This post is written by ShivaKitty. She is an experienced full-time freelance glamour and nude model from Boston. Please be advised that this post is based on her experience and in the modeling world, and that experience is different for everyone.
Here is what she had to say:
*Before you even consider starting to model full-time, you should be comfortable with the idea of accepting paid work from people whose images you feel are really pretty horrible, or at least mediocre. Understand that many of the people you shoot with will post unflattering images of you all over the Internet, and you will have no right to complain since you were fairly compensated, in cash, after the shoot.
*When you first reach a point where you realize you *can* make money from modeling, you will NOT just arbitrarily "set" a rate. When that time comes, you will start being offered certain amounts of money per shoot. Often, the amount you will be offered will seem surprisingly low. It isn't. As you model longer, build a diverse portfolio, and have a list of strong references, you are likely to be offered increased amounts of money. Eventually, you will have more control over the rate at which you work. In the beginning, the people hiring you will control your rate. You gain more control over your rate in accordance with experience level, and reputation.
*You cannot assume that every person who contacts you is creepy, or harmful. Understand that you will be shooting with a lot of people whom you probably wouldn't care to socialize with in your daily life. Some folks are unpleasant, stinky, have no social skill, etc. You will be shooting with some of these people, yes. However, if they are not disrespectful to you verbally, and if they do not engage in overt transgressions, you are going to be okay. Most people are good people. Most photographers and artists do treat their models very well, and with respect. Have some trust in the goodness of humankind. You will be pleasantly surprised with what you find.
*You should be comfortable setting personal limits, but also be flexible with those limits when you realize you have started outgrowing them --- and yes, many of the things you start off saying "never" to become okay to you, or even fun, after you have been shooting for awhile. Your personal values are likely to change, because modeling full-time will force you to grow in areas of challenge that many people never even encounter, let alone go out and face bravely.
*Do not let other people determine when you have outgrown certain limits and boundaries. You will know. You. You. You. You.Will.Know.
*Certain things, that modeling full-time kind of forces upon you, will increase your self-esteem, your street smarts, and your personal savvy. An example is travel. I never traveled alone until I started modeling. Now, I do it a lot, and I do it fearlessly. Modeling just changes you. It really, really does. It changes who you are, how you interact with the world around you, how others perceive you. You are either able to go with that natural ebb and flow - grow with it, rather - or not.
*People will often try to convince you that you are not worth the rate/trade/compensation you feel your work is worth. Either agree, or move on. You might find out that you're not so great after all, or you might discover that you are -in fact- talented, and great at what you do. Anticipate that your perception of yourself, and your perception of your work's value, will shift as you grow personally from your new experiences.
*Be willing to spend a lot of time on the road. In 2009, I was putting an average of 500 miles per week on my car, and I did additional long-distance trips (requiring airplanes). There are ways to travel cheap(er), such as trading shooting hours for airfare, but it can be difficult to wrangle up these jobs. Getting started traveling to shoot tends to happen naturally over time. It is not worth hurrying; when it's time for you to work elsewhere, it will happen.
*Time and time again, models you think are uglier, dumber, or less experienced will be selected for jobs, while you will be rejected. You will learn that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, and you are the perfect model - for a DIFFERENT photographer.
*You will lose old friends who refuse to support you, but you will gain new friends within the industry, who understand where you are coming from, and care about your goals and development as a creative person.
*You will become jaded about some things, because -as with any job- the stress wears on you over time. You will become more open to many, many lovely things that you would have never experienced working in an office, or in doing retail work.
*You will likely evolve in a "hustler" of sorts. You learn to negotiate, bargain, weigh options, etc.
*You will become very good at managing your ever-changing schedule.
*You will need to decide, relatively early in the game, whether you want to keep your modeling life private, or whether you want to "come out" to your family and friends. If you are over 18, and living independently, whatever you choose to do with your body and likeness is your personal business, and yours alone. Just like your personal finances stop being your parents' business once you are working and out of their house, so does the ways in which you choose to use your body. If you choose to share the information, wonderful. If you don't, it's your heart/mind/body, and only you own it.
*You will be well-advised to use a stage name - religiously - for any nude, erotic or fetish work. No one should have to tell you that this shit can come back to bite you in the ass when you are 45, and running for mayoral office. Even if you use a stage name, it can still come back to bite. Just keep that in mind.
You can view more of her work on her website www.shivakitty.com and Model Mayhem
Good luck everyone!!