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, December 31, 2007

Update on Me (Part 2)

Well, I didn't make it to the finals for the Project Breakout Swimwear Competition. But congrats to all of the models who did make it! Of course I'm bummed, but like I always say, you win some, you lose some.

Just seeing the support I received from everyone was the best reward I could have gotten aside from winning so at least I know that there are plenty of people rooting for me, win or lose. And that's what counts. Boy, I sound like an afterschool special, don't I? LOL.

Ah, 2008 is just around the corner and I am very optimistic about what the coming year will hold for me. I still have a month or two before I find out which of my photos made it into the two Black hair magazines, Salon Magazine and Black Passions Magazine. So those will be tearsheets I can add to my portfolio.

The Tad Gear photoshoot is still in the process of putting out their calendar, which I am in, as well as updating their website to include the shoots that I and the two other models did so there's that as well. I am also very close to finishing the redesign and relaunch of my modeling website. So there will be plenty to keep me busy.

Don't worry, I've got some topics coming up that you'll be able to dive into once 2008 gets here--which is soon so you won't have to wait long!

Have a happy and safe New Year and I can't wait to see what 2008 brings to all of you future and current models!!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Quick Update on Me

Hey, everyone! Sorry for being MIA. My office job is micromanaging, which means no more free Internet time. Grrr....but I promise I do have some posts in the works. About 3-4 I believe.

I want to say THANK YOU to all who voted for me in the Project Breakout Swimwear Competition. I did make it to the semifinals...yay! The next step involved making a video of myself modeling swimwear. The deadline to upload the video to the site is by the end of today and I made sure to get my video up and live last night.

I don't know if it's viewable by the public or just the judges but you can check my modeling profile for the contest to find out. The final 12 contestants who get to go to South Beach to shoot the calendar will be chosen and announced on Monday, December 31st. Cross your fingers!

Other than that, I'm just waiting on a few CDs of images from recent shoots. I hate waiting! haha.

So don't worry, I haven't gone anywhere. I'm still here for all your model needs! :)

Stay tuned...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Modeling and Weight

One of the first things I hear potential models ask is what the weight requirement for modeling is. Sometimes that is the main issue they worry about when it comes to pursuing modeling. Let me tell you right now that weight should NOT be one of those concerns.

Obviously, the height requirement reigns supreme when measuring up to the modeling standards sought out by agencies. If you meet the height requirements--whether it's for fashion and runway or commercial/print--that is the first step towards starting on the path to modeling.

How much you weigh shouldn't be your biggest fear. It is rare that anyone can look at someone and say, "Oh, my gosh, he/she looks like they are 5 pounds over our weight requirement!" It just isn't realistic. If you look at many modeling agency websites, they clearly list the age and height requirements--rarely, if at all do they list any weight restrictions.

The general rule of thumb when it comes to weight is that for models who are 5'8" and taller, the weight range should be somewhere between 105-125 lbs. Can you be a few pounds under or over? Sure, you can! Weight is one of the last things an agency considers.

However, the exception to this rule is in fashion/runway modeling. Because that part of the modeling industry is so size specific in regards to clothes and sample sizes, then yes weight will play a part. It is no secret that agencies have told their models to slim down. However, there are so many other things to pay attention to when you are starting out. Plus-size models also have to meet specific weight requirements.

Commercial/print is less likely to be stringent on the weight factor. So depending on which area you are looking to pursue, approach the weight factor accordingly. Even if you are a fashion/runway model hopeful, stressing about your weight is not going to give you the clear mind you need to get an agent.

Instead, your stress and dieting and worry will more than likely backfire on you--even if you were to get signed, you'll be so self-conscious about your body that you'll constantly be pushing yourself and your health/weight to the limit in order to please your agent. It should never come down to that, no matter what anyone tells you. I'm sure you've all heard enough horror stories of models dropping dead just to make it and honestly, as much as I love this industry and what I do, the day it puts my health in jeopardy is the day that I will walk away from it all.

Preserve your peace of mind and begin your search for an agent when you are completely comfortable with whatever number shows up when you step on the scale.

If your weight bothers you that much or if you are on the heavier side, just know that an agency may point that out. That is what critiques are for. However, it isn't worth your sanity to stress about your weight before even meeting with any agencies. Don't get yourself worked up before you even know what you should be working on.

Instead of worrying about weight requirements and dieting to slim down, seek out casting calls or send in pictures as you are and see what feedback you get. In the meantime, take care of your body and if all else fails, work with what you have. You'd be surprised how much weight doesn't become an issue when the person carries it well and does not let it affect them.

Don't compare yourself to other models or try to strive for their weight or size. Chances are it's going to be physically impossible to have the same body as someone else. Focus on whether you have the skills it takes to be a great model, not how many pounds you need to shed in order to impress an agency. That may be easier said than done, but the sooner you are able to focus on more important things and not solely your weight, the better your spirits will be, as well as your chances for successfully snagging an agent.

As long as you fall somewhere within the weight range I listed above, you should be fine. Do not obsess over this, please. Many people look nothing like what they weigh. Chances are your "extra" pounds don't even show anywhere on your body. We are our own worst critics after all so give yourself a break. Do not let a number dictate what you should change about yourself just to make it in this industry. More than likely, it's all in your head.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Show Some Support for Amber!

It has been a dream to talk to the many young ladies who have emailed me in regards to my blog. I enjoy getting to know everyone and seeing where their modeling careers have taken them, as well as knowing that in some small way, I have helped empower them to follow their dreams.

Amber is one of those such girls. She is well on her way to getting the exposure she needs to make it in the industry. She has recently made it to the final rounds of the Seventeen Reader Model Contest! Out of thousands of model hopefuls, Amber is one of 17 lucky gals competing to win a chance at a $10,000 modeling contract with FORD Models (my agency, woot!) as well as an editorial shoot/spread in Seventeen Magazine! How cool is that?!

To view Amber's personal profile

Go HERE to vote for Amber! Be sure to select her name from the drop down list of contestants.

Amber is not just naturally beautiful, she's a smart girl with her head on straight. She believes in herself and carries herself with a positive energy, plus she is very into school and getting her education together. It is because of how cool Amber is that I am hoping that everyone takes a chance to vote for her. :)

I'm always ready and willing to help anyone in any way I can and I am honored to be able to promote Amber on my blog. Those who vote are also entered into a drawing to win a Francesca dress from Single. You can vote once a day so vote often!

Good luck Amber!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My Latest Shoot for Tad Gear

I had a shoot last night that was definitely out of the norm for me, but it was very fun. I was one of three models helping promote a company called Tad Gear. We weren't told much about the company itself except that they deal with military gear and supplies. The company wanted to begin promoting more and needed models to give them that special edge.

The shoot took place in San Francisco around 7:30pm. The third model never showed so the photographer had to scramble for a replacement and luckily he was able to find someone last minute. After hair and makeup, we got into our military gear. I got to showcase a Vietnam War-era uniform.

Each of us had real weapons (not loaded of course!). The American flag was hung in the background and we stood on soapboxes to give us the height. The shoot went really fast. We kept it pretty simple: standing side to side next to each other and looking off in the distance and saluting.

After that set of shoots, we each got to do another look. This next set was for the company's calendar, which is going to be sold in stores nationwide, as well as worldwide, depending on how much distribution Tad Gear can get. Instead of sporting military garb, we switched it up for a sexier shoot...this is for a calendar, after all! For me, the photographer and art director decided to dress me up as a sexy snowboarder. Sweet! They supplied the parka, boots, sports bra top and snowboard...I supplied the hot pants.

They attached the snowboard to my boots and had a wind fan blowing on me--it felt so good, considering how hot it can get in front of the bright lights. I have never snowboarded a day in my life but lucky that experience wasn't needed. The art director gave me simple directions and we did a range of looks, from sexy/sporty, to even having me growl like a bear to get a bunch of different facial expressions. Talk about being fierce! LOL.

