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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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Answering a Reader Question #20

Ki-Ki Wrote:

Hey, Dania
I recently did a photo shoot. Which, by the way, went very well. I cant wait to get the pictures. But, I was asked to sign a photo release. I will see my photographer today to pick to sign it. Is there any warning or good signs I should look for before signing a it???

Your post has also helped me come a long way. Thanks and Congratulations on your recent success, your an inspiration.

Hey, Ki-Ki!

Congrats on a successful shoot. You are definitely on the right path and thank you for the kind words…very much appreciated. =)

As far as the model release forms, these are among the most common documents in the modeling industry. Since there is no money involved, the chances of you having issues with this particular model release form is slim to none. It should contain the most basic information stating that you are waiving (giving up) your rights to the images and are not allowed to sell them for profit. It will also say that the photographer is free to use the images as well. This is all part of the business and is normal. It may outline what compensation you’ve been promised.

Just take a few minutes to read it and make sure that nothing weird jumps out…if so, or if you don’t understand something, please tell the photographer and ask whatever questions you may have. Because you are still new, I’m sure the photographer will have no problem answering your questions.

You rarely have to worry about a basic model release form for test shoots so read it over carefully and sign it once you are comfortable with your understanding of the content.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Answering a Reader Question #19

Kristen Wrote:

so i've always wanted to become a model ever since i was little but im only 15 and still 5"2..modeling has been my dream forever and so have being a victoria secret model.i know i have to get signed but Elite or stuff like that but what if i dont?? are there other options??

Hi, Kristen! Thanks for reading my blog! Unfortunately, your height is going to work against you. Since you are already 15, unless you hit a major growth spurt, those goals won't be within your reach. However, you should look into modeling agencies that represent petite models. There aren't many out there but it is worth looking into. If you can reach 5'5" you can do commercial/print modeling and sign with an agency that works with those type of models. You also have the option of doing freelance modeling, where you act as your own modeling agent and find your own work. It can be challenging but it would allow you to submit for fashion and other types of work that your height would normally prevent you from getting. Clients who use freelance models don't always stick to the same size and height requirements as the modeling agencies.

Hope that helps and feel free to shoot me an email if you have any more questions.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dania Denise to Compete in the 2009 Miss California USA Pageant!

I’m sure among all the things you know about me, you didn’t know I was into pageantry. Well, I’m not one of those pageantry types who have been doing it my whole life. Back in high school I did two local pageants as a promise to my best friend in the whole world (and pageant coach), Paris Chase Watson. I didn’t place in either, but at the time I wasn’t trying to win the crown—I wanted the experience. I wanted to see what the huge deal was about pageants and why my best friend was so obsessed with them. He hasn’t missed a major pageant show in his entire life!

Being in the thick of it all definitely gave me a better appreciation for the women who have been doing this their whole lives. It is no cakewalk and poke fun at it if you wish, but how many of you could don an evening gown and a bathing suit and grace the stage in front of hundreds if not thousands of people in the audience (and an additional million or so that watch from their homes)? Not many.

While I left the pageants alone after my second one, there was always that thought in the back of my head, “What if…?” Many of the winners and runner-ups have gone on to get wonderful exposure in the public and further their careers, both in pageantry and modeling, as well as other career goals not related to the entertainment industry. So even if I didn’t win the title, I’d still benefit from being associated with such a prestigious event and may catch the eye of someone in the industry who can boost my career.

I’ve gone through a lot in the years since my last pageant and I feel that I am mature enough, experienced enough and better equipped to compete on a higher level. So I was very excited when I got the call from K2 Productions (the company in charge of putting together the pageant), saying that I made the first cut. I was asked preliminary questions and told that if I made the next round, I would be notified.

Well, I got my acceptance letter in the mail a few days ago and needless to say, was very excited. I’m one of less than 150 girls chosen to participate and I’m sure more than 150 apply each year. I’ve been invited to the official orientation in Palm Springs, California, on October 25th and the actual pageant will take place November 21-23 of this year. So I’ve got plenty of time to prepare, which is good. Now I’ve just got to pay my competition fee of $1,500.00. Yikes! This is a lot of money but it includes everything from lodging and transportation, to the photoshoot and many, many other things required to make the pageant possible. Before you think to yourself, “Man, Dania, that’s a whole lot of money…are you sure this is legit?” remember that the Miss California USA pageant has been around for a long time and is anything but a scam. Each woman you’ve watched in beauty pageants from Miss USA to Miss Universe have paid such fees in order to compete. It’s a factor that I’m very aware of. That’s why many have sponsors and friends and family who help chip in with donations. Many contestants have never paid a dime because of the amount of sponsorship they have received, while others who are financially able to, simply pay the fee themselves. I do plan on covering the majority of the costs because I have the money for it, but I will be seeking donations and sponsorship wherever possible. If any of you have a few dollars to throw for support, please feel free to do so via Paypal. My email address for donations through PayPal is: DaniaDenise@gmail.com.

