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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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Photo ID, Please…

Photographers have a lot to deal with on their end, especially when it comes to liability issues. It’s difficult nowadays to tell how old someone is, and teenagers are no exception (have you seen the 14 and 15-year-old girls walking around lately? They look older than me!).

For any photographer, shooting with an underage model has its risks, unless the shoot is age-appropriate and calls for an underage model. This is why many photographers state very bluntly how old they want their models to be when casting for projects—this is mostly when it comes to shooting glamour, swimwear and anything involving nudity. Pretty understandable, right?

Well, there are still models out there that misrepresent themselves and their age in the hopes of doing work that they are not legally allowed to do because of the adult/sexual nature or theme of the photos (why they feel the need to do this, I’ll never know). Needless to say, photographers no longer can trust their eyes or the model for that matter when it comes to how old they say they are.

Because of this, many photographers are now required (in most states by law) to not only request legit photo identification at the shoot, but some also take it upon themselves to take a photo or make a copy of your ID to keep in their files in case your age should ever become a dispute.

Think of this as safety insurance for the photographer. It may seem weird at first to show a photographer you don’t know personally, all of your information but that is why it is important to know whom you are dealing with beforehand.

All models that are underage should have a parent/guardian present during their shoots anyway but the photographer may still ask for proof of ID. To avoid issues with your parents, explain this requirement to them and why it is important that you show your ID.

If they have a problem with the photographer making a copy of your identification, have the photographer briefly talk to your parents or request that he/she black out your home address and any other personal info with a marker, except for the date of birth.

Appropriate forms of ID to show include a driver’s license or regular photo ID. School IDs tend to not have your birth date on it and a Social Security Card won’t do, either. If you don’t have one form of ID that shows both your photo and your date of birth, try showing two documents, one that has your photo and name and another with your name and a date of birth on it. This may be enough to meet the requirement but ask the photographer beforehand.

Waiting until the day of the shoot may result in the photographer canceling the shoot until he/she can get the proper form of ID from you or they may decide to take a risk and shoot with you anyway. Even if you are telling the truth about your age, it isn’t very fair to pressure a photographer into making such a decision that may not be in their best interest.

While it may seem suspect, this process is totally legit and allows the photographer to be assured that he is shooting with someone who is either underage or who is considered an adult by law. No one wants to make a bad decision that will nip them in the butt later on so the next time you go out on a shoot and the photographer asks for ID, don’t freak out and think he or she is going to stalk you. It’s strictly business.

(Quick Note: The whole ID and age issue is mostly with photographers dealing with freelance models. This is hardly a problem for agency represented models, since that information is provided upfront and a client/photographer knows the agency won't steer them wrong.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Model Dorms

Let’s talk about model dorms. As the name implies, model dorms are a living arrangement where models are roommates in an apartment, condo or small house. The housing expenses are covered by the models’ agency.

However, it should be noted that the fabulous houses and condos you see the models enjoy on shows like ANTM, are all hype. Even the most prestigious modeling agencies will not fork out such a huge expense on model dorms. So don’t expect to get a huge room with eclectic furnishings and cushy accommodations.

Just like dorm rooms in college, the living space that models share can be pretty cramped at times. The rooms can be sparse, with only bunk beds in the room and a dresser or two or a little roomier with separate beds. But you will have to share a kitchen and one or two bathrooms, depending on how much space there is.

New models often are relocated to a model dorm by their agency in order for the model to be closer to the work they get booked for and so they don’t have to come out of pocket right away to pay for their living situation (how many 16-year-olds do you know who can afford their own apartment in a large city like New York or has parents who can?).

This is a cost-effective way for the agency to know where their models are and to ensure that they are not alone unsupervised. If the agency has faith that their models will book high-paying gigs, then they may invest in a nicer dorm/living situation but for the most part, this is just an area to chill and sleep in between shoots and fashion shows.

