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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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dealing With Agents & Bookers

Modeling is a business. Everyone pretty much knows this. A career in modeling--whether it's part-time, full-time, freelance or with agency representation--will involve many business relationships, resources and networking opportunities. Knowing how to conduct yourself business-wise will prove to be very useful in building and maintaining a successful modeling career.

Besides making good business connections with photographers (they are one of the major players in the modeling game after all) it is vital that a model learn how to interact and maintain a working relationship with his/her agent and booker. If you are a model not signed with an agency, this most likely will not apply to you at this point in time, as you are actually your own booker.

Agents and bookers in a nutshell are the folks who are responsible for getting you work. Sometimes people think the terms "agent" and "booker" mean the same thing but while they are similar in how they serve models, they are responsible for different parts of the modeling game. An agency obviously is your main support system.

They are responsible for promoting and marketing your face to the various clients they work with and only make money when you do. It is their responsibility to manage and keep track of their model roster and fostering working relationships with the companies/clients that want to hire their models.

Bookers on the other hand, are more involved with the "actual" work and being hands-on with the models: contacting clients, arranging schedules, notifying models of potential work/bookings/go-sees, contacting the models, etc. Bookers work for the agency. Each model usually gets one booker, and this person is your point of contact when it comes to inquires about go-sees, shoots, and other concerns and questions related to your modeling career.

The actual people in charge of the agency are not responsible for this part so your booker is someone you must keep in constant contact with. The role of a booker is to get you as much work as possible and the best way for this to benefit the both of you is if you keep them in the loop. This is especially important when it comes to school schedules, if you're sick, leaving for vacation, work schedules, etc.

Not keeping your booker up to date on your schedule could put you in a bad situation. For example, not telling your booker your school schedule has changed could lead to them booking you for a photo shoot on a day you are not available, resulting in not only a lost gig, but a very unhappy booker. It is no fun having to explain to a client why the model wasn't available when according to the agency, he/she was open that day.

How much involvement a model has with an agent or booker will vary upon the market they are in and if that particular model's look is "in". Typically, a new model will meet with the agency's main people (the ones who are in charge of the whole operation). From there, you will be introduced to your booker, who will basically be the only person you will be in contact with for the remainder of your career. There is no contacting the head of the Lifestyle Division or the president of the agency--the booker acts as the liaison between you and the head honchos so direct any and all of your questions to your booker when you are assigned one.

Bookers will contact models via phone so having a cell phone or pager (yes, some agencies still use pagers, although many cell phones now have this function) to get a hold of a model when there is an assignment. These notifications are often very last minute--it isn't uncommon for a booker to contact a model on Monday at 3:45pm to see if they can make it to a go-see at 9:00am the next morning.

The thing new models have to realize with bookers is that they are always working on deadlines. If you don't answer their call, they will rarely leave a voicemail and if they do, they expect you to return their call within no longer than 15 minutes. No call, no job. This is one of those situations where you're asked to jump and your automatic response must be: how high?

Your booker will become somewhat of a big brother or sister. They are in your corner and it is because of their daily efforts that a model gets work and the agency gets paid. Don't feel intimidated by them. Develop a good relationship and always keep the lines of communication open. Alert them to any changes in your schedule or of anything that may prevent you from attending a booking...no matter how small it is and even if you don't think it will affect anything.

It's always better to be safe than sorry and when it comes to bookers, notifying them well in advance--even if nothing comes of it--will avoid being submitted for jobs you will not be able to show up to. Always answer the phone or return a call from your booker ASAP. They are hired to help you so don't be afraid to include them in your daily life.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Model Aliases

You don't have to have a model alias (a name that is different from your legal name given to you at birth). Models have an alias for different reasons: to distinguish their modeling career from their regular life, to keep their legal name secret from the public when it comes to stalkers, the press, etc.

Some people call these model aliases "stage names," but that term is mostly used by those who work in the adult entertainment industry (aka: strippers and porn stars) so if you don't want people thinking that's the industry you're in, it's much safer to just say you have a "model alias."

When creating a model alias, try not to be too creative. "White Dove" and "Mandy Bubbles" aren't very smart or attractive model aliases. You can mix and match your real first name with a different last name or whatever else inspires you.

 But make sure it is appropriate and something that won't make a client raise his/her eyebrows. Many models and other celebrities use their first and middle name as their alias and leave out their last name. Angelina Jolie is a prime example.

