met some of my best friends. So while it is indeed work, & can be incredibly draining sometimes, it’s also something that can (& does) bring a lot of joy ($$$$$$ too). So, if this is something that you want to pursue, do it. Don’t listen to the people who tell you you can’t or speak fear into it. Believe in yourself, work hard, & you’re already half way there.


Tay Blair

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