The Model To-Do List

Here comes another weekend!  The end of many nine to five work weeks and the beginning of two days with creative possibilities.  Last week we discussed modeling from an emotional perspective in “The Basics of Emoting,” but today we’ll examine more of the practical side.  Today I am going to go over ways a model can prepare for his/her next big shoot and make the final images a success.  That’s right, today I will be going over my Model To-Do List.

Most people imagine modeling in the elite sense – a girl wakes up, eats a breakfast of fruit and granola, and grabs some coffee to-go on her way to a shoot where she is greeted by a team of professionals. Professionals who transform her into airbrushed perfection before she steps in front of the camera. All she needs to do is look pretty and pose well, right? Wrong.

For many up-and-coming models a shoot consists of a longer list of preparation and a smaller (sometimes nonexistent) team of professionals assisting with the pre-shoot transformation.  Many models are placed in the position where they must be their own hair artist, makeup artist, wardrobe supplier, and posing director. If you find yourself in this predicament it’s a huge responsibility and crucial to realize the importance of your role in the success of the shoot.  You will need to be mindful of everything from clothing fabric and color choice, to packing the correct supplies. Here I will go over what I have learned to do before my shoots in my three years of modeling experience.  And believe me, the list grows with every shoot…

1. Prepare The Canvas

YOU will be the painting on display.  As we all know, every masterpiece begins with a clean slate.  A clear canvas. This begins with good skin care all the time.  On the days before a shoot I am careful not to wear too much makeup to avoid clogging my pores or causing irritation.  Yes, I often go the more natural route on days off and it pays to have fresh and well-rested skin for “shoot days.”

It is also important to shave everything meticulously the day of the shoot.  Careful! No razor bumps!  You never know if the photographer will ask you to wear something unplanned, or if creativity will strike and you wear something a different way than how it was intended.  Also be sure to bring lotion on-set and give your skin a quick nourishing rub before the camera clicks.  All of this will help ensure luminous, smooth skin in the shots (with minimal photoshop from the photographer).  The same goes for facial hair removal.  Do your best to pluck and remove all dark, course hairs.

Model: Ashley BeLoat (myself) Photographer: Red Scott

2. Plan Accordingly

Pre-shoot planning is so important!  A model should never expect to simply show up, pose, and receive impeccable images as a result.  To begin my preparation, I ask the photographer to provide me with a list of adjectives they want people to associate the final images with – power, strength, vulnerability, weightlessness, sadness?  I also study the location of the shoot as best I can.  This information is crucial when choosing outfits.  If the images are meant to be powerful and strong, opt for fabrics and pieces with mores structure.  If the photographer desires to create something more carefree, be mindful to choose lighter fabrics that can be thrown and flicked to capture motion and communicate a weightless feeling. Choose colors that will compliment your surroundings without blending entirely in. It may be helpful to do a little research on complementing colors and use this knowledge while making your choices.

Also, ask the photographer to send a few pictures that are inspiring them for this set.  Take note of the poses and expressions the models are using, and be sure to practice them in the mirror before the shoot.  You do not have to replicate these precisely, rather seek to put your own twist on them to make the final poses your own.

Model: Ashley BeLoat (myself) Photographer: Dan Mahar – Wardrobe: Brittany Jones – Makeup Artist: Nicki Marie –

3. Hair & Makeup

If multiple looks will be executed, arrive with a good base of foundation, contouring and highlight (if desired by the photographer), and a neutral eye/lip.  As the outfits change, add more makeup to provide a good variety of looks for the final selection.  It is good to plan similarly for hair, beginning with one style that can easily be transformed into another.  What I personally like to do is begin with my hair down – either curled or straight.  As the humidity begins to make the curls fall or ruin the sleekness of my strands, I get to work teasing and tousling it further for another look.  For further variety, I will then put it up in a bun or ponytail.   At the end of my shoots I have also been known to attempt an unforgettable finish by committing irreversible “damage” for a final set of photos.  This entails things like getting completely soaked in a lake, intentionally smearing dirt or mud over my body and face, or streaking makeup across my exposed skin to mimic tribal paint.  This may not be a creative goal for the current photoshoot, but the mindset is to begin with the most natural ideas first, and finish with the most-styled ideas last.

A behind the scenes shot of getting wet for the final images in a shoot with photographer Josie Brooks.


