We caught up with model Samuel M to talk to him about his modelling career, inspiration and insights into the industry.
Source: Why did you choose to model?
Samuel: In 2007 I was still figuring out what to do career-wise. My academic study was focused towards working in the Mathematics or Accountancy sector. My real interests were in sports and fashion and whilst I was not quite tall enough for fashion/editorial modelling, I discovered commercial modelling which has indeed been a growing area in the industry. My sports background was in Track and Field and that came with the desire to have a defined, toned, athletic body. Modelling was a way to embrace my passion for fashion and put my sports/fitness background into use.
For several years, I had worked in luxury fashion retail and would do the the occasional modelling job as I would develop my portfolio. In 2012, my Model Camp portfolio images allowed me to pursue commercial modelling/acting as a full-time career. There are challenging moments throughout the year just like with any job role, but there are also exciting opportunities and moments where you connect with new people share knowledge and take advice from. A rewarding experience all in all but you have to be your own driving force and the desire needs to come from you.
The work I do allows me to set myself targets and challenges, being self-employed encourages self-discipline and good organisational skills around work. Its very important to treat every single assignment as a new a different challenge, how ever small or large the assignment is. Good work-ethics and lead to good model-attitude and help build a good reputation for yourself. Staying fit, exercising regularly, getting sufficient sleep and eating sensibly will contribute favourably to your work life.
Source: What are the benefits of a career as a model?
Samuel: The flexibility and freedom of working for yourself and then of course there is the rewarding aspect of seeing your image/media/commercial(s) as to show what you are achieving. There are people who will do modelling just to say that they have 'modelled' an there are people who are naturally blessed with being photogenic and are encouraged to embrace their natural beauty by doing photographic modelling work and catwalk if they meet the statistical requirements. In commercial modelling, clients will seek to find people who they think will best work to help drive their business/get their point across to their audience in the form of media (photographic, film, etc). There will also be those people who fall into modelling by chance and discover that they love it. Others might have a permanent job and pursue modelling as a part-time of side thing for extra income.
Source: Can anyone be a model?
Samuel: I would to an extent say 'yes' and 'no' to this one. you might have occasional assignments where the casting director is after a 'niche look' for a particular assignment. The extent to how 'niche' the look of the model is may well determine the scope for work this model has in the future, especially for more regular assignments where the criteria for 'look' is less specific' and more generic.
Maintaining good strong healthy teeth, natural well looked after hair, exercising and an appropriate grooming routine will help. Some models just have 'it' and then it's about maintenance and preservation. Fitness modelling places a strong emphasis as well on how the model uses their physical character to help the casting director get their point across in their eventual media/images/film. People can train/eat/sleep to achieve a desired look for fitness modelling if that's the sole target. Being too muscular or bulky can reduce the scope for booking more regular commercial work (corporate/lifestyle/family roles).
Source: What makes a good portfolio?
Samuel: Naturally every model is different and diversity in terms of race, gender, appearance can only be great for modelling and acting. Having a diverse range of shots in your book, depicting you in a variety of situations (e.g. as a banker, a fitness coach, a partygoer, a young Dad) will help clients to picture you as they would want to see you. You may be attending a casting where they are looking for 4 models to 'model' the equipment in a new gym - your book would need the relevant images of you for the client to 'imagine' you in that scenario. The same would apply for corporate work, lifestyle - everyday modelling. Simple, elegant and flattering clothes allow the model to really sell themselves to the camera and ultimately to the people looking to book them for a shoot. Keeping your portfolio updated with relevant images to the areas of modelling your are casting for is advised. It doesn't mean to say you can't take part in the occasional fashion shoot for example to enhance it, but focus on the areas of work you are targeting.
A strong headshot always makes a good first impression but it's important that your headshot gives a 'true and fair' view of how you actually look. I've heard stories of models who have their images overly retouched to the point where they look materially different at the casting vs their images. Casting Directors often require models to take selfies on the spot to confirm what the model looks like in a no-filter way. Portfolio images can be created but the photographer/model to portray the model in a favourable way, just as long as the images is not manipulated in any way to deceive the client as to how the model would really look on camera.
Source: How do you avoide scams?
Samuel: The industry is filled with many honest and good people who will advise you throughout your modelling career and will help create opportunities so that both the the agent and models will benefit. There are still groups of people out there who will mass message people at quieter times, posing as agencies but in reality they are offering you an extortionate, rip-off deal for portfolio images. The opening line of their contact may be, 'you have a good look which would work well with our markets' and 'we would like to invite you in for a meeting where we will create your portfolio and thereafter we would add you to our website'. Legitimate agencies would also never charge upfront fees for joining and they would also never guarantee you work - if they say that they can, then thats a warning sign. I would advise any new person to the industry that has been approached about modelling to check with a friend or ask a reputable agent, model friend for advice. A quick online search should show all 'good agencies and sometimes online forums give good advice.
Source: How important is social media?
Samuel: This takes modelling and performing arts into the present day. Keeping up to date with your friends, agents, colleagues and contacts is a good way to show-off what you have achieved and to show your audience what you could achieve in working with them in the case of clients/casting agents. It's also a nice way to acknowledge your agents for work they have helped source for you and as part of character-building for future work. Its often of the first points of call where models can find out about new work and help friends to find work and get started in the industry.
Thanks for the insight Samuel - if you're interested in becoming a model than check out our Becoming A Source Model page.