When submitting photos to agencies, many models are unsure of what to submit. You want to be able to catch their eye in the sea of other model submissions, so you would think you needed to submit your best professional photos. But to the surprise of many, that isn’t the case.
When I tell new models that all agencies want for submissions are natural, unedited photos, they usually don’t believe me. The type of photos agencies want you to submit is referred to in the industry as “digitals” or “polaroids”. They want to see you completely un-styled. That means little to no makeup and absolutely zero retouching or filters on the photos. Unless they specifically ask you to include professional images, do not submit those in place of your digitals.
Every single modeling agency website will have a page for new model submissions. They will have many titles, for example, ‘Be Discovered’, ‘Get Scouted’, ‘Become a Model’, etc., but they are all where you need to go to apply to the agency. Before you start filling everything out, read everything thoroughly and clearly understand what they want you to send in.
This is where reading instructions and following them exactly is essential. Some agencies only want two photos, while some want several different angles. This is where looking at the form ahead of time is helpful because you can make sure you’re prepared with all the photos you will need.
When taking your digitals, the most important thing is to have great lighting. You want the light to be bright enough that it’s flattering and they can clearly see your features, but not so bright that it washes you out. You also want a plain or very simple background so your image has no distractions. Even though the images are not all that different from a mug shot, you want to have some personality in them by emoting through your eyes and having strong but simple poses. Again, be sure to include all the angles that they requested! They may also give suggestions on what to wear. Do not take creative liberties with these suggestions. If they suggest you wear a black tank top with black jeans, wear precisely that, even if you think your hot pink top and skirt is cuter. And although baggy clothing is currently trending, they will want to see your body type, so form-fitting clothing is best.
Because agencies only want digitals for your submissions, you do NOT need an entire portfolio of professional images before submitting! If you have some professional photos, great, but they are not necessary. Especially if you're a brand-new model, they aren't going to expect you to have a portfolio ready to go. Sometimes they will ask to see professional photos if you have them, but they will not hold it against you if you don’t. As I stated above, do not submit professional photos in place of the digitals they requested. This shows them that you can’t follow directions, and they will dismiss your submission.