4. Pack Like A Fashion Boy Scout

The boy scouts may not concern themselves with color-matching and wardrobe planning, but they are certainly prepared!  Keep in this mindset.  You want to arrive with a perfect bag of tricks that will allow you to perform well no matter what complications arise. Be sure to bring…

  • Bobby pins & hair ties
  • Bug spray if shooting outdoors (nothing is worse than holding a pose while being eaten alive by mosquitos)
  • Your makeup supplies & brushes
  • Hairspray, comb, & hairbrush
  • Nude or white undergarments
  • Breast petals (nipple covers)
  • Scissors (for stray strands on clothing)
  • Accessories
  • Backup fake nails (if you are wearing them) or a bottle of matching nail polish for quick touch-ups
  • Lotion
  • Small, nutritious snacks & water (some of my shoots have lasted up to 13 hours)
  • Inspiration photos saved to your phone for a quick refocus before stepping in front of the camera
  • Pepper spray (trust me, I intend to do a future post on model safety)
  • Confidence!! Or at the very least, enthusiasm!!

I hope this list of tips and secrets gives some insight and helps make your future shoots a success!  If there are any tips you would like to share from your own experience, please leave a comment!  I would love to hear from you.   Now I dare everyone to go create a new set of inspiring, exciting, superior images.

Until next week,

~Ashley BeLoat

Instagram: @ashleybeloat

Professional Page:

Model: Ashley BeLoat (Myself)
Bridal and Fashion Designer: Yong Lin –
Photographer: Kevin Coates –
Hair & Makeup: Buffy Solina


  1. Larry Renner on August 19, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Said so perfectly …

    • Ashley BeLoat on August 20, 2017 at 7:35 am

      Thank you, Mr. Renner. Your praise always brightens my day. I continue to be a fan of your work!

  2. Viktoria on August 19, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this precious information. It is very useful ” set of tricks” , thank you⚘

    • Ashley BeLoat on August 20, 2017 at 7:35 am

      So glad it can be of some help! There is truly an endless list of preparation and backstory behind every masterful photo.

  3. Stephen Arena on August 20, 2017 at 3:52 am

    Love it, and yes Safety is number one even if you know the photographer. You can be in a secluded place and others may cause issues.

    Also, try to bring safety pins and strong tape. This will help if some clothes are supplied, but ill fitting. You can use the back side of the clothing to place tape or safety pins to form fit an outfit quickly.

    As always, you are great and I am glad to see you share your knowledge and kind heart. Keep up the wonderful work.

    • Ashley BeLoat on August 21, 2017 at 11:49 am

      Ah, how could I ever forget? You are so right! The number of times I have had to clamp myself in the dresses is rather comical. I almost always bring a bag of fabric clasps now. Excellent point!

  4. Annette Batista Photography on August 20, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Ashley, love all this information you have put together. I would love to see you talk more on the use of matt makeup for digital photo and not useing any kind of makeup with shimmer or glitter, as it becomes white and does not look good on camera, plus it adds some time hours to photo shop to fix. I always have this conversation with all the models I work with, as a photographer. Thank you for all the great work you do it shows in all your pictures.

    • Ashley BeLoat on August 21, 2017 at 11:53 am

      Thank you, Miss Annette! The makeup choice should definitely be discussed between photographer and model. The final choices really do depend on the overall artistic goals of the shoot. Some photographers really like the illuminated glow that comes with strategically placed shimmer, while others prefer the matte look. Plus, the involvement of a professional makeup artist greatly increases the final quality in the overall images. Communication is so very important when working through these details.

  5. Shante Armstrong on August 21, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    Thank you, Ashley, for sharing another great post! Your “Model To-Do” List is spot-on! I love your conceptual idea of an unforgettable finish – irreversible damage. I’ve attempted that a few times on set, especially at networking events were I would only plan to provide one or two looks just to test and then out of no where a concept sparks my mind with an amazing photographer, on the spot. One thing I’ve grown into doing is getting a full body waxing a week prior to my bookings/shoots with slight touch ups via a razor the day of my shoot/booking. Overall, great posting! I enjoy reading your posts and sharing with other aspiring models. I think you should totally post about Model Safety for your next posting. Until then, take care!

    • Ashley BeLoat on August 22, 2017 at 2:18 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoy my blog, Shante! It definitely brightens my day to see your comments fill the page. You consistently produce exceptional work and I continue to follow and be inspired. I definitely want to do a post on model safety, I’ve been building up to it because I have some personal experiences I would like to share in such a post. Trust me, it will be coming soon.

  6. Archie Reid on August 22, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Excellent piece of work and information not often people are willing to share,so thank you for a useful and interesting piece on Modelling..

    • Ashley BeLoat on August 27, 2017 at 9:29 am

      I am so happy you found my list helpful! Be sure to leave requests of what other topics you would like to see discussed.

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