I use a model alias although it isn't a made-up name. Because I do a lot of other work in the media, from hosting to writing and producing, I like to keep the two worlds separate. When you google my legal name and my model alias, different results pop up and that's how I like to keep it. It can be confusing for someone who wants to hire me for a broadcast project to look me up online and come up with all my modeling stuff that has nothing to do with what they want to book me for.

If you decide to use a model alias, there won't be too many issues you'll have to deal with, with the exception of model release forms and other types of documented paperwork. A model alias is one that is supposed to identify you but at the same time, when it comes to paperwork that requires your signature, it's always best to use your legal name.

This will keep someone from claiming that you are misrepresenting yourself. Unless you are famous and a publicly-known type of model, it's highly unlikely that anyone will recognize your model alias...they will more than likely assume that to be your legal name, which can lead to confusion.

The best way to continue using your model alias without problems--just short of changing your legal name--is to remind yourself to sign any piece of paper, form, invoice, etc. with your legal name and list your model alias as well. If the client has booked you and only knows you by your alias, explain to them that you are signing using your legal name and find somewhere on the paper to squeeze in your alias name.

This may be a little too much work for signing a paper but I've found it better to cover all your bases. I've had some clients get confused when they see a different last name other than "Denise." When it comes to getting paid, the last thing you want is for the client or the people doing the payroll to be unsure as to which name is the real one needed to make the payment.

This situation is more likely with models operating freelance without an agent. When you do sign with an agency for representation, more times than not, they will go with your legal name...model aliases usually are not welcome, unless the agency comes up with it initially. If you have an agent and would like to go about using an alias, that is something to talk to your agent about. There are many reasons why they may or may not agree.

It's great to have a model alias to represent your model persona but at the same time, when it comes to paperwork and legalities, standing by your legal name will avoid confusion and any other issues that may arise.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Paying for a Photographer

Okay, so I know that in many of my posts, I stress about not having to pay for a photographer, how great TFP/TFCDs are, etc. But that's the funny thing about this business. Anything goes and there is a pro and con to everything we are told to do or not do. So I just want to make a post justifying why it is okay to pay money for a photographer when doing a photo shoot.

I'm not saying that all your photo shoots you do for portfolio building should be TFP/TFCD. These types of shoots, while they are free of charge and very beneficial to both parties, can also have a huge downside. For example, because there is often no model release form or other type of document involved, many models end up never receiving their CD or prints of images from the shoot.

I've already discussed this annoying occurrence in a previous post about waiting for photos. Although there are MANY great photographers who do quality work and actually enjoy doing TFP/TFCD shoots, there are just as many who will not be as motivated simply because they don't stand to gain any profit. You get what you pay or don't pay for, so keep that in mind at all times when doing free shoots.

On the flip side, the only time I can readily justify paying a certain amount of money for a photographer is when it comes to signing with a new agency and putting together your portfolio. I always have said that any agency who makes you pay upfront before signing you is a scam...and that is very much still true.

But to clear up any confusion, if you do get signed to an agency and they tell you that you've got to pay for your photos to start your portfolio, this does not mean you are getting ripped off. This is a normal part of the process. The way this part usually operates involves the agency evaluating your look and the best possible way they can market you.

In order to do that, they need a photographer who knows how to shoot exactly the looks the agency needs. The agency will refer you to one or more photographers who they personally have worked with for a long time. There is no TFP/TFCD to be found here so expect to pay out of pocket. While it sucks to have to fork out some money, think of it as a test. Every agency invests a lot of time, money and manpower into each model it represents and they want to make sure you will show them a profit in the end. So be true to that and prove to them that you deserve their representation.

Each photographer your agency recommends will all charge different rates so you're bound to find one who fits within your budget. That being said, please remember that this photo shoot is very professional! You will have outfits picked out (whether they are your own or whether a stylist has helped you), a professional makeup artist will be there as well as a hair stylist (usually the makeup artist also doubles as a hair stylist).

So you are not just paying for some stranger to take your photo...you are paying for a mini crew who has been hired to make you look good. With these types of shoots, you will NEVER be required to do your own hair and makeup. If you find yourself in this situation, something is wrong and you need to talk to someone at your agency, especially since this is coming out of your (or your parents') wallet.

To clarify about the hair thing, yes, you will still have to technically do your hair, but the hair stylist will be on-hand to make sure every strand is in place and will curl, brush, comb your hair to make it look good...so when I say you should never have to do your hair for this kind of a shoot, I don't mean you get to roll out of bed and head right on over expecting a complete makeover. :)

You'll find that when you invest a little bit of money into a shoot, you will see a huge difference in the final images, compared to those with free shoots. Most TFP/TFCD shoots don't have a crew, makeup artist or stylist. Often the model him/herself is responsible for all this, which can be a hassle and stressful. But when you put your money into people who are paid to take care of those things for you, you will be much more relaxed in front of the camera.