There is often a model scout or other member of the agency staff who lives in the dorm as well and is there to supervise the models and make sure things don’t get out of hand, which often happens. By now you may or may not have heard of the book, “Secrets of the Model Dorms,” by Amanda Kerlin. She moved to a model dorm in NY at age 16. The book pretty much highlights the alcohol abuse, wild behavior and sexual promiscuity of some of the models in addition to her experiences as a young fashion model.

This book probably isn’t going to give a new, young model’s parents much comfort but of course not all model dorms will be like the one described in this book. As long as the parents trust their child and the model can keep away from the temptations that can bring down their career, there should be no reason why living in a model dorm can’t be somewhat pleasant.

For models who need it, private tutors can be provided so that the models don’t fall behind on their education. Not all agencies offer model dorms so as you go on your search, be sure to inquire about this when speaking to an agency. Some parents may be afraid that they’ll have to move the entire family to where the agency is but that isn’t true. That’s the whole purpose of the model dorms.

Most models stay in the dorms for a few weeks to a few years on and off. It is common to see models come and go in the dorms. Many save up their money from modeling gigs and eventually are financially stable enough to get their own apartment.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Balancing Modeling & a Job

Aside from balancing modeling and school, there are many models that hold down part-time and even full-time jobs. You may be wondering how honest you should be with your employer about your other interests or if you should even say anything at all.

I can only speak for myself and my experiences, so what I’m saying here isn’t part of a rulebook or anything. In the past, I have let an employer know that I modeled and did acting on the side. They seemed pretty supportive of it but as time went on and my modeling career started to take off, I ended up having to put work on the backburner, which my company obviously did not appreciate.

While they told me in the beginning that they were fine with what I did, they ended up using it against me later on. And I wasn’t even missing days of work—just the mere fact that there was something in my life that demanded my attention other than my company did not sit well with them.

When it comes to the corporate world or any company you work for, they are going to want your loyalty first and foremost. Even if they claim they are cool with you having outside interests, in reality they could care less and many find it threatening to them when an employee has talents or interests that don’t benefit the company.

That being said, if you hold down a full-time job (part-time jobs are usually easier to work around), my best advice would be to not state openly that you are a model, not to your boss or your coworker—even coworkers you consider friends.

Even just telling someone in general that you model comes with its own onset of stereotypes, assumptions, judgments, etc. Imagine that going on where you work! I personally do not bring my modeling career into the workplace because the last thing I want is someone from work to be in my business. The lower I fly under the radar, the better.

However, don’t get sloppy while on the job. I do my best to play by the rules and make sure that I make up hours that I’ve missed or had the PTO (paid time off) to take a day off of work. I make sure to keep my reasons for being late, taking a long lunch, or missing a day very broad/vague. You can’t let one outweigh the other or else you may come to a crossroads where you’ll have to make a choice between your job and modeling.

I recognize that for me, it is not realistic to be able to live off of my modeling career alone, which is why I pursued my B.A. in college and now hold down a steady job in addition to owning and operating my own art business. In a perfect world, I’ll be able to do the art business from home and not need a full-time corporate job, which would open me up to pursue modeling and travel the way I would like.

Till that day comes and I’m in the right position to take advantage of such an opportunity, I play by my company’s rules. When a shoot or go-see comes up, I do my best to do it on my lunch hour. There are ways around these things that just come from experience as well as trial and error.

Sometimes things are just better left unsaid. It is up to you individually to decide if you should tell your employer about your modeling career or not. Make a list of the pros and cons and just make sure you can perfect the balancing act.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Photos From the Art of Hair Fashion Show

So I finally got the images back from the Art of Hair Fashion Show that took place in mid-February of this year. I asked about the hair magazines that I did the shoot for and found out that they pushed back the date to June (boo!). I was originally told that the magazines would be out by April so now I'll have to wait a little bit longer. *sigh* That's one of the things I hate about the industry sometimes--the fact that it takes forever to get the end results from your shoots. Oh, well, that's part of the business. It'll be worth it in the end to finally have those tearsheets in my portfolio!

