Yep, you've read right. Every model has a USP. So what is a USP, how to find yours, and how to use...
Let's start with the positive affirmation, that will make some photographers cringe - Every person can model.
I am currently expecting a barrage of photographers to my inbox for even suggesting such a barbarous idea. But it's there, and I've said it. There is a market for all shapes, sizes, heights, male and female, all levels, genres and hair colour. All ages, eye colour, the list goes on. Every person. Any person could sign up to one of these sites and get a shoot. Every person is beautiful in their own way (Yes, more sick bag inducing words for those holding the cameras..) If you want to model, in the day of internet modelling, you can. But, not every model is good for every shoot.
Sorry, let the modelling side down with that one. What makes a market for everyone, so anyone could model, unfortunately doesn't translate into every shoot and every genre or level. The important part moving forward, would be to look at the positive affirmation above again, and work out how you
can make modelling work for you. Choose levels you are comfortable with.
Don't simple tick all the boxes because you think more shoots will equal more money. Perhaps it will. But, if you are not comfortable with those levels chosen, it will show in the resulting images. That stiff looking pose or expression, can strip down any photographer's ability, no matter their camera equipment or editing competence. Models do not need to say yes to every level, or every shoot, ever. Remember that once taken, images will be around in one way or another forever. If certain levels could show a conflict of interest with your job, family, any other reason, think about the future consequences if these images are found. 'I can't / won't shoot nude or above. There's no work for me.'
Not true. Yes, it will mean you won't be right for every shoot depending on level. Some photographers only shoot certain levels, so that might mean less chance of a shoot there. But there is shoots out there that involve keeping your clothes on. (Shock horror!) Make-up, hair, fashion, editorial, catwalk, just a few ways of still shooting to your preferred levels. If you do want to shoot all levels, then great, but if you don't you can still get shoots to. As above, anyone can model, period.
Want to get paid for hair and make-up work? Approach local colleges that train MUA's and hair dressers, or your local salons. Help MUA's and stylists on here to start or expand their portfolio. It may not be every day, but the shoots are still out there, for all levels. 'I want to shoot all levels, so I'll get lots of shoot offers.'
Possibly, maybe. Good for you if you are available to shoot all levels. That in itself with be enough of a USP to some photographers. For others however, you would then also need to consider your look... Your look
I did say every person can model, and I'm still saying they can. (Stay with me on this one, we will get to the fluffy bunny ending soon, I promise!) Every person is also unique in their looks. With some self-realisation you can milk what your looks are good for, as well as realise what might not be your best areas.
Some models have fantastic bodies. They walk with air and grace, and would look perfect in a bin bag. For others, myself included, reality sucks and this isn't possible. That expensive piece of glass the photographer is carrying does not knock off any love handles. Nor does it selectively hide your war wounds, mummy tiger stripes or your latest break out of pimples. Not every photographer will like your look
and that's ok too. So rather than focus on your negatives in your portfolio notes, castings, forum dilemmas, find the good points that photographers will look for. Examples including, but not limited to -
Really long hair (ideal for hair stylists and mua shoots)
Height (for catwalk style shoots)
Tone and muscles (fitness, sport, aerial and hoop work)
Really clear skin, AKA no frequent or ongoing outbreaks that make you hide under the duvet - Every photographer wants to hear this. MUA's will thank you, the camera will thank you. If that's you, get it on your profile notes asap.
Nails - Are your nails always manicured, or are you a regular at the nail salon? Write it out, because I'm sure there is a photographer somewhere out there, right now, cursing at editing out half bitten finger nails..
Unique hair colour - If your hair is brighter than the rainbow, without having to use a wig, then this could be your USP for cosplay, punk and alternative shoots.
Tattoos - A bit like marmite. Won't suit every photographer. But if you have tattoos, make sure it's noted either way. Good tattoos and body art worthy of the lens could lead to alternative and punk shoots. If it's a small tattoo, why not mention whether it can be covered with make-up or clothes, so the appeal is still there for those that sit on the fence with the tattoo debate.
Curves - Because hey girls, internet modelling is not just a skinny girls world. If there's a boob to hip ratio that makes the fellas on the street take a second look, it's sure as hell going to work on the internet sites too. On this very note, it's also how you present those curves, or body attributes... Work your USP
You've now decided on the best levels for you, what your look is, and what your USP's may be. So here's the last critical points to take note of -
* Wear the right size lingerie or clothes.
Too baggy will not show off your figure, and too tight creates rolls and folds. If any part of you is over hanging or sneaking out of the lingerie, it does not fit. Sorry, had to be said. Know your size, stick to it, prepare your kit accordingly.
* Choose items that work with your USP, not your weak points.
Got mummy tiger stripes? That's cool, not on every shoot though. So that lacy two piece nylon thing with a big gap midriff might just not be what every photographer wants. Same rule applies to any other weaknesses, choose items that enhance the USP's all you beautiful people have, not make you look strung up from the meat counter. (Unless butcher bondage is your thing...)
* Sell your USP - List in your profile, and in your castings. Whatever your USP is, whether it's your look, a skill, a location, vast experience in a certain genre, sell it, and sell it everywhere. One person's weakness, is another's USP...
* Applying for a casting? Say why you are great for the casting with your own USP's.
So before any more photographers are caused to splutter out their coffee at these revelations, I'll say the fluffy bunny stuff just one more time.. Every person can model, and model well if they use their USP's.