It was funny because prior to shooting the snowboard outfit, the photographer and art director were explaining that the look for this shoot wasn't going to involve a serious expression like the military uniform shot. As soon as they said they needed a sexy look, I gave them one as an example and they went wild! It's a good thing that I'm a Victoria's Secret freak--the catalogues are a great reference for sexy expressions! :)

In order to really get me in the mood, I pretended I was on the set of the Victoria's Secret holiday catalogue shoot. That definitely helped me get into the sexy mode. It was a bit of a challenge since I did have to worry about not only looking sexy, but posing my body in a way that was flattering, yet looked like the actions of someone snowboarding. We played around with a couple of different things and it was definitely a workout for me!

Just when I thought I was getting the hang of being attached to the snowboard, my clumsy behind fell back and onto the backdrop! I was so embarassed but I wasn't hurt and I didn't completely destroy the set. I couldn't believe I fell down! One minute I was listening to the photographer's directions about posing and the next thing I knew, I started to tilt back and just when I thought I could catch my balance--down I went!

The crew was so worried that I was hurt, but I was laughing my head off! Hey, if you can't laugh at yourself, what can you do? It took a few minutes to get me upright since the board weighed me down a lot but I got right back up and went right back to being sexy!

When I was done, I was told I could keep the top so I removed the parka and boots and gave them back to the art director. As I turned around to get my stuff, the art director shouted out that he loved the curves of my back and wanted to do another quick shoot. Who knew that walking away and showcasing my backside could inspire another outfit! LOL.

They had me get back on top of the soapbox, but without the snowboard and had me turn my back to the camera. They gave me a military hunting knife, which I held in my right hand and put behind my back, while I looked over my shoulder at the camera. I know they are definitely going to come out hot!

Thankfully, the crew and photographer I worked with were very professional about paying me as well as promising to give me copies of all the images. In addition to all that, when the Tad Gear calendar comes out, I'll get free copies to keep. Finally, I get some tearsheets! Yes! The photographer also told me that if I ever needed the large, high resolution images for my book, all I had to do was ask and they would send it right over.

After the many times I've worked with photographers, only to never see any of my images or receive them for my portfolio, this offer was a model's dream come true! I will be receiving the images within three weeks and it will take some time for the calendars to be put together but I can't wait to see how everything turns out. The photos will be used in Tad Gear's brochures, website, calendar and other print material. I'm very excited!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

When You Get No Support for Modeling

It isn't always every parents' dream to hear their child say, "Mom, Dad, I want to be a model!" Not having that support system from your family can be tough but that doesn't mean that you can't continue to pursue a career in the modeling industry.

Of course, that's easier said than done and for those of you who are underage and still live in your parents' house and under their rules, my heart goes out to you. In that particular situation, I always advise that if you are really set on being a model, do as much research as you can and have a game plan.

Then tell your parents after you have all the information and know without a doubt that you can answer any and all questions they may have. Parents tend to get cautious about something if you can't give them a legit answer about it. Don't just jump in and announce your plans to walk the runways in Europe and other major countries without thinking it through first. Just by you knowing your stuff, you may impress your parents enough to make them at least acknowledge that this is something you are serious about.

The key is to convince them that:

1) this is not a phase you're going through that you'll just dump a few weeks or months later

2) it will not interfere with your schooling

3) that you don't intend on modeling becoming your sole career (if you do, you have a lot more obstacles to tackle with your parents that I can't help you with!).

The main thing to emphasize to your parents or other family members is that this is something you are passionate about and want to give a shot...but that you need them to be supportive of whether you make it or not. Just having confirmation of that type of support can make all the difference to how you approach modeling.

 If you are currently a student in high school or college, you'll have to test the waters first and convince your parents that your choices aren't going to interfere with everything else. Of course if you end up being the next "it" model and are jetting around the world and making more than your parents combined, I don't think they would really complain. LOL.

If you have parents that are concerned about your self-esteem issues or falling into the eating disorder category, they are well within their rights to have such concerns because modeling as a business can be nasty and what parent wants to know that they willingly let their child take on something that may emotionally scar them if it doesn't work out?

This is why it is so important to know the ins and outs of the business and have a plan. Include your parents as much as possible in your decisions with modeling and try to always find a compromise, as opposed to yelling at them when they won't let you do something your way.

Find a happy medium and encourage them to talk to the agencies and ask all the questions they need until they are satisfied. Don't hide your parents from the agencies...especially if you are under 18...it is vital that they be a part of this process every step of the way with you.

For those of you with parents who are absolutely furious that you want to be a model and do or say things to discourage you, my heart REALLY goes out to you. But don't give up. If you know you stand a good chance at finding an agency that will take your modeling career in the right direction, go for it! But at the same time, don't burn bridges with your parents.

Modeling is a fleeting career that isn't promised...family (most times anyway) is forever. If you're bashing heads with your parents on the subject of modeling, step back and evaluate everything from all sides. In the end if they are just being difficult for no reason, then do what you can to pursue your dream without stepping on their toes. Sometimes you will have to push through without their support...as long as you handle your business and continue to do well in your modeling career, that is all that matters.

My mom is very supportive of my modeling career but I can't say the same about my dad. He is very wishy-washy about the subject. Mostly he doesn't take it seriously that I model and even with my resume and "proof" of my career, to him it isn't something he feels I should spend my time on.

When I go to go-sees or auditions, he always tells me that it's a waste of my time and gas and that for now all I know is that the gig will pay well IF I get it. Yes, it hurts to know that he cannot find it in his heart to support my modeling but that has never stopped me from going out and achieving my goals.

"One monkey don't stop no show," as the old saying goes.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

It's All About Communication

I can't stress enough how important it is as a model to have great communication skills. Keeping the communication barrier open and consistent is the way to ensure a good shoot every single time.

However, this is easier said than done because one thing the modeling industry is known for is miscommunication. It is very easy for a potential photoshoot to go awry simply because one or both parties are not on the same page, communication-wise.

Both photographers and models are guilty of this so it would be in your best interest to develop good communication skills and stick to them. Sometimes this may require you to be a little harsh or cold but modeling is a business and as is one of my favorite mottos, "I am a businesswoman before I am a model." No one likes to have their time wasted. Freelance models will find a lot of great information from this post.

When freelancing your time is money. Whether the shoot is paid or a TFP/TFCD, you still spend money of some kind: gas, buying clothes or accessories, etc. Same for the photographer. My biggest pet peeve is working with a photographer who does not communicate consistently with me. If you set a date for a shoot with a photographer and do not talk or email at all until the day of the shoot, you are taking a great risk.

I can't tell you the times I've done all the calling and emailing, only to have a photographer never contact me again...even when we've set a date for the photoshoot. I've had one photographer set up the date, time and outfits and I called and emailed the week prior, up until the night before--with no answer. Needless to say, I spent that day doing nothing. Had that photographer contacted me to keep me in the loop, I could have picked up a different gig or done something else worth my time.

Here are some helpful tips for ensuring that your next shoot goes smoothly and actually takes place!

1) Once initial contact is made (either by you contacting a photog to shoot or vice-versa) establish the following ASAP:

- Time, date, location of shoot
- Themes, outfits, number of outfits
- Meeting place
- How long the shoot will take
- Transportation arrangements (are you picking the photog up? are they going to meet you somewhere? will you be driving together to locations?)
- What you will be getting from the shoot (money? prints? high resolution cd of
- When will you be getting these things (in the mail? the day of?)

2) Once the specifics are agreed to, try to meet up in person if possible. Meeting before the actual shoot will give the both of you a chance to feel each other out, see if you vibe with the photog in a good way, etc. This also gives you a chance to talk about the themes for the shoot, go over outfits, and discuss business policies. If the first meeting doesn't go over well, politely decline the offer to shoot together and move on.

3) If you still want to shoot with the photog, set up a day and time when you will call or email (calling is best) to confirm that the shoot is still going to happen on the date and time you've both agreed to. Things always come up last minute so you can't assume that all will go according to plan, even if you've met with the photog ahead of time before. Try to get a hold of the photog by phone at least a day or so before your shoot date--the night before at the latest.

By following these steps, you can avoid flakes and reduce the chances of missing out on other bookings. When it comes to photoshoots, I always stick to a strict schedule with plenty of communication. I tell photogs who are interested in working with me right away that I am very strict about returning phone calls and emails on time...as well as confirming the date and time we are set to shoot. I let them know that if I do not hear back from them by email or phone the day before the shoot, I will not be there.

