100 Do's and Don'ts for Models

Victoria Bond, Victoria Summers model, photographer photographers portfolio shoots models Simon Q. Walden, FilmPhotoAcademy.com, sqw, FilmPhoto, photography

I meet and work with models at all levels of experience and I have learnt so much from them, but also realise they have so much to learn themselves.

Professional models always impress me by exactly what they do know. The level of professionalism and experience can be amazing.

When you are starting out as a new model you often have no idea where to start, what to do, how to make your first steps.

These tips are mostly for you, but I am sure full-time professional models will find something in here that will add something to their skills too.


  1. Do look at a variety of make-up styles - and practice them, so when asked you can do them well and quickly
  2. Do learn how to create simple and quick up-does for your hair
  3. Do remember to emphasise lips and lashes - both tend to fade in photos
  4. Don't assume you are good at make-up - you are probably worse than you think
  5. Do buy yourself decent make-up, you will be wearing a lot of it for long times.
  6. Do go for matte style make-up, glossy/glow make-up looks very shiny/greasy in photographs
  7. Do carry baby wipes, hair clips and hair bands.
  8. Do make sure if you have dyed hair your roots are good
  9. Do make sure you have shaved your legs/armpits/bush if you are normaly shaven
  10. Don't have chipped nail polish (hands or toes)

  12. Do buy yourself: high waisted black knickers there are many shots were underwear is required but not fancy lingerie.
  13. Do buy yourself a pair of ballet slippers; you can wear these for nude shoots were the floor is not foot friendly. (slippers, not shoes)
  14. Do by good, classy and classic underwear, not Anne Summers tat
  15. Do use places like eBay, Primark, TKmax etc for clothes that look good but won't last - but buy wisely - it has to look good, not cheap.
  16. Do arrange clothes swaps with other models
  17. Do bring a good selection of good clothes
  18. Do keep clothing simple, without logo's and heavy patterns, avoid stripes as well.
  19. Do remove labels and hanging straps from clothes - they'll only turn up in your images otherwise
  20. Do try to choose clothes that move well
  21. Do try to choose clothes that travel well, no good turning up with an outfit that looks great if only it could be ironed or pressed
  22. Do get yourself decent luggage that you can drag around for hours - because you will
  23. Do have a packing checklist - and use it!
  24. Don't bother bringing lot of shoes; they are heavy and bulky to carry
  25. Do find some good jewellery that works well photographically
  26. Don't expect the photographer to think about jewellery, as men we don't think about it much
  27. Don't buy hundreds of outfits for modelling, you will get tired of your clothes quickly but for most of your photographers they will be seeing them for the first time

  29. Do pay a good photographer to have your first portfolio built. A professional photographer knows how to make you look good and give you good variety. This small investment will pay off
  30. Do pay for a make-up artist on a portfolio build, you will look so much better
  31. Don't think that a selfie is a folio shot
  32. Do a lot of TFP when you first start, you really don't know anything until you have some shoots under your belt.
  33. Do offer to pay halves on TFP shoots, if you need your portfolio building or if the photographer is shooting more for you than themselves. It is old-fashioned to expect the man to pay for everything.
  34. Do take TFP/COLLAB sessions seriously. A TFP is not just for you - it should be a shared process
  35. Don't expect great photos from a starter TFP shoot - these are typically with less experienced photographers
  36. Do approach specific photographers because their style of image is missing from your folio
  37. Do use a "modelling name" - you never know when your future self will need to lose your past self
  38. Do use a modelling name that people can actually call you when they are speaking to you
  39. Don't mislead about your size, shape, experience etc
  40. Do be clear in your portfolio about things you don't do, but don't be rude about it
  41. Don't have a portfolio that says you don't shoot nudes, then fill it with nude images
  42. Don't use text speak in your portfolio (or most of your messages for that matter)
  43. Do check your portfolio text for spelling and grammar errors
  44. Do keep your portfolio fresh
  45. Do remove weaker photographs from your folio
  46. Do join as many modelling sites as you can, while only one or two will generate most of your work, you never know when another site will get your more work
  47. IMAGES

  48. Do ask for images at paid shoots, but don't get huffy if they say no.
  49. Do ask if you can post stuff to social media about what you have been shooting, not every photographer likes it being broadcast
  50. Do ask before taking behind the scenes pictures
  51. Do use the watermarked versions of pictures if asked to.
  52. Don't ask for RAW files - unless you really, really know why you are asking
  53. Don't edit images yourself without asking permission from the photographer
  54. Don't post images from commercial shoots unless you have permission
  55. Don't think you have the right to use the images or send for publication without permission

