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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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Latest Fashion Show: Saffron Rare Threads Spring Soiree

As always, I value the clients that continuously hire me for their projects. Saffron Rare Threads is one of them. For those of you that have been with my blog for a while may remember me posting about the fashion shows I've done for them before. I was very happy when the owner of the chic boutique in San Francisco's Embarcadero Center, Priya, contacted me and asked if I would rock her clothes again in their latest show, which actually takes place in the boutique itself.

I rarely need much pressure from Priya to do her shows so of course I was more than thrilled to come back. What I love about Priya as a client is that she makes exceptions to the height rule. The models she chooses to walk in her shows are of different heights...I'm typically the shortest and the others are around traditional runway height. But it doesn't matter and it doesn't look odd because what's important is that Priya and her crew focus on the fashion and choosing outfits that fit each of us appropriately and work for our body shape and height.

Here are some flicks from the show:

This dress was perhaps the audience favorite of the night. It can be worn a dozen different ways and the fabric is super comfy!

I had a lot of women--and even their husbands--track me down after the show so that I could show them where this dress was so they could try it on and buy it.

The customary group shot after the show. Priya, the owner of Saffron Rare Threads, is the petite beauty in the center. I really liked my yellow ensemble--I could have been part of the Mad Men cast!

My favorite shot and outfit of the night.
Actually, I think I'm one of the few (if not the only) "shorter" model that she uses in her shows. Do you know why? Because, according to Priya and the numbers on her cash register, I sell the clothes. That's what all runway/fashion models are supposed to do. I think the fact that the audience sees a woman of my height and size wearing the clothes is a much more realistic representation of what they themselves could look like.

I can't tell you how often I've done shows for Saffron Rare Threads where directly after the show, I'll get approached by the audience (the models always mingle and do some shopping along with the rest of the crowd) and asked to show them where the outfits I wore were located in the store because they wanted to buy it after they saw me wearing it.

It's not the equivalent of Fashion Week but in its own way, doing shows for this particular boutique has allowed me to make an impact on the local fashion scene, as far as proving that the traditional runway and industry requirements aren't always the end all and be all. Despite not being 5'8"-6'0" I was still able to sell the outfits I wore and at the end of the day, when that is accomplished, that's all that matters. That fact alone keeps me working.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Latest Shoot: Lifestyle in San Francisco

It's that time of year for me to update my portfolio so that I not only get the looks/themes I'm lacking but to also include images with my most current look (for a long time I had my hair short and it is now longer so many of the photos I normally would submit to castings are no longer useable).

I've scheduled 3 test shoots to get the images I need. I knocked out the first one last weekend and teamed up with Peter Kyong of Kyong Photography for the job. I've worked with Peter a handful of times and continue to enjoy shooting with him. He's got a great eye and is able to capture images in a very natural way, which is just what I was looking for.

This particular shoot was for lifestyle themed images. We met up in Union Square in San Francisco and literally just walked around and shot on location. We even got permission to shoot inside a designer shoe store but we didn't take any pictures with the store's products because of branding/legality issues. It was a long but productive day and as much as I loved a lot of the photos--as I always tell you readers--I could only pick a few to include.

I decided to go with a 2-in-1 format for the final images I'll print out and include in my hard copy portfolio.

Here are the fruit of me and Peter's labors:

This 2-in-1 will go into my hard copy portfolio.

This 2-in-1 will also be included in my hard copy portfolio.

This image won't make the cut for my hard copy portfolio but I still like it and thought it would be fun to do a 2-in-1 of these images.
My new digital headshot that I'll use to submit to castings. I also made sure to update my online profile on my agent's website with this photo.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Latest Tearsheets: Shoe Catalog

I'm super excited because I'm waiting to get my copy of the shoe catalog I shot a few months ago in the mail.

I haven't done any posts about the Alegria shoot yet because I want to wait until I have the photos and stuff to share in the posts but I've been in contact with the photography, Jay Canter, and he got his copy before mine. He was such a doll and uploaded two of the images from the catalog onto Facebook and tagged me in it.