Wish me luck! Since there are still a few more months to go before the actual competition, I’ll be sure to keep you updated, especially after I come back from the orientation in October. Road trip!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Multivitamins and Facial Masks: My Best Friends

…well, in addition to Photoshop and food. Haha. Man, it has been a tough week. Last week I had a hectic schedule between castings and I picked up a video acting project (I do TV/Film/Commercial acting as well as modeling) so I had to juggle the shooting schedule with my office job.

Last week I worked the following:

- Monday: No shoot, just the office job from 9am-6pm

- Tuesday: Shoot all day from 9am-11pm

- Wednesday: Work at the office job from 8am-5:30pm (went to a casting in San Francisco during my lunch break), then off to my shoot from 6pm-12:30am

- Thursday: Day off from the office job and the shoot got pushed back to Monday…free day spent doing stuff though so no sleeping in. Boo!

- Friday: Work at the office job from 9am-6pm, then off to my shoot from 6pm-1:15am

- Monday: Work at the office job from 9am-6pm, then off to my shoot from 6pm-12:30am

You can bet I was exhausted! I’m still trying to catch up on my sleep this week. The challenge about being an actor is that the hours are typically way, way longer than a photoshoot for modeling. And working consecutive days is also a hassle.

Luckily, schedules like that don’t happen too often but when it does, I beef up on my skin care routine. Long hours and the inability to squeeze in 7-8 hours of sleep can really enhance the appearance of bags and dark circles. Not only that, wearing makeup day after day can take a toll on my complexion.

My solution? I make sure to take my multivitamin each day. You’d be surprised how the body can endure when it has a healthy does of vitamins and minerals in the system. I take Women’s One a Day with added calcium. I’m telling you, if you aren’t taking a multivitamin, you’re doing your body a great injustice.

Additionally, to make sure my complexion doesn’t fall prone to breakouts and irritation, I pick up a good facial mask from the store. I get the kind for combination skin, which is the skin type I have, or I’ll get one for sensitive skin if I’m not familiar with the brand. I don’t splurge for the super expensive name brand ones…instead I look at the label to see what ingredients are in the formula and choose accordingly. Doing a facial mask once or twice a week during busy shooting schedules helps to keep my skin in shape and also allows my skin care products to absorb into my skin better.

So far I’ve been trying to find a day where I can sleep in and not have to do anything but until I get that day off, at least I can find comfort in the fact that I’m not punishing my face and body too badly. =)

Model Makeovers: Reality or Myth?

Most people enjoy ANTM for many reasons. The makeovers are definitely one of them. In the attempt to make the girls more “modelish,” Tyra spends time and money into giving each contestant a complete makeover. The focus is mostly on the hair.

This occurrence has caused me to receive questions from aspiring models as to whether they will have to undergo a similar transformation when they get signed.

America’s Next Top Model does a lot of great stuff for TV but it doesn’t go much further than that. The extent of the makeovers seen on that show—and others like it—are over the top for a reason—it’s TV and it needs to greatly exaggerate things in order to prove a point. However, in real life, such makeovers aren’t that involved. So do model makeovers exist in the “real” world? Sure. Do they happen to all new models and to that extreme? Not really.

Agencies fall in love with girls (and guys) the way they are and almost always sign them without doing a thing to their appearance (we’re not talking about weight). In the fashion world, I’m sure there are agencies that may give their new models a different haircut or style. If the hair is too short, oftentimes the agency will have extensions added for a new look. But that’s about as far as it goes, give or take adding highlights or some other hair color.

Another thing you have to remember is that a model has to appeal to the potential clients from all backgrounds. Most agencies won’t do an extreme makeover on its models because it could possibly limit their look. This means she/he can’t be sent out for as much work.

Commercial/print agencies tend to not touch their models' appearances. Because the emphasis is about being more “real” and relatable to the audience, such makeovers typically aren’t necessary for this field of modeling.

If you’re worried about getting your hair whacked off or having a huge head of uncomfortable extensions, just know that the odds of that happening to you are slim. Even in fashion. Any changes that are made will be minimal at best so don’t fret about signing with an agency and emerging as a person you no longer recognize in the mirror. If the agency is happy with you as you are, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Deal with Agencies & Test Shoots for Portfolio Building

When you sign with an agency you’re well on your way towards a bright and promising modeling career. The first step is to do your first photoshoot for the purpose of building not only your portfolio but your comp card as well.

In this day and age of the Internet, many modeling agencies post their models’ portfolios online as well as the print version of the portfolio, which is commonly referred to as a model’s “book.” Of course all this costs money but whose supposed to cover those costs? Should anyone have to pay at all? What about test shoots?

This is a topic that needs to be clarified because I know too many people who have misconceptions and their own idea of what the right answer is. I’ve seen veins bulge out of people’s foreheads while arguing adamantly about what they believe is supposed to be true about this subject (or typing in all caps online screaming their beliefs). Hopefully I can set the record straight.

Once you sign with an agency it is up to the agency and only the agency about how to handle your portfolio shoot. There are three options they can choose from:

1. They will arrange a test shoot, which means you won’t have to pay a dime and neither will the agency. Or they may allow you to find your own photographer to shoot with and give you a deadline for when to have the images turned in by.

2. You’ll have to cover the costs. It isn’t uncommon for a model to pay for the cost of his/her portfolio shoot, which often includes the cost of printing.

3. The agency will pay for your portfolio shoot and the printing costs, which they will later take out of your earnings for reimbursement once you start booking work.

Again, the agency will decide what course to take. Many believe that if an agency does not pay for your portfolio then they are a scam or not a real agency. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The only time this would apply would be if a so-called “agency” was trying to charge you upfront fees to pay for putting together a portfolio before offering you a contract. That’s a no-no. However, if you’re already signed, then they are within their rights to request that you pay.

Agencies each have their own reasons for deciding whether a model should cover the costs or not. Smaller agencies in smaller markets often don’t have the budgets needed to cover model portfolio expenses, but larger and well-known agencies have models pay for their portfolios all the time. Fashion agencies tend to be more welcoming to covering the costs, while many commercial/print agencies have their models handle it.

Some agencies simply don’t want to risk losing out on money. For example, say an agency pays for a new model’s portfolio and other expenses but she gets little to no work afterwards. The agency loses out. This is the business side of it. Any business will do what’s necessary to protect itself financially.

Models typically don’t mind paying for this expense because it really is a small investment into their career that is quickly made back once they start working. If there is anytime I say it’s okay to pay for something in your modeling career, it would be this. But only if you already have a contract signed…not before.

The actual cost of the shoot can range anywhere from $200-600, maybe more but that’s the general range. Remember, you’re paying for more than just images. You have a whole crew devoted to you and the cost often includes printing fees for hard copies for your book and putting together your comp/zed card.

So before you think an agency that makes their models pay for a portfolio is crappy, think again. I paid $400 for my portfolio shoot for Ford Models in San Francisco, which got me one of SF’s best photographers, my own hair and makeup artist and a wardrobe stylist who actually went shopping with me to pick my outfits. If you’re a model who got your portfolio expenses covered, kudos to you, but if you aren’t, don’t feel like you’re less of a model or that your career and agency are any less legit than the next.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How Old is Too Old to Model?

It’s no secret that the media has made a big deal out of youth. Think about it: how many people have you heard say, “Gosh, I can’t wait to get wrinkles!” Worldwide, selling the idea of youth has made many companies billions of dollars. Without the models, however, they wouldn’t get very far.

So that’s the obvious stuff but what about the question of age and being older in the modeling industry? Well, for starters, if you plan on being in the fashion and runway field, the younger you are the better. The longevity for this type of modeling is extremely short for the majority of models involved. Agencies sign girls as young as 13 years old and tend to hesitate if a model is over 18.

This topic, like the height issue, is a reality of the industry that you don’t have to agree with but you will have to accept or at least get used to. It’s just a plain fact that agencies and their clients can get more work out of youthful models than those who already show the signs of aging. Sadly, this also means that a good number of models who started young will eventually get tossed aside for the next wave of youth as the years go on, unless they are able to maintain their looks that is.

If you are 17-19 (or older) and just getting started in modeling and worry that you won’t be able to get signed, your looks will determine that, not necessarily your age. If your complexion is good and you look young, you’ll get signed so don’t lose sleep over this.

When it comes to youth and modeling it doesn’t make sense to invest time and money in signing a model that is, say, 22 or 23. That particular model may only have a good 2-3 years before they start showing signs of aging like crow’s feet or other fine lines. This means more time devoted to Photoshopping and special lighting. No agency wants to deal with that.

The good news, however, is that more fashion agencies are starting to up their age maximum for aspiring models. It mainly depends on the market/location but I've seen fashion agencies accept models up to 22 and 23. So if you're new to the industry or have a bit of experience but are getting started a bit later in the fashion/runway game, you don't have to throw in the towel just yet.

If you meet the max age for an agency then submit yourself and see what happens. If they clearly state the age range and you don't meet it, you can still submit for fashion/runway but your chances of getting a response may not be as high so be prepared for that as a possible outcome. Don't see an age range listed anywhere on the site? Then definitely submit! What have you got to lose?

