A practical guide to becoming a model in India (and get featured in advertisements)

10 Steps to Build and Sustain Your Modeling Career in India – A Practical Guide for Both Men and Women

This webpage is licensed for your personal reading only. All literary work contained within this eBook belongs to and is the sole property of Indian Ad Divas (IAD). Our authors have amalgamated content from IAD’s exclusive interviews with models over the years and spent several months for the creation of this resource. Reproducing, copying, selling, or manipulating the pieces contained within the eBook is strictly forbidden. Thank you for respecting the hard work of the authors.

The world of modeling may seem intimidating and impermeable from the outside. However, like any other profession, entry into the glitz and glamour of modeling is possible with passion, hard work, and talent.
There is a growing potential for aspiring male and female models from all over the world to make a name for themselves in India. Modeling is a unifying profession, which brings together talents across states, nations, and boundaries on a single platform.
parul joshi puppet cadbury adOver the 10-year tenure of the Indian Ad Divas Magazine, we have interviewed several commercial (advertising) and fashion models from diverse backgrounds. Each person came with a different story, with their own set of struggles and tribulations. They all had diverse educational backgrounds, from Engineering in Computer Science to Ph.D. in English Literature, and from bachelor’s in economics to master’s in mass communications. For some, modeling was the primary source of their bread and butter, and for others, it was a good side income.
We are now compiling these unique individual stories into on fortified guide – ‘The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Model in India.’ This guide is useful for both men and women who want to start their career in modeling, sustain, and succeed professionally.
Step 1: Narrow it down
The first step to becoming a model is to decide what kind of model you want to be. Modeling is an incredibly multi-faceted field. There are numerous categories to choose from. The more specific you narrow it down, the higher the chances of cracking a break.

alia bhatt and ranbir kapoor for lays smile deke dekho campaign
Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor for Lay’s ‘Smile Deke Dekho’ campaign

  • Do you wish to take a dip into advertising? Set your eyes on commercial modeling.
  • Would you like to appear in magazines, catalogs, newspapers? Become an editorial model.
  • Have you always dreamed of walking the ramp? Runaway or Fashion modeling it is.
  • Are you comfortable with glamorized forms of modeling? Consider lingerie or bikini modeling.
  • Are you confident, maintain your weight, and represent a market segment? Consider plus-size modeling.
  • You don’t want to be seen on the screen yet make money? There are gigs for niche modeling—hand models, leg models, foot models, and body doubles—used for close-up shots in ads!

It is important to note that the boundaries between the categories are thin. It is always possible to make a switch. However, planning and deciding early on will give you a head start.

Model and actor Parul Gulati
Model and actor Parul Gulati

Step 2: Create a portfolio
A good portfolio is your key to entering into the modeling world. Think of a portfolio as your talent and personality boxed into a single document. A modeling portfolio is equivalent to a resume. It will be your biggest cheerleader in the years to come.
A professional portfolio should include the following things:

  • Your Profile: This will consist of essential information regarding your age, height, measurements, and distinguishing features, if any.
  • Experience: It creates an excellent impression to include previous features and skills in the portfolio. If you are entirely new to the field, you may compile passion projects and unpaid collaborations in this section.

actor and singer Anjali Sivaraman interview with Indian Ad Divas
Actor and singer Anjali Sivaraman interview with Indian Ad Divas

Photoshoot: This is the most critical aspect of a portfolio. Keep it extremely versatile. The photos should cover all angles from portraits, headshots, and close-ups to the ambiance and full-body shots. They should also be suited for many occasions so that the agency can view you in multiple hats (literally and figuratively). Do keep in mind your choice of the modeling category while choosing your photos.
Do your research before making a portfolio and pour your heart and soul into it. This portfolio is your best wingman in the modeling world!
Step 3: Sign up with an agency
This is an optional step, but many beginners with entry barriers in the industry choose to sign up with a modeling agency. An agency streamlines the entire process for their models. Many agencies have been in the field for several years, so it certainly helps to have the backing of an experienced body. anandita pagnis tropicana
Here are some dos and don’ts of signing up with an agency:

  • Do not fall for traps: Quite a few agents charge a hefty sum under the garb of giving a big break. (Hint: If they require you to pay up from the word go, it is probably a scam)
  • Research well before signing up with an agency: Speak to veterans in the industry to find the answers to these questions:
    • How long has the agency been operational?
    • What does their portfolio look like?
    • Have successful talents come out of their training?
    • Are they charging a reasonable cut?
    • Do they have a good name in the industry?
  • Remember – The agency you opt for will likely remain with you for the better half of your career, so tread carefully.
  • Once you have narrowed down a list of agencies you would like to work with, the next step is to convince them to work with you. Each agency has its own set of selection, drop by to find out what it is, and remember to drop in your portfolio while at it.