You have to know where to draw the line in this business. No one has the time and money to go out to shoots and not have anyone show up, or to wait by the phone or computer for a call or email that will never come. Emergencies happen but in everyday life, those rarely occur.

As a model, if you cannot find the time to return an email or a phone call to a photog or client who is interested in shooting with you, or if you are not good about keeping up good correspondence, then you should find another profession. In my book, there is no excuse for any model to not contact the photog to let them know when something has come up or be MIA from a shoot without any notification. There are so many flakes and people with bad communication skills in this industry, why contribute to a growing problem? Be on time, be firm and keep the lines of communication open.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Having More Than One Agent

Did you know that a model can have more than once agency? It's true but there is a way to go about it without getting yourself in trouble. When you have more than one agency representing you as a model, the chances for getting booked, paid work increases. The only way a model can get more than one modeling agency is if they are only dealing with non-exclusive contracts.

To refresh your memory, a non-exclusive contract means that the model is allowed to sign with another agency, as well as get their own freelance work. The catch is to read the fine print. Even though an agency with a non-exclusive contract allows you multiple representation, it also lists where you can or cannot obtain representation.

For example, if you have an agent out of San Francisco with a non-exclusive contract, you are free to sign with another agency in Los Angeles, New York, or Miami (or all three in addition to San Francisco!), who also operate with non-exclusive contracts.

However, you may not be allowed to sign with another modeling agency located within 45-50 miles of San Francisco so if there is another agency interested in you that is in San Jose (which is less than 50 miles from San Francisco), you more than likely will not be able to have one agency in both cities since they are so close to each other. To have two agencies located so close together is bad for the model because they will more than likely book you for your same gigs...who would get the commission? There lies the problem.

If you go behind your agency's back and sign with another agent within the same competing market and your original agency finds out, you could be dropped from your contract. So play it smart and make sure to read the fine print of your non-exclusive contract to find out just where you can obtain additional representation.

For models signed to exclusive modeling contracts, the opportunity to have more than one agent is eliminated. Many exclusive contracts maintain control over their models within the United States, as well as other countries. This means you cannot sign with any other agency no matter if the contract would be non-exclusive or exclusive or if they are located 100 miles away from your original agent.

For example, FORD's exclusive contract states that their models cannot sign with any competing agency in the entire United States, Canada, France, and Brazil. That basically means you belong to the agency completely until your contract is up. If you decide you don't want to be under an exclusive contract anymore and would rather have multiple representation dealing with non-exclusive contracts, simply give your agent written notification and read your contract to see how the process works.

As one photographer once told me, "Don't let them [the agency] bully you. They are there to make you money. Just because they are exclusive doesn't mean they will guarantee you more work than a non-exclusive contract. If they don't get you work, you aren't getting paid and you are within your right to break your contract and move on."

While having more than one agency can be great, it can also be a lot of work. Be prepared to fly or drive often since you'll more than likely have to go to wherever the audition is. So if you have an agent in San Francisco and Los Angeles, expect to rack up some frequent flier miles. If you have the time and the money, traveling for these opportunities can definitely work in your favor.

But if your funds are limited and you're in school or have a full-time job, then sticking to one agency that is local to you may be your best bet. It's your choice just make sure that whatever decision you make, you'll be able to follow through.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Modeling Isn't Always Fair

I think just about every model has a love/hate relationship with the modeling industry. Probably the most frustrating thing about this business is that there are so many dos and don'ts that you're supposed to follow and yet there are still those exceptions to the rule that make things very unfair sometimes.

For example, yesterday I had a casting in San Francisco at 11:00am for a hair show. I showed up early and waited patiently with the other 30 models who showed up. The people holding the casting were presenting a new line of hair care products and were looking for models to showcase the new brand.

Luckily, they weren't planning on cutting or coloring. The lady in charge thanked us for showing up early and on time and explained that they would be pulling girls up in small groups to evaulate their hair and that the rest of us could relax and wait until we were called.

The first group was about 7-9 girls with really long hair down their back. One of the stylists explained that some of the styles they needed required a lot of length. While they brushed, braided and played with the girls' hair, the rest of us talked amongst ourselves.

Three girls walked into the casting 10-15 minutes late but were still accepted into the audition and were added to the group of girls being considered. While I and a number of the other girls thought it was crazy for anyone late to be allowed to participate, we kept our mouths shut. It is a business after all and you can't let your emotions get the best of you.

After about 15 minutes, the lady in charge came to the rest of us and said, "Thank you for your time ladies, the casting is over and we have found our models." Needless to say, there was a moment of shock, confusion and utter silence. Model to model glanced at each other as if to say, "Are they for real?" But as is custom, we gathered our things, smiled politely and thanked them (of course, all of us were cussing up a storm on the way out of the building!). The three girls who came late got the gig and two of the three girls had worked for the stlylists before. Goes to show that it is definitely who you know.

Of course I was very upset, as were the rest of the girls who wasted their time sitting in a room with each other while the stylists made their pick without giving any of us a chance. Honestly, if they only wanted girls with super long hair, that is what they should have told our agencies. To reward someone who is late to a casting is beyond me and I didn't think it was fair that they openly announced which models had worked with them before (who ended up making the cut).

In my opinion, it was a waste of time and effort but that's what happens. Life isn't fair and neither is modeling. It just goes to show that no matter how well you follow the rules, there will always be instances where those who break them get the gig...but that doesn't mean that you should do the same. It may not pay off right away, but stick to your good habits and eventually you will be rewarded. For every missed opportunity, there will always be something bigger and better.

Models are Actors, Too

Modeling is very similar to acting at times. As a model it is common for you to step outside of yourself and take on a different persona to match whatever theme is involved with your gig. Models need to have the ability to tap into their emotions and project the right attitude and presence to sell the product, idea, concept, clothes, etc.

For example, a model may have to pose with another model of the opposite sex and have to convey the image of two long lost lovers--even though he/she may have just met their modeling partner a few minutes ago on-set.

But once the two step out in front of that camera, the goal is to convince anyone who sees the photo that these models are madly in love. Or you may be asked to do a group shot with other models that you may never met in your life but you'll all have to act as if you've been friends forever. The possibilities for these scenarios is endless and if you can manage to fine tune your acting abilities to suit each concept, the better off you'll be.

That's not to say you've got to go to acting classes and aim for an Oscar, however. But you do have to be in touch with your emotions. The more expressions a model can master, the better. Not all of your shoots will involve looking happy and smiling or being sexy and not smiling. A good model has range and depth to their modeling. The worst thing you can do is get comfortable with just a few expressions.

Always strive to push yourself further. Get in front of a mirror and practice, practice, practice! From the sexy pout or a genuine smile or laugh, to crying and despair, these are looks that a model should be able to do in front of the camera without thinking. These emotions should be second nature to any model, male or female.

If you want to really hone your acting skills when it comes to modeling you can try the following exercise to help you get into the swing of things:

What you'll need: a mirror, a friend, a stopwatch.

-- Stand in front of the mirror and have your friend stand off to the side so that you only see yourself and don't have any distractions in the background.

-- Your friend should be holding the stopwatch.

-- When your friend starts the stopwatch, they will tell you "Pose!" and go into your first facial expression--it can be anything but only pose your face, keep your body relaxed.

-- After 30 seconds, your friend will say "Pose!" again and then immediately switch to a different facial expression. While posing, you should have your next facial expression ready in your mind. If you hesitate and don't change your pose in time, your friend will stop the stopwatch and you'll have to start over.

-- Repeat this process for 2-3 minutes and see how many different types of facial expressions you can do. To make things harder, see how many different expressions you can do every 10-15 seconds.

Your friend should only speak to you to say "Pose!" each time 30 seconds passes. They should not talk to you or tell you how much longer you have till your next change in expression. This will keep you constantly guessing and train you to think quickly. To make it more challenging, instead of saying "Pose!," your friend can say different types of expressions or emotions that you have to do, for example "Sadness," "Anger," "Confusion," etc.

The key here is to keep your cool and stay in the moment. If you laugh or get distracted, start over. With enough practice, you should be able to throw any expression on your face without a second thought. This exercise helps you think fast and allows you to be creative without overanalyzing everything, which many models have a habit of doing.

