📸 Skai Chan Photography

How to become a Model in Singapore

singapore model

First of all, you should ask yourself what kind of model you want to become. There are many types of model and the most common ones are commercial models, runway models, event models, blogshop models and photo models. Of course, they can be a mixture.

Basically, you should be looking at your interest and not simply aiming for whatever you think is more "high class". If you do not have an impressive looks, height and figure, your chance of doing well may be low.


No matter how good or bad you are, there're always chances for you to do modelling; however, if you don't possess some factors, you will be at a disadvantage.

  1. Age
    Most models start at young ages. Some reputatable modelling agencies even have the entry requirement of age around 14 to 23. This is the reason why you can see that most of the girls who upload photographs from their "photoshoot sessions" in social media are generally young. It's a common sense that as human beings age, their complexion tend to be worsened. Therefore, for people who complain about photographers shooting XMM ("xiao mei mei" aka "little girls") are probably just being jealous.

    However, it doesn't mean that if you're older than the unofficial modelling age, you can't do modelling. Some photoshoot concepts and commercial work do specifically require girls of an older age. For instance, if a client (hobbyist photographer) is looking for a sexy shoot, a 14-year-old model may give the viewers an impression of a child-porn. Whereas, for a commercial work that the product is targeting older customers, they probably have to get a model who's closer to the age group. There will still be photographers who will want to document down the aging skin.

    Thus, even if a lady is in her golden age, there will still be jobs available, except that the chance is lower.
  2. Looks
    Most people go for good looks. Beautiful faces are pleasing to the eyes, no? Models with pretty faces certainly have a huge advantage in modelling.

    However, if a model has a unique face, she can become popular as well. If you've observed your local TV station, not all the artistes are pretty.

    For people who don't have pretty or unique faces, there are still chances. Some modelling agencies do have two categories of freelancers under them, namely "models" and "talents". Getting into the "talents" group can still have some opportunities, such as in acting. Personality can help.

    However, do note that complexion is important as well. If a girl has nice features on her face but has lots of pimples or acne scars, many photographers and makeup artists would avoid her. It's because makeup may be able to conceal the flaws, they can still look obvious in photographs, especially with harsh and angled lighting. That means lots of post-production work is required and after fixing the flaws, the makeup work may look different.
  3. Height
    Tall people usually have the advantage as long legs are considered as beautiful. Given the same looks, if someone has to make a choice between a tall and a short model, he would likely choose the tall one. For modelling jobs such as runway, height is extremely important.

    However, height doesn't mean everything as the body proportion is important as well. A tall girl may have a rather short leg while a short girl may have a bigger ratio of legs to her height. For jobs like photoshoots, a short girl with good proportion will likely give the impression that she's tall. Using heels can help as well.
  4. Figure
    Majority of the jobs require models who are at least average or slim in size. This is the reality. For commercial products, the customers will tend to buy them if they look good on the models; good (slim) models would be able to give the illusion. It's also much easier to make a slim model look nice in a photoshoot.

    There's still a demand for plus size models, as there are photographers who specifically want to work with plus size models. However, it may just be a small fraction of the modelling world - I have no statistic but you can guess it. Nevertheless, plus size models, in general, do have bigger chest and thus it can be a plus factor.

    P.S: Being a plus size model can be beautiful or cute, but I will still encourage everyone to live a healthier life - both physically and mentally. Do note that there are times people will throw insults at models who are thicker than the usual models, and no matter how confident and strong the models are, they will tend to be affected mentally.

    Read: Fat girls can still look good in photographs
  5. Chest size
    Big chests usually attract more admiration from both genders. In a sexy shoot, a model with big chest would definitely make the photographs look sexier. Cleavage is hot. Hobbyist photographers would likely be more willing to pay for a freelance model with the big asset.

    However, there are two major disadvantages for models with big chests. Firstly, models with big boobs are difficult to become professional runway models. Secondly, models with big boobs may make art shoots more sexualised as viewers would be focusing on the boobs rather than appreciating the photograph as a whole.

In conclusion, regardless of the physical appearance, there will always be chances for a girl to become a model; it's just the matter of how high or low the chance is. However, personality and character will help a lot as well. Be nice, be respectful and appreciative, and you can increase your chances.

