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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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Friday, January 19, 2018

Tips for Finding a Good Casting Agency to Work With

If you had the chance to read my previous blog post, "The Difference Between Casting Agencies & Talent/Modeling Agencies," you might be thinking about considering the services of a casting agency to help with your modeling career.

As with searching for a traditional modeling agency, there are certain things to keep in mind when trying to figure out which companies would be worth your time and which ones you should probably skip out on.

Keep in mind that not all casting agencies are created equal and only through research and careful consideration can you find the one tailored for your needs.

START LOCAL THEN BRANCH OUT

The good thing about living in or near a medium and large size modeling market is the fact that you'll likely have easy access to a casting agency or two (or three!). Starting local is not only practical, it's convenient and cost-effective because the majority of the castings and projects you could book through the casting agency will be in your neck of the woods.

The larger casting agencies that focus on projects nationwide are all well and good but focusing on submitting yourself to local projects is a great way to get your foot in the door, as well as network with clients, photographers and other industry professionals.

When that happens, your chances for booking future work through word-of-mouth and a previous working relationship will increase--all bonuses for you.

Don't live in a market that has a good casting agency or no casting agency at all? Then you can consider the larger online versions that post for projects within your state, as well as across the country.

REVIEW MEMBERSHIP PLAN OPTIONS

The best casting agencies give you options and don't force you to pay the same fee as everyone else. Being able to choose a membership plan that fits your needs is a safe and smart way to check out what a casting agency has to offer and test drive the quality of its services before jumping in and paying money you may be ready or comfortable spending yet.

Even better is if the casting agency has a free membership plan. Although the free profiles are obviously going to be limited, it's a nice way to test the waters and see how you like using the website without any financial commitment.

Quality casting agencies understand that affordability is important to their customers and the range of plans they offer should reflect that.

Also note if the fees must be paid monthly, annually, etc. and what methods of payment they accept.

WHAT ELSE DO THEY DO?

One of the many benefits of being a member of a casting agency is access to other services outside of connecting you with projects looking for models/talent. A majority offer resources related to workshops for everything from acting and public speaking to recommendations/referrals for photographers.

In most cases, these resources have been vetted by the casting agency or come recommended because they have worked with or recognize the quality and integrity of the individual/company they are affiliated with. Sometimes being a member of a casting agency will open you up to special offers, discounts on certain services or even the inside scoop on upcoming workshops, specials or other happenings before anyone else.

Additionally, most casting agencies offer to take free digital snapshots of you to keep for their files and for you to use for your profile registered with the casting agency. This allows them to have the most up-to-date images of you and while it isn't a full on photoshoot, it's a wonderful option for newbies who don't have digital snapshots of their own to upload to their profile.

Having a casting agency that serves as a type of "one stop shop" is convenient and allows you to find the assistance you're looking for depending on what you need help with in regards to your modeling and/or acting career.

QUALITY OF PROJECTS

It won't take long to see whether the projects being listed on a casting agency's site are good or not. Sometimes you'll get some funky ones (no site is perfect) but in general the more reputable casting agencies won't allow just anyone to post a project on their site.

If you've ever searched through gigs on places like Craigslist, you should be able to tell the difference between a sketchy post and one that is a real opportunity. Legitimate casting agencies know how important screening posts are and they often require specific information before approving a project to be posted and sent out to its members.

Unlike a Craigslist post (or other online anonymous casting sites and forums), most casting agency projects will require specific information: client/company name, project name, the type of project (i.e. photo shoot, fashion show, live event, etc.), usage, casting/shoot dates, submission guidelines and an explanation of what they are looking for.

In general, always be wary of posts that seem too good to be true, such as modeling assignments that want you to travel out of the country and are paying hundreds to thousands of dollars. Play it safe and always use common sense when submitting to projects you get matched up for.

AUDITION/CASTING PROCESS

Local casting agencies not only connect clients with their database of models/talent, they provide audition/casting space at their location (at least a majority of them do). While direct bookings do happen--where the client doesn't require an in-person audition--one of the perks for both clients and models/talent is the ability to have castings at the office itself.

Having a public, safe and professional environment to meet with clients is very beneficial and a common approach to being considered for a project when a client has expressed interest after reviewing your submission.

It's not a mandatory requirement for clients posting projects through a casting agency to have their audition/castings at the agency's location, however, so don't be worried if you submit and are asked to go someplace that isn't the casting agency office (of course it is important to make sure the space holding the audition isn't a private home or other suspicious location...that's what Google Maps is for, people!).

NO HARD SALES PUSH

Casting agencies that are good at what they do will not hound you via email or phone to entice you to sign up/pay for additional services you didn't ask for or have not expressed an interest in. Nor will they contact you with casting opportunities you "just have to be a part of."