To take things up a notch, you can do this same exercise and include posing your body. It's best to do 2-3 minutes of various facial expression exercises and then 4-5 minutes of face and body poses. For the face and body poses, instead of changing every 30 seconds, you can change your pose every minute or however you choose to break things up.

While you can do this exercise by yourself, it works much better with a friend that way you won't have any clue as to when your pose will change. And you shouldn't be shy about doing this type of thing in front of someone else, after all you are a model and models are not shy!

The more you are able to do with your face and your body language, the more useful you will be to a photographer, client, etc. People often refer to me as a chameleon and I think that is a great compliment. You have to be able to change and morph into whatever person the client needs. Don't limit yourself by sticking to what you know and what makes you feel comfortable.

Modeling is about taking risks and it's always a gamble...that's part of the territory. If you're always playing it safe when it comes to your images, your poses and your expressions, chances are you won't get to move much further past the work you're already doing. A model's career should strive to continuously grow, change and move towards bigger and better opportunities. Whenever you take on a shoot, be sure to evaulate the idea, theme or concept and really throw yourself into it, whether the shoot is simple or complex.

Stretch your imagination and see how far you can go by experimenting with different poses and expressions. You may surprise yourself.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Basic Must Haves for Any Photoshoot

There may be a period of time in your modeling career when you are just swamped with shoots, whether they're TFP/TFCd or paid bookings. Take it from me, the last thing you want to worry about is forgetting something or not being completely prepared when you step on-set.

When things get hectic with my shooting schedules, I've found that keeping certain things together and organized helps eliminate any snafus. For example, I have a greally great Victoria's Secret bag that has large straps and can hold a lot of stuff. That is my main bag that I use to carry my clothes, shoes and makeup.

Every model should have such a bag that is easy to carry around. Even if you have smaller bags that you carry, they can easily be put into your big bag so that you don't have to worry about misplacing or forgetting your smaller items.

Below is a list of things that I feel every model should have in her special bag for any and all shoots:


Even if you're not shooting for a footwear ad, having the right shoes are a must, especially when it comes to those full body shots. Some clients may have a precise color or style of shoe they want you to wear, while others may not care at all.

To be on the safe side, carry a small bag of your shoes with you to every shoot, even if you have been told to wear a specific pair ahead of time. You don't need to bring your entire shoe closet, however, but having the following will help greatly:

1) Black high heels (open or closed toe)
2) White heels (open or closed toe)
3) Sandals/flip flops
4) White nice looking sneakers

When hiking through outdoor surroundings for shoots on location you may want to bring some old sneakers to protect your feet and keep your nice shoes clean. In terms of heels, strappy ones are usually the easiest to match with any style of clothing so avoid huge platform heels or other funky styles.


You may not always have the luxury of a changing station or changing room. Shoots on location often mean just that--being outdoors where there may not even be a port-a-potty to duck into. Buy a good, comfortable and warm bathrobe and bring it with you to your shoots as well. Bathrobes come in handy when you have to change in front of others, behind a building, in a car, you name it.

Trust me, I am a pro when it comes to changing in weird places...sometimes you just have to work with what you have so having a bathrobe around you is a great help. Not to mention on cold days when you're freezing, you'll have something warm and snug to lounge around in between shots.

Extra undies & bras

Sometimes wardrobe can change and that may mean your underwear needs to also. You should always keep the following types of underwear in your bag for photoshoots:

1) Thongs (nude, white, black)
2) Bikini cut (nude, white, black)
3) Boyshorts (nude, white, black)

In terms of bras, bring the following:

1) Strapless in nude or black or bring both
2) Regular bra in black or nude or bring both


You won't always know what environment or surroundings you'll have to be in prior to arriving for your shoot, so it's helpful to have a large towel where you can set your stuff down without it getting dirty, or you may need a towel to dry/clean yourself off if you're shooting on the beach, for example.

Extra outfits

Photographers and clients always get inspired to want to do more sometimes and having an extra top, bottom or outfit always comes in handy. Depending on what type of looks you're shooting you may want to bring a few extra clothes just in case the wardrobe stylist or photographer isn't feeling your other clothes. It's always good to have more than less.

Even if you've agreed on outfits ahead of time, things can change and that particular outfit may not work. Don't go overboard, though...you don't want to bring a huge load of stuff to carry around. I usually bring three bottoms (jeans or other types of pants) and three or four different tops...of course make sure that all of the tops and bottoms can be mixed and matched. Think about the look you're going for and then pack accordingly.


You'd be surprised how dry your skin can get during a shoot. The last thing you want is a photo of your ashy skin, no matter your color!


Sometimes just the right pair of earrings or a bracelet can set off a shot perfectly. Bring a small jewelry box of your favorite earrings, bracelets and necklaces to your shoots and include all styles from classy and sophisticated to trendy and funky.

Hair & Makeup Items

Whether there is going to be a hair stylist and makeup artist or not, it's best to bring your own things that you are familiar with and that you know will make you look good in case you're on your own. Some key items to bring include:

1) A good hairbrush with hard bristles (for smoothing flyaways or other hair issues)
2) A soft brush
3) Comb
4) Black hair tie and/or butterfly clip
5) Hair spray (if needed)

You may need to bring all of these things or only one or two, depending on your hair type. You know what's best! Bring your makeup essentials and keep these items together in one place. Be sure to bring makeup colors that will go with anything.

Be sure to pack for a shoot the night before so that everything is accounted for ahead of time. The main things you should always keep in your main bag are your shoes, accessories, lotion, makeup, bathrobe and towel. The only thing that should change are your clothes/outfits for each shoot. Keep your main bag in an easy to spot place and I guarantee you'll save yourself a ton of stress for when your modeling career picks up and won't slow down!

Lots of Shoots This Weekend!

Just thought I'd update you all on what's going on with me and the modeling biz this weekend:

Saturday, October 20:

Photo shoot @ 10am w/Rich of Makodef.com, an online hip-hop magazine. We'll be shooting swimwear and dresses at Laney College in Oakland as well as the Oakland waterfront. Should be fun, AND I'll be getting all of my images, score! Soon as the images are up on the official website, I'll be sure to post about it so you guys can check it out!

Sunday, October 21:

I'm teaming up again with Anya Grzeskowiak Photography, and makeup artist & stylist, Michelle Yueh, for a photo shoot @ 12 noon in Oakland. This will be the first step towards the redesign of my Dania Denise website. The images I get from this shoot will be used as downloadable wallpapers for your computer...pretty sweet, huh? :-)

The redesigns to my website will include Flash intro and features, an online store--where the wallpapers will be sold--and all new, updated photos. Not sure when the relaunch will be since I want to do everything hands-on, but you can bet that I'll make the announcement soon as everything is ready to go.

Monday, October 22:

Photo shoot for two Black hair magazines, taking place in Fairfield @ 10am. I'll have my hair in fancy fish braids...very Afrocentric. To see an example of what the hairstyles look like, check out the website of the lady who will be braiding my hair (her work is being featured in the magazines): Jakki Braid Art. I'll be sporting a business suit, since my hairstyle is called "The Corporate Special."

Mostly headshots and maybe a body shot or two. It'll be a few weeks before we find out if the images from the shoot will make it into either or both of the magazines. Cross your fingers! :) Right after the shoot, I have to drive down to San Jose and head to work so it'll be a busy day going from one job to the other!

More updates and pictures to come!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Face Reality

It really bothers me when I see young ladies fall over themselves when looking at a picture of a model in a magazine sometimes because the most common thing they end up saying is something along the lines of, "I wish I had (hair/skin/makeup/body/eyebrows) like her! How can I look like that?" *SIGH* Ladies, when it comes to modeling, nothing is as it seems. That's the whole point.

If you think any of the models look the way they do in real life compared to their professional photos, you live in a different reality. That's not to say they emerge from their photo shoots with acne, beer bellies and split ends...but they are not flawless and weren't born that way, either...hard to believe, I know.

Models are paid to take care of themselves. When you get millions of dollars per gig, of course you can afford to have all the good things in life. You don't have to worry about staying up late working on a project or working overtime at your job. Looking good/perfect is a model's job.

