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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Monday, January 12, 2015

Dos & Don'ts of Modeling Snapshots (Female Models)

As you've probably already gained from my blog, the role of snapshots is hugely crucial to new models hoping to get into the industry--namely, those with goals of snagging an agent.

Learning how to put together quality modeling snapshots is a great way to make a strong first impression and improve the chances of getting invited to an agency interview.

Below are some easy dos and don'ts for aspiring female models when it comes to putting their snapshots together (male models, don't worry--I haven't forgotten about you! The next blog post after this one will be filled with snapshot tips just for you). :-)

DO: Follow Any & All Instructions

Agency websites contain all the info new models need to know, including what kinds of snapshots to send. Many even post reference images to copy. If you come across an agency site that has all this laid out, follow the instructions to a tee.

DON'T: Take Random Snapshots

It's great when there's a site with full guidelines but even if you come across an agency with a website where there isn't much info or none at all about what types of snapshots to send, you can follow the bare minimum requirements:

- 1 closeup headshot (smiling and non-smiling)
- 1 full body shot (facing the camera, hands at your sides or one hand on the hip)
- 1 full body profile (body and face should be in profile to the camera)

DO: Have Someone Take Your Photos for You

Even though I've seen a few agency websites state that "selfies" are acceptable, a larger majority of agencies want better quality snapshots and that can be easily accomplished when someone else is taking the photo of you. Not only will the resulting images look better, it'll give you less to worry about so you can focus on taking a good picture.

DON'T: Treat It Like a Photoshoot

Snapshots are non-professional in quality for a reason: it gives modeling agencies the opportunity to see what you REALLY look like. No makeup, no Photoshop retouching, no fancy hairstyles, etc. The purpose of modeling snapshots is to show what you look like at your most natural. This is also why you don't need to pose. At most, one hand on the hip is enough.

DO: Wear the Right Clothes

Piggybacking off the "Don't" above, your snapshots should show your figure and the best way to do that is by wearing what's sometimes called the "model uniform": dark skinny jeans and a solid colored, fitted tanktop or t-shirt. A two-piece, solid colored swimsuit is the second most common clothing option for snapshots. Heels are optional so you don't have to wear them, unless the agencies you're submitting to say they want you to wear heels in the photos.

DON'T: Be an Advertising Billboard

Notice that in the above "Do" I said "solid colored" twice? When it comes to choosing the clothes you'll wear, avoid the following:

- brand names/logos
- graphics
- busy patterns (plaids, tiny polka dots, stripes)

The focus of the snapshots should be you, not the clothing. Also avoid accessories so skip the earrings, necklaces, bracelets, hats, sunglasses, etc.

DO: Put the Focus on You

Your snapshots should only have you in the photo. That means no cropping your friends out of the group photo that you think you look fabulous in. Additionally, take your snapshots against a plain, light colored wall with no clutter around it. That means no hanging paintings or picture frames or piles of clothes/shoes on the floor. Anything that can take the agency's attention away from you in the photo is a major no-no.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Submitting to Modeling Agencies vs. Applying to Jobs

What I love about mentoring and coaching models is that I get to stay on top of what the most pressing concerns and challenges are for them, ultimately, allowing me to be mindful of what blog post topics I want to make sure to address here. This is one of those posts.

I want to point out that when I talk about agencies, I prefer to use the word "submit" and "submission(s)" instead of "applying."

My reason for this is because I don't want newbie models and those just getting into the industry to have the misconception that submitting to agencies is like applying for a job. Are they similar? Yes. Similar enough to be treated/talked about the same way? Not exactly.

The Submission/Application Method

Both agencies that sign models and companies that hire employees have their own respective submission/application methods. However, for models it is different compared to the average Joe/Jane looking for a 9-5 job.

Models don't go to the agency and ask to pick up an application that they can fill out and return at a later date. Nor do they call/email the agency to ask if they are hiring and what openings they have. It doesn't work that way.

Many agencies have submission forms on their websites for models to fill out and send in, along with photos and other requested materials, which is very much like a regular job application. The difference is that in order to obtain this kind of information, you have to visit the website, not call or email the agency directly.