You're already a member and paying the fees for services so their job is done in that regard. Even if you're signed up under a free profile, there is no reason why anyone from the casting agency should be contacting you to convince you to upgrade to a paid membership.

The only exception to this when it comes to free profiles is receiving email alerts listing the benefits of having a paid membership. That's normal but if they're calling you with a hard sales push to get you to cough up money for services and provide your credit card number, that's not okay.

CUSTOMER SERVICE OPTIONS

Whether you opt for a local casting agency or a larger one that focuses on nationwide castings, you want to ensure that you will be able to get in touch with someone should an issue arise. Having a phone number is important. Some casting agencies rely on the typical 800 or 855 number, while more local operations may stick with a local number only.

Casting sites that only provide a contact form or email address but no phone number always make me nervous, especially if it's not a local business with a brick and mortar location you can visit. What if there is a billing issue and all you can do is hope someone returns your email/submitted form?

Casting agencies offering several methods of communication for customer service are the ones worth working with. Thanks to the advancements of technology there are even casting agencies with the Live Chat feature, which is always pretty neat to have available.

REVIEWS

As with any business you're thinking about working with, it doesn't hurt to do a bit of online homework and look up any reviews to see what others think. Try to be fair and realize when certain reviews are clearly written by irate individuals with an ax to grind.

It's also a good idea to ask around and see if you know any friends, family or associates who are signed to a casting agency you're interested in. Personal testimonials are always the best to have for reference.

WEBSITE APPEARANCE/USABILITY

I put this item at the bottom because you shouldn't base a casting agency's credibility solely on the appearance of the website alone but it is something to factor in. Having the fanciest, feature-filled website doesn't automatically mean a casting agency is legit but the more professional the site is, as well as the quality of the features they use and offer to members is important.

Casting agency sites that appear (or are) outdated, have super old looking photos and use very basic technology for features like photo and resume uploads may be ones you'll want to either avoid or push to the bottom of your consideration list.

Think about it: you want to use this as a tool to market yourself to potential clients and projects...do you really want to make a first impression by having your photos and info on a site that you're slightly or really embarrassed by?

Now I will say that small markets where the casting agencies aren't rolling in the dough clearly may not be in a position to have the snazziest site like the competition in larger markets and in those instances, that isn't their fault.

But if you live in an area not known to be the hub of action, it makes sense to consider signing up for a larger casting agency that posts for projects nationwide to get your profile out to a larger base. You could also sign up for the local casting agency even if it isn't the most impressive, as long as they do have quality projects posted and affordable membership fees that match the size of the market and caliber of the work they come across.

You can join as many casting agency sites as you want so once you get more familiar with these types of agencies, their services and benefits, you can easily set yourself up to cover all your bases and submit to projects both large and small, local and nationwide.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year 2018 - The Latest on Dania Denise

Another year come and gone. What can I say about 2017?

Well, as you probably know if you've been a reader of this blog for some time now, I haven't actively been posting like I used to.

But I see it as a blessing in disguise. Think about it: I certainly love sharing all the insight and knowledge I have about the modeling industry with all of you but at the same time what kind of professional model would I be if all I did was blog every day?

If anything, I am happy I posted so much in the early years of this blog. That was mainly due to the fact that I was working in the corporate world at the time, meaning I was a slave to a computer and cubicle 5 days a week. It was easy for me to shoot off a blog post or two (or three) and keep content up regularly.

Once I broke free of the corporate shackles, however, I was finally able to take my entertainment career to the next level and not only continue to build my resume of experience and expand my network, but gain even more knowledge and how-to that I am able to pass on to you, my beloved readers.

That being said, what I can do is promise you that I will keep this blog active with posts. My plan A is to post new content once a week. Plan B is once every other week. Plan C is once a month. My list of topics to cover is extensive so there will be no shortage of things to talk, educate and inform you about in all aspects related to the modeling industry. I'll also continue to answer reader questions on my other blog (http://amodelsdiary-readerquestions.blogspot.com/).

So in that sense, things will continue as they always have. I do want to thank all of you for sticking around, your patience and wonderful messages that further encourage and motivate me to keep Modeling 101 - A Model's Diary thriving.

For those of you that follow me on social media, you'll know that I've been moving and shaking quite a bit, including wearing more hats and pursuing business opportunities that I've always had on my radar. Timing is everything and because of 2017 I'm even more energized to take things to the next level.

Don't follow me on social media or haven't had a chance to check out the latest on my happenings? Then allow me to catch you up:


THINK POST PRODUCTIONS

The Think Post Productions Team after the premiere of our first official project, "The Run."
Promo Poster Featuring The Cast of "The Run":
Alex Acosta (Landon), Mike Betancourt (Vince), Rafael Siegel (The Man), Dania Denise (Emily)


I've been fortunate this year to book a number of acting jobs but I'm not only interested in being in front of the camera. I've transitioned to being behind it as well. Along with my other two business partners/creatives, Alex & Rob, we've formed a new company: Think Post Productions.

To work with others who are just as passionate about creating as I am has been so refreshing and we've put together a winning team and have hit the ground running ever since. "The Run" was our first official project, a fun Mafia-style film where I co-star as a bartender named Emily. We had a small premiere screening in the city of Brentwood, CA, where we shot the film on location over the course of 3 days. We had a great turnout and are already in pre-production for our next short, "Monster" (working title), which I wrote and will be starring in.

Throw in weekly production meetings, writing/brainstorming sessions, rehearsals, location scouting and putting together shooting schedules and the hours really add up--not that it feels that way. Living and breathing one's craft is a dream come true and I look forward to each and every project Think Post Productions has lined up.

MISS CALIFORNIA PETITE, USA PETITE & UNIVERSAL PETITE

Cheesing with my pageant sisters:
USA Petite Mrs. 2016 Kristine McGoldrick, USA Petite Ms. 2017 Neisha Molina and USA Petite Mrs. 2017 Leah Jensen.

Being interviewed on TV about California Petite by CBS KPIX Channel 5's Kenny Choi on "Bay Sunday."

Photo op with co-host, Mick Ferrari, and this year's winners of Universal Petite:
Universal Petite Miss 2017 Kathiria Nunez (Puerto Rico) & Universal Petite Teen 2017 Guiliana Pechernicoff (Argentina)
Becoming involved in the pageant world and being a part of the USA Petite system since 2015 has opened my eyes to the possibilities and opportunities to not only continue empowering women of all ages, shapes and sizes but create a platform for shorter women to reach their goals.

As the State Director for the first ever Miss California Petite Pageant (scheduled for April 13-15, 2018), I've been busy with registering contestants, locking in the venue, working with sponsors, marketing and promoting the event via TV interviews, online article write-ups and social media, as well as continuing to participate in each year's USA Petite and Universal Petite competitions in Florida. I was blessed to serve as assistant to our founder and National Director, Hazely Lopez, during both of these events, as well as co-host/emcee the pageants with my dear friend, Mick Ferrari.

My pageant family of sister queens grew exponentially and not only did we crown some amazing new title holders in Florida this past November, several of them are becoming State Directors within the USA Petite system and will be making an appearance at my pageant in April to show their support.

My vision for bringing State Preliminaries in all 50 states to put USA Petite at the forefront of the pageant industry is one of my life's goals and so far all the signs are pointing in the direction that this is exactly where I'm meant to be and I look forward to continuing to work with and inspire short women to believe that there is no goal too high to reach for as long as you've got the right pair of heels.

HOSTING AT THE 2017 NAPA VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL

Hanging out on-stage with Will Ferrell. Photo: Will Bucquoy

With actor Jim Rash ("Community," "How I Met Your Mother" and tons of other TV and film credits).

With actor David Arquette.
My training as a host/emcee really came in handy this year, especially during the 2017 Napa Valley Film Festival. For several days I served as a "Ringmaster," which is basically film festival lingo for "host/emcee." I welcomed film goers to my venue, the spacious and beautiful Lincoln Theater in Yountville, California, located in wine country. I also moderated Q&A sessions, networked with various directors and met a handful of celebrities.

The highlight of the Napa Valley Film Festival was hands down getting to host a special tribute for Will Ferrell. Not only did I get to meet Will, we spent time on-stage together and he even gave me a shout out during the tribute. I'm still tracking down more photos and hopefully any video clips of that once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I'll be participating in the film festival each year and can't wait to see what big names come to visit the Napa Valley in 2018!

MODELING & MENTORING

Mood board I created for a model mentee's test shoot.

Helping on-set for model mentee, Gabriella.

BTS of model mentee, Zarie's test shoot.

More BTS from model mentee, Zarie's shoot and celebration afterwards.
I've been extremely picky in what modeling gigs I took on this year and I'll do more of the same for 2018. While I continue to model professionally, I've also been setting up my own shoots to produce images to enforce my branding and show potential clients and my network what I'm capable of if I'm on their project.

Additionally, I had the chance to help other models set up their careers in the form of organizing their test shoots for portfolio building, content creation for social media and even served as their stylist and onsite modeling coach during the shoots. To be able to connect with aspiring models face-to-face is so rewarding and I hope to keep getting hired for such work (to hire me for these services, visit my website: www.daniadee.com). For those I mentor/coach who are far away, Skype sessions and email communications have helped them build the confidence and skills to navigate their way through the modeling industry.

I also have a pretty exciting opportunity on my plate that I can't announce the details of yet until things are confirmed and a contract is in place but it does involve being the face of a new product campaign. Okay, that's all I'll say about that for now. You'll have to be patient and keep checking in for the latest!

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2018


All the hard work I've put into 2017 has set things up to make 2018 even bigger and better. It wasn't all rainbows and puppies: loved ones were lost, we live in troubled times and are dealing with unprecedented territory both nationally and on a global scale and for as many good days we have, there are also really bad days.

That's what we call life: you choose to either hide from it or push past it and make the day given to you a better one, not just for yourself but those around you.

Change cannot be accomplished by one person. I don't aspire to change the world--I aspire to inspire change in the world. And that doesn't take some monumental feat to accomplish.

When you smile at a stranger passing by on the street, when you lend an ear and listen to someone who needs it, when you recognize pain in another person and do what you can to lift the burden, when you stand up for what is right even if it means standing alone--it all means something. It all contributes to a world where we stop becoming so selfish, entitled and close-minded. Whether some people want to admit it or not, we crave connection, meaning, understanding, something to remind us that we are alive--that we're here for a reason.

Find your reason, your passion, your purpose and take that into 2018 with you. I don't have all the answers and don't claim to have all the secrets to success but what I do know is that I refuse to let failure be an option. I know my self worth. I don't need anyone's approval, validation or permission, just my own. When a door closes, I don't go through the open window--I build my own damn door.

I say all this to say that you are responsible for your happiness, your joy and achieving your goals. Get out of your own way and you can accomplish whatever it is you set out to do, whether it's in the modeling world or something else (remember, there is more to the world than modeling).

I want to continue to thank you all for staying on this blogging journey with me and for the love and support. I'm blessed to have been a part of your lives and hearing your life stories and the ups and downs of your experiences have all served to make me a better and more effective mentor, coach, consultant and friend.

Without getting too sappy, I want to wish all of you a safe and prosperous New Year's Eve and remember that tomorrow isn't promised to any of us so when you wake up on New Year's Day, know that 2018 is exactly what you choose to make it. So make it count!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Difference Between Casting Agencies & Talent/Modeling Agencies

Not all agencies are created equal. The word "agency" gets thrown around a lot and within the entertainment industry it's easy to get confused.

To avoid any mishaps and ensure that you're on the right track, I felt it would be good to do a post to break down the important differences between casting agencies and talent/modeling agencies.

Since I've written at length about talent and modeling agencies, the points listed below will be in direct reference to how casting agencies operate.

To sum up casting agencies in a nutshell: this type of business contains a database of actors, models and other types of talent and essentially acts as a matchmaker between the talent registered on the casting agency's site and those casting for various projects.

Whenever someone is looking for models or actors, they typically post their project on the casting agency's site and the talent that matches the requirements are notified and given a chance to submit themselves directly to the project. From there a casting or audition is arranged between the client casting the project and the talent submitting.

CASTING AGENCIES DON'T HAVE CONTRACTS

When you sign up for a casting agency there is no contract to sign or worries about being exclusive or non-exclusive. You can sign up with as many casting agencies as you want and don't have to worry about any conflicts. You are not "represented" by a casting agency and they aren't considered your "agent."

CASTING AGENCIES DON'T CHARGE COMMISSION

The great thing about casting agencies and booking projects through their services is that there isn't a commission you need to pay them. The casting agency makes its money in other ways so you don't have to pony up a percentage each time you book a gig.

CASTING AGENCIES LET YOU CONTROL YOUR CAREER

Many freelance models and actors use casting agencies as a method of finding local work for a variety of projects according to the preferences set in their member profiles. Updating your photos, resume of experience and other profile preferences are all in your hands. Simply login to your account and you can control everything.

CASTING AGENCIES WORK WITH TALENT/MODELING AGENCIES, TOO

This varies from casting agency to casting agency but oftentimes, traditional talent/modeling agencies work closely with local casting agencies so it isn't uncommon for a represented model/actor to have a profile on a casting site even though they have an actual agent.

This type of profile will look different on the casting agency site compared to someone who is freelance and doesn't have agency representation. For example, if a client is looking to cast a project and is looking at the profile on a casting agency site for an individual that is freelance, the contact info will be that of the model/actor. But if they are looking at a profile on a casting agency site for an individual that is agency repped, the contact info displayed on the profile will be that of the agency's (in most cases).

Because of this close working relationship between local casting agencies and talent/modeling agencies, it is common for both freelancers and repped talent to go to the same castings and auditions that may be held at the casting agency's office.

CASTING AGENCIES CHARGE AFFORDABLY FOR THEIR SERVICES

At least the legitimate ones do, haha. While the cost of being included in a local casting agency's database may differ from market to market (i.e. smaller and medium markets tend to have more affordable fees, while large markets may be a bit higher), in general you can opt to pay an annual fee or break it down into a smaller, recurring monthly fee.

This is one of the main ways casting agencies make a profit and why you don't have to fork over a percentage of your earnings in the form of a commission. As long as you keep up with your payments, your profile will remain active and viewable by potential clients.

Some casting agency sites let you set up a profile for free. Of course that tends to be limited in the services available but if you're hesitant to pay or want to test the waters first, checking out the free version is a good approach until you feel confident enough to pay for a basic membership.

CASTING AGENCIES LET YOU DO YOU

You don't have a booker at a casting agency to call or email to check in with or ask advice for in regards to what kinds of photos to have in your portfolio. They are the middleman that simply gives you a place to house your photos, video clips (for actors) and stats so you can get matched up to projects and be found by clients.

While they are on hand to answer basic customer service questions or troubleshoot tech issues, they are not in a position to guide you through your career the same way a standard talent/modeling agency does.

IS A CASTING AGENCY FOR YOU?

It is optional to enlist the services of a casting agency in regards to your modeling/acting career. I've found working with local casting agencies to be an incredibly beneficial tool and resource in finding work, connecting with clients and building my network.

I've always had profiles on local casting agency sites whether I had agency representation or not. The monthly fees are also affordable and, in my case, are tax write offs since they count as a business expense.

There are a score of casting agency sites out there and while there are those that contain nationwide castings as well as more location specific ones, I tend to focus on the local ones. This is mainly because the numbers game tends to be in your favor with local casting agencies compared to the ones that have nationwide castings where you're now competing for jobs along with other people around the country.

At the end of the day working with a reputable casting agency can only help your endeavors and not hurt them. Make sure the casting agency you're interested in is established, has reasonable rates and doesn't try to nag you with paying for additional services you don't need, or try to up-sell you on photoshoots and training courses.

Stay tuned for my next blog post, which will address some of the red flags to be on the lookout for when it comes to finding a solid casting agency to work with.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

How to Choose the Right Modeling Agency for Your Child

If you thought entering the modeling world was challenging, entering it as the parent of an aspiring child model is even more harrowing simply because you're dealing with the safety and welfare of a minor.

While much of the info listed below is going to be the same as the previous blog post I did about how to Choose the Right Modeling Agency for You, there are a few differences and additional things I want to point out to parents specifically, which is why I decided to do a post on this subject by itself instead of lumping it together with the other one.

And if I didn't include something on here that is on the other post, it's not because it doesn't apply--it's mostly because I didn't want this post to be longer than it already is, haha.

So let's jump into it!

MAKE SURE THE AGENCY REPRESENTS KIDS

Not all agencies are created equal so it's important to check the website to first determine whether an agency even works with kids.

For the ones that do, make your way to the part of the site that talks about how to submit your child for representation. Some agency sites have a "Submission" or "Join Us" page or may house this content on the Contact page, About Us section or mention guidelines/methods for submission on the FAQ page. Take some time to navigate the site overall and it should be relatively easy to locate this info.

Don't forget to take note of the age ranges represented. If your child is closer to the maximum age listed, still submit. It will be the agency's call whether or not that will make a difference. Never just assume your child doesn't meet the requirement and skip out.

MODELING AGENCY OR TALENT AGENCY?

The great thing about child models is that they're super marketable. Does your child want to act as well as model? Then you should be seeking the services of a Talent Agency and not a Modeling Agency.

Signing with a Talent Agency will kill two birds with one stone because these types of agencies represent both models and actors. That means one contract, one set of commission and one agency to work with instead of two.

Don't get sidetracked by the agency names, btw. Sometimes agencies don't use the word "Talent" in their names but do represent both actors and models. When doing online research for local agencies, check them all out and chances are you'll find that the ones that look like they only work with models may actually be talent agencies with other divisions.

Be thorough and leave no stone unturned when putting together a list of agencies to submit your child to.

LOOK AT THE ROSTER

Many agency websites that represent kids have photo galleries where you can view the current talent on the roster. It doesn't hurt to take a few moments to check out what ages and looks made the cut.

Do you see a lot of kids with a similar "look" as your child or not as many, if at all? These are things to take note of when you submit your child's photos and info and especially if you get invited to an interview with the agency.

Other agencies keep their child talent photos private and only allow them to be viewed by permission or request. This doesn't mean there's something fishy or that the agencies that make child models' photos public are suspicious. It's up to each agency which approach they'll choose.