The reality that appears in the magazines and other publications is a reality created by high rollers in the advertising business. Models are a commodity. Before you feel inadequate about yourself, realize that it isn't realistic to compare yourself to any of the beauties that grace the pages of your favorite publication. For example, take a look at my photo associated with this post. My eyebrows look sexy, don't they? Do you think for a minute that my eyebrows look that perfect in real life? Hah, I wish!

Even when I come out of the salon with freshly threaded eyebrows (if you don't know what threading is, Google it, it's amazing!), they still don't look anywhere near the way they appear in my photos. I sit in the makeup chair and have a makeup artist trim, comb, pluck, color in and shape my eyebrows before a shoot.

A model's complexion looks flawless in everything from the pages of a magazine to the runway. But this is just more imagery. The finished look isn't a natural occurrence...it's a created and very well put together one. There's a thing called lighting, makeup and angles that create the polished look.

Do you think those models sport that much makeup when they're out and about running errands? Of course not! All that comes off as soon as the job is done. For me, that's the case anyway and shame on any supermodel who wears that much makeup on a daily basis. haha.

Never think that you should look like a model does in a magazine. It's just not healthy or realistic. Before you gush about how gorgeous and perfect the next face of the Dolce & Gabbana campaign is, remember that many hours and many high-paid professionals took the time to make her look like that.

They hire models for their natural beauty and then pile on the makeup because they know that is easier to play off of then giving an average looking person a complete makeover. There's nothing wrong with appreciating the beauty of a model in a publication but when you go past that and start making comparisons, that's where it gets disturbing.

You always start with natural beauty and go from there. If you possess the right attitude, self confidence and take care of yourself, you'll have enough natural beauty to give any supermodel a run for her money.

Taking a Break From Freelancing

As a working model with agency representation, I've always freelanced on the side. But that was when I had a non-exclusive contract. Since signing with FORD Models in San Francisco last Fall, I've been dealing with an exclusive contract. I wanted to make sure I wasn't breaking any rules so I went through the pages of my contract and couldn't find anything that mentioned being allowed to find and book my own work.

 I'm sure it was in there somewhere but with over 6 pages of legal jargon, I'm sure I missed it. So I emailed my booking agent at FORD asking her for clarification. She was happy I asked because apparently many models aren't aware of the seriousness of the subject. She informed me that under an exclusive contract, all bookings must go through the agency. What does that mean for me? No more freelancing.

Surprisingly, I'm okay with that. I want to do right by my agency. While I've been able to get more work myself than through them, my agent made a great point. She stated that the majority (not all but most) of the clients who contact models directly instead of their agencies, do so in the hopes of avoiding agency fees, underpaying the models and retaining exclusive rights to the images for usage.

And she does have a very valid point...one that I've known for quite some time. For a while I was just eager to get work and figured if my agent wasn't getting me bookings regularly, then I'd get them myself. And some have been great experiences for me and others weren't.

After some thought, I've decided to stop freelancing my services for now. Sure, there are some great gigs that I come across once in a while but it would look much better on my resume if those clients showed their interest in me by contacting my agent instead of me. That would be much more impressive to FORD and show them that I am in demand.

Plus, if clients really are legit about the projects they are working on, they won't hesitate to pay a model her/his weight in gold. Many of the freelance gigs I've gotten dealt with start-up companies or individuals who had very limited budgets. As much as I like to gain the experience, I'd also like to gain the big paychecks I know I'm worth being paid.

I can only do TFP/TFCDs for so long to build up more images...and on top of that, a number of the photographers I've worked with have not held up their part of the deal in providing me with my images. Or some only offer to give me 3-5 prints/images from the entire shoot. They are well within their rights to do this, but I hate it. And I'm tired of being given empty promises.

All of these issues are commonplace when it comes to freelancing. Plus, because I do so many other things outside of modeling, scheduling a bunch of free shoots throughout the month wears on my gas, finances and time. Not to say that I won't make an exception for the occasional photographer--because I will--but I will no longer be accepting modeling gigs for free or for chump change.

On all of the online sites where I advertise my modeling services, I have changed my policy to state that all booking inquiries must be made through my agent. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. And if they try to contact me regarding a booking, I'll automatically redirect them to my agent. My only exception to this whole thing is if the client is offering tearsheets, not just regular prints because there is a difference, remember? :)

I'm also in the middle of redoing my modeling website to reflect my more current work and to make it more appealing. I'm looking at some great Flash features that will add that special something so be on the lookout for that. It's gonna be great!

It's only fair to be paid what you're worth and even if taking a break from freelancing means not working as much while waiting on my agent to submit me for gigs, at least that will free up my schedule to focus on my other projects. And when a job does come in, it'll not only be worth my time, but it'll show my agent that I have a right to be on their model roster.

Modeling with Braces

Is modeling with braces impossible? No. But is it possible? Rarely. Before you start rattling off the models you've seen in publications wearing braces, let me just inform you that they are far and few in between.

Of course there will always be exceptions to the rule--the modeling industry is famous for that, but generally speaking, modeling with braces may not always be an option.

If you currently have braces and wish to pursue modeling, you may encounter some difficulties. Models wearing braces are not in high demand. Yes, there are those print ads for dentists and other specialists who do braces but there isn't enough of that type of work to keep the small number of models with braces busy.

You'd end up seeing the same faces over and over again for those ads. If you're hoping for agency representation, don't be surprised if an agency decides to pass on you. Marketing a model with braces is just too hard and time consuming.

However, you may find an agent who wants to sign you...as soon as your braces come off. And that's great so don't despair if you're on the waiting list. The agency knows that once your braces are off, they can begin to market you right away with your brand new killer smile. If anything, just be patient and pursue your modeling career after you get your braces taken off. But if you just can't wait, it doesn't hurt to go to open casting calls to ask different agencies what your chances are. You never know, you may be that exception to the rule.

Is your smile not as perfect as it should be? If you're thinking about getting braces or if your dentist has stressed that you do so and you currently have an agent, you need to talk to them about this first before making any decisions. Your agency may not want you to have braces. After all, they did sign you as you are and if they saw your teeth as a problem, they would have pointed it out.

If it is something that you are determined to do, you may have to take a break from modeling during the time you have the braces on. This may frustrate or disappoint your agent because if you get braces, then they have to redo your photos...maybe not all of them in your portfolio but definitely your headshots. There's no use in sending a client a picture of you without braces, right?

At best, they could start to market you in a different direction towards clients that need models with braces, but it does severely limit your agent to the amount of work they can book you for. So be sure to talk things over with your agent in order to find a happy medium.

My dentist has been bugging me to get braces for the past year. Unfortunately, I never wore them as a child so I'd be a grown adult sporting braces, which I don't mind except that I've got a modeling career to think about. My agent has never requested that I get braces (some agencies may ask this of you so don't be surprised) so I've never bothered with them.

Even though they do have clear braces, they can still show up in pictures and I would feel bad for any photographer who has to Photoshop those out! haha. After giving it some thought, I've come to love my non-perfect smile. I don't have a horrible smile, or missing teeth, gaps or a snaggletooth. I simply have a slight overbite, which you can't really see, and a few of my teeth on my right side are spaced a little but other than that, I've got a perfectly healthy smile. And that's what matters.

I have no reason to get braces at this point, especially since my contract with FORD isn't even a year old and I've got about 2-3 years left with them. As I always say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

"Outing" a Photographer or Model

Okay, it's time for me to stop talking on and on about my shoots and get down to educating people about modeling! LOL.

What do I mean by "outing," you ask? Simply put, "outing" is a term used in the modeling industry for publicly stating something bad about someone. This situation is the most common among photographers and models.

It is a reality that not all photogs and models will get along during a shoot. Both are guilty of being flakes, showing up late to shoots, being unprofessional and even downright rude or disrespectful.

But regardless of this, the modeling industry is one that stresses the importance of not "outing" ANYONE, no matter how badly that person has been treated by the other. For example, Model A shoots with Photographer B. Photographer B is a jerk, is rude, and tries to cop a feel on Model A throughout the shoot. But that's as far as it goes.

