There is more to the modeling world than the media lets on. If you want to find out what it really takes and how to manage your modeling career, then you've come to the right place! This blog is dedicated to the aspiring and already established models who live to defy the standards and stereotypes in order to make a place for themselves in this crazy industry.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Real People Modeling: There Is Such a Thing!

Chances are you may have seen this term before, especially while browsing around on sites dealing with modeling related subjects. As the name suggests, real people modeling is a category of modeling that uses individuals that look like the everyday Joe and Jane.

While fashion/runway models are known for looking exotic, alien and even strange and commercial/print models are known for looking like the attractive guy/girl-next-door, real people models are known for...well...looking like real people. This includes folks that are fairly attractive to the, well, unattractive.

I know it sounds harsh, but hey, we are talking about the modeling industry here and when have they ever been known for being sensitive? However, the key thing to remember here is that real people modeling is not about poking fun at individuals that aren't considered"attractive." In the industry, these models are respected and requested by clients just like any other type of model.

The physical requirements for the different types of modeling are the way they are for a reason. Fashion and runway models sell the clothes, while commercial/print models sell products and company branding. These two categories appeal to their own respective audiences. Projects that use real people models do so because they want to promote products, ideas, content, concepts, etc. that are "realistic" and not some fancy Photoshopped image of surrealism.

Sometimes having models that are very attractive can actually distract a client or company's target audience from the real message they're trying to get across. There are various situations where real people models may be hired. In fact, this is one category in the industry that is growing in demand by leaps and bounds.

While not all agencies that specialize in real people models, they are out there and trust me, they're enjoying good business, as are the models they represent. 9 times out of 10 when you see a casting for "real people" models, it's almost always for adults. This is a great niche to get into for those that are middle age and even older. Sometimes there are castings for "real families" but that isn't quite the same as real people modeling. Real family castings have more to do with the convenience of hiring a real life married couple with their own children to model for a project instead of holding separate castings and trying to fill those roles individually.

Here are some quick FAQs to help you further understand what real people modeling is all about:

Q: Is "real people modeling" a polite way of saying "ugly modeling"?
A: Not at all. In fact, some real people models are attractive, cute, handsome, etc. However, this category focuses mainly on individuals that do not possess what we would generally call "supermodel good looks." Each agency looks for something different, though, so don't be surprised if you look on an agency's website and see men and women who you would consider pretty or good looking.

Q: Who would be considered a real people model?
A: Truthfully, anyone can be considered a real people model. They can be attractive, unattractive, have tons of piercings and tattoos, be elderly, middle aged, bald, sport a mohawk, braids, an afro, have a nice body, have a beer belly or be overweight.

Q: Is being a "real people" model really modeling?
A: Yes! Real people models attend castings, go-sees and participate in photoshoots just like regular models.

Q: How much money do real people models make?
A: There is no exact pay range. It's the same as traditional categories of modeling. Depending on how much your agent is able to secure, you could be paid $100+ per hour or more. Larger projects/campaigns typically pay hundreds to thousands of dollars per day or as a flat fee. Payment varies from shoot to shoot.

Q: Can I become a real people model?
A: The only way to find out is to seek a modeling agency that represents real people models and send in your pictures or attend an open casting call.

Q: What are the physical requirements to be a real people model?
A: Unlike traditional categories, real people models are literally all shapes, sizes, heights and ethnicities. Agencies want people that look like the average, everyday person so luckily there are no strict requirements, tiny dress sizes or weight ranges you have to fall under to be considered.

Q: What age are real people models?
A: All ages! Most castings ask for adults, however. Real people models are in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s...you get the idea.

Q: Do I need professional pictures to submit to a real people modeling agency?
A: In most cases, no. Digital snapshots are perfectly fine. Each agency website will state what kind of photos they want so go by what they ask for. Once you get signed, you will have to do photoshoots to build images for your portfolio, get a headshot, comp card, etc.

Q: Where can I find real people agencies to submit to?
A: They aren't everywhere but a basic online search should give you some websites to look through. Browse through each site and make sure they actually represent "real people" models. This will typically be stated directly on the website. 

Some notable real people agencies worth mentioning include:

The Blackwell Files (San Francisco, California)

UGLY Models (New York & London)

UGLY Models is one of the leading agencies that specializes in real people models. I read a magazine article a year or so ago, which had an interview with one of the model recruiters for UGLY Models. He said in New York alone he is constantly scouting people--he offered representation a homeless man he met while riding the subway! The article even had a picture of that very same homeless man, whose portrait appeared in an article in a prominent magazine.

Examples of real people models:

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