What do photographers look for in a model?
If you browse Model Mayhem site, there are tons of models, some seasoned and some with little to no experience. Does it make a difference? I think No. But what makes a difference is first impressions.
Your Portfolio Bio:
This is is the entry point to your stats and it should be one that you make sure that you fill out as closely as possible. Fill it in with important details such as tattoos, piercings, etc. Put your true age, height, weight and sizes. Sometimes, we photographers actually source items of clothing and although some items can be pinned if it's too large, we simply cannot adjust for larger. If you have tattoos, please state so, as we may be able to remove them for the look we are after or it may be the design and look that is needed. This also helps with the SEO. Try to be brief in your BIO with enough pertinent information. For example, if you state that you are in the dance genre, state your experience in dance (I don't mean clubbing). State your boundaries, as some are not comfortable doing swimsuit, lingerie or other styles. Document who you've worked with: agencies, photographers, MUAH, brands, companies, etc.
Please, please, please, do NOT post "selfies" or Uncle Fred's prom pictures of yourself. If possible, have some professional photos done. Nothing says unprofessional like poorly lit, poorly finished photos. Have photos that show your best assets. i.e. If you are a hand model, post professional photos of your hands in various states. Same for hair, feet, etc. Make your avatar photo the "one" that doesn't get your profile looked over. Try to alternate you poses or facial expression in each photo to show dynamics. Nothing is more boring than seeing the same pose/expression in 75 or more photos, no matter how well they were done.
Although not necessary, it might be beneficial to know a little about photography lighting. Know your angles and know where the main light is and work that light. If you are considering fashion, look at various magazines like Vogue, save pins on Pinterest and practice those looks and poses diligently. Last but not least is to be a professional. Show up at your scheduled shoots. Nothing irks a photographer more than a flake. If you scheduled the shoot in advance, there should be absolutely NO reason for you to cancel at the last minute (within reason and there will be some exceptions). When you arrive on set, be personable and fun. No one likes a Diva. It's OK to have your input heard as well as the creative team may explore new ideas, but don't overdo it. Those skills also pertain to designers, agents, and other industry professionals. If you have a warm and inviting attitude, you will more than likely be booked for more and more shoots. Word gets around that you are a professional and have great work ethic.
Keeping these points in mind will have you getting those paid or dream shoots in an industry that is too brutal to young models. Just remember that the next in line is just as hungry as you.