Why may breaking into modeling be difficult?

Because it takes time to build a professional portfolio.

Most people feel that they must pay hundreds of dollars on a professional photo shoot to get started.

No! Don’t do that!

Here are the top 6 reasons why you should not pay for a photo shoot when you are a new model:

6) Not Enough on the Job Experience Yet

Modeling takes practice. Actually, a lot of practice. Even if you have mastered the facial expressions covered in the Getting Started section, there’s still a lot of other variables that go into a great photo. Things like poses, angles, lighting, wardrobe, and background all should be planned out for a photo to be usable in your portfolio. 

Ideally, that’s the photographer’s job. However,

You should have at least an idea what makes you look good, what angles you look best in, and what colors bring out your features.

modeling in the sun model challenges

Things like being able to give a natural pose while walking, or modeling while the sun is in your eyes, takes practice. If this is the first photo shoot you have ever had, it may be a challenge and you would have wasted your money if you are not at your best.

5) Haven’t Developed a Style Yet

Think about the models you have seen in advertisements. They all have a signature look. It is their essence and style that makes them captivating. It is also those things that designers are paying them for.

Fashion glamour signiture model look modeling life

It usually takes about 1-3 photo shoots for someone to develop their style. That is because you need to look at the final images from each shoot and reflect upon them.  What worked? What didn’t? Figuring out what makes you unique is the key to standing out from all the other attractive people out there.

take as many photos as you can modeling practiceRegardless of how many shots it take to figure out the real you, your first couple of free photo sessions is a great time to experiment.

Go out there and take as many photos of yourself as you can!!!

4) The Photographer you are working with may be a Scam Artist

Scam artists spend most of their time tricking people rather than developing their photography skills. So it is rare to find a fraud who also takes fantastic photos.

photographer evolution poses breaking into modeling

Anyone can grab a camera and claim that they are a professional photographer. Have some lights set up. Point and shoot. That’s all there is to it right?


It takes years of practice and an eye for capturing beauty to be labeled a professional. Some are so gifted that they are able to make a simple setup look fantastic. Others are so specialized that they only shoot fashion, or commercial, or objects, or scenery. Needless to say, a professional photographer’s title is also earned.

studio shoot example breaking into modeling model life

It may be tempting to think that all good looking photos are produced from complex camera setups. No, it has nothing to do with how much equipment is being used. See this professional looking studio setup (black background)? It yields a crisp image with a nicely balanced shadow. It’s because of the setup right? Well, the second photo with the white background has no setup and was shot with natural lighting.

Besides the skill, each photographer has his/her own style. How do you know which style fits you? How do you know which style is needed in your portfolio?


As you model more and get a feeling for what final images are supposed to look like, you will figure out exactly who you need to work with. Oh! And you will also be able to spot scam artists a mile away. 😉

3) Pressure Free Photo Shoot

Your first couple of photo shoots is where you get to discover yourself. Sounds awesome right? That is why these shoots should be fun and stress-free. Well, at least as stress-free as possible. However, it’s not uncommon for photographers to charge people more than $500 on a shoot.

washington stressed out photo shoot

How can you relax when part of you is thinking “Man! I am spending hundreds of dollars on this shoot. I better get a good shot… I better get something I can use… I better not be wasting my money!”

The best way to have a nice and productive shoot is to relax and have fun. It’s a lot easy to accomplish that if the shoot is free with no financial burden attached. If the photos don’t turn out as well as you hoped, it’s okay, it’s your first shoot, and it was free.

Don’t worry too much because you’re just getting started.

2) The Agency you are Hoping to Sign with may Not Care for the Photos

There are many modeling agencies out there with various departments. Some specialize in fashion, some commercial, some fitness, some lifestyle, and etc.  (Check out the section on Types of Modeling)

Can you tell the difference between fashion shots and commercial shots? What about lifestyle shots Vs. Editorials (even though they both could be used to tell a story)? If you spent money and got commercial photos of yourself and sent them to a fashion agency, guess what will happen?

They will ignore you.

Even if you got professional fashion shots, the fashion agency may still ignore you because their idea of fashion may be different than yours.

I spent money on that modeling life challenges top model agencies

WTF? Confused? Yes, modeling can be frustrating sometimes.
That’s why it’s important to do your homework and know the key differences. In fact, it’s better to ask the agency you are interested in, to tell you exactly what they want before you spend a cent. Some agencies will even show you the type and style of photos they want you to take.

Don’t be afraid to ask them.  

1) Don’t Be in Debt before your Modeling Career has even Started

Last but not least, the number one reason why you should not pay for your first photo shoot is:

Don’t be in debt!

We are a firm believer that modeling should pay for itself…

…if done correctly.

This means you shouldn’t need to spend a fortune before your first modeling job. Once you book a couple of jobs and make some money, you can then invest some of that money in yourself and build a better portfolio.

start up business modeling life

Believe it or not, starting the modeling life is starting your own business. Congrats! You are a Start Up Entrepreneur! But you have to always take care of yourself. You are your own business. Take care of your business!

Now that you know the reasons why it may not be a good idea to pay for your first photo shoot, what now?

Let’s go and find your first free Test Shoot!

To learn more, check out:

How to find and work with Test Shoot Photographers.

Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter!

The modeling life is closer than you think. Subscribe to our Newsletter and let us help you every step of the way.