These are candid shots that my boyfriend (of Blasian Photography) took of me backstage while we were waiting to go on. To keep our hairstyles a surprise, we wore hair scarves before the show. The other photos are of me on the runway, and my other model friend (and partner in crime) Alaina, as well as a group photo of all the hair models (the hair stylist had two younger models and two older models to show the diversity of her hair styles) and some flicks from after the event. The lady with me in the last picture is Ms. Jakki who is the wonderful hair stylist who did our braids:

Want to Be a Victoria's Secret Model?

(*Due to the number of comments and questions I get from aspiring models about working for VS, please be sure to read my post on this very carefully. If you don't meet all of these requirements then you cannot become a model for VS. If you are not tall enough, if you are not signed to a top agency, your chances are not good. 

If you don't meet the requirements, please don't be too upset about it. Find another field of modeling you may be good for. There are plenty of other modeling opportunities for models outside of being a VS angel. They may not be as good or as well-known as VS but it's better than nothing.)

I know I’d jump at the chance to be offered a gig modeling for Victoria’s Secret (although I think they’d be irritated by Photoshopping my stretch marks HAHA, yeah, I said it, I’ve got stretch marks!). All silliness aside, the gals of Victoria’s Secret are probably the inspiration for a majority of aspiring models out there. Not only do they get to wear the sexiest, most sought after lingerie, apparel and swimwear in the country (if not the world), they are exotic beauties that actually (gasp!) look fairly healthy. That’s what won points with me.

So how does one go about becoming one of the biggest sex symbols on the planet? Not by conventional means, unfortunately. Is it as simple as going to the Victoria’s Secret headquarters and hoping you’ll catch someone’s eye? Not even close. Do you just have to fill out some application and send a headshot? Nope (they won’t even accept headshots, no matter how wonderful it looks). So what’s an aspiring Victoria’s Secret model to do?

The bad news is that Victoria’s Secret does not select its future Angels from just any modeling agency in the country. They go for the best. Almost every Victoria’s Secret model recruited is already represented by Ford Models or Elite Models in New York--these two are the go-to-agencies for VS. Not signed with either?

Then your only other chance is to be a top model represented by another top modeling agency. But—and there is a but—not all hope is lost. Simply get signed to Elite or Ford in New York (sorry, other Ford and Elite locations most likely don't count). Hmmm…that sounds easier said than done, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. As far-fetched as it may seem, it isn’t impossible. Not easy, but definitely not impossible.

To make things more clear about the requirements you have to meet in order to put you in the VS category, you must:

- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Be between 5'8"-6'0" (these days 5'9" is the preferred minimum height at agencies in NYC)
- Have a killer body with curves (not waif thin like most runway models but not exactly plus size, either)
- Be signed to a top modeling agency (preferably Ford or Elite in New York) or another top modeling agency in New York

If you have the height, measurements, exotic looks and drive, you may have what it takes to get signed by Elite or Ford. And even then it isn't automatic consideration by VS. These models have worked their way up the ranks and the more work and exposure you get, the better your chances are of catching VS's eye.

Once that’s in place and you’ve got a contract, it could just be a matter of time before Victoria’s Secret contacts your booking agent and you’ve got just about every model hopeful’s dream job (and every father’s worst nightmare…LOL).

Art Modeling Part 2

To avoid making a long post even longer, I decided to do a “Part 2” for this post about art modeling for those who want more information about what it takes. I was an art model for the San Francisco Academy of Art for about 3 years. I did it freelance in addition to my regular modeling and while going to college in San Francisco. The rules for etiquette as an art model are the same that applies to other types of modeling.

Art models are required to be professional, punctual and easy to work with. Of course this type of modeling can be much more involved. For one thing, people can’t draw you if you’re moving so being able to pose while being absolutely still for long periods of time is critical.

If you can’t even sit down without fidgeting then art modeling is not going to work out for you. Luckily, I was really good (and still am!) at holding a pose for a long time without moving. I used to pose for as long as 20-30 minutes straight! Of course you won’t always have to pose that long. It really depends on the type of class you are working for and what the teacher’s lesson plan for the day is.

