Although the U.S. Department of Labor predicts a healthy 14 percent growth in the field between 2010 and 2020, modeling is such an exclusive profession that this growth only accounts for about 200 new jobs. Whether you're walking the runway or showing off shades, modeling of any sort is a fiercely competitive industry. To break into sunglasses modeling, you need more than the right look -- it takes patience, persistence and a battle plan.
Build your portfolio. This up-to-date collection of high-quality digital and physical images serves as your visual modeling resume. To start, trade with local photographers. For instance, sit for a fine arts shoot in exchange for a few head shots of you wearing sunglasses. You can also pay photographers for photo shoots. In this case, provide as many different types of sunglasses and looks as you can. A diverse portfolio will get you far, but if you're focused on sunglasses modeling, include as many shots with sunglasses as possible, including business and casual looks. This gives you project-specific material to use when you submit for gigs.
Seek work. Join a free online modeling database or social network, such as ModelMayhem, or a paid service, and upload your portfolio, stats and resume. Check these sites and the “talent,” “gigs” or “entertainment” sections of local online classifieds daily for modeling notices seeking your type. Submit your photos when your look fits the bill. As you find work, both paid and non-paid, you'll continue to build your portfolio and experience, which increases your chances of finding more work and landing an agent.
Get an agent. Once you've compiled an impressive portfolio, contact local talent agencies with modeling divisions. If they're seeking new talent, send a link to your portfolio or a hard-copy comp-card -- a postcard-like print with multiple modeling shots, your stats and your contact info -- as requested and await an interview. You also can meet agents via modeling competitions, conventions and open calls. If you sign with an agent, express your interest in sunglasses modeling. This way your agent will focus on getting you work in your field of interest.
Contact eyewear companies. Although most modeling work comes through casting directors or photographers, it doesn't hurt to contact the companies you're interested in, especially after you've built a strong, sunglasses-oriented portfolio. Include a comp-card and a brief message about your background and experience, also request permission to send along your full portfolio.
Even if you're not taking sunglasses-oriented photos, collect as many photos that emphasize your lips, smile and jawline as possible. These are essential features for sunglasses models.
Diversify. Although it's fine to have a focus, becoming a professional male model is difficult enough without limiting yourself to one specialty. If work comes along, don't turn it down because the project doesn't feature eyewear -- you never know what sort of valuable connections you'll make.
Stay in shape. Remember that tone usually trumps muscle. Keep up with your grooming and cultivate an appealing personal style. Agents and casting directors typically prefer male models between 5'10” and 6'2” with waists of about 30 to 35 inches, chests of approximately 36 to 40 inches and weights of 175 pounds or less. Above all, maintain a positive attitude, and no matter what happens, be professional.
Practice safety, especially when you're working without an agent. Research photographers and check their references before collaborating with them, and always be clear and up-front about your comfort zones. Don't allow yourself to be pressured into inappropriate situations -- it's never worth it.