From its tree-lined streets to the architecturally exquisite old cathedrals and buildings, Hamburg, Germany, is beautiful. The city is arguably the direct booking capital of the world. Hamburg is a huge commercial market and many models visit the city time and time again for work. With high-paying direct bookings for campaigns and catalogues for a large range of very loyal clients, it's no wonder Hamburg is such a desirable market. Having an agency in Hamburg can help a model earn a good sum of money per year with the freedom to travel to or be based out of another market.
This is not a market for new faces. It is rare that an agency will sign a model that doesn’t have a killer book. As a new face, it’s still a good idea to meet with German agencies. If they like your look and think you have the potential to work well in Hamburg, they’ll watch your career as you build your book.
Both female and male commercial models will work the best in Hamburg. But the market is also renowned for their love of blonds. Although brunettes can definitely work in Hamburg as well, models with blonde hair book the most jobs on average. Female models who work well in Hamburg also tend to find success in similar markets, such as Istanbul, Miami, Cape Town, and Tel Aviv.
Male models who do well in Hamburg tend to be more “muscular” and have a more mature and 'manly' look. A bright, white smile is also a huge asset.
When it comes to measurements, it's always about proportion but the clients in Hamburg love female models who are on the more “curvaceous” side. Larger breasts, small waists, and full hips are the ideal for the market. Models with smaller breasts but fuller hips can find work in the market as well but they'll need to invest in a NuBra. Even then, they might not end up working as much as models who have a bigger chest.
Bust: 32-36” - (81-92cm)
Waist: 24-26” - (61-66cm)
Hips: 34-36” - (86-92cm)
Chest: 35-40” - (90-102cm)
Waist: 31-33” - (78-84cm)
Male models with a waist between 28-30” (72-77cm) can still work well in Hamburg for editorial clients or even campaigns. But generally, 31-33” (78-84cm) is the standard for most male models, especially for catalogue and commercial work.
In Hamburg, models who are in their early to mid-20s usually fair the best due to their more “womanly” appearance. But age isn’t as important as look; a model may be 18, but a larger bone structure and more “womanly” look will fare better in the market.
Male models who are in their mid to even late 20s work the best in Hamburg. Their more 'manly' and mature appearance appeals more to clients and the kind of work that clients shoot in the market.
Models who work well in Hamburg
The following is a list of models who either work well in Hamburg or suit the Hamburg market. The list is formulated to help models generate a better idea of what looks clients tend to book.
Alena Blohm – Model Management
Noah Mills - Louisa
Amanda Casagrande - Louisa
Arthur Kulkov – Modelwerk
Franziska Frank – Mega
Victoria Stutterheim – Modelwek
Tobias Sorensen – Modelwerk
Yasemin Delen – Model Management
Jenica Ratzlaff - Modelwerk
Note: Although these models may have found success in the market, the modelling industry is unpredictable; just because a model does well in a market once doesn't necessarily mean they'll do well there again. Timing, luck, and “looks of the moment” are large indicators of a model's success.
Types of Jobs & Rates
Most of the jobs in Germany are commercial with wealthy German companies behind each job. The clients in Hamburg put a lot of hard work, organization, and preparation into each shoot, even if it's just a catalogue or print advertisement for a supermarket chain (e.g. LIDL). The clients take their work seriously and want to deliver the highest quality possible. In comparison to Shanghai, where many clients try to be as frugal and resourceful as possible, Hamburg clients always ensure that their photo shoots are of the highest quality. Hamburg's clients usually shoot in large warehouses where there are over 25 sets or so made for different jobs and shoot constantly.
Note: The rates provided below are only to serve as average estimated figures of the potential earnings that can be made. A model's rate can be either higher or lower and is dependant upon: their agency, the client, type of job, terms of usage, a model's experience, and their reputation in the fashion and modelling industries.
Most of the jobs in Hamburg are for commercial jobs and are direct booked. Clients will go to agency websites and search for models online instead of holding a casting. If they like a model, they'll usually request digitals and book him or her based off those photos. If there's a casting, models should really let their personality shine. If the model is able to leave a lasting impression on the client, that's what will confirm the model over another who maybe has a stronger book.
Although many models are based in Hamburg, they'll find they may end up travelling a lot for catalogue or campaign shoots. Most of the jobs are shot outside of Hamburg in neighbouring cities such as Bremen, Berlin, Hannover, Dusseldorf, and some other very small cities for location shoots outdoors.
Many clients who are shooting higher profile catalogues or campaigns also like to go on location for shoots in more exotic locations such as: Spain, Portugal, Cape Town, and Miami.
Clients tend to travel to Cape Town or Miami during December-April to shoot their summer campaigns and to get away from the cold German winters.
There are a lot of campaigns in Hamburg that models can have the opportunity to shoot for. Along with campaigns, many of these clients also shoot print advertisements for their brands as well as television commercials. The clients range from commercial giants to German fashion brands.
