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  • Writer's pictureKamla-Kay McKenzie

4 Tips to Stay Relevant in the Modeling Industry: Don't Get Replaced by AI or CGI Models

As an agency-signed model and modeling coach, I am always keenly aware of how highly competitive the modeling industry is. Between signed models just as beautiful and skilled on camera to the emergence of social media influencers taking away some of the bookings from the models who once dominated the market, AI (Artificial Intelligence) models are now adding to list of potential hires.

With the rise of AI which now has the capability to create a digital rendering of a model that rivals that of a human in terms of visual beauty, real models are starting to feel the added pressure as brands try to save money in the hiring and production process.

Brands, such as Pacsun and Levi Strauss & Co (Levis), have come under scrutiny for their use, or desired use, in AI models for their campaigns instead of hiring real models to further meet their branding needs. Levis announced they would be partnering with which is a digital fashion studio that builds customized AI-generated models. They announced that this partnership would allow them to increase the number and diversity of their models essentially by creating AI models in various sizes, shapes, ethnicities etc.

These desired changes have been met with backlash understandably by those in the fashion industry and everyday consumers who see this as a way to dismiss true diversity measures by avoiding the hiring of real diverse and ethnic models. Levis has since come out to try to clarify their statements in hopes to minimize the backlash but the use of AI models is said to still be in their future.

While the changes may come with discontent and adjustments by brands as they roll out campaigns, AI models will not entirely replace real models anytime in the near future by major brands.

Shudu AI model in diamond necklace for Vogue Australia
Shudu Digital Model. Visual artistry by Cameron-James Wilson, styled by Philippa Moroney and Erica Matthews, Vogue Australia, September 2018.

However, these moves by brands is continuing the impact of computer-generated imagery (CGI) models such as Shudu who became the world’s first digital model. Shudu was digitally created as a South African model and has been hired to be the AI model for brands such as Balmain and for magazines such as Vogue and V Magazine.

In addition, Pacsun hired AI model named Lil Miquela, who is an AI model "living" in LA that focuses on lifestyle-related content. It is said that "she" will make millions for her digital creators through brand deals and sponsorships.

However, in order to remain relevant in the modeling industry to encourage brands to ditch digital renderings of humans and actually hire real models who meet diversity and equity goals within the fashion and consumer industry, let's consider your role within these changes as a model or aspiring model.

How to increase your chances of a brand continuing to book you as the model in place of an AI digital rendering

  1. BE ON TIME! It may seem like a silly reminder or a small hiccup to be late, but showing up on time to work shows that you are professional and reliable. Modeling agencies and clients value models who take their job seriously and being late has caused some clients to completely cut a model from a booking and send them home without pay. In addition, being late to work even by 15 minutes can create a delay in the shoot day which could cost the production company thousands of dollars in overtime pay. Always make sure to arrive at the set 10 minutes early.

  2. SET ETIQUETTE THAT GETS YOU REHIRED! Making a good lasting impression is vital in the modeling industry. You should be cordial and friendly to everyone on set, including the client, directors, makeup artists, stylists, and assistants. A pro tip is to remember people's names - write them down in your phone notepad if needed so that throughout the day you can address them by name. Avoid taking calls on your cell phone or too many pictures on set which will lead to being distracted during shoot hours. In fact, many brands prohibit models from taking photos on set. Be mindful of how you treat the garments by hanging them up when you are finished wearing them versus leaving them on the floor. Clients have personally told me how they appreciate that I do this whenever I am on sets. It does not go unnoticed in most cases. Little things like this can make a significant difference in creating a positive atmosphere on set so that clients think of YOU the next time they need a model on set.

  3. QUALITY PORTFOLIO IMAGES. Keep your portfolio updated at least 1-2 times a year with quality images from photographers who work with top agencies and brands. Your modeling portfolio is equivalent to a resume in the modeling industry. Therefore, keeping it updated with your most recent work or test shoots, will allow a client to see your skillset for their needs at a professional shoot. A good reminder for portfolio development is to also showcase your versatility as a model by including different types of shoots such as fashion, fitness, beauty, swim, and commercial. For instance, if you know how to play tennis or how to do a flexible yoga pose, show that skillset in your portfolio to stand out during the hiring process.

  1. MAKE SURE YOU CAN POSE! It goes without saying that a quality portfolio is not only based on the photographer, stylist and makeup artist that you use for your shoots.

Knowing how to pose effortlessly to give variations in your body language and facial expressions will allow brands to be more likely to see value in your portfolio and want to hire you as their model.

If you need to gain more on-camera confidence and get better posing, be sure to click here for posing guidance with signed model and posing coach, Kamla-Kay.

By creating a reputation that highlights your positive attitude, strong work ethic, and quality portfolio, brands will want to continue to keep models hired versus fully relying on an AI model for their shoots in the future. Following these steps will also make you one of the go-to REAL models for when they do choose to add some AI to their list.

So will AI completely replace real models? While Artificial Intelligence models that eerily are sometimes so hard to identify as fake versus real humans, and while they have certainly been making debatable headlines, there is still a long way to go before they can fully replace real models.

AI models may be able to mimic human movement and expressions, and brands may be able to fulfill their diversity and inclusion goals with varied body types and skin colors within AI creations, but AI models ultimately lack the emotions and personality that real models bring to the table that can attract the everyday buyer.

If you are struggling to become a model and need a modeling coach, feel free to schedule a mentorship chat with agency-signed professional model and modeling/posing coach, Kamla-Kay...yep that would be me...the author of this blog. With years of experience in the industry, I can guide you on how to get into the modeling industry and help you develop the skills necessary to succeed. Just click here and let's chat.

In conclusion, the modeling industry is highly competitive, and AI models are starting to make their presence known. However, by being punctual, making a good impression, and keeping your portfolio updated with quality images and great posing ability, you can show clients and modeling agencies that real models are still an essential component of the fashion industry.

See you on set!


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