Because most aspiring models don’t live in major modeling markets like New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Milan or Tokyo where they can attend a go-see or open call, they need to submit their photos by mail, email, or through an online model scouting company. Whether you’re a new model just starting out, or even a model with experience who is looking to expand your representation to bigger markets, these twelve tips will help you get your photos right the first time and improve your chances of getting signed to an agency and getting booked for modeling jobs.

Simple Snapshots Are Best

If you’re just starting out as a model, then simple snapshots are just fine. Agencies do not expect you to have professional photos from a well-developed portfolio. In fact, it can actually be better if you do not have professional photos because they want to see the real you. Good agents and scouts will look at you as a blank canvas and think about how they can mold your look into something that they, and their clients, are looking for. If you submit professional photos or ones where you’re more or less posing as a character, then you risk pigeonholing yourself into a particular look.

Keep Makeup to a Minimum

Agents and scouts want to see the real you, so it is important to keep makeup to a minimum. Think of your face as a template. A little foundation, concealer, blush, mascara and lip gloss is all you need. Male models generally should not wear makeup, but a small amount of bronzer is alright as long as it’s not noticeable. If your face tends to get oily, then it’s okay to wear some translucent powder to get rid of any sheen.

Keep Clothing Simple and In Good Taste

A simple pair of well-fitting jeans and a t-shirt are just fine for your photos. Agents and scouts are looking at you and your body proportions, not the clothing you’re wearing. Never dress up in evening or black-tie attire, prom dresses, or wedding attire. Never dress in clothing that would be considered too sexual or provocative, including extremely low-cut shirts and jeans that sit very low on the hip.

Include One Headshot and One Body Shot

The very minimum you should submit is one headshot and one body shot. The rule of thumb is to pick your best photos that highlight your best features. Preferably, include some shots of you smiling and some shots of you in a neutral mood. Be sure to include the left and right side of your face, because everyone has a “good side” that photographs better. Also, you must send body profiles where you’re not obscured by surrounding objects, even furniture or landscaping such as trees or boulders.

Keep Hairstyles Simple

Agents and scouts want to see the length and condition of your hair, so it’s important to keep your hairstyle simple and well-groomed. Make sure your hair is in good condition. If you need a haircut, color job, or trim, go to your hairstylist and colorist before you take your photos. If you have long hair then take photos of your hair down and pulled back.

Include a Swimsuit Shot

If you’re comfortable wearing a swimsuit then it’s always a good idea to include some shots of you wearing either a one-piece or bikini. Keep posing to a minimum when wearing a swimsuit because your shots can quickly go from elegant to tacky with some unfortunate poses.

Never Submit Nude (or Suggestive) Photos

In a nutshell, agents and scouts do not want to see you naked, ever. Even photos that suggest nudity are off the table. If you have a fabulous photograph of yourself but there is so much midriff (and lower) showing, do not send that photo.

Only You in the Photos

Be sure you’re the only person in the photos you submit. Agents and scouts want to see you and only you. You need to be a clean slate that they can dress and portray to tell a story and sell a product or service. You don’t want your photos to tell a story. Never submit photos of you and your friends drinking at the bar, playing pool, or partying in Las Vegas. Save those pics for your social media platforms.

Do Not Wear Fur

Please do not wear fur of any kind, anywhere, in your photos. And that includes fake fur, which may be hard to distinguish from the real thing. Many agents find the use of fur in the fashion industry offensive. Besides, there is nothing about a fur coat that says “young and fresh,” which is the look that agents want in new models. Even mature models need to look youthful and fresh for their age category.

No Fancy Clothing or Makeup on Children

Fashion and commercial agencies in big markets like New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Milan, and Tokyo want to see real kids. They don’t want Barbie dolls and photos from beauty pageants. To ensure that kid shots look real, make sure the head shots show clean faces void of makeup, without frilly dresses or suits with bow ties, and without hairpieces. Also, food covered faces are cute for grandparents but never for agents. You can use your smartphone to get a shot of your child at the local playground or a backyard barbeque. As a matter of fact, you probably already have a model-worthy photo in your smartphone.

Include All of Your Contact Information

There have been many times that I’ve been interested in a model and had no way to contact them because they forgot to include their contact information. If you’re mailing your photos, be sure to include your full name, the city you live in, your email address, and day and evening phone numbers on the back of each and every photo. Photos can get separated from the envelopes they came in, so just attaching a note to your photos is not enough. To save time and ensure scouts have all of your information, print up some stickers at home with your contact information and apply one to each photo. There are many online stationery stores where you can have inexpensive stickers made if you don’t feel comfortable making them yourself. Just don’t get too fancy with your stickers—the idea is to be visible to scouts. Stick to a white background and an easy-to-read black font.

Include Your Stats

Your statistics are your key measurements and data. Women should always include their age, height, bust, waist, and hip measurements. Men should include their age, height, chest and waist size, jacket size, and pant length. Also note any distinguishing features, such as freckles, moles, or visible tattoos.

First Impressions Are Important

In the modeling industry, your photos are everything, and first impressions are equally as important. Modeling agencies receive thousands of photos every week and agents will make their decision whether or not to represent you within a matter of seconds. Therefore, it’s important to always look your best (and appropriate) even in simple snapshots. You also must include all the statistical information agents need in order to represent you. Don’t get passed over simply because you forgot to include your contact information and they had no way to reach you.

Agency submission examples:

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