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What Models Do

Models pose for artists, photographers, or customers in order to help advertise a variety of products, including clothing, cosmetics, food, and appliances.


Models typically do the following:

Many modeling jobs are for printed publications, such as magazine covers and articles or magazine, newspaper, catalogue, billboard, and online advertisements. Print models participate in photo shoots, in which they pose for photographers to show off the features of clothing and other products. Models change their posture and facial expressions to capture the look the client wants. The photographer usually takes many pictures of the model in different poses and expressions during the photo shoot.

Models also pose live in a variety of locations. At fashion shows, models stand, turn, and walk to show off clothing to an audience of photographers, journalists, designers, and garment buyers. In retail establishments and department stores, models display clothing directly for shoppers and may be required to describe the features and prices of the clothing. Other models pose for sketch artists, painters, and sculptors.

Almost all models work with agents, who provide a link between the models and clients. Clients prefer to work with agents, which makes it very difficult for a model to pursue a freelance career. Agents look for “fresh faces,” advise and train models, and promote them to clients in return for a portion of the model’s earnings.  

Models may also work with hair stylists and makeup artists to prepare for photo shoots or fashion shows. The stylist and makeup artist may touch up the model's hair and makeup and change the model's look throughout the event. Models might sometimes be responsible for applying their own makeup and bringing their own clothing.

Models spend a considerable amount of time promoting themselves by putting together and maintaining portfolios, printing composite cards, and traveling to meet potential clients. A portfolio is a collection of a model's previous work and is carried to all client meetings and bookings. A composite card contains the best photographs from a model's portfolio, along with his or her measurements.

Because advertisers often need to target specific segments of the population, models may specialize in a certain area. For example, petite and plus-size fashions are modeled by women whose size is, respectively, smaller and larger than that worn by the typical model. Models who are disabled may be used to model fashions or products for consumers with disabilities. “Parts” models have a body part, such as a hand or foot, particularly well suited to model products such as fingernail polish or shoes.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition