WELCOME TO MODELING 101!!!

There is more to the modeling world than the media lets on. If you want to find out what it really takes and how to manage your modeling career, then you've come to the right place! This blog is dedicated to the aspiring and already established models who live to defy the standards and stereotypes in order to make a place for themselves in this crazy industry.

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

2016 - A New Year & The Latest on Dania Denise

Happy New Year! Okay, it's been the new year for a few days now but this is the first post I've written for 2016 so I wanted to keep the festive feeling going.

I've gotta say that 2015 was quite a year for me and I'm sure you've noticed that I've been MIA from regularly posting. There really aren't just enough hours in the day and I apologize if you've felt abandoned or wanting for new information. I haven't forgotten you!

There is always method to my madness, however. I basically devoted myself to being a workaholic in overdrive for 2015 so that I could position myself to make 2016 the kind of year where I could pick and choose how much I wanted to work (or not work) without worrying about making ends meet. You know, grown up stuff, lol.

That being said, below is a quick recap of what 2015 held for me. Hopefully it will show you why I was absent as much as I was from my Modeling 101 blog and other related projects:

Being interviewed live during a TV news morning show about my
chalk art business, The Chalk Chica.
THE CHALK CHICA 
CONTINUED TO FLOURISH 

As some of you may or may not know, when I'm not in front of a camera or on a stage, I own and operate my own art business. Chalk art, to be specific. It is because of this business I run that I am able to make my own schedule, call the shots and be secure enough financially to pursue my other passions in life.

Being a shorter model, I knew I couldn't rely on modeling income alone to maintain my lifestyle, pay my bills, etc. so it was important to me that I pay attention to The Chalk Chica and continue to ensure that my clients were happy and that the opportunities that came my way got bigger and better. Thankfully, they have.

I not only had the chance to travel out of state for work, I also secured a client who is partnered with Kevin Hart and I will be working with them throughout the year as a chalk artist at their community events nationwide. That includes several trips this year.

I WON MS. USA PETITE 2015! 

If you follow me on social media (IG, Facebook, Twitter) then you probably already know this but if you don't, in October of 2015 I was crowned the new Ms. USA Petite in Florida. I hadn't competed in a pageant since 2008 so in a sense I was coming out of retirement. The pageant bug never left me but it took some time to find a pageant system with a division that allowed women in their 30s to compete.

I was fortunate to find the USA Petite system. By "petite" they mean height, not size. Contestants had to be 5'6" or shorter in order to participate. I went to Florida for the competition, where I represented my home state of California. After making many new friends and having such an amazing time, I got to experience what it was like to be crowned and realize all the hard work and preparation I went through being rewarded.

As Ms. USA Petite 2015, I plan on spending my time as a titleholder for 2016 traveling, making appearances and promoting my platform, Citizen Schools, which focuses on creating apprenticeship after school programs in middle schools to help students identify what career path they want to pursue later on in life. I'm also an avid supporter of promoting the arts and arts education programs in K-12 schools throughout the country.

Additionally, I get the pleasure to take a free cruise to support my sister queens in the Teen and Miss divisions, who will go on to compete at the Universal Petite Pageant (the Ms. and Mrs. divisions do not have any further levels to compete at). Then I'll crown my successor at the 2016 USA Petite pageant in Florida in October.

NEW DANIA DENISE BUSINESS ENDEAVOR 

I think I'm too entrepreneurial for my own good. I'm always looking for ways to expand and reach others and after 2015, I think the timing is right to add another branch to my Dania Denise brand by making my mentoring, coaching and consultation services official with a new website.

I've always mentored, coached and consulted over the past few years but it was more a word of mouth type of thing. After coaching my protege, Jennifer Smith, to two pageant titles, taking on a new pageant student and helping many aspiring models embark upon their modeling journeys, I realized that I have the power to really connect with others and give them the opportunity to realize their dreams.

So I'm launching DaniaDee.com, which will be my new business venture of offering in-person mentoring, coaching and consultation services for not just modeling but acting and pageants. Please note, this is a paid service and while I'm not out to break anyone's bank account, I do require being compensated for my time, efforts and any travel involved. This is an opportunity for those who really want one-on-one assistance with whatever their career goals are in the fields of modeling, acting and pageantry. My online/email services will still be free so you can still email me your questions or leave questions in comments on my blog posts and I'll reply back so none of that will change.

The website is close to being finished and I'll make sure to make an official announcement once it's ready to go.