  57. Do talk to your photographers - lots of us are shy blokes and need help being social!
  58. Do find ways of talking to men twice or three times your age, its not as hard as it sounds
  59. Do build chemistry and a connection with each photographer
  60. Don't laugh EVERY time I forget to take the lens cap off. I was embarrassed enough the first time.
  61. Don't over-flirt. Sometimes us men get confused about the wrong signals
  62. Don't tell the photographer he's doing something wrong - but maybe suggest that it might be better if....
  63. Do tell the photographer if you have a preferred side
  64. Don't call photographers a "tog"
  65. Do remember, a shoot costs a photographer at least a £1 a minute

  67. Do be safe.
  68. Do check references and photographers portfolios
  69. Do always let someone know where you are. Tell them when you arrive, tell them when you leave, tell them when you expect to be home. A quick text will do.
  70. Do remember, your phone can act as a voice or video recorder - if you are unsure start recording.
  71. Do look after your body and your face
  72. Do make sure you eat and drink properly
  73. Don't diet, exercise instead. Body shape is rarely a problem, body tone is. Most times exercise will make your body look a whole lot better than diets ever will
  74. Do remember, that a photoshoot is actually quite physical and tiring, the better our body condition the easier it will be.
  75. Don't expect Photoshop to make up for an unhealthy lifestyle
  76. Do book your diary around your periods if you are one of those girls that doesn't find them easy
  77. Do buy yourself a second phone charger so you always have it while travelling
  78. Do carry pain killers, chocolate, and a spare tenner just in case
  79. Do look at lots of poses, practice them.
  80. Do practice at expressions, learn how to do them, learn how to smile without looking fake
  81. TIME

  82. Do arrive on time
  83. Do be made-up and close to ready to shoot (unless otherwise agreed)
  84. Don't turn up with skin indents from bras, knickers and socks - many models forget the socks.
  85. Do get two alarm clocks if one won't do, or you like to snooze in for a little longer
  86. Don't answer your phone just because it rings
  87. Don't spend lots of time on your phone/emails/FaceBook during a shoot
  88. Don't spend ages during outfit or makeup changes
  89. Don't take the piss with breaks, a reasonable break for a quick fag, drink or loo break is reasonable, but don't push it
  90. MONEY

  91. Do remember you are a business and you have to market yourself and sell yourself
  92. Do be clear about your general levels, payments, rates, and so on. You only need to write this once then you can send it before every shoot
  93. Do keep a shoot diary of past shoots, in case the tax man asks, and more so you can add up the miles you've travelled.
  94. Do keep all your receipts for travel, clothes, make-up etc This can make a huge difference to your tax bill. You can also claim a food allowance and accomodation.
  95. Do remember, claiming mileage at 45p/mile (or the appropriate for your car) is the correct thing to do, not just your petrol which will be a lot less
  96. Don't give away all your rights to income when modelling for commercial work
  97. Do remember, commercial shoots operate under very different rules and often confidentiality is a key factor.
  98. Do resist working on commercial jobs for no money.
  99. Do use airbnb and other similar booking sites for finding hotels, accommodation and shoot locations
  100. Don't be afraid to offer the occasional discounted days when you need to fill the diary, but if your diary is regularly empty you are over-charging.
  101. Don't be afraid to put your prices up when you are very busy. If you are fully booked you are undercharging.

  103. Don't "no show" - obviously!!!! But if you know you can't make a shoot, let the photographer know as soon as you can - even if it has to be last minute cancellation
  104. Do be business like - this doesn't mean unfriendly, it means organised, safe, legal etc
  105. Do keep a proper shoot diary for forthcoming shoots - you need to be on top of your diary.
  106. Do read castings before replying. Don't apply for castings you are unsuitable for.
  107. Do remember to keep in touch with photographers, a simple "hello, saw this, thought of you" type message might get you another booking.
  108. Do send thank you's to photographers for their shoot - even if you don't like the pictures
  109. Do talk to other models about expectations and suggestions on how to get on in modelling.
  110. Do remember, you are selling a service, photographers are your clients.
  111. Do understand what a model release really is and what it can and cannot do for you
  112. Do get yourself your own website and personal domain name, they are cheaper than you think and give you control and marketing opportunities
  113. Don't bad mouth others, don't put down others, never wash your dirty linen in public