You may be thinking to yourself, “Dania, no, don’t go to the dark side! What happened to that bright optimism you have about the industry?” Well, if you think I’ve flipped the script on you, think again! The great thing about age and modeling is that this is mainly a concern for those in the fashion and runway field. When it comes to getting older, commercial/print will become your best friend.

Now that’s not a free ticket to not care about how you age. Even commercial/print models must maintain good skin and a nice and pleasant complexion. Some fine lines and wrinkles will eventually appear but it won’t set you back as badly for the simple fact that commercial/print models enjoy the longest careers out of the entire industry because they are always in demand.

Companies, products, and ideas need people from all races, sizes, and, yes, ages! Will the competition still be there? Of course. Even middle-aged commercial/print models have to compete against others for the same jobs. The modeling industry wouldn’t be as special or as sought out if there weren’t so many people who wanted to be a part of the action.

So if you’re within the ideal requirements to be a commercial/print model, chances are you’ll enjoy a long career. But it is important to take care of yourself as you get older. That means a good skin care routine, healthy eating habits and exercise. Now if you happen to look younger than your numerical age that will be your secret weapon. Agencies love it when models look younger than they are. In such situations, your numerical age won’t be a hindrance.

On the flip side, older looking male models are highly sought after. So the good news for you fellas is that as long as you take care of yourself and you age gracefully, your modeling career, regardless of what type of modeling you do, will be secure.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Meeting with Photographers & Clients for the First Time

(This post will best serve freelance models without agency representation)

When you’re a freelance model, you’ll have to go out, network and submit yourself for castings. This means you’ll be meeting people in the industry who are also strangers to you.

Without the protection of an agent you do open yourself up for some shady characters. However, there is a way to conduct your business without putting your personal safety at risk.

If you are trying to build your portfolio and are contacting photographers, I highly suggest the following tips:

1. Look at their portfolio before even contacting them. You want to work with photographers whose work reflects the type you’re trying to do. If their photos are impressive and they have a list of past models they’ve worked with, that’s great. Go ahead and contact him/her.

2. Set up an in-person meeting before shooting together. This saves a lot of time and energy. There is such a thing as a model and photographer not having good chemistry together. Unless you both feel comfortable with one another, the results won’t translate well in the photographs.

It’s okay to say to a photographer that you don’t think you should work together. It’s strictly business, so as long as you carry yourself as such, there should be no hard feelings…and if there is, well that’s not your problem.

3. Ask the photographer what they are like on shoots. Do they like their models to come ready with poses and ideas or do they like to collaborate and create on the spot? Knowing how a photographer operates will help you decide if the two of you would work well together. Discuss concepts, themes, outfits, and make it clear what you’re looking for.

When it comes to meeting with clients, the process is slightly different but not much. Say you get contacted by a company that potentially wants to hire you for their next modeling gig. Chances are they may ask you to interview with them. There will be some clients who are fine with hiring you on the spot without meeting you first but it helps to be prepared for all situations.

The client will inform you of the details of their project, what they expect out of their model(s) and to see what your personality is like. Make sure to ask what you should wear to the interview and if you should bring anything like a headshot or resume.

Regardless of whether you are meeting with a photographer for a shoot or a client for a gig, it’s all about safety. Arrange the meeting in a public place: café, bookstore, park, etc. Clients tend to choose cafes or their offices for meetings. If the office is in a public area and not some seedy, rundown little complex by the wayside, chances are you’ll be okay.

For photographers who suggest meeting in their studio, it will be up to your personal preference whether you’d feel comfortable doing that or not. When I arrange in-person meetings, I make sure to be the first to mention location and I always offer a nearby coffee shop in the area. This tends to influence the client or photographer to agree to meeting in a public place.

If you leave it up to them, they’ll more than likely make it convenient for themselves by offering to meet in their office or studio. If the photographer’s studio is in his/her home/personal residence, you may want to politely request to meet in a public area. If they have a problem with this, then move on.

If you are underage, a parent or guardian must accompany you to all meetings and shoots thereafter. No exceptions. Any photographer or client who is not okay with this should be avoided at all costs. Just know ahead of time that this industry is filled with so many different types of people…some are pretty crass and rude and will let you know right away that if you don’t work according to their rules and preferences, then scram. And that’s okay…clearly you know not to work with that person again.

For each person in the industry who acts like that, there will be others who don’t so find comfort in that. Many photographers or clients believe that if you are 18 and older, you don’t need an escort to come with you to the meeting. However, if you don’t feel comfortable meeting with someone by yourself, you’ll have a decision to make.

Clients more often than not won’t welcome an escort to the interview. It is business and additional people are distractions. Photographers often get tired of dealing with models’ boyfriends, husbands, etc. and because of this, generally do not do well with inviting escorts to your meetings. Notice I’m not talking about the shoot itself, just the meeting.