As you can see, 2015 has been a whirlwind and with 2016 already shaping up to be even better (acting work has picked up, including my first national commercial, set to shoot this week!), I can't wait to bring Modeling 101 back to life with even more information and insight for you all to enjoy!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Anatomy of a Modeling Website Pt IV: Resume Page

I've already written three posts in this series:

"The Anatomy of a Modeling Website Pt I: Welcome Page"

"The Anatomy of a Modeling Website Pt II: Photo Gallery"

“The Anatomy of a Modeling Website Pt III: About Me”

If you haven't had a chance to check it them out yet, those links will take you right to it and get you up to speed on this mini-series of blog posts.

All right, let's get to the fourth installment in this series: The Resume Page!

WHY NEED A RESUME? ISN'T THAT WHAT THE PORTFOLIO IS FOR?

It's true that models are known for having their portfolios (both online and hard copy "books") as proof of their career and accomplishments. However, there is also a need to have documentation of those jobs. Not all photos in a portfolio give clients the information they need to know about the scope of your work and experience.

Having a resume with a list of the modeling jobs you've done, the role you played and the client you worked for is a great way to clearly show potential clients/agencies exactly what you've done. Tearsheets do a lot in that respect as well but backing that up with a polished resume makes for a winning combination that looks really good on a model's official website.

It is important to note that your modeling resume should not resemble a traditional job resume. For example, you don't need to include your contact information, mailing address, header/footer, Objective statement, Education or previous Employment/Employers. Simply follow what's listed below and you'll be good to go.

WHAT DOES THE RESUME NEED TO HAVE?

There are a number of templates and ways you can present your resume on your official modeling website. Even though there may be other parts of your site that has some of the same info, that's okay because you can't expect all visitors to your website to go through every page. Remember: don't make them search for the important info.

Depending on what kind of publishing platform you're using, you may have a template already set up that you simply plug your info into and that's totally fine. But if you're starting from scratch and/or don't want to use a premade template, then you'll want to make sure your website's Resume Page has the following vital info:

  • STATS: For Women: Height, Weight, Bust, Waist, Hips, Dress, Shoe, Pants, Shirt, Inseam, Eye Color, Hair Color. Ethnicity is optional. For Men: Height, Weight, Chest, Waist, Hips, Shoe, Suit, Neck, Inseam, Shirt, Pants, Eye Color, Hair Color. Ethnicity is optional.
  • CLEARLY LABELED CATEGORIES: Your resume shouldn't be a long list of your modeling experience all jumbled together. Freelance models are known for specializing in more than one category of modeling so--once again--make it easy for your visitors to see what areas of modeling you have done work in. The main categories you can choose from are many and include, but are not limited to: Print, Fitness, Swimwear, Fashion, Runway, Editorial, Beauty, Catalog, Bridal, Parts, Lingerie/Glamour.
  • NAME OF PROJECT/YOUR ROLE/CLIENT NAME: When listing each modeling gig, it is important to explain as briefly as possible what the nature of each job was. Let's use an example, shall we? Let's say the modeling assignment was a look book for a designer named Autumn Reeves (totally fictitious name btw!). You could list this info on your resume as follows:
Fall 2015 Look Book - Fashion Model - Autumn Reeves

You can also choose to list the photographer's name in addition to the name of the client if you want. It's personal preference. If you weren't given an official "role," you can simply say "Model." It doesn't have to be super specific.

Feel free to check out how I formatted my own Resume Page on my official modeling website for reference and inspiration.

SPECIAL SKILLS (OPTIONAL)

I don't have a Special Skills section listed on my resume because it never really crossed my mind but it's one of those things that is personal preference. Including this small section on your resume can only help and not hurt so don't be afraid to throw it in but only if you have solid and demonstrable experience in the special skills you want to list.

Want to know more about Special Skills as it relates to modeling? Click on the link below to a blog post I wrote about that very topic: 



PHOTO

It's nice to have a photo of yourself somewhere on the resume page. It shouldn't be your portfolio, however. A nice headshot or other type of flattering professional image should accompany the text on your resume page. This gives visitors a great way to associate your image with what they're reading about your experience. The photo you choose should enhance the overall look and presentation of the page.

WHAT IF I'VE ONLY DONE PORTFOLIO SHOOTS?

Every model has to start somewhere so if you're a newer model with a website but little to no professional experience, then you won't be expected to have a resume page. You'll already have a portfolio/photo gallery on your site that shows your images and that will serve you just fine until you start to book work.

There is always the option of adding a resume page later after you've started really getting solid modeling jobs. Like the Special Skills section, a resume page can only help and not hurt but don't try to make it exist if there isn't enough there to really flesh it out. Give it time, get those modeling notches on your belt and then put up a resume page when the time is right.