Step 4: Start sharing portfolios
Some of the most successful models we have interviewed at Indian Ad Divas have been extremely dynamic and pro-active in their approach. With the advent of the internet, getting in touch with the right people has never been easier. Stop waiting for gigs to find you and start chasing them yourself!

Pooja Verma for Kurkure
Pooja Verma for Kurkure

Find out the list of production houses, agencies you want to work with, projects you want to be a part of, and send them your portfolio.
Meet with the modeling agency scouts in person if you can. Let the parties concerned know of your existence and let your portfolio be your spokesperson. There is nothing more empowering than taking charge of your dream.
Step 5: Audition away!
Once your portfolio starts doing the rounds, you will be called in for auditions. Even if you do not get the call, find out where the auditions are happening and drop by yourself. We have interviewed models who would appear for as many as five auditions a day in their struggling years.
You will possibly not be selected for many of these screenings. It is important to note that the rejection is not a reflection of your talent, but rather a requirement of that particular assignment. Keep auditioning relentlessly, until you get that one perfect project to kick-start your career!
Step 6: Ace your first project
Your first advertising gig will likely open many new doors for you. Be sure to communicate with everyone on the set and try to learn as much as you can. Do your research before the D-day and be prepared. One successful project is all you need to cement your entry into the commercial modeling world. Make the most of that opportunity.
godrej no 1 onima kashyap
Onima Kashyap for Godrej No. 1 soap ad!

Step 7: Networking is the name of the game!  
It might be easy to get your first few projects, but to retain the inflow of audition calls, you must build a strong network of employers. Networking is not limited to making small talk; it implies doing a good enough job, that you get a second call. The art of networking is essential not just to land opportunities, but also to improve your craft.
There is no hard and fast recipe for networking. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, there is always a way to create positive and lasting impressions on peers and employers. You can socialize at parties, shows, exhibitions, or even on the job. It is also crucial to maintain those connections by keeping in touch.
Interacting with professionals on the field and having a network of mentors is an indispensable tool to create a successful and sustainable modeling career.
Step 8: Bring discipline in your craft
Indian Ad Divas has interviewed models with decades of experience in the industry. Such renowned professionals always have one common factor – they are extremely disciplined in their craft.
vibhoutee sharma whisper ultra ad
Vibhoutee Sharma Whisper Ultra print ad

Models have to put themselves out there continually, despite rejections and criticism. It takes immense courage, consistency, and discipline to push one’s craft every day. Those who succeed in the modeling world manage to do so by finding some method in the madness. Starting in modeling is only the tip of the iceberg; it is mandatory to inculcate self-discipline to build a lasting career.
Step 9: Adopt and reset
The modeling industry is evolving at a quicker pace than ever before. Adopting to this fast-paced world and gaining domain expertise will give you an edge. Keeping track of news, trends, and ongoing projects is essential to succeed in the industry. Every model should know what is going on in their surroundings and market themselves.
Be creative, build your personal brand on social media platforms, and engage with your audience: post HD pictures, share behind-the-scene photoshoot stories, and go live on social platforms from time to time.
Step 10: Practice, practice, & practice more
Our last piece of advice stands true for any profession but is all the more relevant for an ever-growing one like modeling.
Sulagna Panigrahi
Sulagna Panigrahi portfolio photo shoot

Being a model is a full-time job – a wise veteran in the profession once told the IAD team, ‘it is what you do behind the scenes that matter more than your performance on camera.’ The day of the shoot is merely a reflection of the dedicated work you put into honing your craft.  An aspiring model must continuously fight to better herself.
Apart from the nuances of modeling itself, some other vital areas, such as communication skills, formidability, patience, and time management, need focus, and commitment.
Staying fit – both mentally and physically is the need of the profession. It may be difficult with hectic working schedules and travels but maintaining a regular exercise routine is a must. Nurturing a healthy diet goes hand in hand with the exercise. Think of it as an occupational boon – models are required to lead a fit, healthy, and ultimately a happy lifestyle.
To summarize, modeling may seem like an unobtainable cloud in the skies. However, many dynamic men and women have proven time and again that becoming a model may not be a cakewalk, but it is achievable with the right kind of hard work.
In case you are wondering, your efforts will be worth it. Advertising models get paid anywhere between Rs. 20,000 to 1,00,000-plus per day, depending on their experience, campaign, market category, and client’s budget. Not to mention, a noticeable television commercial can land you into the cinema industry, if you intend to pursue that line of the field.
Parul Gulati looking effervescent as ever
Parul Gulati looking effervescent as ever

We hope with these basic guidelines as your building blocks, you can come closer to your dream career. Remember, nothing is impossible when your mind is clear, and your goal is set.
Indian Ad Divas wishes the aspiring models all the very best!
Don’t forget to write to us with your feedback at We hope to interview you and feature your work in our digital magazine. 🙂
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