Clients such as Nivea and Volkswagen prefer to use commercial models because they can appeal to a larger market. For fashion brands like Closed or Myuli, models can be more on the editorial side depending on the feeling the client wants. But generally, commercial models will most likely be cast for those jobs as well.
Clients: Christian berg, Bucherer, S.Oliver, GAASTRA, Wolford, ESPRIT, Wormland, Ana Alcazar, Bruno Banani, Myuli, Closed, NIVEA, Volkswagen etc.
Rates: The rates for shooting campaigns in Hamburg vary. If the campaign’s usage is only for Germany, then the rate can be around €3000+ ($4100 CDN). If the campaign is to be used in Germany and other countries across Europe, the campaign can easily pay anywhere between €5000-10,000 ($6800-13700 CDN).
Catalogues – especially for online companies – are very common in Hamburg and models can earn a lot of money shooting them. Clients include LIDL, ALDI, ZALANDO, OTTO, WIETHE, ESPRIT (PICTURE PARK). Those are the largest online shopping companies which can shoot for labels like: Hugo Boss, Esprit, Marc O'Polo, Dolce & Gabbana, etc.
Rates: The rate for catalogues can be upwards of €2000+ ($2700CDN) for a full day of shooting depending on the client. Models can expect to work with the same client multiple times per month throughout the year (if they form a good relationship) and can earn a substantial amount of money. Such a consistent flow of income is also great to have because it offers stability in what's usually an unstable profession.
Models who decide to go work in Hamburg can collect a lot of tear sheets because there is a large variety of magazines to shoot for. Most of the magazines are in German but the tearsheets can still be used anywhere in the world. Although most models don't travel to Hamburg for editorials, they can still expect to collect beautiful photos.
Clients: Kalt Blut, Posi+Tive, Men's Health, Achtung, Cosmopolitan, Shape, freundin, flair, TUSH, henne, Petra, Grazia, InStyle, Madame, ELLE, Cover, Zeit, Maxi, VOGUE etc.
Rates: The rates for editorials in Hamburg are some of the best in the world. Editorials in the fashion and modelling industry are renowned for paying sometimes as little as $100USD for a half day shooting. In Hamburg however, models can expect to earn approximately €500 ($680CDN) per editorial. Although it does depend on the magazine, the rates are still much higher than any other market.
Hamburg doesn't have a fashion week but many models who are based there do Berlin Fashion Week. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin takes place twice a year:
Fall/Winter – Middle of January, usually between the 15th-21st
Spring/Summer – First week of July, usually between the 2nd-9th
For models who are interested in working during Berlin Fashion Week, it's a good idea to come one month prior to do castings and prepare for the shows.
Clients: Kilian Kerner, Lena Hoschek, Basler, Michalsky, Marc Cain, Hugo Boss, Laurel, Zoe Ona, Marcel Ostertag etc.
Berlin Fashion Week doesn't pay models particularly well, but shows rarely do. The standard is €200-400 per show ($270-550CDN). A runway show can pay well if the model is already well established in the industry and has worked with high profile luxury brands in the past.
It can even be assumed that there's no real season in Hamburg because it's a direct booking market. Models can go to Hamburg any time of the year and will find some work because there are catalogue shootings year round.
During June-August, there are a lot more models in town. Unless they're already familiar with the market and have been to Hamburg before, it's advisable for models who have never been to go after September to avoid competition and have a better chance of working and meeting new clients.
KULT – Male models only
Louisa – Munich
Most Wanted Models - Munich
SPIN Model Management
Note: The Business Model does not necessarily endorse any of the above agencies. The following list is to serve as a directory so that models may be aware of the current active agencies in the market. Before signing with any agency, TBM encourages all models to read contracts carefully.
Words of Advice
Pack a NuBra “Chicken Cutlets”- Always bring a NuBra with you to your castings and bookings if you feel you may need one. It adds an extra boost to the chest and sometimes works better than a nude strapless bra. Clients in Hamburg prefer models who have a fuller chest so packing a NuBra is always useful.
Show your shape – When you go to castings, it's important that you wear form fitting and flattering clothes. In a market like Hamburg, you want to show your curves so choose dresses that flatter your figure that are also tasteful. Leave your “clubbing” attire at home in the closet!
Changing your hair to blonde – Hamburg clients prefer blonde models. In light of this, some models choose to dye their hair blonde in hopes that they'll find more success in the market. However, there are very few models who have successfully gone from their natural hair colour to blonde with the exception of Candice Swanepoel and Dani Seitz (Canadian model).
Be weary of highlights as well as they can look cheap. Discuss options with your agency. At the end of the day, a variation on your natural hair colour almost always looks best.
Tanning - When you're a commercial model, a slight and natural tan always looks healthy and gives you a nice glow. In countries like Germany, Denmark, and throughout parts of Scandinavia, many people love to have a sun tan. This is because having a tan in these countries, especially during the winter months, implies that the individual is wealthy – or at least wealthy enough – because they're able to afford a trip to a tropical climate. Clients therefore look for models who have a slight tan to promote their brand because it's symbolic of wealth and status.