The teacher will tell you what they plan on discussing in the class (line sketches, anatomy, drawing the muscles under the skin, proportion, etc.) and how they’ll need you to pose. Don’t worry, the teacher will guide you each step of the way if you need it. Art schools are very accommodating.

There will be a heater in case there is a draft (most art classes are held in lofts, warehouses and other similar rooms that aren’t that cozy) but it’s up to you to bring a robe to wear while modeling nude or for costume changes. Nude models aren’t required to be nude all the time! LOL. When you’re not posing, you’ll be clothed in your robe.

In order to keep track of how long you’ll be posing, it is important that all art models own a timer. The school won’t provide one for you. Get the kind that rings or buzzes and you don’t have to spend a whole lot on a fancy one. A simple kitchen timer will do.

It’s important to remember that this is an art class and these are students who are learning their craft. You won’t be posing the entire time. You’ll get breaks in between posing so that the teacher can lecture and you’ll also get a lunch break when everyone else does. Be sure to bring a book or your homework to work on during your downtime.

As far as the types of poses to do, it’s really an anything goes type of thing. Learn how to move your body and play with poses that you’ll be able to hold for longer than 5 minutes. Only pick complicated poses for quick sessions where you’ll be posing for 1 minute and then changing poses. For longer posing sessions, choose a pose that is comfortable enough for you to hold with no problems (if you get halfway and you start involuntarily shaking or getting muscle spasms, you’ve probably chosen the wrong pose!).

Because the students can’t take you with them after the class, they’ll often need to take pictures of you posing in order to have reference photos for their homework. If you are doing nude modeling, make sure they ask your permission before taking reference photos. Most students however, respect the model and will only take the picture from the neck down, leaving out your face.

Teachers love art models that take direction well, can think on their feet and who can give their students a challenge. If you do really well, most teachers will begin to request you specifically and building a good reputation for yourself within the school will lead to you making more money and getting booked for more classes.

Within the 3 years I worked as an art model I had a handful of art teachers who only wanted to work with me because I brought energy, enthusiasm and creativity to my work. Once I happened to be available a whole day and they had a cancellation of 2-3 models last minute. I ended up posing in the same class for the same teacher the whole day—I modeled from 10am till 10pm—a 12-hour day! (With breaks in between of course!)

It is important to communicate with your Model Coordinator, who will act as your liaison with the teachers (you won’t be expected to keep in touch with all the teachers you work for). If you need to cancel a booking, do it at least 48 hours ahead of time. It can be very difficult to find a replacement model on short notice. When there is no art model, the students are deprived of their education—one that they pay a lot of money in tuition for! So be considerate of the students, staff and the Model Coordinator.

Oh, and it may be pretty obvious but there is a general rule of thumb that art models do not date the students or staff. If a student or teacher is harassing you or makes you feel uncomfortable, let your Model Coordinator know. However, art models are highly respected in their field and any issues regarding a model’s safety are very rare.

Art Modeling Part 1

Art modeling does not typically fall under the categories of the industry, but this is a form of modeling that may be of interest to those who are 18 and older looking to earn a great source of income. Art models have been used since the Renaissance and even before then. Today is no different. There is always a demand for art models.

The great thing about this type of modeling is that there are absolutely no requirements. You don’t have to be tall, thin, unique/odd looking, a certain weight, etc. Art schools take models old and young, skinny and large, tall and short. Many art models freelance while going to school or some even do it full-time.

The pay range is pretty good as well. A general range is anywhere between $15-25 an hour. Some prestigious, private art schools may pay models even as much as $40 an hour. Definitely not an amount to sniff at.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Don’t art models get naked?” Well, the answer is yes and no. Just as with regular modeling, you will be allowed to choose what type of art modeling you want to do. You do not have to be a nude art model if that’s not your thing (although if you are totally cool about that type of thing, it will work in your favor since nude models are the most needed by art classes so that means big paychecks!).