After the shoot, Model A is so upset with Photographer B that when Model C asks her what her experience was with Photographer B because she is interested in shooting with him, Model A replies with, "He's an absolute jerk, do not work with him!" Model A then goes on to publicly tell any model who will listen what a jerk Photographer B is and how no one should work with him. Model A has officially "outed" Photographer B.

No, it is not okay for a photographer to try and take advantage of his model or try to feel her up, but unfortunately, there is an unwritten rule that states it is not professional for a model to "out" a photographer to other models or to badmouth that photographer in a public setting or forum.

Of course, this is different if the model has been physically threatened...but that's where the police come in. For this reason alone, having an escort present can eliminate or lessen the chances of something like that happening.

The concept of "outing" goes for photographers badmouthing a model, too. Models won't always be great to work with and if a photographer and model have no chemistry or communication, the shoot will not turn out good. And that's okay. It is a reality that you as a photographer will have to accept. Just because you've had one bad experience with Model A doesn't mean that the next photographer will.

Maybe it was just a bad pairing. It is unprofessional for you to slander a model's reputation because you're unhappy with her/him...especially if that model has had successful shoots with other photogs before. Chalk it up as a loss and move on.

Now, I am not saying this is right or that it is far. Because it isn't. And of course there are extreme exceptions to the rule, like if the photographer gets physically violent with you, has a criminal past that involves sexual acts, especially if they target minors. But hopefully that particular individual is behind bars or not allowed to pursue photography...so those cases are rare.

If you just have a really bad experience with a photographer or a model, the best thing to do if you are asked about your experience with that person is to say something along the lines of, "you know, I didn't work too well with him/her...we just didn't click or have chemistry, but hopefully that won't happen with you." That's it. To say anything beyond that would be "outing" and could make you unpopular among the modeling industry.

This may not be true if you are modeling locally but trust me, there have been models and photographers online who have gone out of their way to badmouth or "out" someone through online modeling communities, networks, websites, etc. It is when people take it to the next level that "outing" is strictly banned and with good reason.

The modeling industry has its bad seeds. There will be models and photographers who will be slimy and use sex as a tool. But not all of us are like that. If you plan on getting upset or want to take legal action everytime you work with someone you had a bad experience with, then maybe the modeling industry isn't for you. There is a dark side to it and that comes with the territory. As long as you play it safe and do your research and really communicate with a photographer or model, none of what I've stated in this post will be an issue to deal with.

If you are determined to warn others about a particular individual, do it discreetly through an email or phone call. "Outing" usually involves badmouthing someone very publicly and trying to inform as many people as you can about that person. That will get you in trouble and even though you have good intentions, it can potentially make others not want to work with you. As a model, photographers may not feel comfortable shooting with you if they know you have "outed" another photographer. What's to stop them from thinking you won't do the same to them? And vice-versa for photogs who "out" models.

Keep it discreet, keep it professional and cut your ties with the person you are having issues with. Not every photo shoot will produce a great working relationship so keep that in mind and keep it moving. There are so many wonderful photographers and models out there that one sour apple shouldn't spoil the whole bunch.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Model Release Forms (Part 2)

I've been doing more research on model release forms and came across a lot of information that wasn't included in my original post about this topic. To modify what I originally wrote, not ALL photo shoots will have release forms for you to sign. If you get booked a gig by your agent, the client may or may not provide a model release form.

Usually that paperwork is handled with the agency beforehand so a release may not be necessary. Sometimes your agent will request that you not sign anything once you get on-set--this guarantees that the client will not add any last minute changes that may cause conflict. Always follow what your agent tells you.

For you freelance models, there may be times when you shoot with a photog who doesn't require a model release form. If you are fine with that, there should be no problems, as long as the two of you arrange it so that you do get your images, payment (if any), etc. If a photog does not have a release for you to sign that isn't always a bad thing.

However, always read everything on any model release form you sign. This is especially a must when it comes to working on projects that are being submitted for publication. This is where things can get tricky. When you sign a model release, you as the model are giving up your rights to your images and they become sole property of the photographer. You do have the option to buy the copyright of the images but most photographers charge a lot for that and it is rare that a model will buy his/her own copyrights.

I read about a situation a model was involved in where she did a shoot with a photograher for possible publication on the cover of a CD for a group that was represented by a well known record label and would be sold in stores. The photographer told the model that if her image ended up getting published and sold well, he would track her down later to sign paperwork regarding payment, percentage of profits, etc.

Well, she did not hear back from the photographer for a few months and assumed her work did not make the cut. Well, months later she ran into the photographer who told her that her images did, in fact, make it onto both the front and back of the CD, which was already being sold in stores by the record label.

Unfortunately, he never brought her any paperwork to ensure her piece of the pie and she has lost contact with the photographer, who apparently has now fallen off the face of the Earth.

Two things to note here:

One) in a sense, she did right by NOT signing a model release. Chances are, if she didn't read the fine print, she most likely would have been giving up her rights to the images and not be allowed to make any money off of the number of CDs sold. Sometimes signing a model release can actually hurt your chances of making a profit off of your images...but like I said, this is where things can get sticky and really confusing as to what you should do.

Two) Because she did not sign a release form and was not properly notified by the photographer or the record label, she can stand to make a large amount of money by taking both the photog and the record label company to court. She will have to hire an entertainment lawyer to handle the case. She will most likely win because she was completely left out of a business deal that should have included her in the first place. So if the CD sells really well, she'll stand to make a killing. If the CD ends up flopping, then she is no worse off than before.

When it comes to dealing with signing contracts for large gigs, be wary and read through every single line of the release before you sign. If there is no release to be signed, just be aware of the possible situations that may arise if your images happen to be published. If you are not sure what to do if you find yourself in this situation, seek legal advice from an entertainment lawyer or someone in the field of law who knows what they are talking about.

Models with agency representation rarely have to worry about anything like this happening to them so for the freelance models, always watch your back. Because the legalities of binding contracts vary so much case to case, there is no exact do or don't that will apply to everything so evaluate each shoot and any paperwork involved and treat each situation individually so you are guaranteed to benefit no matter what.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Dania Denise in a Fashion Show? (Update #2)

Okay, so you know how in the post below I was talking about participating in a small, local fashion show for a college? Yeah, well it turns out that the show isn't going to be so small...it's being held at the Santa Clara Convention Center in CA and is expecting a turnout of 600 people! There are going to be 43 models--including yours truly...YAY!--with four outfit changes.

Even though we won't be getting paid, we get 50% off 5 tickets so my friends and family can get in for only $5.00. And there is already going to be a photographer taking pictures at the event and I will be getting a CD of the high resolution images for my portfolio use. Score! My boyfriend says he still plans on taking pictures of me anyway so hey, I get two great shoots in one! Sweet!

The fitting tonight went really well. I arrived at the school and met with the show coordinator and she gave me four outfits to try: a long, slinky and form-fitting crushed velvet black and burgundy dress that flared out at the bottom, silky purple pants and a black sleeveless top, a light and flowy summer dress with matching belt and a golden dress that is marilyn monroe style.

Unlike other times when I've tried on clothes for a designer, only to have them not fit me right and totally disgust the designer, this time around was completely the opposite! I can't tell you how amazing it felt to walk into the room and have the fashion show coordinator clap her hands and jump up and down because she was so pleased with how I fit everything. She was so excited, which definitely excited me. So I have my four outfits all set.

I have a dress rehearsal on Saturday, September 8th and the actual show is going to take place on Sunday, September 16th. The show itself is going to be huge with a lot of lighting, tech, and special effects. Each model is going to walk up two short flights of stairs and come to a small platform.

We'll be standing behind a huge white screen and when the light hits the screen, the designer's name will appear as well as the model's name and then we're going to strike a pose, so the audience will only see our silhouette. Then the lights will cut out and we'll go back down the stairs and then appear on the catwalk. She compared the look to "Project Runway." How cool is that?

So needless to say, I am giddy and totally excited about this show! Luckily, I do have some fashion/runway experience but I am positive that this is going to turn out a million times better than the past shows I've done, where I had a negative experience. I can't wait to get the photos from the event and share them with you here!

Wish me luck and for all you gals under 5'8", I'll proudly be representing you all!

Dania Denise in a Fashion Show?

Hmmm...little ole 5'4" me tearing up the runway? Thought you'd never hear that, huh? Okay, so it's for a college fashion show which isn't exactly New York Fashion Week or anything to brag about, but hey, it's still a fashion show and one that I'm actually volunteering for...yep, no pay. Hard to believe, I know! But I do make exceptions to the rule.

While I don't care for fashion shows and the runway scene normally, this sounds like a fun event that will help Brooks College in CA showcase their students' work. Plus, any fashion show that has an open height requirement is one that I will usually want to do, since it's always nice to work with folks who aren't so snobby about how "tall" and "runway" are always together like PB&J and are open to working with shorter models. haha.

Last night I was actually practicing my runway walk in my 4 inch heels from Victoria's Secret (they're way sexy, thank you very much!) and I have no problems strutting my stuff in those high heels so I'm confident that I will do well against the taller gals.

I'll be going to the final fitting tonight at the college to see what styles and clothes fit me and hopefully they will decide to book me for the show, which will be Sunday, September 16th.

Hah, I LOVE having a photographer as a boyfriend! If I do get booked for this show, in lieu of monetary compensation, I am going to have my boyfriend photograph the event in order to get some hot runway shots of me for my portfolio. How cool would that be? See, there's method to the madness.

Anytime I do a free event, I always find some way to benefit so getting images of me in action will give me a great opportunity to not only get more experience with fashion/runway but to also add those images to my freelance portfolio. It doesn't matter if you've done huge shows or local ones, they all amount to real-life experience so if anyone asks if you have runway experience, don't think that doing small shows don't count because they do so proudly say, "Yes, I know how to do runway!"

I'll be sure to keep you all posted if I do end up doing the show.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Few New Things On Here...

Okay, so I finally took the time to figure out some features and other things I could add to my blog to make things easier for my readers out there. As you'll see, on the right-hand side of the page is a Google search box. You can search for anything either on Google or on my blog. So if you are looking for a post I've written about "casting calls" or "agencies" (for example) just type it into the search box and it'll show all my past posts that contain those keywords. It's a really great way for you to find more posts that you may not have read yet. So hopefully that helps.

The other features and links are just there to help me make some extra change on the side using Google AdSense if any of you are familiar with it. I don't know if anyone would actually click on any of the links but I tried to pick stuff that related to this site...not sure how accurate Google is going to keep it though...I guess we'll see. :) I put up a shopping cart link that I believe is near the bottom of the right-hand side of the page, after the paragraph telling more about me. I chose body care, hair and skin care and some other online goodies that I thought people visiting this blog may want to check out.

Any feedback, good or bad, is definitely appreciated so feel free to shoot me an email or IM me on Yahoo Messenger. Remember, if you have any questions or want me to do a post on a certain topic, emailing me is the best way to communicate instead of putting it in the comments section.

So that's the update on me. Working on a couple new things and I'll be sure to have some new posts up soon.

Dania Denise

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Being a Full-Time Model vs. a Model With Other Interests

This post was inspired by a forum convo I had with another model. While venting about how I hated having to turn down a well-paying gig because of my new full-time job, she replied, "Well if you get so many well-paying gigs, then why don't you just do that full-time?"

That got me to thinking about how many young girls, models or not, have this misconception that once you're a model, that's it and there's nothing else. In a perfect world, all models could model full-time and not have to get a regular 9-5. But this is far from a perfect world, as we all know.

For those of you who would have asked me the same question, ask yourselves this: do you really believe that modeling is the end-all and be-all of life? Do you believe that modeling is a 100% foolproof way of not ever needing a real job?

Just a little reality check: not all modeling gigs pay well. If you're lucky enough to get a handful of gigs a month, then yes, you stand to make really good money. But even modeling has its dry spells. Certain looks are only "in" during certain times of the year, so it isn't uncommon for a model to have to get a part-time or full-time job in order to support themselves and pay bills.

Younger models who still live at home or are in high demand and are pampered by their agents don't have to deal with this as often if at all. Definitely enjoy that while you can because once you get out on your own, it's very rare that modeling alone will make the cut when it comes to paying bills and other living expenses.

What many models lack nowadays is common sense. Yes, it did hurt to have to turn down a well-paying gig so that I didn't get in trouble at my new job, but on the flip side, what good would it have done me to accept the gig and in turn, lose a well-paying, salaried job?

While I would have the print job on my resume and a few hundred dollars in my bank account, I would have been out of a permanent, stable job that paid thousands of dollars a paycheck. See where the common sense plays in?

So don't be naive and think that if a model has a regular full-time job in addition to modeling, that they aren't successful as a model. Modeling has an expiration date on all of its models and no one is an exception to the rule...especially since not all of us make it to supermodel status that affords longer job security than other models.

I would never want to be a full-time model who only lived in that bubble. It's much more of a benefit to me to be a "smart" model who has other interests and passions that allow me to do more with my life. My full-time job involves journalism, which is one of the careers I am passionate about and that will take me far as a backup when modeling doesn't work out anymore.

If you're going to be a model, so be it, but be a smart one that has other fields of interest to keep you going. Ignorant models who fulfill the stereotype are never appreciated in my book. Just because you're a model doesn't mean you have to act like one. No one wants to live paycheck to paycheck or not know where their next source of income is going to come from.

 Modeling does involve pounding the pavement and hard work, but I've paid my dues and while I may have to turn down a gig here and there, I'm still able to make good money doing something I love that will still be around long after my looks have faded and no one wants me to pose in front of a camera anymore.

Photoshop & Retouching Pictures

I personally love Photoshop. Not just because it helps with retouching pictures, but because I actually know how to use it. But there is a bad side to Photoshop, which is what this post is all about.

It is one thing to use Photoshop in order to create a cool effect (like the photo associated with this post) or to magically get rid of a zit or other small detail...but it is another thing to use Photoshop to make yourself appear flawless is every photo you take! This may seem harmless but could prove disastrous in a worst-case scenario.

Photoshop and photography have gone hand-in-hand for some time now. At first using this software program was limited to just the photographers who needed to retouch images to meet the client's standards. However, more and more models are learning this software and are able to use it for their personal reasons when retouching their own photos.

Personally speaking, the most I do when it comes to my own photos and Photoshop include cropping the image, resizing, lightening/darkening, and adding text, logos or graphics. When it comes to my photos, I like to look as real as possible. One of my biggest fears is to have someone see me and say, "Hey, she doesn't look anything like this photo!"

Unlike Playboy, which publicly admits to airbrushing and Photoshopping the crap out of their models, I like to look like me. And while I wish I didn't have stretch marks, blemishes and uneven skin tone, I still refuse to completely mask that behind Photoshop.

When shooting my 2007 calendar, I went over the images with my photographer. She is a perfectionist and can spend hours retouching just one image. I told her that I didn't want too much work to be done because I didn't want my photos in my calendar to seem "unreal." She did follow my directions...to an extent...lol. She used Photoshop to reduce the severity of my stretch marks in one shot, and evened my skin tone for shots that showed my stomach. Those kind of changes I could deal with.

But on a different occasion, she touched up a swimsuit shot I did in a yellow string bikini. The original looked fine, although my uneven skin tone and some stretch marks were visible. Her retouched version looked amazing...it was perfect and if I actually did have that type of skin in real-life, I'd have nothing to worry about. But while it was a beautiful picture, it wasn't one that I could use.

This particular image was one that I often used when submitting to gigs that called for swimsuit models. But I couldn't submit the Photoshopped version because, in a sense, it is false advertisement. To send out the retouched image would more than likely get me the gig but what would happen when I showed up on the shoot with skin that looked nothing like the photo? Enough said.

So, models, when it comes to using the wonders of Photoshop to get rid of all the stuff that bothers you, keep it to a minimum and don't let it get out of hand. Clients and casting directors will not be pleased if the photos you submit don't match how you are in person.

We all have the little things that bother us that we wish we could change but at the same time, we are our own worst critics and most times the things that bother us the most tend to go unnoticed by others. Don't let Photoshop turn you into a fantasy model. Be as real as you can in more ways than one.