There are a lot of decisions you’ll have to make when it comes to meeting photographers and clients on your own. As long as you stick to public places and conduct yourself in a professional manner, you shouldn’t have any problems. It also helps to make sure that someone knows where you are going, what the meeting is for and who you’ll be meeting with. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Each photographer/client is different so there are no hard rules for what to do each time. Each situation will be different so take it for what it is and do what works for you. There is so much more I want to say on this topic so don’t worry, there is more to come but if you have specific situations you’re wondering about, drop me an email and I’ll help you out.

Tips for Finding Modeling Jobs on Craigslist

(This post will best serve freelance models without agency representation or models with agents that also look for their own work)

Does Craigslist offer good opportunities for models? Sure! Should caution be used when searching and submitting to gigs on Craigslist? Of course! I know that I often talk about Craigslist in a negative way at times but it is a pretty good tool to use to find work.

However, I only feel comfortable suggesting models use Craigslist if they are 18+. The anonymity of the site makes it very difficult to know exactly whom you are dealing with. That’s not to say that those who are adults can’t get into trouble as well, because they can, but in general most scammers and suspicious characters target young, underage models.

Whether you are underage (with a parent helping in your career) or a freelance model that is of age, here are a few helpful tips for finding work on Craigslist in a way that won’t waste your time and will hopefully keep you safe when dealing with people from there:

* Disclaimer: The tips and info given aren’t absolute. Not all people on Craigslist are bad, nor are all the gigs scams or a waste of time. However, a good number are so keep that in mind before you start thinking about examples to prove me wrong. There are always exceptions to the rule but it’s best to cover all your bases and use caution regardless.

1. Be wary of posts that only want inexperienced models. People who specifically request inexperienced models have various reasons for this. Maybe they don’t want to deal with diva attitudes that some professional models display, maybe they don’t have the budget or funds to pay top dollar for a pro model, or maybe they just want to help inexperienced models with their portfolios/careers while building up their portfolio of work as well. And that’s okay.

On the flip side, shady characters who only request models with no experience may also do so because these are models who may be very naïve or unsuspecting. It’s much easier to fool someone who has little to no experience about the industry.

2. If a post is requesting underage models to do swimwear or lingerie, please do not submit yourself if you are underage! Underage models (under 18) should never do lingerie and shouldn’t really do swimwear either, unless it is age appropriate.

Those who request young models for this type of work are usually shady individuals who should know better. If they were legit, they would know to ask for 18+ models. I’ve seen posts asking for models between 14-17 for such work. That’s a huge no-no.

3. Look for names or websites to do research before submitting. Some people who post on Craigslist will list the name of the photographer, company, client or show a website. When this happens, Google the information given. Find out who you’re dealing with before even submitting yourself. If the work looks good, then go ahead and submit. If they look unprofessional, sloppy or the work isn’t very impressive, then skip it.

There have been posts I’ve come across that sounded super promising but when I checked out the websites, the caliber of the client definitely wasn’t something that I wanted to associate myself with so I didn’t submit. Remember, you never want to do work that you’d be ashamed of tying your name to later on. Only work with the best. If the post doesn’t have any of that information, then request it in your email. Mention that you’d love to see their portfolio or the company’s website.

4. Put a watermark on your photos. There are some people who actually take photos submitted to Craigslist posts and claim them as their own work, or manipulate the pictures for their own purposes. The whole idea of cutting and pasting someone’s head onto someone else’s body does happen. Whenever you send your modeling images to someone in a Craigslist post, be smart and add a watermark on top of your photos.

The watermark can be the photographer’s copyright, logo or your name. In Photoshop, create a new layer on top of the image and type the watermark text or insert the logo over your picture. Then double-click that layer and decrease the transparency of the text. The image should still be visible but make sure the watermark is placed in an area where it would be very annoying to try to remove. Or you can at least send a photo that clearly has the photographer’s copyright in the corner somewhere.

That at least shows that if they do steal the image, you can show the original that would show where the copyright might have been removed if the suspect simply took it off or cropped it out. There have been models and photographers who have found their work on someone else’s site so be careful whom you send your pictures to.

Here is an example of a watermark on a photo:

5. When replying to a modeling gig on Craigslist be sure to read the entire posting carefully. Some give detailed instructions about how to submit, while others leave it up to you. In the event that there are no such instructions, compose your email like this: in the subject line, put your name and the title of the Craigslist post (Example: Dania Denise – Print Models for Catalog).

In the body of your email, introduce yourself and say that you are interested in being considered for their project posted on Craigslist. Mention that you have attached a photo and only provide a phone number if they ask for it in the post. Keep the email brief and to the point.

