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How to Become a Goth Model

How to Become a Goth Model

This seems to be a question I get asked a lot, and indeed there are a couple of hundred people listing it as a goal on “43 things” and even more around the internet actively pursuing it. I can understand the attraction to the art, after all I ended up doing it, but also think that you need to balance out the realities with the perceived benefits before you embark on such a thing.

My aim was always simply to create beautiful images, see the fairy tales in my head become realised. I have invested a lot of time and effort and money into this, but it has given me so much back in return. I would never discourage anyone to pursue it, but I would ask them to seriously consider what it was they were willing to do for it and thereby expecting to get from it.

gothic modelFirst off I would suggest examining your motives. What is the reason you want to become an alternative model? Anything borne out of the desire to be famous or self-esteem issues is not the best footing to start on. While these can be by-products of the art you are just as likely to achieve infamy and have various knocks to your self-worth along the way. For every lovely comment someone makes, there’s another scrutinising your every flaw. Putting yourself in the public domain, rightly or wrongly, makes people feel they have a level of ownership over you and be open to their critique. Not just on your art-form, but your whole being. As more eyes are on you, expect your behaviour, your words, your choices to be up for discussion. Fame is given by people, so if that’s what you seek, be prepared to become a slave to them. You’ll be judged by the fantasy your pictures create and be expected to live up to them – as people are often not able to tell the fact from the fiction.

On the flip side it can be quite an exhilarating experience to have hundreds of compliments flow in on a daily basis. It’s an addiction I’m sure – and one that the internet can feed to gargantuan proportions. It’s important to keep perspective here though. Just as you will need to brush off the negative comments, you cannot buy into all the hype. The ego is a destructive force which will put you on a rollercoaster even the hardiest of creatures will feel queasy at.

gothic model
Secondly, you need to be realistic. Modelling is not as glamorous as it may appear and most certainly isn’t in the beginning phases. You’ll be surprised what goes on outside the frame of the finished image you see. Long hours, inhospitable locations, unconformable posting and attire. I somewhat dislike the actual process of modelling. It’s a necessary evil to create the images which I so adore. Luckily the lovely people that I work with end up making the process far more enjoyable.

And that leads me on to my next topic: you cannot be a model on your own. At the very least you need a photographer. Stylists, designers, make-up artists, assistants – there can be a number of people you’ll need to interact with during your image creation. It’s important to be an easy person to work with and maintain a good rapport. After all, these people are the ones that will help make your dream come true and the alt scene is a small incestuous one: negative vibes travel the fastest. Building up these relationships by networking is a necessity. But remember reciprocity. Just as you need them, they too need you, and between you the magic is created. Crediting and promoting those who have helped you along the way is essential.

The market is also flooded. It’s wonderful that the art has become so accessible, but also means to be noticed you’ll have to up your game or, to use a marketing term, find your unique selling point. There is very little money in the alternative modelling world, so if you are expecting to make any at all, be prepared to work very hard. Those that tend to become the most successful usually have other talents that complement their modelling, such as performance or artistry. Fetish, Nude and Burlesque also seem to be more financially lucrative, so you have to consider if these are styles you are happy with. I also cannot lie and have to state the obvious – that in an industry where the visual is the product, and in a world that (barring surgery) we have little control over our genetic make-up, what you look like does matter. Luckily in the alternative world, creativity can override any perceived flaws and the very narrow definition of beauty is slightly widened. Although sad to say, if you do fit into that narrow definition or very close therein – you will find it a lot easier. This video is great to watch, and although it focuses on mainstream modelling, the points within do apply.

gothic model

I’d say some of my key points are:

  • Examine your motives. Really consider why you wish to pursue goth modelling and stick firm to your beliefs throughout
  • Remain humble, art is a two way process, so appreciate those who appreciate you
  • Network and give back to those who help you along the way
  • Find other avenues of talent that can complement your modelling
  • You need to find your own unique style or take on art/fashion in order to stand out above the crowd
  • If you are going to go with the clichés you have to then make sure you do it well!
  • Be prepared to take the rough with the smooth
  • Don’t expect to make any money, especially in the first few years
  • Don’t invest too much of your self-worth into it. Let comments sit on the skin and never the soul. Don’t judge yourself by the output of your contemporaries, there will always be those who are better as well as those who are worse.
  • But above all, enjoy it! Otherwise what’s the point?

gothic model

Some more practical tips on how to get into it:

  • Model networking sites such as Model Mayhem or Net Model are great to find photographer and stylists who are also starting out, work with them and help one another learn. TFP/TFCD (trade for print/CD) is usually how things work and as you get better at it you’ll be able to court better photographers
  • Obviously the caveat of being careful, getting references and taking a chaperone is not one to be taken lightly
  • Group shoots can be a good way to meet fellow models and photographers in a more relaxed setting
  • Do lots of research into posing, look at magazines and search through images online. You must be able to visualise what every part of your body is looking like in the camera lens. Do not expect photographers to just direct you
  • Try work with people who will show you all the unedited images. This really helps when figuring out which poses work and gives you a more relaistic knowledge of how you look and what post processing is done
  • Start putting together ideas for photo-shoots, gather props and practise makeup. The best images tend to be those had a lot of thought put into them, and this is your chance to get really creative!
  • If you can afford to, start building up a wardrobe or find a designer starting out who may be able to lend you items in return for photos. Simple things like fabrics can work well for draping and making outfits more interesting and don’t cost too much
  • Communicate fully with the people you are planning to shoot with beforehand. Be aware what you all want out of it and what is expected of you. Remember also that by law the photographer owns all the rights to the images, so if you want some say in what happens to them – you need to make this clear from the outset. Read my article about copyright here.
  • Take care of your health and fitness and general wellbeing. Always get enough rest before a shoot and always turn up on time and as expected
  • Always credit everyone involved and check with them before using the pictures anywhere other than your own profiles
  • Never cancel a photo-shoot unless totally unavoidable and if necessary do so in good time with a clear explanation as to why
  • Make full use of social media to share your endeavours, invest time in your profiles and don’t just spam people with 100 unedited images from a single shoot. There’s a lot of guides out there on how best to promote using social media, make sure you read a few.

gothic model

Photo Credits:
Taya Uddin for S-moon-S
Viona Art
Iroltha Photography

  1. Thank you for sharing this article! As a photographer and model-hobbyist, this is a great piece to keep referring to when one needs to center themselves among the saturated industry of alternative modeling.

    Do you have any other articles referencing the types of alternative modeling or the do’s-don’ts of starting out? Such as when doing TF’s would it be appropriate to dive head first into the soft-core/nude modeling as most alternative photographers seek on Model Mayhem?