The same could also be said for applying to regular jobs but it is crucial for models to know that phoning, randomly emailing or dropping by an agency office to inquire about representation is a big no-no. Regular 9-5 companies may also discourage this but in general, this practice of inquiring is more accepted in the overall job market--in modeling, it is not.


Unless you're applying to a job that is "entry-level," with no experience required, in the job market chances are you need to have a resume listing your previous experience and other information that shows why you're qualified to be hired.

In the modeling world, previous experience/training is not mandatory in order to be considered for representation by an agency unless they state on their website that they only represent professional level talent. Otherwise, newbies and inexperienced model hopefuls are more than welcome to submit their snapshots, measurements and info.

Again, the key is in the agency websites, which list the submission guidelines and whether or not they'll take on new models or only those with proven experience.

When applying to regular jobs, you're required to have some kind of resume that lists all the nooks and crannies of every job position you've ever held or at least those relevant to the type of position you're applying for. Models don't need resumes to submit to agencies. If you don't have any prior modeling experience, how can you be expected to submit a resume? Agencies work with new/inexperienced models all the time so they know not to expect these kinds of things from newbies.

Employee vs. Independent Contractor

This is the business side of the modeling industry I'm about to jump into here. When a person applies for a regular job and they get hired, they become an employee of that company. When a model gets signed by an agency, they become an independent contractor, not an employee. What does this mean?

The most significant point I want to touch on when it comes to this is the fact that "employees" receive a benefits package of some kind (health, dental, vision, vacation, 401(k), etc.)...models do not. As an "independent contractor," you are operating as your own business/employer, therefore the agency is not responsible for providing you with any kind of benefits. The contract you sign will state this and when you sign it, that means you are agreeing to and understand that you are responsible for providing yourself with those things and not the agency.

The Interview

A regular job interview means dress to impress. From business suits to business casual wear, job candidates already know their wardrobe needs to be top notch to make a great first impression. For models, interviews and open calls don't require nearly half as much pizzazz.

Heck, open calls at agencies encourage models to be as casual as possible. While female models typically wear skinnies, heels and a fitted tank-top or t-shirt, male models can keep things simple as well with jeans, sneakers and a regular t-shirt. So there's no need to invest in formal business threads for the purpose of going to a modeling agency open call.

Even if invited to a formal agency interview, the dress code doesn't change drastically--dressy casual for both female and male models is more than enough to get the job done. Additionally, no fancy briefcase or presentation is necessary. Digital snapshots with your name, stats and contact info written on the back is the bare minimum required. It doesn't get any easier than that.

New models shouldn't make the process of submitting to agencies any harder than they need to. The process itself, when you really think about it, is very simple: the websites tell you exactly what to do. Follow the instructions and see where things go from there.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Dania Denise Guest Blog for Ms Curvaceous UK

I've had the great opportunity to be a guest blogger for the wonderful organization, Ms Curvaceous UK.

This group of dedicated professionals is committed to putting plus size models on the map in all aspects, not just the immediate industry.

They host free workshops and various events that allow all aspiring plus size gals to follow their modeling dreams, while at the same time, educating the world about the importance of not labeling what should be defined as "beautiful" or "perfect" based on dress size alone.

I'll be contributing various guest blog posts to their website, MS CURVACEOUS UK, as well as sharing the highlights of their events and the models who are a part of them on my own blog. After learning about MCUK's mission, I was more than happy to be on board and help spread the word.

I hope you all take a moment to visit MCUK's site and learn about what they're trying to do. It would be super cool if the US had its own version and I believe it will only be a matter of time (sooner rather than later, of course!).

Below is the link to my first guest post on their blog and I'll be sure to share future posts here as well. Happy reading!


PS: Because I believe in transparency, I will say that one of the first things I asked MCUK when they asked me to be a part of their community was if there were any upfront fees. I also explained my stance on the topic and that I wanted to make sure that I continue to practice what I preach. Below is the answer I got from one of the top folks at the organization:

"With regards to your question about charges, we charge a £20 fee for people to attend the audition for admin but once they work with us they do not get charged for any of our services."

I am happy that MCUK was very honest about the charges and coupled with the fact that not only is the fee super affordable (it's in British pounds because, unfortunately, this organization is currently only operational in the United Kingdom), everything else is free of charge. No hidden fees, catches or obligations you get stuck having to commit to.

I've said before that when it comes to getting into modeling, there are certain fees that are not only reasonable but to be expected. It all depends on whether or not you're dealing with legitimate people and resources. So if you're wondering what my take is on this charge and whether it's worth it, I say go for it. The amount is minimal compared to what businesses like modeling schools charge and what you get in return is well worth the small investment.

Remember, you as a model are a business all your own and all businesses require some form of investment. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hi Res & Low Res Images: Why They Matter for Modeling Portfolios

This post will be of the most use to freelance models, as well as newbies learning about the importance of photography and modeling portfolios.

We all know that models can't go very far in their careers without a portfolio...and you can't have a portfolio without photos.

With the popularity of the Internet, a lot of things have changed in the modeling world to accommodate for new technology and its benefits. This includes portfolio images and the way they are used.

If you're an aspiring model, you may or may not already be familiar with terms like "hi res" and "low res" when it comes to photos. Of course, with everyone being so snap happy with Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, chances are these terms aren't completely alien but as it applies to modeling portfolios, it is important to know what "hi res" and "low res" means and how it should be used.

Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first: "Hi res" means "high resolution" and "low res" means "low resolution."

Without getting too technical, below is the easiest way to understand when to use hi res and low res photos when it comes to portfolios.

When to Use Hi Res Images

As the name suggests, high resolution photographs tend to be large in file size and when you view the image itself, there is a large amount of detail. Do you need to print out your modeling photos for your hard copy portfolio? Then you'll need the hi res version, no exceptions.

When printing from a home photo printer, make sure the DPI for each picture is 300. That is the basic setting to ensure that any hi res photo will print clearly. In addition to the DPI needing to be correct, the actual file size also matters. Check your image files and make sure it is at least 1 MB in size or larger. The larger, the better in terms of suitable print quality. Anything smaller--even with a 300 DPI setting--the image won't be as crisp.

When to Use Low Res Images

Low resolution images are the exact opposite of high resolution (obviously). Whereas hi res is all about 300 DPI, clear quality and large files, low res comes with a basic setting of 72 DPI, tends to be on the smaller side and not-so-crisp quality.

The Internet is the home for low res images so if you're a model who has low res versions of the pictures you want to use for a portfolio, then you're going to want to stick with uploading these to an online portfolio, on your website, social media profiles, etc.

The lower the resolution, the more "pixelated" the image will appear, which you don't want. Any photographer worth their salt will know to give you the right kind of low res versions that are not super blurry and can be usable online.

Have you ever clicked on a website and it took forever to load? 9 times out of 10 it is because the images on that page are hi res and the files are so large that it takes a minute for the Internet browser to properly display everything. This is why the use of low res is so vital to functionality on websites. Uploading hi res modeling pictures on a website, photo gallery or social media page could result in longer page loading times and not all potential clients or agencies viewing those sites will want to wait around until the page is fully displayed.

Trying to print a low resolution image for a hard copy portfolio isn't even worth the time--it'll be a waste of ink because the quality will be very poor. Since portfolios are meant to showcase you at your best, the last thing you want is to come across as anything less than polished and professional.

Tips for Models
  • Anytime you do a shoot as a model for portfolio purposes, such as updating your headshots or adding new material, it is important to make sure that the photographer knows to give you both hi res and low res versions of the images you end up producing together.
  • However, if you're savvy with photo editing software and know how to resize photographs, then you'll only need hi resolution pictures from the photographer, that way you can make your own low res versions to use online.
  • Do you only have low res images to work with? If, for whatever reason, you don't have hi res and need them for a hard copy portfolio, contact the photographer(s) and ask if it would be possible to get them. To make the process more effective, you should already know which photos you need in hi res, including the file name to make it easier for the photographer to look up those files.
  • A great way to avoid finding yourself in this situation is to communicate clearly during the first stages of correspondence with a photographer that you're hoping to get hi res pictures from the shoot and then take things from there. Such a request is commonplace and I don't see any reason why this should become an issue for anyone.