The lighting isn't great but as you can see, it's me! I'm on the cover and the other photo is from inside of the catalog:

The cover: me (on the left) and my two model gal pals, Jenna and Oasis.

Inside page. Me, Jenna and Oasis in Union Square, SF. The other pic of me is probably the one they're gonna use as the display ads in Nordstrom and Dillard's. I'll find out soon!
What's even more exciting is that the line is supposed to debut in Nordstrom stores this Fall and the image of me wearing the orange/tan dress is going to be displayed as poster ads in the stores!

As if that isn't exciting enough, Jay just told me that Dillard's is also going to be carrying the shoe line, along with my pictures so my ads will be in two major department stores, not to mention the many boutique shoe shops around the globe that carry Alegria shoes!

To say I'm on Cloud 9 would be a huge understatement! Soon as I get my own copy of the catalog and the images they're going to use for the store ads, I'll make sure to share them here and include blog posts of the entire process, from the casting and the shoot to the results...stay tuned!

DPI in Modeling: What the Heck Is It?

With so many people taking/uploading/editing their own photos, most are up to date on the lingo that comes with digital photography. Terms like DPI are often thrown around and while I would like to assume that everyone knows what that is, I know that's not true, which is the point of this post. :-)

Even if you're not a model that retouches or prints his/her own photos, it's still important to know what DPI is...after all, a good model knows his/her craft and that includes more than just the modeling aspect of things. So here is a basic post that'll give you a crash course into what DPI is and how it is relevant for modeling.

Below is a great definition for DPI, according to the site WiseGeek.com:

DPI (dots per inch) is a measurement of printer resolution, though it is commonly applied, somewhat inappropriately, to monitors, scanners and even digital cameras. The higher the DPI, the more refined the text or image will appear.

Based on this definition, it's easy to see why DPI would matter for models--namely when it comes to their photos. The DPI that your digital modeling images are is crucial for whatever purposes you plan on using them for. If you're going to print a headshot, comp/zed card or regular modeling pictures for your portfolio, 300 DPI is the golden rule. This setting means the image will appear crisp and in focus, especially if the file size is larger than 1 MB. Trying to print an 8" x 10" photo from an image file that's less than 1 MB in size will come out with poor quality, even if the DPI is set to 300 so make sure you're always working with hi res files!

When submitting your pictures to agencies, sometimes they may or may not mention the DPI in addition to the size the image files should be. You'll definitely run into DPI when dealing with printing companies/photo labs for having your pictures professionally printed. Regardless of the occasion, be on the lookout for the DPI requirement anytime you plan on printing modeling pictures and ensure that your images are formatted properly.

In some situations, you might see the DPI requirement for 72. However, this particular setting typically only applies to when you're posting images on the Internet for viewing, not for printing. The reason for this is because the higher a photo's DPI is, when it's posted on the Internet, it takes longer for the page to load. If you've ever had to wait seconds or even longer for a particular page to display all of the images, you'll know how annoying that can be. So when you see a 72 DPI requirement, that's what the deal is.

However, for uploading modeling pictures online, it isn't necessary to set the DPI of your pictures to 72. Unless the site you're trying to upload to says otherwise, you'll be fine with keeping your images' DPI at the standard 300, even though you aren't planning on printing them.

Quick Tip #50

Category: N/A
For: Male & Female Models

My name is Dania, not Diana, Dana, etc. LOL. I know most people either misread my name or when typing it, they're so used to typing those other names so I know it's an easy mistake to make. I don't get mad about it or anything--I'm so used to it--but just thought I'd put it out there for my readers that my name is D-A-N-I-A. :-)

Quick Tip #49

Category: Portfolios
For: Male & Female Models

When choosing images from your shoots, stick to the best 1-2 shots per look. Translation: if you have 3 outfits, that means you have 3 "looks." By the time you're done going through all the photos, you should have at least 1-2 of your favorite images for each outfit/look you've done...so that would total 3-6 images.