Although having a tan looks good, The Business Model strongly encourages models who intend to be in the sun to use a minimum SPF30 to protect the skin from harmful UV rays. Models should try to not stay out in the sun during high noon and limit their exposure to a couple hours per day.
Be punctual - Clients in Hamburg strongly value a model who is punctual and arrives to work with a smile on her face. A model with positive energy who shows up to work on time and ready to go showcases professionalism to the client and makes them more inclined to work with the model again in the future.
Hamburg is home to a lot of talented photographers. If your agency feels you could use more photos, they'll set up a test or go see with a photographer to help you build a stronger book.
Not all of the photographers listed below do test shoots but there is a good chance you will work on an editorial or campaign with them. Many of these photographers also work across Europe and are no longer based in Hamburg but have a long-standing and strong reputation in the market.
Photographers: Marcel Schlutt, Tobias Schneider, Sven Hoffmann, Tino Criso, Raphael Just, Katja Rahlwes, Armin Morbach, Nacho Alegre, Thomas Krappitz, Sabrina Theissen, etc.
Agency Commission: 30-40% excluding mother agency's 10%.
Currency Exchange: € 1.00 EURO : $1.37 CDN
Expenses Advanced: Some
Agencies in Hamburg will advance some expenses for models. Usually these include accommodations as well as weekly pocket money. Most of the time models will have to advance their own airfare.
Offer Guarantee: No
Agencies in Hamburg don't offer models guaranteed contracts. The competition in Europe is incredibly high and agencies cannot guarantee that a model will work. Guarantees are only ever given to models who travel to some markets in Asia (e.g. Tokyo, Shanghai, and Seoul).
Standard Contract: 30-60 days
The standard contract for any market is usually 60 days. But because Hamburg is a largely direct booking market, models usually go to Hamburg for about one month. This gives them enough time to meet many clients, get exposure in the market, and even do some jobs. If the model leaves a good impression on the clients, direct bookings are sure to follow.
It's also a good idea to go to Hamburg a couple times a year for a few weeks each time to meet more clients and remind old ones of how great you look.
Visa Status: Work Permit Required
To work in Hamburg, models should apply for a work permit which can be done through their agency. The best way is for the agency to apply on behalf of the model. Models who are from the EU are exempted from obtaining a work permit.
Languages Spoken: German (Deutsch), English, Dutch (some)
Although German is the official language, most clients do speak English so models will have little trouble communicating with them.
If you end up working with a client who speaks limited English, clients anywhere in the world like it when you make some effort to learn their language or customs. Simple things like how to say hello or introduce yourself make a huge difference. It shows that you're professional and will make the client happy.
Model Apartments: Good
The model apartments in Hamburg are small and quaint. They're very European – basic, modern, and clean – but be prepared to share a small space with at least a few other models.
Models can also try to find their own apartment in Hamburg. A one bedroom in the city centre can cost between € 500-700 ($680-960CDN) per month which is a decent cost and sometimes cheaper than staying in a model apartment. But models who have never been to the market before may first want to acquaint themselves with the city before they try to find an apartment to rent.
People: The people in Germany are generally helpful towards foreigners if they're lost or need directions. German people are also known for being blunt and honest, but they're respectful and appreciate it when visitors act accordingly.
Public Transportation – The Public Transportation system in Hamburg (HVV) is excellent and very reliable so models should have no problem travelling around the city. The cost of public transportation in Hamburg depends on the zones you'll be travelling around to. A one way ticket on the bus or rapid train ranges between €1.90-4.00 ($2.60-5.40 CDN) which is quite expensive. However, if you apply for an HVV card, the cost ends up being much more affordable. Ask your agency for assistance, but usually you won't need to go farther than 4-5 fare zones. The cost for travel in those zones with an HVV card is between €96-120 ($135-164 CDN) per month or €25-32 ($34-43CDN) per week.
In order to get an HVV card, you have to go to an HVV service centre nearest you with your passport as valid ID and they'll issue you a customer photo card. Having a pass entitles you to ride the bus as well as the rapid train around the city.
Berlin Travel – If you're going to a casting or a job in Berlin, the most cost effective way is to take a bus but be sure to book in advance for a cheaper rate. The standard fare is usually less than €50 ($<65 CDN). Otherwise, taking a train is usually around €150 ($205 CDN) per roundtrip which could end up being quite costly.
StadtRAD – In Hamburg, models have the option to bike around the city. The bike service is incredibly convenient with about 80 bike stations scattered around Hamburg. When you're finished with the bike, you can return it to the station that's nearest you.
The first thirty minutes riding the bike are free and additional minutes thereafter can be purchased with either a bank, credit, or customer card at a station. You'll be charged 8 cents per minute after the free 30 minutes and 6 cents per minute if you're a member. For a full 24 hours, the cost is €12 ($16 CDN).
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Special thanks to: Amanda La Magna (Chantale Nadeau, Modelwerk Hamburg)