You can do costume art modeling, where you can dress up as a clown, princess, witch, or other theatrical character. There is also fashion art modeling where you get to model the clothes created by students. Because fashion students are also required to master how the clothing drapes the human body, sometimes art models are required to be nude for this type of class but again that all depends on what kind of art modeling you state you are willing to do. There is also prop modeling (pretty self explanatory) and the opportunity to pose with another model where you play off of one another in your poses.

So how does one go about being an art model? It’s as easy as picking up the phone and calling your local art school and asking to speak with the Model Coordinator. Ask if they have a need for new art models. You’ll meet with the Model Coordinator, who will have you fill out a sheet with stats, contact info and what type of work you want to do. They may ask for a headshot for reference (does not need to be professional or “modelish”). Sometimes art teachers need a specific look, ethnicity, etc.

Once you are hired, you’ll start getting sent to the various classes and campuses (if there is more than one). You’ll be required to have each teacher you work for sign an invoice, which you then submit each week to the Model Coordinator. Turning in your invoices on time will guarantee you get paid so don’t fall behind in your paperwork.

Just as with fashion and commercial models, art models work as independent contractors, which means that the art school you work for is not your actual employer so they will not offer you benefits, health insurance, a 401(k) plan, etc. You’ll also be responsible for submitting the right tax forms each year, which the school will mail to you.

If you love art and have always wanted to be an artist’s muse/inspiration, then art modeling could be a great opportunity for you. Art modeling may not lead you to the runways in Milan or Paris but you could end up as a masterpiece in a museum or on someone’s wall. If that isn’t the ultimate compliment, I don’t know what is.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Love Your Art

Anything you do in life that really makes you happy, that you are really passionate about, is an art form to me. Once you get involved in something that you completely throw yourself into you feel it in your blood and in your soul.

Modeling for me is not something that I did because everyone else wanted to do it. I did not get involved in this industry because I had the media and reality shows to influence me. It was something I sort of fell into but it didn't take long for me to fall in love with my art.

I can only speak for myself but I'm sure other fellow models know what the adrenaline rush feels like when you get in front of the camera or appear in front of a crowd. Few things in the world get me more exhilarated than sitting in the makeup chair "putting on my face," stepping in front of the camera and turning my model persona "on."

With each "click" of the camera my mind is in overdrive. Not only because of the rush but because of the challenges I face: how can I bring out the best in these photos? What can I do differently...better than the last? How can I deliver so well that I blow the photographer and the client's mind away? These are the thoughts that drive me and I love every second of it.

The one thing that stands out for me is how lucky I am to be doing what I do. It doesn't matter to me that I'm not tall enough to walk the major runways...it doesn't faze me that I'm not tall enough to catch any uber designer's eye. I've learned long ago to stop comparing myself to the next model. Of course there is always going to be someone doing something bigger and better than what I'm working on. That's inevitable.

I often take time to look back on my career and reflect on the experiences I've had and while I'm not a household name (yet) I am damned proud to say that I've been to places and seen things and done things that a huge percentage of the public will never get a chance to lay hands on in their entire lifetime. And I definitely do not mean that in a snobbish way. I mean it in more of an appreciative way.

In spite of all I've accomplished, I still get those comments from people who swear up and down that I can't possibly be a model because I'm 5'4". I get such negativity from others who see what I do but still discredit it because commercial modeling isn't "real modeling."

As much as it burns me up inside to hear those comments, each time I step in front of a camera and hear that "click" of the shutter, I smile inside because how many people can do what I do? I love my art, I appreciate and enjoy my craft because it is raw, natural talent that allows me to continue on.

If you don't love your art and if you cannot be the best rated version of yourself (and not someone else), why do it at all?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Anxiety & Being a New Model

For you new/inexperienced/aspiring models out there who are on the search for an agenct, many things may be unfamiliar to you. It’s hard enough to break into the industry but not knowing exactly what to expect can be pretty overwhelming.

Sure you can read and research all you want, but it’s pretty different from actually going through the motions, right? Well, if you’re in this situation, rest assured, you’re more than likely psyching yourself out when you don’t really need to be.