Agencies cannot force you to shoot with one of their photographers, but in all honesty, if you spend the time shooting TFP/TFCDs with photographers the agency doesn't know, in an attempt to give them images they will approve while saving you money, you will be sadly disappointed. Agencies do not trust photographers they don't know and it isn't always guaranteed that the TFP/TFCD photographer you shoot with on your own is going to know what the agency wants.

The photographers that agencies refer new models to specialize in getting shots that agencies want. That is a big difference between a run of the mill photographer who does regular photo shoots. And that difference will show up in your images.

Modeling agencies aren't there to be your friends...this is a business and that is the focus they are going to turn to first. They will not hesitate to tell you they do not like the images you've gotten on your own and they will be snobbish about it. That is their job. Yes, it isn't fun to know you have to cough up $400+ for a photo shoot, but this is your part in investing in your modeling career. Your agent wouldn't have you spend that kind of money if they thought they couldn't get you work or believe in your potential.

So continue to do TFP/TFCDs to build up your portfolio, network, etc. but when it comes time to drop some money for a professional shoot, especially if it's suggested by your agent, suck it up, save up and show them what you've got! In the end when you see your images, the money part won't even matter, especially since you'll end up making all of that money back and then some once you start getting bookings. And in the end it shouldn't matter as long as you are dealing with a legit agency that is on your side.

Tadam Jewelry Shoot

Ah, how I love summer! This season is the time for any and all models to find plenty of work. My latest shoot was for a jewelry company's website. This was my first time being a parts model. It was actually the easiest shoot I had ever done! I arrived at the shoot a few minutes early (which is a very good habit I stress every model should adopt) and called the photographer, who was already there.

She told me that her first model never showed up so she was thrilled that I was there. As harsh as it may sound, when other models fail or slack on their part, this is the time to shine and take the spotlight...but please do it discreetly. Still be professional and don't snicker to yourself and flaunt how much better you are than the other model, whether that person is present or not. It's tacky.

We did three outfits (just the tops mattered obviously, since she was only shooting tight headshots), each with a different set of earrings, necklaces and bracelets. There was a great park we were at and the whole thing took about an hour. The other model ended up showing up after all...she had gotten lost and somehow couldn't get a hold of the photographer to let her know.

Hey, stuff like that happens, but if it had been a huge shoot with a crew present, they would have told her to turn around and go home. But because this was a smaller company, she was able to still participate in the shoot after I was done. Of course she did have to sit around and buy some time while the photographer was working with me.

Jewelry modeling is so simple that it can be frustrating. My best advice if you get booked for such a shoot is to remember what you're shooting for. Yes, you are the model and yes your face is going to appear in the photos, but the focus is supposed to be the jewelry you're wearing. If you are modeling a bracelet, don't have your wrist out of the shot.

With earrings, it's always helpful to tuck your hair behind your ears as a pose so that the camera can capture you in a model type pose that not only shows you off, but the earrings you're sporting as well. Modeling jewelry has an air of class and sophistication. Do poses that elongate your neck...necklaces don't photograph well on a model who has a neck that looks short and stumpy because the pose is bad. Give full-on smiles as well as smirks or sexy grins.

This really is your time to flirt with the camera but don't go overboard with it. It's almost as if the camera is the most handsome guy you have ever seen and you have to make yourself alluring to him without saying a word. So what do you do? You show him how alluring and seductive you can be by showing off the curves of your neck, grazing your hand across your chest, and showing a bit of bare shoulder. Play around with what works for you. If you are a younger/teen model doing a jewelry shoot for your age group, this definitely does not apply and the mood will obviously be different!

Here are my favorite ones from each look/jewelry set we did:

One of the things a model can find difficult about modeling jewelry is that it can be very limiting to the poses you can do. But there is a way around this. Don't just do the same pose with every jewelry set you do. Even the slightest change in the way you are posed can make two shots appear completely different, even if the only thing you changed was the way you faced the camera.

 Of course it isn't realistic to expect you to do a completely different pose everytime. Try to get in a routine that works for you that you do with each set of jewelry you model. This will work out fine, especially if you are shooting in more than one outfit. Don't always feel the need to look at the camera and smile. It is perfectly fine to look away from the camera or to face the camera but have your eyes focused on something in the distance.

This brings more flavor to the shoot as a whole and gives the photographer and the client more images to choose from. What fun is having 50-100 images where you are facing the camera with a smile every single time?