When it comes to portfolios, you should not have a bunch of photos with you wearing the same "look." It may be hard to decide but you want diversity in your portfolio and that can't be achieved if you have 5-6 pictures with the same outfit on.

Having trouble narrowing it down? If you just can't pick 1-2 final images from a shoot and instead you have 3-4, then consider putting together a collage or having a 2-in-1 photo instead.

Below is an example of 2 photos that were combined into 1, which would count as 1 shot for your portfolio:

Below is an example of 3 photos that were combined into 1:

Below is an example of 4 photos that were combined into 1:

I think you get the idea. :-)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Quick Tip #48

Category: Modeling Portfolios
For: Male & Female Models

When it comes to traditional hard copy modeling portfolios, your photos should be printed on paper that is all the same size. 8"x10" is the most widely used.

Your portfolio shouldn't have images that are a combination of different sizes like 5"x7", 4"x6", 8"x10" and so on.

That would be a portfolio I'd call a "hot mess!"

Quick Tip #47

Category: Modeling Portfolios
For: Male & Female Models

PLEASE don't print your modeling portfolios at places like FedEx/Kinko's or the Kodak printing kiosk you find at the drugstore. Stick to professional printing companies--there a ton of quality ones that are online operations--they'll have the right pricing, formatting and finishes that are industry standard. Plus, if you have questions, their staff will actually know what you're talking about.

Save the other printing options for family photos and special occasions like birthdays, holidays and graduations.

Quick Tip #46

Category: Modeling Portfolios
For: Male & Female Models

These days it is best for models to have two kinds of portfolios: online and hard copy. Only operating with one version could put you in a position where you're unprepared.

Scenario 1: if you only have a hard copy portfolio but a client emails you and asks for a link to an online portfolio they can view, you'll have to scramble to get digital versions of your pictures and/or scan the hard copy ones you have, reformat them for the Internet and then upload them to the right site(s).

Scenario 2: if you only have a digital/online portfolio and are about to attending a casting in a day or two but are asked to bring a hard copy portfolio, you'll have to print your pictures out last minute and buy a portfolio case. If you don't have a photo printer you'll have to rely on a place like Kinko's or a drugstore printing kiosk, which may or may not produce the right quality to get you the job.

From the beginning, set up your online and hard copy portfolios, keep them updated and you'll always be prepared at a moment's notice.

Portfolio Lessons Pt. II: Preparing Your Photos for a Hard Copy Modeling Portfolio

(This post will be beneficial for both freelance and agency represented models.)

Part I of this two-part blog post dealt with the ways to prepare images for an online modeling portfolio. Because technology and the Internet has become so commonplace in our lives, including the modeling industry, I wanted to get that post out of the way first.

Even though the Internet now fits together with the industry like peas and carrots, that doesn't mean the traditional hard copy modeling portfolio is no longer relevant or necessary--quite the contrary! Fashion, petite, plus size, parts, print, lifestyle...no matter the type ALL models must have a hard copy portfolio to bring with them to castings...no exceptions!

***Notice I didn't say "agencies" for that last part? That's because new/aspiring models don't need to have a portfolio put together when seeking representation. This only applies to models that have already been working with professional images to showcase or that have just signed with an agency and are in the process of putting together their first portfolio.***

As I stated in Part I, titled "Portfolio Lessons Pt. I: Preparing Your Photos for an Online Modeling Portfolio," you first have to do photoshoots in order to get the pictures needed to create your portfolio. So take care of that first.

Got your pictures? Okay, now follow the steps outlined below to get your hard copy modeling portfolio up and running!

Get Hi Res Images

Anytime you do a shoot with a photographer, make sure to mention in the beginning that you need hi res images so that you can use the pictures for your hard copy portfolio. Sometimes photographers assume you'll only be displaying your images online and will resize the photos for that. If they know the images need to be printed, they'll be sure to give you the hi res versions. Anything over 1MB is ideal. Any smaller and you risk having your modeling pictures looking pixelated upon printing.

The larger the file size, the better the print quality will be.

