Strike a pose

13 Jan 2019

By Megan-Nicole Lye

Carrine Low, 20, has modelled for brands like Topshop and Laneige.

Once every two months, Carrine Low, 20, travels from NTU to the Central Business District with a team of stylists and photographers to snap pictures of her outfits, as part of her modelling gig with Topshop.

These photo sessions last around two hours, involving multiple outfit changes.

The second-year Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information student has worked as a part-time model for Topshop Singapore’s Instagram account since last April, and she is among several NTU students who are pursuing modelling as a part-time career to earn extra pocket money.

One step at a time

Low first caught the attention of Topshop Singapore due to her 14,000-strong following on Instagram, and the brand asked her if she was interested in modelling for their Instagram account.

Her first photo shoot for the clothing brand was nerve-racking because she had not worked with such a well-known brand before, she said. This was despite beginning her modelling career at age 16.

“I was scared about looking bad, but the photographer was really nice,” she said. “I was expecting it to be really formal and professional but he was patient and guided me on how to pose.”

This was Low’s first collaboration with a renowned brand; her modelling stints before had involved just blogshops on Instagram. That said, she does not intend to pursue modelling as a full-time career as she wants to go into digital marketing and advertising.

Since she signed on with Topshop Singapore, Low has clinched modelling gigs with a few other popular brands. In October last year, she landed her first full production shoot with South Korean cosmetics brand Laneige after they contacted her through Instagram.

“I had to work with a full team of photographers, videographers, make-up artists, hair stylists, and the entire production crew,” she said.

It was a new experience for her, as she usually did her own hair and makeup for her Topshop photoshoots. Modelling for Laneige was also more stressful because she had never worked with such a large team before, she said.

Her hard work paid off when she saw her poster at the Laneige Glow House in Ion Orchard, a pop-up store promoting the beauty brand’s holiday collection.

“I was amazed when I saw my face on their poster, and I felt honoured and grateful for such an opportunity,” she said.

But working with famous brands is not her main motivation for being a model — Low enjoys modelling for what it is, she said.

“I like the fact that I can play dress up, pose for the camera, and get paid at the same time,” she said.

A stroke of luck

Bryan Ong, 24, kickstarted his modelling career in 2017, after clinching third place in the CLEO Campus Model Search.

Meanwhile, Bryan Ong’s first foray into the world of modelling was strutting down a catwalk in Bugis Junction in March 2017, when he participated in the CLEO Campus Model Search.

It was an unprecedented move for the final-year Aerospace Engineering student, who had been scouted to join the competition after redeeming vouchers and leaving his contact details at a CLEO Magazine booth that was set up outside South Spine’s Koufu food court.

After agreeing to participate in the competition, the first thing Ong learned was how to walk like a model, alongside 19 other contestants.

“I didn’t know what to do, when to turn, how long to pause during the poses, and how to pose,” the 24-year-old said.

Although Ong felt judged by the other contestants, he decided to just give it his best shot, he added.

His determination eventually paid off. Despite feeling completely out of his depth, Ong clinched third place in the competition.

“It was an interesting experience to walk in public with strangers staring at me. I was nervous, but a lot of my friends came to support me,” he said. “They shouted and cheered, and that really uplifted me during the walk.”

Ong won a two-year contract with local modelling agency Nu Models, and now appears in advertisements on television and online.

The first job he received after the competition was a starring role in a corporate commercial for utilities company SP Group. Other projects he has been involved in include a promotional video for The Gong Show, an awards presentation ceremony for the Creative Circle Awards, which recognise creativity in the advertising industry.

These jobs have provided additional pocket money for him, said Ong, who added that modelling is a lucrative source of part-time income as models can receive jobs that pay up to $150 per hour.

However, it is not easy to get jobs, due to market preferences and intense competition at auditions, he said.

“Brands often cast international models because they look more exotic,” said Ong. “It’s about the fit for the advertisement. Asians don’t usually fit the ideal description of what the brands want, so a lot of it depends on luck.”

But Ong remains optimistic about modelling, and he is driven by the thought of making his family proud.

“Whenever my grandparents watch television and see a commercial that I modelled in, they go ‘look, my grandson is on TV!’, and that is a really nice feeling,” he said.