LOCATION IS KEY

Similar to grown up models, parents of child models will want to consider starting local with agencies instead of jumping the gun and applying to places out-of-state or that are over 2 hours away by car.

Remember: attending castings, go-sees and auditions when being represented are not paid so should your child get signed, the day-to-day routine of getting them to and from will eventually take a toll on your wallet. Staying local keeps these expenses to a minimum.

Even if you believe in your child enough to hop on a plane and go to where the opportunities are, unless the opportunity is an actual paid booking they've received through their agency, any costs related to airfare, lodging and transportation will be your responsibility as well.

Starting off with a local agency will still get your child into the industry and as their career progresses, you can then opt to either move on to a larger agency or consider relocating to a new market if things really seem to be taking off and you feel it is in your child's best interest.

KEEP IT IN PERSPECTIVE WITH PHOTOS

One of the easiest ways to know if an agency is reputable or not is when it comes to their submissions for child models.

I say this because of the many hundreds of agency websites I've reviewed over the years, the ones dealing with kid models always drive home the fact that non professional digital snapshots are preferred for submission because not only does it give them an accurate representation of what your child currently looks like, kids grow up. Fast. And that means they only have a certain window of time where they'll match whatever photos are taken of them.

When you're submitting to agencies directly, stick with non professional digital snapshots unless an agency specifically requests professional images. Sometimes this happens when agencies prefer to only work with established and experienced models. However, I mainly see this with adult models and not so much with kids but that's not to say it doesn't happen. Just a small mental note to keep in mind.

Have you already taken the initiative and gotten professional images for your child to submit? Then by all means, use them. Agencies are more than happy to check them out but it also helps to have digital snapshots as well. For parents who have never gotten professional photos of their child done, stick to the digital snapshots for now and once a contract is on the table, it will be the agency's job to guide you through the process of setting up those professional test shoots.

Now when it comes to interviewing with the agency in person, that's a slightly different conversation when it comes to what kind of photos to use moving forward. Once your child is signed, they WILL need professional headshots and other images to create their portfolio. Which leads to the next important point...

DON'T PAY UPFRONT FEES & NO HARD SALES TACTICS

If a contract isn't being offered to you first, there is no reason why an agency should be asking you to pay upfront fees for services like training, portfolio creation, comp card printing, etc. Additionally, it is not appropriate for an agency to pressure you to sign a contract right then and there without allowing you to take it home to look over for a few days.

Anytime an agency makes it seem like they'll snatch the opportunity away if you don't get on board on the spot, take it as a red flag and politely decline. If they're asking for personal financial information like a credit card, definitely get up, walk away and don't look back.

SUGGESTED PHOTOGRAPHERS VS. USING YOUR OWN

Your child has just gotten signed to an agency and you couldn't be happier. Now it's time to create those marketing materials that will allow the agency to do their job: headshots, comp/zed cards, portfolio, etc.

Many agencies will offer a list of recommended photographers to work with. This is common practice because they've undoubtedly worked with a fair share of photographers and want to know they can trust the quality of the images they receive.

However, the agency should not force you to use their photographers. The ideal situation would be to get this list with the understanding that the use of their recommended photographers is optional and that you are free to select anyone you want, as long as the quality of the work is up to their standards.

If you've got a photographer you want your child to work with that isn't on the agency's list, don't be surprised if the agency wants you to provide a link to that person's portfolio. Again, they want to make sure the quality is what they want so it's only fair that you show them your choice is a good one. If they agree, then you're golden. Should they not agree and tell you to find someone else, don't get discouraged, especially if you've got other options of your own to consider.

At the end of the day, it should be your choice whether or not you go with your own photographer or select one of theirs--not a decision you feel pressured into making if you don't want to or can't afford. A legitimate agency will work with you, not against you.

DON'T IGNORE YOUR GUT

When attending open calls and interviews pay attention to the atmosphere in the agency offices. Are the phones ringing, do the bookers appear to be busy and interacting with clients and models? How are the staff treating you? Do they seem genuinely engaged with you in conversation or are they a bit snooty and act like you're in the way?

Don't ignore your gut. But that doesn't mean you should over analyze and scrutinize every little thing. Make mental notes of how you are treated, if there are any awkward moments or if you felt completely at home the entire time. Think about the conversation you had with the agency staff and how they handled any questions or concerns you raised.

Remember: the modeling agency you end up signing with will be people you'll be interacting with for the duration of your contract so you want to make sure you're picking an agency that you look forward to working with. Even if an agency is the biggest and the best, if you feel uncomfortable or get a bad feeling that something's not right, it's likely a sign that it's not a good fit.