Resize Each Image for Print

If you get lucky, the photographer may have already sized each hi res image for you. Ideally, 8"x10" is the size you want your photo paper to be so when printing, make sure your image fits nicely into those dimensions. Depending on your photo resizing/editing capabilities, you might have to tweak the actual photo in a program like Photoshop so that it will fit properly onto the paper. Cropping may be necessary but as long as it doesn't cut crucial elements like the top of your head, hands, feet, etc. too badly, it should be okay.

The method you choose for printing will actually determine what size your images need to be. For example, if you're printing the images yourself using a photo printer, then you'll have to check that the image is 300 DPI (this is the setting needed for photo printers to print the best quality images without any lines patterns or distortions) and that the image will fit onto an 8"x10" sheet of printer paper.

Another method is to have someone else print the images for you. I would NOT recommend places like FedEx/Kinko's or the printing kiosks at drugstores. Sure, they offer great deals and your family photos always come out looking wonderful but remember, these are your modeling photos. They're a crucial element to your career. There are plenty of online printing companies that specialize in printing modeling photos so do an online search and see what you come up with. I personally use the site Mpix.com. They have really great prices and the print quality is flawless.

Regardless of what online printing site you choose, read the instructions/requirements carefully for how each file needs to be prepared in order for you to upload it to their site so that they can print them. Your prints will be mailed to you, along with a receipt for your order. If you have any questions, they'll have a customer service number of online chat feature so you can get the assistance you need.

Choose the Right Type of Finish

I would recommend printing your modeling portfolio pictures as either flat/matte or semi-gloss. There are other fancy finishes like metallic or full gloss but honestly, these aren't necessary and are often distracting. Good pictures should stand on their own. Black and white photos are okay but don't use this effect on too many of your images. I wouldn't use sepia for modeling photos since it tends to make pictures look like they were shot in a studio that you find at the mall...that effect is best left for family photos.

Put Them in a Portfolio Case

Go to any arts and crafts or office supply store and you're bound to find a "photography portfolio case." Don't spend a fortune on something fancy or top notch. Cheap is fine! I paid $15 for my portfolio case at Michael's Arts & Crafts. The portfolio case should be all black, with clear plastic sleeves for inserting your photos. No fancy designs, handles or embellishments are necessary. Get the plainest one possible. Your pictures are the only "WOW" factor needed.

Portfolio Lessons Pt. I: Preparing Your Photos for an Online Modeling Portfolio

(This post will be especially beneficial to freelance models.)

In the past, hard copy photos was all a model needed. In this day and age of the Internet, however, it's all about those digitals! While traditional hard copy modeling portfolios are a collection of a model's best pictures all contained in a special display case/book, online modeling portfolios are basically a collection of images that are displayed on the Internet, such as a model's official website, social networking site or other photo sharing site where you can create albums with links to your work.

When a photographer, agency or client asks to see your online portfolio, you'll typically give them links to where they can view your stuff. In other instances, this could involve simply emailing them a few of your best images as individual file attachments. So there are a few ways that having an online portfolio works.

Before you can create an online portfolio, you have to do shoots so first thing's first: get to shooting!

Now that you've gotten a handful of useable modeling images, here are the steps you'll need to get an online portfolio together for submission to future clients:

Get The Right Type of File

Jpegs are the most universal type of file to receive your photos in. Anytime you are receiving images from a photographer or client, make sure to ask for jpegs. In most cases, they automatically know so this shouldn't be a problem.

In the event that you have modeling pictures that are not in a jpeg format, you can change the file type in any version of Adobe Photoshop. Don't have it? Download a free trial version. Simply open up the file in question, click the "File" tab in the top left-hand corner and select the "Save As" option. Before you hit the "Save" button, make sure you hit the drop down menu in the field titled "Format" and choose the JPEG option. Then you can officially save the file.

Create the Right Sizes

A few posts back I mentioned making it a habit to not send monstrously huge image files to clients. This also holds true for online modeling portfolios and websites where they have size restrictions on the images you upload. What you want to do is take your original modeling image file and resize it properly. Avoid making your image too small, however.