Photographer Personalities

Being able to work well with a photographer is vital when it comes to being a good model. Having the right people skills will help you in letting loose in front of the camera and bringing a lot of personality to a shoot, whether you're one-on-one with the photographer or working with a whole crew. However, each photographer has his/her own personality that may or may not be so easy to work with.

Based off of my past modeling experiences, I thought it would be helpful to list examples of the types of personalitites of the various photographers I've worked with over the years (I won't be naming names of course!).

This may help you in the future if you should ever work with a photographer who has a similar personality. This is not to say that ALL photographers act like this...this is merely based off of my professional modeling experiences.

The Buddy

This type of photographer is very friendly (but not in a creepy way). He/she is able to make you feel comfortable within minutes of meeting them and makes you feel at ease. They love to joke and laugh while out on the shoot. Their interactions with their models allows the model to feel as if they have known this photographer for a long time.

These types of photographers tend to stay in close touch with the models, not just for shoots, but as a friend. They tend to call or email to check up on their models and ask about their lives and update them on projects. They get the shoot done and enjoy the process from beginning to end.

The Dictator

This type of photographer is very set in his/her ways and knows exactly how they want their shots to be. They may be very stubborn and not as open to creativity from a model regarding a pose or shoot. When posing they tend to bark directions and are more comfortable when they are in control of the posing and setting. They may appear uncomfortable or uninterested if the model offers an idea for a pose or location.

The Indifferent

This type of photographer is so carefree that he/she often will just go with whatever the model suggests. This can be a good or bad thing for a model. These photographers tend to find locations the day of the shoot and just shoot on the fly without any real planning. They may not have a set idea or theme in mind but just want to point and shoot...this allows the model to be as creative as he/she pleases.

If you are a creative model with a lot of energy, this type of photographer may be easy to work with. New models and those who aren't as comfortable in front of the camera may have a difficult time trying to figure out what the photographer wants.

The Above and Beyond

This type of photographer is so creative and is bursting with so many ideas it can be overwhelming. He/she may have one set theme/look for a shoot but once they are inspired, that could easily turn into three, four, or five looks in one day. Instead of working with what was originally agreed upon, they like to switch things up and throw out suggestions such as a new location, new outfit, new theme, etc.

Often this is done on the day of the shoot and because the photographer's mind is racing a million miles a minute, it can be frustrating or overwhelming for a model to keep up. Sometimes this can get out of hand and can result in a long day of shooting. They do not like to be limited to what's already been done and often think of ideas that are very out of the box, which may or may not interest the model.

The Enticer

This type of photographer can appear to enjoy shooting the models a little too much (this mostly happens with male photographers shooting female models). They can come across a little creepy but are professional and do not try to get close to the models physically. While posing they may get overly excited and may say things like, "Oh, yeah, that's sexy...", "Mmmmmm, I love that", etc.

While these sayings can be totally innocent and a part of the photographer's way of expressing his excitement over the poses/photos, it can sound sexual, which may make some models uncomfortable. In addition to making these comments, the photographer loves to entice the models by directing them to remove items of clothing, "That's great, now try unbuttoning your shirt..." and other types of requests in order to see how far they can get you to go in a photograph. If you are a model who does not do glamour or implied nude work, this type of photographer may be difficult to work with.

The Perv

This photographer is all about taking advantage of the models, both in front of the camera as well as behind. This type of photographer can either be professional or a complete scam artist only interested in shooting nude and half-naked girls. They tend to be aggressive and already know exactly what kind of shots they want.

These photographers should be avoided at all costs. There are photographers who specialize in glamour and adult photography but do not act in this manner. They will never violate your comfort zone or force you to do something you do not want to do.

Agencies vs. Managers

Many times there can be confusion as to who does what in a model's life and who is a part of it. It's already common knowledge that for most models, having an agent is a must.

Aside from it helping with exposure, agency representation helps weed out the bad elements so 99% of the time (I say 99% instead of 100% because these days you can't really be 100% sure about anything) you are only dealing with legit photographers, art directors, crews, etc. and are getting the best pay.

But what about managers? I know there are model hopefuls out there as well as established models who may be wondering if they need a manager and what exactly a manager does.

I can safely tell you that most models do not need a manager. If you already have an agent, they pretty much act as your manager. If you are freelancing and/or don't have agency representation, then a manager may help you but it is not going to make or break you to not have one.

Managers are more or less associated with actors and actresses or those in the entertainment field, such as singers and musicians. In the entertainment field, managers serve as your go-to person for career advice, networking purposes, talking to potential clients, helping with legal advice and paperwork related to contracts, etc. There are different types of managers that serve various purposes: personal managers, business managers, and road managers.

Unlike modeling agencies, managers do not usually have huge rosters of clients. They tend to develop and foster close-working relationships with a small handful of talent (actors, musicians, singers, etc.). Managers help counsel, develop and market their talent just like agents do for their models.

So as a model, you technically would never need a manager. Your agency already takes care of the majority of duties that entertainment managers do...and then some. So don't feel the need to have both...it is, in a sense, a waste of time, especially since most managers operate using contracts like modeling agencies do and it wouldn't serve you any good to sign a contract with a manger that would conflict with your agent's or that would hold you back from your real potential as a model.

Having an agent is more than enough for one model to have. They are like your managers so don't feel like you're missing out by not having a manager in your entourage. It is because agencies also double as managers that many modeling agencies have the word "Management" in its title.

But signing to an agency that doesn't have "Management" in its title does not mean you won't have a manager or won't be managed--because you will. That is the agency's sole responsibility: to represent you and help you manage your career by booking you for gigs.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Navigating This Blog

Just a quick note to let you all know that I'm slowly but surely making moves to make this blog more user-friendly. As far as I know, there is no search feature that allows you to type in a topic and jump straight to it on my blog and since I have well over 100 posts, I know it can be hard to find what you want to learn more about.

The best alternative I was able to come up with so far is by adding hyperlinked words throughout my posts. By clicking on the word or words, you'll be sent directly to another post that relates to a similar topic.

When I started getting emails/comments about topics that I've already covered, I realized that not many people want to take the time to go through the long list on the right-hand side of the page. So I figure this way will be easier to jump from topic to topic. On some of the older posts, there are links to related topics that can be found at the bottom of the post after the comments part...so check those out, too.

The hyperlinks are in bold and are blue (they turn purple if you've already clicked on them) so they stand out from the rest of the text. Hopefully this helps everyone get the most out of my blog.

Thanks for all the support, comment, and emails...it is an honor to be appreciated and to be seen as a mentor. As long as you keep reading, I'll keep posting! :)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Why Tearsheets are Just as Good as Money

Money is always good, I'll always stress that, but when it comes to other important assets to a model's career, tearsheets are gold. If you are ever offered a modeling gig that is willing to give tearsheets instead of pay, take it!

Tearsheets are important because they show legit proof that you have been booked for a particular gig and that it has been published. This type of payment is often better than money because it is a quick way to build up your resume and portfolio.

Clients tend to take a model more seriously when they see that he/she has a good collection of tearsheets. As opposed to a really nice image from a photo shoot, a tearsheet contains all the elements that show it has been published: text, captions, logos, etc.

For those of you who aren't familiar with what a tearsheet is, it is literally a copy of an image that has been torn out of the actual publication. While seeing a piece of paper with a torn side may sound unappealing, having a portfolio filled with tearsheets is a very good thing to have.

Sometimes models and photographers end up getting tons of copies of the magazines, brochures, etc. of the work they have appeared in. Because it can be annoying to tell someone to look through the table of contents to find the page you're on, it's much easier to tear out the actual page.

For those who do modeling online and have appeared on websites, online galleries, and advertising banners, you don't actually have anything to tear out. A good alternative to including online work in your portfolio as a tearsheet is to simply print out the actual web page.

Depending on what kind of options your computer has, you can set your printer to print the entire page that shows it is currently on a live site and not something you just photoshopped. Try to print online modeling images on good photo paper.

Below are two of my own tearsheets:

This image goes across two pages in the magazine Mocha Bride so it's okay that the fold shows...it's just additional proof that it actually was published:

So when it comes to gigs with tearsheets, definitely go for it!