At first glance, modelling and being a model would appear to be synonymous. After all, a person who is modelling is, by definition, a model, right?

Actually, no. The distinction tends to be a gray area for people outside the industry, but inside the modelling industry, distinctions exist between the two. Think of the two as opposite sides of the same coin. But what’s the difference? Read on for the answer.

Modelling Definitions

According to Wikipedia, the word model (as it refers to a person) has three definitions:

  • a person with a role either to promote, display, or advertise commercial products
  • one who serves as a visual aid for someone else who’s creating a work of art
  • one who poses for photography

While the first definition is admittedly more elite than the bottom two, it’s not uncommon for some people to take on a modelling job—say, for a local artist—as a supplement to their day job. They may be doing modelling work, but they wouldn’t necessary consider themselves models. And who hasn’t posed for a photograph at least once in their lives? By the last standard listed here, anyone who’s done so has been a model.

Hobby vs. Career

The major distinction is how you pursue modelling. If anyone who ever appears in a photograph can be considered a model, it’s essential to recognize the difference between hobby and career.

Just about every career will require some sort of investment, whether in the form of a college diploma, tools and building supplies, or something as simple as a laptop computer. People who choose modelling as a career, though, will have to invest in their portfolio if they want a decent shot. Industry-savvy bloggers have pegged the amount that would-be models should invest at about $10,000—considerably less than a four-year degree from an accredited university, true, but a tidy sum notwithstanding. In investing in your career, you prove a certain level of interest and in turn a certain level of credibility, that distinguishes many models and enables them with a portfolio to stand out from the hobbyists.

Models vs. Supermodels

Even within this classification, there are more tier distinctions to modelling. While models aren’t necessarily rare, supermodels are in an entirely different league given the amount of work they have completed with the type of products and brands.

The term was invented about 30 years ago when it loosely meant that a model was successful enough to land multiple shoots during the same day. Today, however, the term has been refined to include just a handful of uniquely attractive individuals who are not only prolific but have achieved worldwide recognition.

Can anyone make the transition from doing modelling to being a model? Absolutely, but it requires more than money. Dedication, hard work, and innate talent are all key ingredients in the recipe.