Most importantly: how did they interact with your child? Make sure to ask your son/daughter afterwards how they felt about the experience and take their feelings into consideration when making a decision who to move forward with for representation.

LOOK AT THE CONTRACT

Getting a contract offer is the goal but don't sign on the dotted line if you don't know what you're getting yourself into. Legitimate agencies allow you to take the contract home to review and will give a deadline for when to provide them with a signed copy if you're on board.

If your goal is to sign with more than one agency, don't sign an exclusive contract and vice-versa. Find out how long the contract is going to last. Not sure if you want to commit long-term to an agency? Then you'll likely be more comfortable signing a 1-2 year contract and not a 3-5 year one.

Understand how to get out of the contract if you want to terminate the working relationship early for whatever reason. Knowing where the "Exit Clause" is in the paperwork and what steps you need to follow to exercise that right will be important to identify before signing.

How much commission is the agency charging? 10-15%? 20-25%? These are things you need to know.

ASK QUESTIONS

Don't be afraid to ask questions and get clarification on anything you don't understand. It is the agency's job to educate and inform you about their contracts and methods of operation.

Make a list of questions ahead of time so you don't forget anything during the open call or interview you really want to ask. It's also a good idea to do your homework and check whether or not the agency's website has an FAQ page. Oftentimes that alone will answer most questions you probably already had in mind.

Find out how many models they have in your division and roughly how often they send models out on castings and go-sees. Ask what the agency's process is for setting up test shoots for building your portfolio and creating headshots and comp cards. Learn about any slow seasons during the year you should expect or if there are any ages or "looks" for child models that tend to be more popular than others.

These are all run-of-the-mill questions agencies are accustomed to addressing so there should be no reason why they should give you a hard time, get defensive or otherwise not provide you with answers. The way an agency interacts with you in the beginning is a great way to get an idea of what moving forward with them would look like once you accept the contract offer.

Friday, November 24, 2017

How to Choose the Right Modeling Agency for You

For those hoping to lead a successful modeling career, getting agency representation is the first step into the industry.

It makes sense because agencies are the experts, they have the connections, established working relationships with clients large and small, as well as the know-how to market models and negotiate the best pay rates for gigs.

I have written many blog posts related to the topic of modeling agencies but figured it would be helpful to do an updated post of sorts that provides a basic breakdown of just how to choose an agency that would be a good fit for you.

Of course I can't speak for everyone so consider the information below as a more generalized version of tips and things to keep in mind during your agency search.

LOCATION IS KEY

A general rule of thumb is to submit to agencies that are no farther than a 2 hour's drive from where you live. Being further makes agencies hesitant because they need models to be available on short notice.

Despite how confident a model may feel that she/he can accommodate a last minute casting, the truth is it's often difficult to drop everything and make arrangements to drive far or spend money on a flight to try and make a casting. Agencies know this and would rather not take the risk of trusting a model's word alone. Being close to the agency's location and client base is vital.

The concept of relocating to be closer to agencies is a risky and expensive one that should be made very carefully. Runway/fashion model hopefuls may have housing options offered to them once they are signed to an agency but this is not guaranteed and not all agencies provide housing. So don't assume that will automatically happen for you should you choose to pick up and move.

Commercial/print models don't receive housing from agencies like runway/fashion models do so aspiring print models should definitely be realistic when it comes to which agencies they plan to submit to in terms of location.

When looking at potential agencies to submit to, think long and hard about where you are currently located in relation to the market you want to work in. If you live within commuting distance then you're good to go. Live outside of the 2 hour driving window? Then you'll want to start evaluating how realistic it will be for you to try and make a last minute casting or booking, as well as how you would convince an agency to believe that the distance won't affect their ability to work with you.

MATCH AGENCIES TO YOUR MODELING GOALS

Some aspiring models want to do it full-time and be the next supermodel. Others want to try something new and see if they'll like it. There are also those who simply want to do it for fun part-time as a hobby.

Make sure you know what you want to do with a modeling career and match that to the types of agencies you're considering.

If you want to go all in with modeling then clearly you'll want to seek agencies in large markets. Already located in that market? Then the next step is to review the submission guidelines of the agencies you're interested in and prepare accordingly.

Do you live in a small town that isn't known for modeling? Then you'll want to see about signing with a local agency to gain experience, build a resume and portfolio and then possibly plan to submit to agencies in a larger market that may require you to relocate. Or you may get lucky and find a mother agency locally whose job will be to place you with larger agencies in other markets nationally and/or internationally.

