When it comes to the modeling industry, learning all the ins and outs on your own as you go is incredibly hard. Many models get assistance navigating this new territory by enlisting the help of a model coach.
Like all coaches, a model coach’s main agenda is to help you get ahead in your profession. They are there to teach you a variety of skills and give you advice that will be useful at one point or another in your career. The topics a model coach can cover can range from runway and posing skills to personal image development and branding.
Depending on the qualifications and experience of the model coach, enlisting a model coach is a worthwhile investment that can have an extremely positive effect on your career. Because it is such an investment, it’s vital that you do your research to find a qualified and experienced coach. Recently, I’m seeing more and more new models hosting workshops that supposedly offer to teach skills needed to work in the industry and how to sustain a lasting career when they are just getting started in the industry themselves. These new models, no matter how professional they look on paper (aka Instagram), are not qualified to be model coaches.
So, what makes a qualified model coach? The exact same traits that gives any other type of coach their merit- actual working experience in the industry to base their teachings off of. Many professions require intense study to secure certification before being allowed to practice in their industry. Personal coaches and mentors are in a different realm because it’s not a regulated or certified industry, so it’s up to YOU to verify their credentials before doing business with them. You wouldn’t hire a batting coach that’s only played baseball recreationally, so choosing a modeling coach should be no different. Learning from YouTube tutorials can be useful when you don’t have access to model coaches or industry professionals, but should not be considered as valid experience on a model’s resume and certainly does not give them enough merit to start coaching their own workshops.
Here are a few important qualifications your model coach needs to have before you invest your time and money into their teachings:
Agency Representation: A qualified model coach is one that is currently or has been agency represented by a legitimate modeling agency(s) for many years. To some, this qualification may not seem as important if the model coach has worked as a successful freelance model for many years. While that may be true for some posing and even a little runway coaching, they won’t be able to give you proper advice when it comes to handling modeling agencies and developing successful skills for agency and client etiquette. If a model wants to be successful in large fashion markets, they will need a modeling agency. Navigating the agency game can be tricky, and you need a coach with experience in that area to give you proper advice.
Range: You want a model coach who has experience working with a wide variety of photographers, stylists, and designers. It’s a bonus if they also have experience in working in multiple cities. If your model coach has only worked with a few local industry people, they won’t be able to help you work through the many different situations you are certain to run into when you work with a wide variety of people. Some photographers, clients, designers and stylists are a breeze to work with while others can be very difficult and intimidating, so learning how to handle such vastly different types of situations is important.
You also want a model coach who has experience in both commercial & editorial modeling. Editorial and commercial styles are completely different for both print and runway, so you will need a model coach who is fluent in both to be able to give you appropriate coaching.
Years Under Their Belt: Your modeling coach should not be a model that just started two years ago. That early in your career, you’re really just starting to get your feet wet and are still learning the real ins and outs of the industry. You want a modeling coach who has been successfully working in the industry for many years and who has a lot of good and bad experiences to draw from when coaching you. A model coach who has worked with a wide variety of clients and agencies and will have a wealth of knowledge to share. A coach who is a new model in the industry just simply doesn’t have enough experience to be able to fully advise you properly.
Paid Bookings: It is important to know what clients and experiences your modeling coach has had throughout their career. Have they been working with big clients and doing paid campaigns and runway shows, or have they just been working locally doing small jobs and a lot of free trade work? It is important to know this and to verify this because you want a model coach who has done both. A qualified model coach will have experience doing trade work and large campaign jobs for big paying clients. You want them to have experience in both of these realms so they can draw on that and coach you on what to expect and how to handle it when you experience it yourself in your career.
While it’s so easy in the days of social media for a model coach and the workshops they host to appear legitimate, make sure you fully do your research before investing your time and money into their services. If you see a modeling workshop or camp you’d like to attend, look at who the instructors are and do your homework on them. Find out how long they’ve been in business (and if they’re even a legitimate business), what they teach, and what makes them qualified to get paid to teach those topics (i.e.: all the above points). Also don’t be afraid to ask questions! A legitimate coach will be open and honest about every aspect of their business and won’t hesitate to give you testimonials from other students and/or industry professionals they’ve worked with (agents, photographers, other models, etc.).