Sure, it can be intimidating once you start pounding the pavement by going to open casting calls or waiting for that phone call/email after submitting photos via snail mail or online, but why stress about something that at this point is out of your control? Many aspiring models ask what they can do to prepare to become a model…there really is no formula for this.

My best advice is to make sure you are taking care of your skin/complexion, maintaining a healthy weight (notice the emphasis on the word “healthy”) and making sure your measurements are up to par (remember, ideal measurements are 34-24-34…bust-waist-hips). Preparing to pursue the modeling industry is not like training for the Olympics or even studying for the SAT. A lot of it simply requires meeting the stated requirements and having the raw, natural talent and looks that will interest an agency.

I’ve stated before that you should be happy with yourself as you are when you start looking for an agency to sign with and don’t pursue the industry if you aren’t. Work on yourself until you feel comfortable enough in your own skin. Self doubt and second guesses won’t get you anywhere.

Don’t do anything drastically different to your look if you know you aren’t going to stick with it for a while. Agencies fall in love with potential models as they appear during that moment so be aware of that. This isn’t the time to become a chameleon.

For you new and aspiring models wondering what’s going to happen once you get signed, it can vary from case to case but the basic process works this way:

1. Your agent will work with you closely to evaluate your runway walk (if you are a fashion model. Other categories of modeling may require a brief meeting to talk about what direction the agency will take your career. This is also a chance for them to hear your input).

If you need training, your agency will provide it free of charge. This is why I stress so much about not having to pay for modeling classes to “prepare” to become a model because any agency that believes in their models will do what it takes to make sure they succeed in their career and in being a representative of the agency.

2. Your first photoshoot will be scheduled in order to start building your book/portfolio. Your agent most likely won’t be present at this shoot. You’ll be working with a photographer and makeup/hair/wardrobe stylist. If you are worried about how to pose or how to act in front of the camera, just do your best and let it come naturally.

The photographer will give you minimal direction when needed but do not expect him/her to “teach” you—that is not their job! If you’ve ever witnessed a photoshoot, it is easy to see when a model is in his/her natural element in front of the camera and when they aren’t.

Any good potential model will have the knack for how to act and pose so let it flow and don’t analyze it. This isn’t one of those situations where you have a checklist you have to complete. Literally, you just go out there and do it!

Your agent will never throw you to the wolves unprepared. They are there to make sure you do a great job each time so before you let the anxiety attacks begin, just know that you will be put in good hands. Trust in your agency. So take a deep breath, relax and cross your fingers…besides, stress leads to breakouts, a model’s worst enemy!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dania Denise TV Interview: "Real Model Talk"

So I had the opportunity to be interviewed for a really awesome new television show called "Read Model Talk," which spotlights local up and coming and already established models in the Bay Area (Northern California for those of you not from around these parts). The director and interviewer, Mark D, was so nice and fun to work with. We shot on location in Oakland near Jack London Square on a beautiful, sunny day.

The episode aired a few weeks ago on a local channel so it wasn't worldwide but with the talent and direction that Mark is going with his television show, producing and directing, I have no doubt that it will only be a matter of time before all of his projects hit it big-time. Thanks, for a great time, Mark!!!

If any local models are from the Bay Area or surrounding parts and would like to be interviewed, Real Model Talk is always looking for the next model to spotlight. Shoot an email to mdouglas15@gmail.com and/or check out his site: www.visualchameleon.com.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Tips for Being a Successful Freelance Model

Freelance models have a tough job. You act as your own modeling agent, find your own work and do your own payroll. There are definite advantages as well as disadvantages to being freelance but for those models who are actively doing it or if you’ve been toying with the idea of freelance, the following tips will point you in the right direction:

1. Know Yourself.

The cool thing about being freelance is that you are free to pursue as many types of modeling as you’d like. There are many clients out there who don’t mind hiring a fashion model who is shorter or a commercial/print model who is taller, etc.

