Not Your Typical 9-5: Our Guide to a Career in the Creative Industries (Part 2)
The long awaited sequel to our brand new series on creative careers is here! Last time,we talked about how to train as a fashion designer and how to become a makeup artist and this edition focuses on photography and modelling. If you’re still unsure about your post GCSE or A Level plans, check this out, you may find some inspiration!
PHOTOGRAPHY & MODELLING
Part 2 of our guide focuses on the experience and qualifications you’ll need in order to embark upon a career as either a photographer or a professional model. These two industries hold perennial appeal, making them extremely popular and very competitive. So if you’ve always fancied going down one of these career paths, read on to find out how!
Love taking pictures? Got an eye for composition? Ever dreamed of being the next Rankin or Cartier-Bresson? If you want to become a professional photographer but you’re not sure how to go about it, never fear, we’ve got you sorted. Read on to discover how to make a splash as a photographer!
The two most common routes into the profession are either through learning on the job as a photographer’s assistant, or by pursuing a recognised qualification at college or university. If you opt to study for a qualification, it’s advisable to check if your course provider has any links with the Association of Photographers (AOP) or the British Institute of Professional Photographers (BIPP), as these affiliations can lead to further qualifications and industry contacts. Higher education courses typically require a prior qualification in photography (BTEC, Level 3 certificate etc) or A Levels in relevant subjects (Media, Art, Design etc), alongside a portfolio that demonstrates your range and ability.
It’s advisable to gain as much experience as possible, whether you volunteer to take photographs at a school event or arrange to work as a photographer’s assistant in your spare time. The National Careers Service recommends checking out websites such as Photoassist to aid this process and locate photographers in your area to contact. As with any creative industry, internships and work experience placements are also an excellent way of gaining more knowledge, building your skill set and making industry connections.
REFINE YOUR SKILLS
- Take plenty of photographs! Experiment with lighting, angles, subject, texture and composition as well as using different exposure times and photo-editing software.
- Try to take a mix of reportage and staged ‘portrait’ photography, it’s important to become familiar with your subject in different environments, so mix it up!
- Become familiar with different types of lenses, this will not only vastly improve your technical knowhow but it will help you to recognise the right lens for the job when shooting.
BUILDING A PROFESSIONAL PORTFOLIO
- An online portfolio (using Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr or another photo sharing site) is undoubtedly the best way to get your work out there. They can be viewed from anywhere in the world and can be shared over and over to get your name and work recognised. If you have the budget, you can even purchase your own domain name to create your very own website. It’s advisable to watermark all of your images, as this reduces the risk of your images being used without your consent.
- Ensure your portfolio contains a variety of different styles and techniques. It’s essential to portray yourself as a multi-talented artist rather than someone who merely excels in one area.
- Whilst online portfolios are a fantastic resource, it’s also important to have a print portfolio to show clients and employers. Make sure you use a professional looking binder, as nobody will be overly impressed to see a dog eared, scruffy looking ringbinder, so it’s worth investing in something that’ll stand up to wear and tear. Ensure the photos you include are all of the same size and are of a professional or high quality standard. This is not the place for grainy selfies with loads of filters!
GAINING SKILLS & GETTING YOUR NAME OUT THERE
- Build a strong online presence through social media, advertising yourself as a photographer in need of experience. Make sure to keep your posts professional, free from sales pitches and spammy content. Remember, followers like varied content, so refrain from ‘theming’ your posts too heavily!
- Don’t be afraid to work for free. Small jobs, such as assisting on a photoshoot, volunteering your services for charity or donating your services to a local business will not only help to refine your skills and strengthen your portfolio, but it’ll get your name out in the community and potentially lead to the publication of your images in print or online.
- Invest in a set of simple business cards and distribute them to local hair salons, beauticians, wedding boutiques and florists. These businesses may require a photographer or a shoot assistant at some point, so try to forge strong relationships with local retailers.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
- The Guardian have a great interview with photographer Jonathan Minster about how to become a photographer’s assistant, perfect for anyone needing a few pointers.
