Magazine Modeling: 7 Steps to Cover Model Stardom

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RuPaul, who is never wrong, once sang: “Cover of magazines / And when they see me, they wanna be me.” If you can relate, a career in magazine modeling lies ahead of you. But whether you hope to someday grace the pages of Vogue or you’d settle for one of those in-flight pamphlets tucked into the seat back, you need to know the lay of the landscape. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

How to become a magazine model

Depending on the type of publication, models who pose for magazines are either of the fashion or editorial print variety—that is, their photos are either advertising products and services or conveying an idea. 

1. Find your type. Use your model measurements and overall appearance to figure out your type so you know what magazines to strive for. For fashion magazines, models are generally thin and tall, with female models usually at least 5-foot-9 and male models at least 6 feet tall. Fitness magazines look for models with low body fat percentages of 15% to 17% for women and 6% to 7% for men. Commercial, lingerie, and swimsuit magazines may depict models with a greater range of sizes. 

2. Create a portfolio. Your modeling portfolio should showcase your ability to portray different styles and concepts. Include professional headshots and body shots that highlight your look and range. 

3. Apply to gigs. This is a matter of knowing where to look. Unless you have the social capital to have a designer, photographer, or editor connect you with gigs, your best bets will be casting call databases, open calls, and other submission portals.

4. Gain experience. Study industry best practices, try different poses, and learn how to give your best smize. While you’re getting your foot in the door, it may be worthwhile to find TFP (trade for print) shoots, which will provide you with experience and professional images—albeit with no pay. 

5. Harness the power of social media. Post your best images across social media accounts. Use hashtags like #magazinemodel, #magazinemodeling, #commercialmodel, and #covermodel, and tag specific magazines, editors, agencies, and designers you hope to work with. 

6. Network. Attend magazine, fashion, and photography conferences, trade shows, and exhibits. Aim big with events such as Vogue’s Forces of Fashion, GQ’s Global Creativity Awards, and New York Fashion Week, or start a little smaller by seeking opportunities with local publications, photographers, and events in the fashion and media ecosystems. 

7. Land an agent. Attend open calls and submit to agencies to try and get representation, since modeling agents can take you from occasional freelance gigs to a full-blown career.