The Anatomy of a Modeling Website Pt III: About Me

I've already written about the importance of having a modeling website ("The Benefits of Having an Official Modeling Website") but I know how hard it can be for freelance models to get the ball rolling so I've decided to do another mini-series of blog posts, with each post focusing individually on the most common meat and potatoes of a modeling website.

I've already written two posts in this series, "The Anatomy of a Modeling Website Pt I: Welcome Page,"  and "The Anatomy of a Modeling Website Pt II: Photo Gallery," so if you haven't had a chance to check it out yet, those links will take you right to it.

So I hope you’re not disappointed but being that I’ve already written a post about how to tailor your “About Me” section for a modeling website in another blog post, I didn’t see the need to try and write a completely different article because basically there wouldn’t be anything I would write differently.

That being said, I would recommend clicking on this link to that original post: “The ‘About Me’ Section & Your Modeling Career (Pt. III: Official Modeling Website)”.

Don’t worry, there is another post coming up in this mini-series of blog posts and the next one is going to be fresh material that covers a very important part of a model’s website: the Resume Page!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Anatomy of a Modeling Website Pt II: Photo Gallery

I've already written about the importance of having a modeling website ("The Benefits of Having an Official Modeling Website") but I know how hard it can be for freelance models to get the ball rolling so I've decided to do another mini series of blog posts, with each post focusing individually on the most common meat and potatoes of a modeling website.

I've already written one post in this series, "The Anatomy of a Modeling Website Pt I: Welcome Page," so if you haven't had a chance to check it out yet, that link will take you right to it.

Hopefully with this detailed info, all potential freelance models will be able to transform their careers in a way that meets or exceeds their goals.

These are all suggestions based on my personal and professional experience in dealing with websites so the info in this post (and the posts to follow), are not 100% the law and can be modified to suit your freelance modeling preferences or specific situation.

Think of this info as a guideline to help you establish some of the basic elements of your modeling website. Feel free to tweak things as you see fit.

Now let's jump into the Photo Gallery section of a modeling website.

WHAT IS THE PHOTO GALLERY?

As the name suggests, this is the part of the website where models are supposed to showcase their professional images. It basically serves as an online portfolio.

WHAT TO PUT IN THE PHOTO GALLERY

Because an official modeling website should be polished and professional in appearance, the only images that should appear in the photo gallery are professionally taken photos. Unlike what's required of model newbies submitting to agencies, there isn't the need to include non-professional, digital snapshots. Freelance models are required to already have pro images in place to book work so focus on those.

Just as with a hard copy modeling portfolio, your photo gallery online should only contain your strongest pictures. They should be a combination of headshots, full body shots, etc. Any tearsheets (digital or scanned hard copies) should definitely be in the photo gallery and among the first pictures viewers will see.

HOW MANY PHOTOS SHOULD THE GALLERY HAVE?

The number of modeling images you post will be determined by the layout of your website. If you have a thumbnail gallery where the viewer clicks on a thumbnail and it opens up an expanded view of the image, then you can choose to have more photos on the page. You can see an example of this layout on my own website. As you can see, it's quite a lot of thumbnails but because they are organized and offer a preview of what the image looks like, it doesn't clutter up the page.

If the layout is a regular photo slideshow, then you may not want to have as many as you would with the thumbnail version. It is very important to be selective in the number and types of photos you end up adding to your photo gallery.

Make sure to not have several versions of the same "look." For example, if you did a formal shoot where you're in a red dress and gold heels, don't have 3-4 shots in that same "look" or outfit. Even if the poses are all different, it's technically the same "look" and doesn't make for a diverse looking portfolio. At most 2 photos of the same look should be the max.

WHAT IS THE BEST LAYOUT FOR MY PHOTO GALLERY?

That all depends on your personal preference. There isn't a right or wrong approach but the most important thing to keep in mind is to choose a layout/design that is organized and easy to for users to navigate.

You can choose to have all of your modeling photos mixed up together (my website photo gallery is an example of this), or you can opt to have separate galleries for each type of modeling you do (i.e. a photo gallery page/tab for Fashion, a photo gallery page/tab for Commercial/Print, a photo gallery page/tab for Swimwear, etc.).

With my modeling website, I originally had a separate page for each category of modeling. But after a while I felt that my website menu had too many tabs and was cluttered. So I chose to combine my photos using the thumbnail gallery layout. However, I did create a separate photo gallery tab dedicated to just my tearsheets. I wanted clients to see right away that I was a published model and make it easy for them to see what publications I had done, instead of fishing around for it on a regular photo gallery.

Take a few moments to think about how you want to present your work to potential clients. There's nothing wrong with looking at other models' sites to see what formats/layouts they've chosen. Once you've identified the "look" you like, test it out on your site and see how you like it. This will be especially easy if you're using a self publishing platform like Wix, Weebly (or the countless others) that allow users to create their own websites.