- ImprovePhotography is a website run by photographers, for photographers. It’s an infinite resource of tips, tricks and kit advice that’s ideal for any aspiring photographer.
- SLR Lounge’s 10 Career Changing Tips for an Aspiring Photographer article is a fantastic reference guide to help build and develop your career.
Fancy yourself as the next Cara Delevigne or Tess Holliday? Wanna rock the runway or pose in print? If you’ve ever wondered if you could crack into the cut-throat world of modelling, read on to find out how!
No formal qualifications are needed to break into the modelling industry, though it’s advisable to plan for a subsequent or future career, as the career can lack in longevity. It’s a common misconception that you can’t get an agent unless you’re a beautiful, slender, amazonian goddess, as some of the world’s current highest earning models are shorter than average, plus sized or unconventional looking. There are seven common categories that most models fall into:
- Alternative: Typically models with piercings, tattoos and an ‘edgy’ look
- Fashion & Editorial: Tall and slim models who appear on the runway, in commercials or in print
- Promotional: Models who showcase non-fashion items at trade fairs or product launches
- Fitness: Models with high muscle mass and low body fat,, typically appearing in print
- Plus Size: Models ranging from size 12-24 are considered to be plus size or ‘curve’ models
- Fit: Models who are used for fitting purposes in the latter stages of product development
- Character: ‘Everyday’ looking people or those with an unusual or extreme look are ordinarily considered to fall into this category
STRIKE A POSE
- If you feel there are certain aspects of modelling you’d like to brush up on prior to castings, check out YouTube tutorials to help smooth out any kinks. If your schedule allows, take a class to help you build your confidence and skills.
- Practice, practice, practice! This is the best way to get familiar with different poses and to improve your ‘walk’.
PREPARING A PERFECT PORTFOLIO
- Your portfolio must demonstrate your versatility. Having a strong, signature look is a very attractive quality, but agents and clients want to see variation. The most successful models in recent years are experts in catwalk, editorial, commercial and on-screen modelling, making them an infinitely more employable prospect than someone who is only strong in one area.
- Ensure that your print portfolio is composed of professionally shot images. This isn’t the place for selfies or low resolution shots of you at the beach!
- Review and curate your portfolio on a regular basis. You don’t need 15 shots from the same shoot unless they really add value and gravitas to your portfolio. Remember, less is more!
AGENTS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Make sure you research any agency before meeting with them. Check out how long they’ve been in business, who they represent and whether they have any testimonials available to read online. A good way to find a suitable agent is to scour the pages of fashion magazines to find out who represents the models you like, then research and contact them.
- Read any contracts you’re given thoroughly and NEVER give any bank account details or money to an agency. Truly reputable agents will not require payment in order to sign you as a client, instead taking commission from your earnings, as is the industry standard.
- If you’re under 18, ensure you have a parent or guardian with you at all times. This is a legal requirement that your agent and clients should encourage and facilitate.
- If an agency belongs to the AMA (Association of Model Agents), you can guarantee that they are a well established, elite and prestigious agency, who often require exclusivity of their models. Agencies who aren’t currently members of the AMA may allow you to work with other agents in the UK and overseas, however it’s best to check this policy prior to signing, in case you inadvertently invalidate your contract.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
- The MA is a one-stop-shop, packed full of valuable advice and guidance that’s perfect for any aspiring model.
- Models1 have an awesome blog where they discuss fashion news, events and trends, perfect for keeping abreast of all the latest information.
- Want to know what essential items all models should have in their kit bag at all times? About have created a round-up of the 13 must haves for every model!
Wanna know even more about working in creative industries? Come back next time for part 3, where we’ll discuss how to become a piercer and just what you need to do to train as a tattooist! In the meantime, connect with us via Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for all the latest news! If this has sparked your interest in a creative career, check out our interview with Sam Coare, features editor for Kerrang! magazine.