6. Keep track of what you’ve replied to. Sometimes the same clients post often on Craigslist and you don’t want to embarrass yourself by submitting to something more than once. I often email myself the actual Craigslist post (there’s a link on the site where you can do that), which I archive. Then if I come across a posting that sounds really similar, I’ll go back and double check to make sure I haven’t already submitted to that particular post.

7. Pay attention to little things. I almost forgot to add this in but thanks to an anonymous reader's comment, I want to add in that each post you read should be relatively free of typos and grammatical errors.

I know not all people are great at English and sentence structure, but seriously, if you are a professional business person there should be no reason why you can't spell check or have someone else check it for you. Whenever I see a post with errors in it, I don't even bother. If a client doesn't appear to care enough to get the posting right, that could possibly reflect on their work ethic or approach to their job.

I should also mention that lately I’ve seen a number of models posting on Craigslist looking for photographers to work with in building their portfolios or searching for clients to give them work. Ummm…not a good idea. That’s a great way to invite a lot of shady individuals.

Use Craigslist to find work, not ask for it or seek out professionals. For that, you need to turn to online modeling communities like One Model Place or Model Mayhem. These are sites that show you the people you want to work with, as well as their portfolios. They also have casting sections to find work.

Craigslist makes it harder to know the person you are communicating with, while the sites mentioned above put a face with the name. If you aren’t willing to do some work to find pros in the industry on your own and just want people to come to you via Craigslist, then you’re probably in the wrong industry.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Answering a Reader Question #18

Ki-Ki Wrote:

Hey Dania,

IT'S ME AGAIN!!!HOW WAS YOUR WEEK??? A lot has happended for me this week also. The last couple of post that you put up have been very informative. Coincidently, this week I met up with a STOCK photographer, who's fairly new and cannot afford to pay me but he will definately COMPENSATE me. This photographer put up a post a couple of days ago, saying that he is looking for models to do everyday shots. I sent him an email saying that I was interested and we set up a day to meet. I checked out his work before I met him though. When he met he told me that he just started doing stock photography and currently cannot afford to pay me but he will take free pictures for me and if I do a couple shots for him. Is this a good deal??

Just to add more details...(I was at work so I had to rush) When I met with the photographer he explained to me what stock photography was (thanks to your post I already knew)and that it was something new for him to do. He said he was interested in doing everyday shots, such as me running to walking. Then he would try to sell the pictures to companies, magazines, etc. He said that he only gets about 20% for the shots that he sells. Thus, he said that for now he can take pictures for me for my portfolio. He said that I could choose what type of theme I want and just email he to let him know. In exchange, for my portfolio I would have to do a few shots for him. Then latter on when things are better for him, he can pay me. Is this good compensation to you????????

Hey, Ki-Ki!

Based off what you've told me, this is a good deal and it is one of the most common exchanges between a photographer and model. Money is one thing but he did let you know his situation up front and is also offering to help you get your portfolio together. So this is a win-win situation for you. As long as you get shots in return, this deal is a good one for you to take.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

When It's Okay to Work for Little to No Money

(This post will best serve freelance models that don't currently have agency representation.)

Getting paid for modeling is great. In fact, seeking paid assignments is something every model should strive for. However, there are exceptions to the rule. Add the following word to your arsenal of modeling lingo: compensation. This word includes more than just actual money for a project. Compensation involves receiving something in return for your services.

When you work for free, that means you walk away from the gig without getting anything. This should NEVER happen! Even inexperienced/new models should seek some form of compensation. Because everyone has to start somewhere, know up front that you won't be able to command the high-paying gigs right away.

You're going to have to do some test shoots and projects that pay within the lower range until you can build up a good portfolio and resume of past clients to showcase your credibility, which will allow you to demand a higher rate for future projects.

There will be times when you may come across a modeling gig that seems really great (for example a small shoot for a local magazine or a shot at doing some work that will appear on a company website) but they either aren't paying anything or aren't paying enough BUT they are offering tearsheets, copies of the images from the shoot and/or free merchandise.

These are all forms of compensation and as long as the compensation the client is offering is worth your time and you feel you can benefit from it, then by all means, submit yourself. Usually a client will offer either a pretty good hourly rate but won't allow you to get copies of the images or merchandise, or a lower hourly rate but also copies of your images. While getting paid more is good, missing out on having images from the shoot may not be. Many times I will agree to a lower hourly rate if I am also able to get copies of the images.

So what's the big deal about being able to offer models higher pay and copies of the images? For the most part, companies don't specialize in photoshoots, they run a business that is entirely independent of their work with you so oftentimes they won't have the time or resources to offer you both money and copies of photos. It takes extra time, effort and sometimes extra money to pay the photographer to not only put together the images for the company but get copies to the model(s) involved.