Depending on what direction you plan on going in, have the appropriate photos, portfolios, comp cards and business cards (optional). For models pursuing more than one category of modeling, you’ll need to have the right images for each type and only show them to the right clients.

* How I use this guideline: When I submit to freelance gigs, I don’t limit myself to commercial/print. I also submit to freelance castings for fashion/runway models, fitness & sports, swimwear, and stock photography gigs.

2. Master Your Communications Skills.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to communicate well. You are your own booking agent so you will be the one submitting your headshot, portfolio and/or resume to clients.

You will be the one making and answering the phone calls and emails so it is critical that you are a great communicator. If you are going to be serious about promoting yourself, you can’t be lazy, a procrastinator or leave a client hanging. This will quickly give you a bad rep. You never want to burn bridges if it can be helped.

* How I use this guideline: I regularly check my email accounts, respond to all emails as soon as I get them and answer phone calls even if I don’t recognize the number. I never want to take the chance of missing a call from a potential client. They won’t always leave a message and could lead to me missing out on a gig.

3. Be Clear About What You Want.

Don’t submit yourself to castings or take on modeling jobs that don’t interest you or don’t offer what you want. That’s the beauty of being a freelance model: you get to do the work you want and not what an agency thinks will be good for you. Use that to your advantage.

This will be important when it comes to collecting your payment as well. If possible, require all clients you work with to pay you after the shoot/work has been done. Do your best to avoid personal checks (hey, you just can’t trust a lot of folks nowadays). The best deals are done in cash with no strings attached.

* How I use this guideline: Gigs offering tearsheets from the actual publication—not regular prints--are my first priority. Monetary compensation is wonderful but it's the tearsheets that will serve as "proof" of being a published model. Monetary compensation is the next priority level when it comes to submitting myself. Lastly, I may submit to a modeling gig that isn’t paying or offering tearsheets if I really like the client/photographer’s work or if they are offering a CD of all the images for my personal use. As far as payment goes, I request payment immediately after the work has been completed or I submit an invoice via email afterwards.

4. Don’t Waste Time.

One pitfall that freelance models can fall prey to is wasting time on gigs or clients that aren’t worth it. During the course of your freelance modeling career you’ll find that many times the clients you are dealing with may not be on the same professional level as you. Unfortunately, some (not all) clients who turn to freelance models do so because they are not able or willing to pay huge agency fees or the standard rate for models.

Some may give you the run-around, possess horrible communications skills, etc. If you are currently dealing with such a client, it doesn’t matter what they’re offering, move on to the next client that is worth your time. If they are even half of the professional that you are, you wouldn’t have to deal with those types of hassles. Chalk it up as a loss and move on.

* How I use this guideline: In the past, I’ve had clients book me for a gig and then never contact me about it again, or return my calls/emails—even when it was the day or night before. I’ve spent a whole day waiting for a gig that never happened. Because of this, I tell my clients upfront that if they cannot promptly return my calls/emails, or if they have not attempted to make contact with me within at least 48 hours prior to a gig, that I will not show. It’s as simple as that for me. I say this in a professional way but I let them know that it goes both ways. I refuse to neglect other opportunities to work for someone who doesn’t even have the discipline to keep me in the loop.

5. Don’t Underestimate Your Potential.

You are a model. You are running yourself as a business. This takes a great deal of work, dedication and confidence. If you show any doubt or second-guess your abilities, it will show. Don’t let a client push you around, treat you unprofessionally, or try to talk you into something you aren’t comfortable with.

Stand your ground but always, always, always do it with grace and professionalism. No matter what happens, never lose your cool. If anything at least that client can’t say anything negative about you if nothing negative happened in the first place.

* How I use this guideline: Of course I have dealt with some pretty shady people in my freelance career but I’ve never badmouthed them to anyone afterwards, nor have I ever exchanged heated words with a client. Even when it seems that I’m losing out, I still walk away with my head held high. Without being condescending, I let “problem” clients know that I am a professional model with a decade of experience under my belt and if they don’t want to work with me on that same level, then they are free to find someone who will most likely give them poor quality results.

