As Naima takes the catwalk on UPN’s hit reality show America’s Next Top Model, judge and – as host Tyra Banks calls him – “noted fashion photographer” Nigel Barker tells PEOPLE what other aspiring mannequins need to do to become a star poser.
DO: Be smart!
“Being a pretty girl is simply not enough,” says Barker. “What is an unusual thing is a pretty girl who has confidence but isn’t conceited, and has poise but isn’t too rigid.”
DON’T: Be a diva
You’re not Naomi Campbell, so forget about talking back to photographers – or threatening to slap the competition, as Brandy did to Tatiana after a disastrous tennis-themed photo shoot. “You don’t want to be a diva until you actually are a diva,” says Barker. “For an 18-year-old at the start of her career to complain, ‘I can’t believe it’s taken so long to get to me’ – just get over yourself! You are so not there yet.”
DO: Have an adaptable look
“As a model, you have to be some sort of chameleon,” says Barker. “Lluvy (who was cut in episode 6) is a perfect example: Everyone adored her, but it wasn’t translating in front of the camera enough. I enjoyed her little quirks and the way she would stand on one leg. As a supermodel, despite having uniqueness, you are a canvas.”
DON’T: Put up a front
Got personality? Let it show! “Christina (who was eliminated in episode 10) was a very sweet girl, but she had a steely outwardly presence,” says Barker. “In the Cape Town ‘go-sees’ they thought she was unfriendly, but she was trying to be businesslike.” Plus, if you let yourself be intimidated, “it can translate as being aggressive, and that’s an unattractive quality.”
DO: Know the industry
“Tyra’s said this about a dozen times: Learn the designers, find out about photographers, look at a magazine,” says Barker, who watched as the girls butchered the pronunciation of design house Hermès as they read from a TelePrompTer in episode 7. “It’s one thing not speaking French, and it’s one thing not having an Italian accent, but there are things in the industry – Christian Lacroix, for example – that they should have known before.”
“You always know a great model. They remember to be very comfortable in front of the camera,” says Barker. “What happens often with a novice model is, although they have been told they are pretty, they are not 100 percent confident until they get to see the final results.”