Try to understand where the company is coming from and don't ride them too hard about what compensation you want because this can backfire and make you come across as a model who is difficult to work with. There is a difference between negotiations and interrogations. Do what you can and work with what you have.

This advice is for both new and established freelance models. One of the first things I do when I'm seeking modeling castings is to check what form of compensation the client is offering. If that field is blank and there is no mention of money, merchandise, tearsheets or copies of pictures anywhere in the post/casting, I move on.

Because you are offering your time and energy, you definitely deserve to walk away with something. Freelance models who have considerably more experience and a strong portfolio to back it up with, can be pickier about working for little to no pay with some other form of compensation so it really all depends on what works best for where you are at in your modeling career.

Even now with my years of experience, there are some projects that I willingly offer my services to that don't pay the big bucks. I make these exceptions to the rule when the form of compensation is something that will directly benefit me--namely, tearsheets and copies of my photos.

Remember, it is up to the client to decide what they can or can't offer. Sometimes these things can be negotiated but if the client has set it in stone, it'll be decision time. Modeling isn't only about being paid for your services, it's also about jumping on opportunities that will allow you to network and receive the materials needed to expand your body of work and add another client to the list of happy customers you have worked with.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Answering a Reader Question #17

ki~ki Wrote:

Hey Dania,
It's me again. My last open call went more as expected. I went to Reinhard Modeling agency in Philadelphia. When it was my turn, my interview didnt take very long. I asked her a few questions like if they are looking for anything in specific and so on. She answered my questions and said that if they need me they will contact me. She also said if I lose a few inches she would enocourage me to come back. I'm a little upset because I dont know where I stand i.e if I have the look, right measurements, camera friendly and so on. Right now I know I wanna do some runway and commercial print. For runway I know I'm kinda to big my measurements are a little bigger than I thought they were (34-27-39). Thus, is my measurements okay for commerical print or am I too big to fit those clothes too(Kinda funny I'M SKINNY how can I be too big). In addition, if modeling agencies say they deal with inexperienced models, does this mean they will train them too and if so do you think they would only take me if I have the right measurements when I first walk through their door or do they work with me since I'm only a few inches too big???????????????????

Hey, Ki-Ki! There are never too many questions to ask...that's what I'm here for!

While it is easy to be discouraged about this situation, the bright side is that she encouraged you to come back. Most agencies will just tell you straight up, "No, you don't have what we're looking for." And leave it at that. Aside from getting signed, your situation was the next best possible one to experience.

Based off what you've said, I'm sure you had the look and personality, you just lacked the ideal measurements. Your measurements are too big for runway and while commercial/print modeling tends to desire the same 34-24-34 stats, this field is much more accepting of different body types and shapes. Commercial/print agencies mostly care that you are proportional. In commercial/print it is about representing a product, company or idea, not clothing so you won't run into the whole "sample size" issue that you would have faced if you pursued fashion/runway. That's a good thing! You may fare much better by looking into commercial/print agencies at this point instead of fashion/runway.

And when they say they will work with inexperienced models, that means the agency will train you for free (unless they offer a modeling school or class, which you want to stay away from). This will happen if they are interested in your from the get-go and offer you a contract. Just know that they may mention your measurements being too big but from what I know about commercial/print modeling, many will overlook that since you won't be modeling clothes or wearing sample sizes.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Answering a Reader Question #16

DAiShA Wrote:

hayyyy omg i sware this is pretty good advice. im 13 also and i want to be a victoria secret model. i have that figure [sadly for my age]. i would love to do lingerie modeling on day. i want to do all types of modeling really. but my body type is very curvy. not like a skinny flatcheasted model. sooo what should i do?

Your height in addition to your figure (measurements) will determine what type of modeling you can do. It takes a lot to be a VS model so if you can manage to fulfill all the requirements I listed in my blog post about it, then you’ll be way ahead of the game. However, if you end up not being tall enough (5’8” and taller) by the time you turn 18 (when you’re legally allowed to do lingerie and related work), you’ll have to stick to commercial/print. When you sign with an agent, let them know you mostly want to do lingerie work and they will do their best to submit you to those clients.

Being curvy isn’t a bad thing but you have to also be sure that your measurements are ideal and that you are proportional in figure. Ideal measurements for models, regardless of what kind of modeling you want to do, should fall somewhere within this range: 34-24-34 (bust, waist, hips). At most, one inch more than any of these measurements is okay but not two or more.

