The glamour may draw one to become a product model, but one must eventually find other aspects of the profession appealing to stick on. Sure there’s money in it, as the Indian economy expands and makes space for a slew of products in every segment. That of course means that the collective fortunes of product models, advertising agencies, photographers, stylists and a variety of other professionals is dependent on the advertising budgets of companies. Still, the fame and money continue to attract fresh young faces that yearn to represent products that we see advertised every day in newspapers, magazines, and on television.
So, what’s the best way to go about establishing oneself in the profession of a product model? “My advice would be to do (campaigns for) some recognised brands so that you build a good work profile. That helps in getting progressive work,” says Navina Bhatia, a product model who has been the face for 200 campaigns in less than three years.
And, how does one get started? “First and foremost is a great portfolio from some experienced portfolio photographers. One also has to make sure that physical traits such as a fit body, great skin, a fabulous smile and a very expressive face are constantly worked upon. Mentally, one has to be very strong, professional and hard working,” says Bhatia, who herself ventured into the profession when she was offered a photo shoot by a photographer friend. She later went on to get a portfolio done and hasn’t looked back since.
One of the reasons for taking up this career is the high one gets from being a recognised face. However, to keep going, one has to love the toil that goes with every campaign. In Bhatia’s case, being expressive in front of the camera and doing justice to the product has worked well. “Expressing various moods in front of the camera is what I absolutely love about being a product model,” she says. “There is something new in every shoot so there is never a dull moment. Then, the money and fame are also quite satisfying,” she adds.
The idea is to grow and diversify because as one handles more campaigns, one becomes more confident about handling varied challenges. Bhatia advises, “The money’s very lucrative and varies depending on the profile of the model as well the number of assignments he/she gets every month. Then, you can get into events, corporate films, etc.”
Bhatia works as a freelancer and is part of the portfolio of many modelling agencies. So, she either finds work through her own network, or when a client – the product company itself of an advertising agency – sees her photographs in an agency’s portfolio and finds her suitable for a shoot and asks the agency to call her.
This system – comprising a chain between modelling agencies, advertising agencies, and models – does have its shortcomings and Bhatia wishes that the industry would take a more professional turn. “I feel there should be some guidelines for work schedules and payment terms as I have had to follow up for payments for months and that is very disheartening,” she says. Bhatia also advises that to avoid unpleasant experiences, especially as an attractive woman, one should insist on clearly understanding what each campaign entails and say yes only if one is totally comfortable with that.
She adds another word of caution: “Have an alternate career plan as the competition is extremely tough.”
What's it about?
Product models are used to advertise products and services across various media – print, events and television - to make the brand proposition more attractive. While attractive, appealing faces are the norm, character models can transcend these requirements. They are required to suit the script or chosen conceptual imagery of an advertising campaign. Product models are hired by modelling agencies, advertising agencies, photographers or advertisers directly.
Further, one can also work as a hand model, leg model, hair model etc.
7am: Start day with water therapy and yoga for great skin
8am: Work out at the neighbourhood gym
9am: Have breakfast and leave for an apparel photo shoot
9.30am: Get make-up done and proceed for shoot
12.30am: Take a snack break and confirm appointment with a model coordinator
1pm: Finish with remaining shots, share lunch with the crew
2pm: Meet model coordinator
3.30pm: Reach studio for television commercial shoot
4.15pm: Start shoot after director’s briefing
8.30pm: Wind up for the day and head for home
Product models can start earning from a range of Rs15,000 per day to lakhs of rupees depending on their calibre and popularity, says Liza Varma, founder, Liza Productions and Management
. High standards of fitness
. Expressive face
. Basic acting skills
. Awareness of one’s body language
. Beauty consciousness
. Mental strength
. Self confidence
. Ability to display grace and poise
How do i get there?
Evaluate your body and face. Take the advice of a neutral person. A winning personality, fit body and an expressive face will take you far. If you feel confident you have what it takes, invest in a professional portfolio. This you can circulate to modelling agencies and photographers. Build your network, follow up on leads and work hard to become recognisable for good physical traits and professionalism
Institutes & urls
Modelling doesn’t require qualifications per se. However, skills need to be honed and one must develop a sense of camerawork. Many modelling agencies conduct training programmes in understanding of make-up, lighting etc. for candidates they feel hold potential. One can also pay for such training with similar organisations
Pros & Cons
Short career span
Fame and money
Takes time to establish oneself
Opportunity to form networks in media and advertising
Opportunity to travel
Be prepared for lean periods
Understand your best profile
An industry veteran shares some sage advice
What are the traits that a person should have to be a successful product model?
To be a successful product model, the model must have good body language… and a remarkable attitude in front of the camera. The camera should be her mirror and she should be able to communicate with it. A model has to understand his or her best photo angles (profiles). Lighting is another important aspect that a model must understand well. (During a shoot) a model should check the preliminary shots to understand (the results) and then correct herself to give the best final shots.
What is the industry outlook for product modelling?
In today’s world, the industry outlook is very positive. Models are all (identified) by the products they shoot for. Bollywood is (having a sizeable impact) on product modelling as audiences look for recognisable faces to associate with products. At the same time, many Bollywood talents have emerged from the product modelling world and become superstars… like Aishwarya Rai.
What advice would you give to a person aspiring to become a product model?
The challenge is to be fresh and different so that one stands out and catches the attention of the audience.
I would advise people aspiring to a career in product modeling to make sure their make-up, hair and styling is taken special care of so that they stand out.
Also, make an effort to understand the importance of lighting and their best profiles.
What advice would you give to the new crop of product models?
I would say be professional - reach on time, do not throw tantrums, create a good (working) relationship with the photographer or cameraman, directors , or creative heads so that the best shots come out and they are liked and promoted by people. The idea is also to be comfortable and work happily. Be serious about the business. Take it up as a viable option only if you feel you are truly worth it. Be sincere and patient and there will be enough money.
Overall, if you are positive and think you are worth it, then just go for it. Never get disappointed due to failure, because there is always a better opportunity just around the corner. Self confidence is the most important aspect of a human being. Yoga and meditation give you mental strength, so practice the same – and you’ll win.
Liza Varma, founder, Liza Productions and Management, an events and artiste management company interviewed by Pankaj Mullick