To start modelling

fashion runway modelling

To get started with modelling, you will likely need a portfolio or com card. Potential clients and companies will want to see how you appear in photographs before selecting you for the job/shoot. Unless, otherwise, the client doesn't mind getting a newbie to do the work.

  1. Modelling Agency
    A modelling agency can help you to get started easier with whatever type of modelling job you are aiming for since they may have the client base. The catch is that the modelling agencies would need you to have a portfolio as well. Most of these agencies would make you pay a huge sum of money to shoot your portfolio. The problem is many modelling agencies are "empty shells" that have limited or no client, such that you may not be given any modelling job eventually.
  2. Competition
    There are a number of pageant competitions in Singapore, ranging from small to big scale. Although some of these competitions do require you to be wealthy in order to emerge as the champion because votes are casted by the guests who have to pay to attend, the exposure will help you to reach more people. Rich contestants will usually buy "tables" themselves and invite their friends to be the guests.
  3. Volunteering
    There are some events that require models and the organisers may not have the budget to pay for the talents. For example, a fashion designer may organise a fashion show and you can volunteer your services. You will gain exposure during the entire event and in the organiser's Facebook page. No doubt, for such event that has big budget constraint, the photographers are likely to be hobbyists who may not be able to produce top grade photographs. However, most people will likely think you are already a professional model and thus you may get opportunities in future.

    You can also volunteer as a model to a professional photographer.
  4. Social Media Advertising
    It is possible to do your own advertising in social media to get jobs for photoshoot - for example, you can post in Facebook groups. It comes free but you are going to get lots of new admirers who may start pestering you!
  5. Blogging
    Pretty bloggers do get chances to do modelling as they are more exposed to the public. Apart from that, clients may like to ride on their popularity. Of course, if you are new to blogging, it will take you some time and effort to become popular. With the help of social media, it is, however, quite easy to gain popularity once you upload a few really good photographs of yourself.
  6. Networking
    Unfortunately (yes, I hate it and I don't do it), networking is a requirement for all trades to increase anyone's chance to become successful. You can make friends with photographers as they may have job opportunities for you.

    However, do make sure you know how to judge a photographer and not blindly mix with any. When you are new, there are probably many things about photography that you do not know about and boastful photographers can easily amaze you with their "knowledge". When a photographer tells you that he can help you to become famous, do not be naive unless you are ready to show a lot of skin. Eventually, what you will get is likely negative impression from others. I have heard stories about a few photographers who basically produce very low image quality work of girls with little or no clothes. With such portfolio, a female model will only attract rich clients who are mainly interested in her body and not photography; of course, it is a way to make big bucks because such sleazy photoshoot can fetch a high price.

What is a modelling portfolio?

modelling portfolio shoot

A portfolio is a sample work of you. It helps your potential clients find out more about your physical appearance before meeting you up face to face. The portfolio may also help to identify your personality. Needless to say, having a pretty face and hourglass body are not enough as you have to appear nice in photographs.

Portfolio is usually in the form of photographs but not restricted to videos, depending on what modelling industry you are targeting. Work that has appeared in commercial or printed publication definitely will bring your status up.

Whereas for common portfolio, it should include photographs of you in casual, smart casual, and formal wear. You also need photographs taken from different angles like front and sides, and also both close-ups and full body shots.

A portfolio should sum up your work and thus you should include only the best photograph from each photoshoot you have done. There is no point showing similar photographs as it may bore the person who is viewing your portfolio and also give him a bad impression of your mentality.

What is a comp card?

beauty shoot with model

Comp card is the short form for composite card, otherwise, also known as business card. Unlike normal pocket-sized business cards, a comp card is usually in A5 size.

It should display a few photographs of your portfolio with at least a close-up and a full body shot. It should also include your age, height, weight, three sizes (bust, waist, hips), shoe size and contact information. These information will help clients to better understand if you are suitable for the projects, allow them to contact you and also prepare the wardrobe and footwear if necessary.

With a limited space, the comp card should display only the best of your photographs that are good enough for your potential clients to judge your appearance and see if you are the kind of model they are looking for.

In the age of internet, comp card may be simply in the digital form but it will show your professionalism and enthusiasm if you have physical ones as well - that is if you want to impress people you have met face to face.

How to Get Modelling Portfolio?

singapore model

Despite I have mentioned about ill-minded photographers and modelling agencies in the industry, you should not be scared off because there are still many good souls around. You just need to learn to do researches and also be more street-smart.