What I've found to be extremely helpful is having different sizes for each of my photos stored in their own folders on my laptop. For every photo I get from a shoot that I want to display online, I first use Microsoft Office Picture Manager to resize them (I work on a PC, Windows 7 operating system). This program has its own resize section, is super easy to use and even has predetermined sizes that you can select.

So basically, I have 3 different sizes of my hi res files (I always keep the hi res originals of my images on a backup hard drive):

- My "large" images usually range from 500 kb - 900 kb, so just under 1MB.
- My "medium" images usually range from 100 kb - 499 kb.
- My "small" images usually range from 50 kb - 99 kb.

The resizing aspect is important for when you plan on emailing your modeling portfolio images individually as file attachments. Already having set sizes for each will make the process less time consuming when selecting files to attach. When it comes to email, unless the client asks for hi res images, stick to medium or small sized files. This will prevent the likelihood that someone will try to steal your image and manipulate it.

Display Your Photos

Now that you've got your modeling pictures sized properly and in the right file format, you can display them on the Internet to begin marketing yourself. For social networking sites like Facebook and Model Mayhem, your uploaded photos will generally be resized automatically by the site, which is fine. Of course the sites will tell you the max size for each upload so as long as you follow each one's requirements, you should be fine during this part of the process.

When posting your online modeling portfolio, it is best to include a photo caption and credits, if possible. The name of the project, year, location, etc. is ideal as a description but you don't want to make it too detailed (i.e. Spring 2012 Catalog Shoot for X Brand, Los Angeles, CA is a good caption).

Be good about crediting the photographer and anyone else involved in the shoot/show/project as well. This includes the makeup artist, hair stylist, wardrobe stylist, designer, brand/company, etc. If it was just you and the photographer, then obviously you'd only credit the photographer but if you want to pat yourself on the back for doing your own hair and makeup, that's fine, too. :-)

Watermarking your images is also important. It's not mandatory but it's helpful for keeping your images protected so that someone can't right-click, do a "Save As" and try to pass off the images as their own (shady photographer wannabes sometimes do this).

***Don't have a clue about what watermarking is or what it's for? Don't worry, I plan on doing a post or two about "watermarking" so be on the lookout for those in the near future.***

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Quick Tip #45

Category: Runway Shows
For: Male & Female Models

During fashion/runway shows, the eyes are the key! From the moment you step onto the catwalk, focus your eyes straight forward--no looking up, down or turning your head to look at the audience. The same goes for when you get to the catwalk to strike your pose...there are exceptions when you turn your body to show off the clothing at different angles but make sure your head and eyes aren't too far into a profile.

Keeping your eyes level and straight ahead as you walk and not turning your head too much when you pose at the end of the catwalk not only looks better overall, it increases the odds of getting good photos that you can use in your portfolio. Turning your head too much or looking around while you're walking photographs terribly, typically resulting in what I like to call "demon eyes," where you can only see the whites of the eye because the iris isn't visible from the angle the photographer was shooting from. Not pretty.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The "Check Avail" Reply in Modeling--What It Means

(This post was inspired by an anonymous reader's question. Anonymous wrote:

Hi there. Can i ask what is the difference between casting and checking of availability?)

The modeling industry is full of its own lingo. However, clients and agencies often throw out these terms without giving any thought as to whether or not the model they're addressing even knows what it means. Sometimes it's easy to just "assume" that models--regardless of experience level--know such things.

Out of the model jargon out there, one term you may or may not have run into yet is what's commonly referred to as the "Check Avail." This is short for "checking of availability. Traditionally used in the acting world, it's slowly made its way into regular conversation in the modeling industry. By definition, it's a basic request for information as to what your schedule looks like for a specific time frame.

It is important to understand what check avail means because not knowing could lead to false hopes. Okay, let me set the scene so that I can put this concept into an easy to understand manner...