I’m sure there are some agencies that represent lingerie models but I don’t believe there are a large number of them with actual lingerie model divisions. However, I’m sure they are out there so it’s a matter of researching them. But even if you just sign with a regular commercial/print agency, as long as you let them know the type of work you want to do, they’ll work with you to find those gigs. But you have 5 more years to go before you can even do lingerie so worry about that when the time comes. There isn’t much you can do about it now. And if anyone wants to hire you for lingerie or swimwear (that isn’t age-appropriate) before you’re 18 years of age, stay away! They are operating illegally by asking a minor to do adult-themed work.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Answering a Reader Question #15

Ki~ki Wrote:

Congratulations on your stock photography success!!!!!!!!!!! Well, I went to my modeling interview and it went great. I had an interview with MainLine Models, in Media, PA and she said that she loved my look. However since I told her that I never had training in this field. She said that she wasnt going to sign me yet and she told me about training that is held there. She said she wanted me to come back this thursday to start. The training is for 6 weeks at $380. At first I wondered if she was really that interested in my look or if she is trying to get money out of me. Does this sound correct to you, Dania????????????
I also have a open call today at 10am. THanks Dania for all your help!!!!!!!!!

Wow, that is very awesome that you had a successful interview! Kudos! However, you are right to be cautious about the whole arrangement she wants you to do with the training classes. Some agencies are also affiliated with their own model training classes and schools, which you do have to pay for. I'm not sure how this arrangement works but I have heard that sometimes smaller agencies do this when they don't make a lot of money compared to other agencies so the training and classes basically help them make some extra money while signing models as usual. However, I also know of other agencies who willingly train their models for free after offering them a contract to sign.

In this situation, go to your open call today and hopefully they offer you a contract minus the classes/training. If they do, obviously this will be the better choice for you. When an agency starts throwing money for classes into the picture it's best to exercise caution and find an agency who will sign you and train you for free. I guarantee that if you pass up this first agency but want to go back to them later on, they will totally let you if you want to pay for the classes. Money shouldn't completely dictate why an agency will or will not sign you. Agencies also arrange test shoots for new models so I don't see what benefit you would have to pay that much money for something other agencies do for free.

I found this link about MainLine Models. It's an interesting read and may help you with your decision: http://www.easybackgroundcheck.com/mainlinemodelsandtalent.html.

So good luck to you and I hope this second agency works more in your favor and best interest, instead of what they can get out of your wallet.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Photographers & Copyrights (Part 2)

So I know I've probably talked about this before or mentioned it in a post but I just want to reiterate that any photos taken in a photoshoot automatically belong to the photographer. When it comes to copyright, the photographer owns it unless he/she sells it to a company or an individual, such as a model.

I sometimes hear aspiring models or new models say things along the lines of, "I plan on getting the rights to my photos," or "why can't I get the rights to my images?" As stated before, they are not your images to claim the rights to. Yes, you are in the photos but as far as the intellectual or creative property of the images themselves, that belongs to the photographer.

There are rare instances when a model can request to buy the rights from a photographer (which the photographer is solely within his/her right to agree or disagree to). The majority of photographers will charge a large sum to sell the rights for the simple fact that if the model takes the photos, sells them and makes a fortunate, the photographer won't see a penny.

Because of that reason, the majority of photographers will never sell the rights to their images. This also ensures that should a model sell the images anyway without the photographer's consent, the photographer can sue the model.

So when seeking your own images, make sure you use the right terminology to avoid a bad situation. You as a model should seek "copies" of the images, whether they be on CD or from an online gallery where you can download the images. Keep the words "rights" and "own" out of the picture (no pun intended!).

Answering a Reader Question #14

Anonymous Wrote:

How does one convince the Model Mayhem photographers to give you all the proofs from a shoot?

Don't they frown on models retouching their shots themselves?


It's a matter of finding the right photographers. You'll be wasting time and resources by trying to convince a photog to give you copies of the images if it's not part of their policy. I've come across many that willingly offer a CD of all the images, while I've also run into a few that were appalled by the fact that I wanted the raw photos. If you can't find a photographer through MM who can give you all the proofs from the shoot, then I suggest posting a casting for a photographer under their casting section of the site. Instead of searching for them, let them come to you.

Simply state that you are looking for a photographer to do a test shoot with who is willing to offer you all the high-res images on CD. No need to go into detail by mentioning that you want them raw so you can retouch them. Keep it vague and then see who responds and take things from there.

It takes some time to come across the right MM photographers who will give you what you need. For photographers, their work speaks for themselves so it takes a lot of trust for them to put their images raw into a model's hand and let them do what they will. You also have to understand that models like you and I are rare...not too many have the skills to retouch their own photos. Many photogs are so used to the system and doing it themselves that I'm sure coming across a do-it-yourself type of model makes them do a double take. I've been fortunate to come across photographers who actually said, "Do what you want with the photos, I don't care!" Of course, out of common courtesy, when posting their images online, I always try to put the photographer's name for credit or a watermark or logo.

So be patient, be diligent and post a casting, listing what you need. Remember, you don't have to explain yourself...simply say you want copies of the images on CD or accessible from an online gallery where you can download them.

Hope that helps!