How to Present my Modelling Portfolio?

It is the IT age and you are reading this because I have uploaded my writing here. So, obviously you should put your portfolio on a website too!

Trend in Singapore

caucasian model

Unfortunately, not many Singapore models can make it big in the modelling industry. For some girls, it is a stepping stone towards joining the showbiz like MediaCorp. A few of the celebrities actually began as models before they were being poached by MediaCorp.

Generally, the market is more open to caucasians due to their features and open-mindedness. They are usually taller and have better body proportion while their open-mindedness brings them more natural expression. An obvious comparison is when going braless in a shoot, somehow caucasian models will appear more stylish in the photographs; asian models may end up with a negative effect. Of course, there are lousy caucasian models and good asian models as well.

I have many model friends in my social media profiles. Somehow, most of them are working mainly as event or photo models.

New and Green

When you are new to the industry, it does not necessary mean that you cannot get jobs. Some clients, especially photography hobbyists love fresh faces. However, you should understand that many scammers and predators are targeting newbies who are likely easier to be manipulated. It is partly due to the fact that newbies may not know the current industry's unspoken/common practice well.

To go far in this line, it takes more than your looks and luck. Your attitude can also determine how smooth your journey gets. You have to show others you are humble and willing to learn. Being late for jobs is one of the biggest taboos. Of course, some snobbish "models" can somehow continue to get jobs due to their looks but do not assume every male client is thinking with his second head.

Cancelling a job with short notice may speak badly of you. There was, however, an incident of a new model who had arranged a TFCD shoot with a blacklisted photographer and she was worried that she would be blacklisted by him if she were to call the shoot off. Luckily, she headed my advice that she shouldn't be bothered with a blacklisted photographer.

Models should research for blacklisted photographers in Singapore to avoid working with those black sheep, and also understand the dangers of doing sexy photoshoot in order to take precaution. That is to say, if you want to start earning quick money through sexy shoot, you should know that the photos will eventually surface even if you were to sign an agreement with the photographer. The trick is to take only photographs that you do not mind others see.

Perhaps, before you agree to do any shoot, do make sure you know how to judge the photographer.

In actual terms, everyone holding onto a camera is a photographer while everyone standing in front of a camera can be called a model. Therefore, do clarify if when someone tries to brag.

Common Problems with New Models

Fortunately and unfortunately, models and aspiring models have been approaching me every now and then to help them with their portfolios. It is good to be recognised and trusted, however, they do give me a lot of frustration as well. Generally, new models and aspiring models do not possess the attributes/attitudes to excel in modelling and most of them give up soon. Some can be pretty and hot, and thus can be popular for a while.