- Let's say you've got a casting for a catalog. You attend, submit your headshot and the client takes a few snapshots of you to keep for their records. That's the end of the casting and you go back to your everyday life/routine.

- A few hours or days later you get a call/email from the client (or your agent, if you have one) and they want to know your "check avail" for a certain date and time or multiple dates/time frames. You let them know if/when you're available and they thank you and say they'll get back to you.

By this point, you're probably wondering, did I get the catalog gig or what? The answer is technically "no." BUT getting a check avail request is a GOOD thing because it shows the client is leaning towards possibly using you for the project. However, they can't tell you whether or not you've actually booked the gig because they're still working things out.

Putting together photoshoots, fashion shows and other related modeling assignments takes a lot of time, planning, production and involves a number of different people all working to make everything happen. Sometimes they can't confirm hired models until they've got all the logistics and details worked out--and that doesn't always happen by the time the casting occurs. When this happens, clients typically review the models that have attended the casting and then request check avails to see who is available on which dates and during which times.

Knowing that info further helps them fit the final pieces of the puzzle together. Once that's accomplished, they can take one final look at who made the cut so far and then actually confirm the models they'll use in the final shoot/project.

So if you get a check avail request from a client or through your agent, one of two things will happen afterwards:

1) They'll contact you again at a later time (before the shoot date obviously) or right away to let you know you're confirmed for the gig.

2) They'll contact you again and say that you are no longer being considered for the gig.

Either way, they'll keep you in the loop, which is a lot better than just not hearing back. A similar situation that also applies to models is known as being placed "on hold." If a client knows you're available but can't quite confirm you 100%, they'll put you "on hold," which basically means make sure you don't have plans on the day(s) when the gig is supposed to take place. In most cases, you'll find out if you've been hired or "released" from being on hold within a few hours or a few days. FYI: being "released" means you didn't get hired.

It may seem like a mean thing to do to a model by keeping them in limbo but many times it can't be avoided--and it is done in a businesslike manner. Clients and directors have to plan and account for everything and sometimes that means keeping people up in the air until important decisions have been made and things can go forward. Just go with the flow and keep your fingers crossed that you'll be confirmed.

Word to the wise: whenever you get a check avail request, be sure to have any and all days they ask for completely open in your schedule. The more flexible your availability is, the higher your chances will be of getting hired over whoever else they might be considering.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Favoritism in Modeling...Don't Take It Personal

It's hard to separate personal feelings from business in modeling sometimes. Regardless of experience level, being neglected or looked over in favor of another model never feels good. But it is important to understand that this will happen in your career and to accept it as another part of the territory that comes with being involved in the modeling industry.

Cliques are prevalent in modeling. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. Even in the biggest markets, people run in small social circles. It isn't uncommon for certain photographers, models and even clients to form cliques and only use each other in their projects. This can make it difficult for a model to break the ice and get invited into the group but if they happen to make the cut, it can be a wonderful social circle to be a part of.

However, there is a downside to favoritism--it feels good if you are the favorite but it sucks if you're one of the odd ones out. I've experienced this a number of times. I once did a shoot with another female model and it went off without a hitch but I could tell that the photographer liked working with her more. I don't think it was necessarily because she was a "better" model than me, but she had an in demand look and apparently it was one that the photographer just really loved. He took more pictures of her than me but I didn't think too much about it at the time because I was focused on the shoot and was in my "model mode."

A few weeks later, I wanted to see how the photos turned out so I visited the photographer's Facebook page and saw he had posted an album of the shoot. Out of all the images that he posted online, there were only 2-3 photos of me...the rest were all her. That stung--especially when he posted on his FB Wall a picture he took of a large poster he had printed out of one of her shots. I thought to myself, "Were my photos not good enough to print out as a poster?" And the thing is--it was a poster for his own home, not for selling to people. If that doesn't scream "favoritism," I don't know what does.