DON'T IGNORE YOUR GUT

When attending open calls and interviews pay attention to the atmosphere in the agency offices. Are the phones ringing, do the bookers appear to be busy and interacting with clients and models? How are the staff treating you? Do they seem genuinely engaged with you in conversation or are they a bit snooty and act like you're in the way?

Don't ignore your gut. But that doesn't mean you should over analyze and scrutinize every little thing. Make mental notes of how you are treated, if there are any awkward moments or if you felt completely at home the entire time. Think about the conversation you had with the agency staff and how they handled any questions or concerns you raised.

Remember: the modeling agency you end up signing with will be people you'll be interacting with for the duration of your contract so you want to make sure you're picking an agency that you look forward to working with. Even if an agency is the biggest and the best, if you feel uncomfortable or get a bad feeling that something's not right, it's likely a sign that it's not a good fit.

DON'T PAY UPFRONT FEES & NO HARD SALES TACTICS

If a contract isn't being offered to you first, there is no reason why an agency should be asking you to pay upfront fees for services like training, portfolio creation, comp card printing, etc. Additionally, it is not appropriate for an agency to pressure you to sign a contract right then and there without allowing you to take it home to look over for a few days.

Anytime an agency makes it seem like they'll snatch the opportunity away if you don't get on board on the spot, take it as a red flag and politely decline. If they're asking for personal financial information like a credit card, definitely get up, walk away and don't look back.

WHAT KIND OF WORK DO THEY BOOK?

Do you dream of walking runway shows in other countries? Do you want to appear in clothing catalogs and billboards? Do you see yourself modeling accessories for online websites or are you more interested in doing tradeshow/promotional modeling and hosting and/or acting? Then you'll want to thoroughly browse through agency websites to see what types of clients the agency has worked with.

Typically in the About section of the website, there will be a description of the types of projects booked, along with names of clients and/or a list of recent gigs the agency has gotten. Tracking down this information, along with learning more about the history/story of the agency, will allow you to see whether or not your goals are in line with that particular agency.

LOOK AT THE CONTRACT

Getting a contract offer is the goal but don't sign on the dotted line if you don't know what you're getting yourself into. Legitimate agencies allow you to take the contract home to review and will give a deadline for when to provide them with a signed copy if you're on board.

If your goal is to sign with more than one agency, don't sign an exclusive contract and vice-versa. Find out how long the contract is going to last. Not sure if you want to commit long-term to an agency? Then you'll likely be more comfortable signing a 1-2 year contract and not a 3-5 year one.

Understand how to get out of the contract if you want to terminate the working relationship early for whatever reason. Knowing where the "Exit Clause" is in the paperwork and what steps you need to follow to exercise that right will be important to identify before signing.

How much commission is the agency charging? 10-15%? 20-25%? These are things you need to know.

SUGGESTED PHOTOGRAPHERS VS. USING YOUR OWN

You've just gotten signed to an agency and you couldn't be happier. Now it's time to create those marketing materials that will allow the agency to do their job: headshots, comp/zed cards, portfolio, etc.

Many agencies will offer a list of recommended photographers to work with. This is common practice because they've undoubtedly worked with a fair share of photographers and want to know they can trust the quality of the images they receive.

However, the agency should not force you to use any of their photographers. The ideal situation would be to get this list with the understanding that the use of their recommended photographers is optional and that you are free to select anyone you want, as long as the quality of the work is up to their standards.

If you've got a photographer you want to work with that isn't on the agency's list, don't be surprised if the agency wants you to provide a link to that person's portfolio. Again, they want to make sure the quality is what they want so it's only fair that you show them your choice is a good one. If they agree, then you're golden. Should they not agree and tell you to find someone else, don't get discouraged, especially if you've got other options of your own to consider.

At the end of the day, it should be your choice whether or not you go with your own photographer or select one of theirs--not a decision you feel pressured into making if you don't want to or can't afford. A legitimate agency will work with you, not against you.

ASK QUESTIONS

Don't be afraid to ask questions and get clarification on anything you don't understand. It is the agency's job to educate and inform you about their contracts and methods of operation.

Make a list of questions ahead of time so you don't forget anything during the open call or interview you really want to ask. It's also a good idea to do your homework and check whether or not the agency's website has an FAQ page. Oftentimes that alone will answer most questions you probably already had in mind.

Find out how many models they have in your division and roughly how often they send models out on castings and go-sees. Ask what the agency's process is for setting up test shoots for building your portfolio and creating headshots and comp cards. Find out if they have a list of photographers they recommend or if you're free to choose our own.

These are all run-of-the-mill questions agencies are accustomed to addressing so there should be no reason why they should give you a hard time, get defensive or otherwise not provide you with answers. The way an agency interacts with you in the beginning is a great way to get an idea of what moving forward with them would look like once you accept the contract offer.