Being prepared for the unexpected often shows the difference between an amateur model and a professional model. Modeling agencies and clients want to work with models who take their career seriously, and one way you can show them that you do just that, is to always be prepared. Your “Model Bag” is a vital part of being prepared, and should contain everything you may need to do your job.
When it comes to packing your model bag for a photoshoot, some specifics of what you may need will vary depending on the job, but there are some things you will want to make sure you always have on-hand. Be sure to check with your agent or the client in the days leading up to the shoot to if there is any specific items they want you to bring.
What your bag looks like isn’t nearly as important as the contents, but you need it to be functional. For a shoot, I usually prefer to use a small/medium sized luggage style bag that has wheels over a standard duffel or weekender bag because I tend to pack more for a shoot than I would for a runway show. Having a wheeled luggage bag makes it so much easier when hauling it in from the car, and there are also usually more pockets and such that helps with organizing your things.
Whichever style you prefer, make sure the bag is durable, clean, is easy to carry, and can hold a LOT of stuff!
It is very important to always be clear when going to a shoot who is providing the wardrobe. Are you bringing your own wardrobe? Is a stylist/designer providing everything? A mixture of both?
If you are bringing your own wardrobe, work with the photographer to figure out what concept you’re going for with the shoot, and what type of looks best portray that concept. Communication is key here, and you will need to work together to put together each look.
If all wardrobe is being put together by the client, that doesn’t mean you should arrive to set empty handed. I always like to make sure I bring a few pairs of skinny jeans (Light wash, dark wash, distressed, and a black pair), a pair of black leggings, as well as black and white tank tops and a tube top. Even though the stylist most likely will have everything covered, it’s always good to have these items just in case something doesn’t fit right and you need to improvise.
As with clothing, it’s important to know who is responsible for providing shoes. Even if the client is providing them, I always bring my own in case they weren’t able to get my size or some other issue arises. There are 4 pairs of shoes I always bring with me- a black & nude strappy heel, and a black & nude pump (check out this post for more guidance on model shoes). You can’t go wrong with these 4 pairs of shoes as they can go with any look! If you know you are shooting fall/winter looks, it wouldn’t hurt to also bring a pair of basic black ankle-boots.
Water & Snacks
Make sure to pack plenty of water and something to eat. Even if the shoot is only supposed to be a few hours, you never know if it will go over the allotted time, so it’s always good to have some easy-to-eat snacks in your bag. My go-to is protein bars because they keep me full and give me a nice energy boot, and it’s easy to get a few bites in between changes or quick breaks.
If it’s an all-day shoot, the client should provide lunch, but this is never a guarantee. And while free food on set sounds awesome, it may not be food that agrees with your body. There’s nothing worse than eating something that causes you to bloat or not feel well. If you know your stomach can be fussy or you have specific dietary requirements, it’s safer to always pack your own food.
Nude & black strapless bras, seamless g-strings, and boy-shorts are absolute must-haves in your bag. Go for plain designs without any branding, lace or patterns; and the more seamless the better!
It’s also good practice to keep ‘Chicken cutlets’ (push-up boosters), stick on bras, and nipple covers in your bag as well since regular bras sometimes just don’t work with certain garments.
Makeup Kit & Hair Tools
Again, communication is key here. Find out who is responsible for doing makeup: are you doing it yourself? Are they bringing in a beauty team? Do they want you to show up to set fully made up, with just your base foundation on, or bare-faced?
Most of the time a client will be providing hair and makeup so you will just need to come bare-faced, but this isn’t always the case. Even if you are told makeup & hair will be done on-set, I always like to be prepared with my own makeup kit and some basic hair styling tools (curling iron, flatiron, bobby pins, hair ties, hairspray, comb) in case something happens and the H/MUA doesn’t show up.
A Changing Scarf
This is something almost always forgotten but is so essential! A small scarf to put over your head when changing so that you don't smudge the makeup or have it transfer onto your garment. I often use a silk purse duster bag because it’s lightweight, super easy to pop over your head, and doesn’t take a lot of space when packing.
This includes alllll the little things you don’t think about until you suddenly need it, like: bandaids, small sewing kit, safety pins, feminine products, contact case/solution with a pair of back up contacts (if you wear them), pain reliever (I like to take one as I sit down do get my hair done, it will prevent a headache if the hairstyle is tight or you have a lot of poking pins), stomach reliever (in case lunch hits you in a bad way), body lotion (unscented & non-greasy!), tooth brush, a razor, & tweezers.
Portable Phone Charger
With all the down-time that comes with being on set, there’s a good chance you will be spending a lot of time on your phone checking social media & emails, so you want to make sure you have a portable battery with you in case there isn’t good access to outlets.
It’s always good to at least have a few of your comp cards handy, that way when someone important (like a designer, photographer, artist, news media member) asks for your information to pass on, you have a business card on hand to give them. This also makes you look more professional!
I know it's a lot, and it can be really annoying to pack all this stuff up and not even use a single thing during your shoot, but I promise it's necessary to have! You never know when you will suddenly need something and look incredibly unprofessinonal for not having it in your model bag. As I stated above, being a professinal model means being a prepared one!