Remember, like any other modeling portfolio, you should update the photo gallery as you book more work and/or do test shoots to keep things fresh and show the progress of your career.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Anatomy of a Modeling Website Pt I: Welcome Page

Contrary to popular belief, not all models seek agency representation. Freelance modeling, while it has its own set of pros and cons, is a much more flexible approach to a modeling career.

Both female and male models can benefit from effectively marketing themselves online, especially when it comes to social media.

I've already written about the importance of having a modeling website ("The Benefits of Having an Official Modeling Website") but I know how hard it can be for freelance models to get the ball rolling so I've decided to do another mini series of blog posts, with each post focusing individually on the most common meat and potatoes of a modeling website.

Hopefully with this detailed info, all potential freelance models will be able to transform their careers in a way that meets or exceeds their goals.

These are all suggestions based on my personal and professional experience in dealing with websites so the info in this post (and the posts to follow), are not 100% the law and can be modified to suit your freelance modeling preferences or specific situation.

Think of this info as a guideline to help you establish some of the basic elements of your modeling website. Feel free to tweak things as you see fit.

Let's start with the Welcome Page.

WHAT IS THE WELCOME PAGE?

As the name implies, this is the first page you view when you visit a website. Some sites use their Welcome Page as the Home page but whether you choose to have them as the same or separate is personal preference. It really doesn't matter which one you pick.

The purpose of the Welcome Page is to, well, welcome you. This page should be straightforward and not complicated. It should make the person viewing your modeling website want to stick around and click the other tabs to learn more about you and your modeling services.

WHAT TO PUT ON THE WELCOME PAGE

Your Photo 

Duh. However, I have seen a few modeling websites that didn't have the model's image, just the name. I get the idea of why a model would do this but there tons of modeling websites on the Internet and I'm a firm believer in not giving anybody a reason to want to skip out on your site in favor of someone else's. Plus, you're a model--you should want people to see your face as the first thing on your site.

That being said, have a professional modeling photo greet your viewers on your Welcome Page. It can be a headshot, full body shot, half body shot, etc. I have seen collages of a model's gallery on the Welcome Page but my personal opinion is that a collage is just too busy design-wise as the first thing a person sees. Again, my opinion.

Another option would be to have a slideshow gallery of your modeling photos that plays automatically when a person comes to the Welcome Page of your modeling website. Make sure to choose the strongest images for the slideshow (that goes for any modeling gallery or portfolio in general) and set the transition time so that it doesn't take forever to display one photo to the next (but don't set the transition time to be too fast, either).

Your Name

Again, duh. BUT remember: I wouldn't mention these things if there wasn't a reason. If you use a model alias, then you should associate that with your modeling website. Keep things consistent. When people try to find you online, they should be using the name that relates to your modeling career. 

If you don't have a model alias and choose to use your legal name, which is totally fine (model aliases are not mandatory), then use that on your site. Don't feel pressured to come up with a model alias if you haven't felt the need to use one before.

List What You Do/Who You Are

I don't mean list paragraphs of what types of modeling services you offer. What I mean is list the name of the profession you are pursuing. Below are examples:

1. Model

2. Print ~ Fitness ~ Swimwear

3. Print/Lifestyle Model

4. High Fashion/Runway Model

5. Fashion ~ Print ~ Fitness ~ Glamour

Are you a model and an actor? Then you can list these two separately or on one line (i.e. Model/Actor).

***Quick note for you Model/Actors out there: the info I'm going to be discussing in this mini blog post series is only in regards to modeling websites but you can adapt the content and tailor it for your website if you are using it to actively promote your acting career as well as your modeling career.***

By simplifying this info and putting it on the Welcome Page, it makes it clear to potential clients right away what kind of model you are and what to expect if they choose to navigate your site further. But don't go overboard by listing a ton of specialties. I would suggest no more than 3-4. 

Can't decide which ones to highlight or do you have a lot of modeling categories that would be too much clutter for the Welcome Page? This you can keep it simple and just put: Professional Model. You don't need to overthink things.

Remember, it's the Welcome Page so it shouldn't contain too much information that may overwhelm the person viewing it.

Contact Info & Social Media Icons (Optional)

I say this is optional because your modeling website will have its own Contact Page, but it isn't uncommon to list a phone number and email in smaller text either in the header or footer of the Welcome Page. There is also the option of adding social media icons that link directly to those profiles when a person clicks on them (i.e. Twitter bird, IG camera, FB icon, etc).

