“You’re so pretty, you should be a model.”

“You’re right. I totally should.”

 

Woah woah woah. Hold your horses!

Modelling is more than being ridiculously good looking.

A generic pretty face just won’t cut it. Sorry if you think that’s harsh, but it’s true. You need to have something unique, something to set you apart from the hundreds of other ladies and gents in the industry. Otherwise you are just another face in the crowd. What brands want are standout faces that make a magazine reader stop flicking through the pages to see the product they are promoting/ modelling.  If you want to make it in the world of professional modelling, then you need to find your USP (Unique Selling Point), and work it.

Take Gisele for example. So famous that her first name is enough for pretty much anyone to know who she is. Her USP? The signature walk. She was the first to really work the ‘horse walk’, which is a stomping catwalk style, where she lifts her knees up higher when walking the ramp and kicks her feet out in front as she walks. Sounds weird, right? But it looks really effective when she does it on the catwalk, and it works well with her height and frame.

Naomi Campbell has phenomenal cheekbones and her facial bone structure is unparalleled in it’s beauty. Her legs look amazing in print and on the catwalk, and her walk is striking. Okay, well Naomi is a special case and has a whole host of USP’s that make her one of the ‘true supers’.

How about Jourdan Dunn? Her legs and walk. Cara Delevigne? Those brows and ‘the stare’. Karlie Kloss? Her trademark ‘moody gait’ catwalk. Coco Rocha? Her razor-sharp cheekbones and pout.

 

So… how do you find your USP?

Research. Do your homework.

Controversially, I think that Americas Next Top Model (early series only, say cycles 1 – 7) gave really valuable insight into model development. They focused on finding what’s different or unique about each model. ANTM drilled home the concept that being pretty isn’t enough to succeed. It highlighted the importance of practice makes perfect when it comes to finding the best angles and poses for your face and body.

I suggest you go back and re-watch series 1-7 with a notebook at hand. Time after time, we saw that what the models themselves considered their ‘best feature’ or USP was very different from the expert panel (trust them, they know their stuff!). Write down advice and observations about how each model identified and then developed her USP.

 

Now focus on you.

Study your best portfolio images or watch & re-watch any catwalk videos of yourself. Write down what you love about your performance in each one.

Then put yourself out there for critique. Scary I know but you have to get used to open and public critique if you want to make it in the modelling industry. Find a reputable fashion photography network or social media group and ask users there to point out their favourite image and why.

Compare your ‘best features’ to print images of top models in the industry who have a similar traits. Be harsh about whether your USP as-is is genuinely unique. If you’re honest and it’s not really unique, look at what the other similar models are doing, and identify what’s missing from your USP to make it truly unique.

 

You’ve found it. Now what?

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Practice poses, angles, walks, expressions that flaunt your USP. The more you experiment with it, the more you’ll find the best poses, angles, walks, and expressions to showcase your USP. Do as many test shots as you need to in order to get comfortable with it, and learn to apply it to different styles and shoots. That will help you use & adapt your talents to a broader spectrum of potential work. Being adaptable and versatile will secure you more work in the longer term.

 


Make no mistake, it’s hard work. Really hard work. It takes time and can be an iterative process but you need to invest that time and effort in order to succeed in the longer term. Do your homework: reflect & critically evaluate your own work to find your special something that will make you stand out and nail those castings.