6. Network Your Butt Off!

After any gig you finish, be sure to thank the people you work with and hand out business cards. Or be sure to send out emails to the casting director, photographer, whoever and tell them how great it was to work with them. Also throw in that should they ever need a model for future projects, they can always call on you.

Of course there is a way to do this without sucking up. Keep the email brief and straight to the point. People in the modeling industry run in tight circles and impressing even one client greatly boosts your odds of them referring you to others. This is how you build a name and career for yourself.

* How I use this guideline: After every shoot I do, I personally shake hands with each person involved and give them my modeling business card. I also follow up with one email to let them know I had a great time working with them. I also use this email to work out details regarding getting tearsheets, CD of images, etc.

7. Practice Good Habits.

Make it a point to arrive on time, and answer every phone call and email in a timely fashion. Take direction well, don’t complain if it isn’t necessary (or at all if it can be helped!) and keep a positive and fun attitude while working and dealing with clients.

You want to get to the point where clients automatically associate you with being dependable, punctual and a joy to work with. Keep these good habits up and you’ll be able to hold down a freelance career for as long as you want.

* How I use this guideline: I make it a mandatory habit to show up to all gigs at least 30 minutes early, make sure I have at least one client contact number for emergencies or if I get lost, bring a bag with extra clothes and shoes, and my own makeup. Even just showing up early has always made a great impression on clients and has worked wonders for my freelance career. Many people associate me as being “that model who shows up before the rest of us do!” That’s the kind of stuff you want people to know you for, among many other things.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Height Barrier Strikes Again!

It just seems that no matter where I turn, there is a height requirement. LOL. While I am totally aware and accepting—for the most part—that there will always be a height requirement for certain types of modeling, it’s when it appears unnecessary that I become concerned.

I received an email for a casting that was looking for spokesmodels for their Internet show that talks about beauty, fitness, fashion, entertainment, etc. Apparently they are running a spokesmodel contest and all you have to do is signup, activate your account, upload photos, and a short bio and from there, the judges will chose a winner. I believe it’s a recurring contest so it happens pretty often.

The winner gets a $10,000 contract with the company and is guaranteed $5,000 in appearances in various promotion spots ranging from photoshoots to website work and appearances on the Internet show.

Hmmm…that seemed right up my alley! So I signed up, activated the link, entered my information and was just about to upload my images when a little voice told me to read the contest rules. To my utter disgust, there was actually a height requirement! It said that models have to be at least 5’7” to enter the contest.

Yeah, I know, it’s their company, their contest, their rules. BUT I found the height requirement unfair when they stated that they were opening the contest to all fashion, editorial, swimwear and lingerie models. Okay, for fashion and editorial I am well aware that they’re supposed to be tall but swimwear and lingerie? I don’t think so! In those two categories of modeling, the height requirements are almost always open.

I didn’t want to lie about my height and get caught up later on. No matter the turnout, I wouldn’t need that kind of publicity. Anyways, I decided to contact the company and just mention my thoughts. So I emailed them and professionally stated that I was disappointed that because of my height I was ineligible for a contest that I knew I stood a good chance at winning. I also made sure to mention that there are typically no height requirements for swimwear and lingerie models and that such a requirement didn’t seem necessary for the type of contest they were running. Additionally, I stated that as a professional model it was because of unnecessary height barriers that it becomes more challenging to find positive and adequate exposure. Near the end I added in that hopefully they would start to include shorter models in their future events and that I was sure they would not be disappointed with the turnout.

Will they respond? Who knows. If they do, great. If not, life goes on. Some of you may think I’m whining but I believe in letting people know when something just doesn’t make much sense. Why exclude a vast majority of professional models just because they’re lacking a few inches? This isn’t for an agency nor are we trying to compete to walk in a fashion show…so why the height barrier?

Who knows what’ll happen—if anything happens at all—but maybe one of these days I, and many others, will be able to showcase our talent in a modeling contest without worrying if we’re tall enough to make the cut.