How tall do I have to be to be a professional model?

Girls need to be a minimum of 5’7” and guys a minimum of 6’. There is not really a market for “face only” modelling. A question we often get asked by stunning girls who are too short to be models.

Why do models have to be a certain height?

We get a lot of people complaining that it’s not fair to eliminate people on height alone, when they fulfil all other criteria. So here’s the reason.
Sample sizes are made to a standard length, in particular sleeve and trouser length. Models often do each others fittings depending on their schedules. Catalogues may book a model for a trip who is too busy to attend her own fitting, so another model will do this for her. Models therefore need to be more or less a standard size.

At castings sometimes models are asked to try on the garments for the shoot. These again will be standard sample size and the majority of models should be able to fit them without too much pinning or “bulldogging”, as it’s known. If someone noticeably shorter came to a fitting or casting then trousers and sleeves would be hanging off them and too long.

Clients do not make samples in every size as they expect a model to turn up and be sample size –that’s one of the reasons why they’re a model.
Also models often work with other models and the uniformity of height and proportion add dramatically to the effect such as in a line up on a catwalk show. If the line dipped down to someone who was a few inches shorter it would look messy and lose the dramatic effect. (Dancers in shows are the exception to this).

In photographic too, two models standing next to each other look fantastic when they are almost clones of each other. If there was no height limit the whole effect would be lost and it would look messy.

Finally men and women working together. If the man is not tall enough, by the time the female model has her shoes on, even at 5’7”, she will tower over him and it will not look right.

It is therefore not just that fashion and advertising people think clothes look better on tall people, it is for the above practical and visual reasons too.

Should I invest in a portfolio?

Absolutely not! A good model agent can assess your potential from a snapshot. If taken on, the agent will then go about organising test shots for you from reputable photographers. The chances are that anything “professional” you have invested in, prior to this, will not be used by the agency anyway, so is a waste of time and money.

What is a test shot?

A test shot is a shoot organised solely for your portfolio and not for commercial gain, although in some instances if sold, can then go on to command a fee by you and the photographer, but this is unusual.

All models need professional pictures called “tests” to start off with, hopefully being replaced by work shots, or published pictures (tear sheets) as they become successful. Test shots demonstrate to potential clients how you work so that they can then book you for a real shoot.

Do I have to pay for my own portfolio?

Sometimes photographers will test you for free. It is up to the agent to try and organise this but in reality most models invest in their own test shots to speed up the process. You can expect to cover the costs of this and see it as an investment. Your pictures are the tools of the trade - in the same way a plumber invests in a tool kit! NOWMODELS will ensure you only test with reputable, recognised and recommended photographers who charge you a fair price. NOWMODELS does not mark up model test shots and does not profit from the test sessions of their models.

Am I guaranteed success if taken on?

Occasionally a model does not test well, is deemed not photogenic after all, and can fail to obtain work in this difficult and competitive business. An agent can usually predict and eliminate this at the interview stage, but sometimes after a few months of a trial period some models fail to gain work.
NOWMODELS will never take on anyone unless we believe they have an excellent chance of attaining work.