So you want to model but don't know where to begin? The process can be somewhat time consuming, but definitely not impossible.
Figure It Out
The first place to start is to figure out what part of the modeling industry you want to pursue. This includes fashion/runway, commercial/print, petite or plus-size.
Then you have to research the requirements (which you can find on my post titled "The Different Types of Modeling") to see where you fit in.
And be realistic--if you're short and know you aren't going to grow any taller, then go for the commercial/print industry. If you know you'll grow taller but not right away, try out for both commercial/print and fashion/runway and see what happens.
If you're a FEMALE and between 5'5"-5'7" then you're ideal for COMMERCIAL/PRINT.
If you're a FEMALE and between 5'8"-6'0" then you're ideal for FASHION/RUNWAY/EDITORIAL.
If you're a MALE and between 5'11"-6'3" then you're ideal for FASHION/RUNWAY/EDITORIAL.
If you're a MALE and are 5'10" or shorter then you're ideal for COMMERCIAL/PRINT.
***These height requirements aren't absolute but are typically the norm for large markets like New York, Miami and Los Angeles. Medium size to smaller markets may be more flexible with the height for female and male models but it is important to check the agency websites to find out exactly what the requirements are for each one.***
Cast The Net
Once you know where you fit in, it's time to make a list of the proper agencies that represent the type of modeling you're trying out for. It's helpful to start locally and work your way outwards. If you live in a small town or a state that isn't a hot spot, you may have more of a challenge in starting your modeling career. The common rule of thumb is to look for agencies that are no more than a two hour's drive from where you live.
The Internet is going to be the best way to find out this information. Do a search for modeling agencies according to your city/state (i.e. "Los Angeles modeling agencies," "Austin modeling agencies," etc.).
Narrow It Down
After making a list of the potential agencies that you feel you'd make a good match with, go to their website (if they have one) and look up the guidelines for submitting pictures.
Better yet, note if they have open casting calls so you can meet with them in person. This is the best way to introduce yourself instead of being just another photo submission in a huge pile in their office. Lay out which ones you'll submit photos to, either via email or snail mail, and the ones you'll go to in person.
***If you're concerned about photos or if you've never done a shoot before, don't stress. Agencies welcome snapshots and photos taken by your parents or friend. As long as they meet the requirements listed in the guidelines, don't worry about going out to hire a photographer.***
Put Your Snapshots Together
The keyword here is "snapshots." New and inexperienced models DO NOT need a portfolio, headshot, comp card or professional portfolio filled with glossy photographs. 9 times out of 10 it says directly on agency websites that they want non professional, digital snapshots with no makeup.
Below are examples of snapshots agencies look for if you want to be a FASHION/RUNWAY/EDITORIAL MALE/FEMALE MODEL:
Below are examples of snapshots agencies look for if you want to be a COMMERCIAL/PRINT MALE/FEMALE MODEL:
Now it's time to pound the pavement. This can be the trying part of the whole process because it involves a lot of rejection and waiting. Be sure to have your list handy and make notes of the ones you were rejected from, which ones said to come back at a later date and so on. Many agencies will allow you to resubmit or come back to another open casting call after six months to a year.
Make sure you follow each agency website's submission guidelines accordingly. They don't all ask for the same things so you may need to send some agencies more images and info, while others may ask for less.
Only through careful research and consideration, waiting and patience, can you make it into the business. You may get signed right away or it may take a while. Just remember that you're not the only person applying and it does take some time for agencies and their staff to go through photo after photo (it can take anywhere from 6-8 weeks on average for an agency to respond back...2-4 weeks for the really efficient agencies).
Patience is going to be a very important part of this process. It took only a few weeks for me to get signed by my first agent, but when I decided to find better representation, it took almost a year for my current agent to interview and sign me.