  1. Over conservative
    A model does not need to do nude shoot or allow anyone to take advantage of her, however, if she has to wrap herself up for every shoot, she may not suit the modelling line. Firstly, there will be (1) limited jobs for her since very few people will want to engage a model who is covered up. Similar to models who only go for body parts modelling like fingers, there are limited jobs. Unfortunately, "sex sells" and this is why casual snaps of hot girls can always attract more "likes" than professionally taken ones (of a well clothed girl) in social media. Secondly, being over conservative will likely (2) affect the performance because the model may be spending too much time worrying about everything and thus being too distracted. Of course, an over conservative model may "survive" in the trade but the chance is much lower. From my experience, most of the aspiring models who have approached me are half-hearted and inexperienced girls who just want to try modelling, knowing that they have very slim chance of entering the competitive trade. For aspiring models who are very conservative and yet do not possess angelic looks and figure, it is very advisable for them to focus on other non-modelling jobs instead.
  2. No time for discussion
    Life in Singapore is hectic and everyone is busy. However, in order to produce good work, there has to be discussion, especially when the outfits are to be provided by the model. Many aspiring models are too "busy" for discussion. Surprisingly, they can squeeze out the time to go for the actual shoot instead. Basically, they do not see a point to discuss because they only want to go for Garden shoot. The mentality shows how far they will go in their modelling career.
  3. Can't wake up early
    Early morning shoots are great because of the lighting and fewer number of photo bombs (for most places). However, many aspiring models will complain about waking up early or they end up oversleeping.
  4. "Die die" have to smile
    Most girls look much better when they smile. Of course, the model is supposed to look good in photographs and thus smiling is good. However, if the model can only smile in front of the camera, she is restricting herself from taking up more jobs and also limiting the presentation of her talent. A good model should be versatile and good photographers are usually looking for models who are expressive, apart from being happy.
  5. Every photographer is good
    Quality of work can differ gigantically between professional and amateur photographers. I started off without knowing how to judge the quality of work and thus I cannot fault anyone for the inability. However, a good model must know how to tell the differences. Fortunately, most people who approach me sing compliments of my work and unfortunately, some of them also express their admiration for amateurish work too.
  6. Poor taste in selecting photographs
    Similar to judging photographers' work, if the model cannot judge her portfolio to identify good and bad work, she may make big mistakes. The quality of a model's portfolio can affect the quality of clients and photographers approaching them. Needless to say, if the model's portfolio consists of work that look more toward porn, "photographers" and clients with ill-intention may be more willing to approach her; whereas if the model's portfolio look very professional, the black sheep may assume the model is very experienced and thus refrain from contacting her since there is a lower chance that they can take advantage of her. I have seen quite a number of "models" who have continued to display some bad work in their portfolios even when they have already done quite a number of shoots.
  7. Over-confident
    Being over-confident is a double-edged sword. Confidence enhances performance and can be shown on the photographs. However, being over-confident can also lead to poorer performance. I have encountered models who think they can do better makeup than professional makeup artists, models who have poor fashion sense and even models who think they can model well even though they are lacking of the skill/talent/experience. Generally, it is difficult to correct an over-confident person and thus difficult to work with her. I have seen many "models" with very lousy portfolios and yet claiming that they are very experienced. I have also encountered "models" without any portfolio and yet asking professional photographers to pay them.
  8. Low confident
    Similar to being over-confident, low confident can reduce the quality of work. Confidence level can be seen in photographs. Being low confident can restrict many things and create other problems like being conservative and "die die" has to smile in front of camera. I often have to remind people that "you are better than what you think you are".
  9. Physically weak
    Modelling requires stamina. Sometimes, a model may need to stand or walk a lot, or even climb hill to get to the actual venue. Tiredness can be shown on photographs. It is not pleasant for a photographer carrying tens of kilograms of equipment to hear grumbling from a model who is simply carrying a bag that is very much lighter.
  10. Lack of creativity
    Creativeness helps to deliver interesting work, which generates more interest from viewers. Without creativity, the model cannot perform even if she has props on hand.
  11. Follows blindly
    Some aspiring models are too naive and follows photographers blindly. Many photographers boast much better than the quality of their work.
  12. Boyfriend as escort
    The word is "awkward". Many aspiring models will claim that they will not be awkward to shoot in front of their boyfriends but the fact is they will - judging from their performance. It will not only affect the model herself but also the photographer. It is good to have an "escort" around if the model is new and is afraid that the "photographer" has ill-intention. Professional photographers may even welcome the "escort" because of the free assistant, however, having the presence of the model's boyfriend or admirer is just awkward. I have experienced it a few times and it really affects the quality of work.

    Read: Reasons why models shouldn't bring their partners along for photoshoots
  13. Lack of time for shoot
    The entire team spends the time and effort to prepare and get to the location. The photographer brings along bulky and heavy professional equipment, and set them up. Eventually, the model has to end the shoot early instead of trying out more ways to get better photographs. It is a big waste. The worst case is when the model expects more than one good photograph out of the short duration.

Do read Good Models vs Bad Models to know more about the good and bad practices of models.


Model, like air stewardess, is one of the dream jobs of many young girls. It is a symbolism or "certification" of beauty because not every girl can become a professional model or air stewardess. Most people think they are easy jobs, which is absolutely wrong.

A good model must know how to take care of her personal grooming and on a good diet to maintain body figure. Models must know how to present themselves elegantly in front of the audience and camera. They must know how to hold their expression and postures, and also stand for long hours. Most of the professional models have to undergo training. Lastly, they must also know how to handle crooks and touchy guys.

Young girls should find out more about modelling before deciding whether to go into it.

If you think you have what it takes to become a model in Singapore, do contact me.

You may like to read:
- Modelling casting calls
- How to build a stronger modelling portfolio
- How to judge a model
- Good models, bad models
- Photography & modelling scams
- Things that models have been doing terribly wrong
- Survey - questionnaires for nude models
- Fashion disasters for portrait photoshoots

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