In fact, depending on the template you're using to design your site, you can make it so that the contact and/or social media icons info appears on the header or footer of all the pages. So regardless of what page a person is visiting, your contact info and social media profiles will be readily available for reference.

Menu/Navigation Bar

There are a bunch of different styles and ways you can display the menu/navigation bar on the Welcome Page but make sure it isn't super huge and distracting to the rest of the elements on the page. At the same time, don't make it difficult to locate, either. Find a happy medium.

Chances are, you've visited your fair share of websites on the Internet in general so I'm sure you know how to gauge what kinds of menu displays you liked and which ones you didn't.

So that's it for this first post in "The Anatomy of a Modeling Website" mini blog series. The topic for Part II: About Me. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Letter to Tall Girls, From a Short Model

Dear Tall Girls,

I use the word “girls” very loosely because, truth be told, the majority of young ladies I work with are under the age of 18, although this post can certainly apply to women of all ages. But I think once you read this letter, you’ll see why I’ve chosen that particular word…

You can’t be in the modeling industry for 16+ years and expect to not have some things from the work world spill over into daily life. I playfully think of myself as an unofficial model scout. When I’m out and about, I can’t help but look at men and women and notice bone structure, height, size, smile and all the other things that tend to fall under the “model-ish” category.

Of course, I’m not a scout and I don’t pick models for agencies so usually I keep these observations to myself but one thing that stood out to me is the constant trend of tall girls hunched over with bad posture. The constant sight of this type of body language motivated me to write this letter in the hopes that it will positively impact the very young ladies I am concerned about, whether you want to be a model or not.

When I see a beautiful young girl, who also happens to be tall, stooped over, it tugs at my heartstrings because of what this action/behavior represents. It’s hard to deny that 9 times out of 10, they’re hunched over to try and conceal their true height—so they won’t tower over their peers in such an obvious way. This behavior is so natural to many of these girls that they probably don’t realize they’re doing it. Or how bad it actually looks.

Maintaining healthy self-esteem is always hard, especially in your teens and whether a tall girl has aspirations to get into modeling or not, it seems the hunchback behavior is something that comes with the territory of being tall. But it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) have to be this way.

Ladies, when your mother nags you about standing up straight, she’s not just saying it for fun. Body language speaks volumes in its own way about who you are as a person. Each time you step out in public, the way you carry yourself is more telling than you realize. And it’s not about caring what other people think—on the contrary, it’s more about what you think about yourself and what you project.

Nothing is more beautiful to me than a girl, young woman, lady, etc. who walks with her back straight and head held up high. Nothing screams “confidence” more to me than seeing a young girl not caring that she’s a head above everyone else because her height makes her no different. She is just like everyone else.

I have to literally stop myself from going over to every hunched over tall girl I see and giving her this pep talk so while I can’t reach all of you young ladies out there, I hope this post gets read by those of you dealing with this situation. You may not even notice that you stoop over but take a moment and look at yourself in the mirror. Stand up straight. Does it feel different? If so, then chances are you’re one of those girls who really isn’t as comfortable in her own skin as she thought. There is nothing wrong with standing up straight and owning your height.

Just because you’re tall, doesn’t mean you have to be a model. Just like tall guys don’t automatically have to be basketball players. The point I’m trying to make is that for myself as a working, professional, short model in the industry, I’ve seen the good and bad of those who strive to make it in this business. I get a lot of personal emails from aspiring newbies who can’t help but feel the odds are stacked against them. From insecurity to doubts about whether or not they would be a good fit for modeling, I’ve heard it all.

Having true self-confidence won’t just take you far in the modeling industry, it will take you far in life. So don’t shortchange yourself (no pun intended). Practice good posture, hold your head up high and realize that being tall has its own advantages. We all want to change things about ourselves that other people would kill to have. 

Girls with straight hair want voluminous, curly hair, while curly haired gals do everything in their power to achieve stick-straight hair. People with freckles would give anything to mask or disguise them, while those without praise how they look. Tall girls hunch over to try and appear shorter, while shorter girls go to the extremes to beat Mother Nature and genetics to gain just a half inch more.

So please take it to heart when I say that being tall should never make you feel small. I had a short girl recently email me to say she was considering shin surgery to add more length to her legs and increase her height so she could pursue fashion modeling. I’m sure you get my point by now if you’re still reading this.

People are always dying to have what they aren’t naturally born with. Realize your good fortune and whether modeling is in your cards or not, standing up tall and proud will always help you accomplish your life’s goals, no matter what they are. It may seem difficult now but trust me, time and confidence will help you love what you see in the mirror so start off on a good foot by standing tall and loving every inch you were given.

Sincerely,


Dania Denise, A Short Model