“I’m A Model!”

So, you’ve done a few photoshoots and now you call yourself a model. Yay. But really, are you a model? What’s the difference between being A Model (i.e. saying “I’m a Model”) and modeling (i.e. saying “I model”)?

When can someone say, “I’m a Model”?

Is it after 1 photoshoot? After 5? 10? 50? 200?
Technically, according to some people, one can proclaim all over their MySpace page that they are A Model after one shoot. After all, they have posed in front of a camera (and therefore modeled). But by that logic, most of us were models the day we were born, or at least when we sat and forced a smile for our first grade class portraits.

After modeling for one year? Two? 5 years?
There’s no definite time frame on it. Someone could do one photoshoot a year for 5 years, but are they then a model? Likely not.

Well then, it must be after they start making money modeling, right?
No, not entirely. There are plenty of hobbyist models who don’t get paid to shoot (some never do) and do it just for the love of it. Additionally, there are plenty of “Girl With Pretty Face” (GWPF) or “Girl Willing to Get Naked” (GWGN) who are willing to pose for a pervy “Guy With Camera” (GWC) a few times just to get some extra cash, but who don’t do anything with it from that point on.

A real model is only someone who’s signed with one of the “big” modeling agencies, like Elite, Ford or Wilhemina.
Totally untrue.There are plenty of independent models out there, either making a living at modeling or supplementing their income with it, without being signed to an agency at all.Hell, there are plenty of hobbyist models who are successful in their own right, who have no chance of being signed with an agency.Additionally, there are lots of “no name” agencies out there, and in some cases, what may be “no name” to one market may be the biggest agency in another.

Ok, I give up. When is it?
The truth is, there’s no definite on this one. There’s no time frame. There’s no specific amount of shoots one has to do to be able to say, “I’m a Model”. But there is something models who typically have more experience have, and that’s, well, experience. But it’s not just “experience”. It’s the knowledge that comes with the experience. That means being aware of where every part of your body is—down to fingers and toes—and what those parts are doing, at all times. That means being aware of lighting, and how to angle yourself to best use that lighting. It means being able to pose yourself, with or without instruction. It means mastering your facial expressions and being able to express yourself fully with just your eyes. It means pushing your mind and body past its limits to get The Shot, and not complaining about it, because it’s part of your “job”. It’s knowing your limits, and being realistic about your goals and ambitions.

And it means that sometimes, bragging about it isn’t what’s important.

“I’m a Model” vs. “I model”

For me, those who say “I’m a model” either make a living modeling full time, or just want that extra ego boost they get when they say it. Those who actually model full time are justified in saying “I’m a model” when asked what they do for a living. It’s like me saying “I’m a marketing manager” when someone asks me, because that’s how I make my livelihood. It’s those people who often have realistic ambitions when it comes to modeling, and the knowledge to back it up.

It’s those who model a few times, just to get some hot pics, with no real goals or ambitions (or totally unrealistic ones), who, as far as I’m concerned, don’t have the “right” to proclaim “I’m a model”. Why? Because chances are, they don’t have all that experience and knowledge—the stuff I listed above that makes a model a model. And, while they might be willing to show their boobies to some GWC for $50, or they might have a pretty face, or a hot body, none of that makes a model.

So, what do you tell people? Are you A Model?
I knew you were going to ask this!

Oh, right. I’m writing this whole thing myself. Anyway…

No. I’m a marketing manager. One of my hobbies happens to be modeling. I model. I’m not A Model.