He went on to do a whole series of shoots with this particular model and he was posting all these amazing shots just about every week--shots that I knew I could totally pull off and would have been great for both our portfolios. He never once contacted me to say thanks for doing the shoot, didn't reply back to my messages and didn't take time to give me copies of the pictures. I ended up downloading copies of the ones he posted on his Facebook...there weren't that many anyway. I took the hint and never contacted him again.

BUT I got over my hurt feelings and moved on. It's human nature to feel bad or like you're not good enough when a photographer or client isn't very shy about showing which models he/she enjoys working with more. However, there is a time frame for feeling sorry for yourself. Having a pity party last too long because you feel you didn't get a fair amount of attention from a client only prevents you from getting back on track and distracts you from focusing on snagging that next opportunity.

The favoritism bug shows up not just in shoots but fashion shows as well--I can't tell you how many times I've gone to castings for fashion shows and automatically knew who was in the "clique." I wasn't the least bit surprised when I didn't make the cut but all the "favorites" that knew the production crew and/or show director did. It is what it is.

Anytime I start to remember how sucky it felt to be "left out" or if I'm experiencing a bad case of favoritism, I automatically reflect on the countless photographers and clients that treated me like their favorite and remind myself that I am very well liked/loved by those I've worked with in the industry. They know they can count on me to deliver, which is why they always come back and hire me for additional projects. So instead of pouting because I wasn't the favorite, I instead remind myself how lucky I've been to be the favorite for other people.

There's nothing wrong with being a "favorite" of someone BUT it is wrong to act on it and make other models you're working with feel inferior. I've never done that and I frown upon those that do. If I happen to be on a shoot or in a show and I'm one of the more favored or more used models during the project, I'll enjoy the attention for the moment but always make an effort to engage the model(s) that end up being the odd ones out. During the downtime I'll talk to them, get them to laugh, be more comfortable and eventually try to distract them from thinking about why they aren't the favorite.

It's okay to shine in the spotlight but never let it consume you. Shine that light on others in the process and it'll minimize the sting. They'll be thankful for your consideration.

How I use Model Mayhem to Find Modeling Work

I get a lot of inquiries from models about how I've been able to use sites like Model Mayhem to find work. So I figured, why not lay out my exact routine? The steps below are exactly what my "routine" is when it comes to searching for modeling gigs on Model Mayhem through their "Casting/Travel" section:

Do an Advanced Search

I always do the Advanced Search option. This allows me to select what specific types of projects I'm looking for. The site then filters out the gigs that don't apply and only displays the ones that are relevant.

Here is how I personally customize my search:

I go to the section titled "Search Existing" and make sure the following options are selected for each sub-category:

1. Casting Calls (under Choose a Category)
2. Female Models (under Choose Artist Type(s))
3. United States --> California (under Choose a Location)...because I like to expand my results, I don't fill in the city or radius section, that way I can get casting details for not just the immediate area where I am but for other locations I travel to for work, like Los Angeles.
4. Click the "Show Advanced" link in the bottom right-hand corner

When the Advanced portion of the category expands, it provides additional options to select. From there, I select the following:

1. Casting Calls (under Include...this is automatically selected)
2. I make sure to check "No" for "Nudity?"

For the Compensation part, I always select "Paid" first. Then I go right to the red "Search" button and see what turns up.

Start Submitting

The first round of project submissions I do is always for MM gigs that are under the "Paid" category of the Advanced Search. I'll scroll through and start submitting myself for the opportunities I feel I'd have a good shot at. I make sure I read the posting thoroughly and follow each client's instructions for sending in my photos and info. Sometimes, they'll just want me to message them through the MM website directly or they'll provide a traditional email address to send my pictures and info to.

Search, Submit, Repeat

After I've exhausted all the possibilities for the Paid gigs, then I'll go back and redo the entire search process all over again. I do everything exactly the same, except for the second go-round, I'll select the "Negotiable" option under the Compensation category in the Advanced Search. Negotiable castings are exactly that: there is pay of some kind but it's usually worked out with the client once a model has been hired. Or they may ask me to provide my rate upfront and will try to work something out from there.

Once I've submitted myself to as many Negotiable projects as I can, then I repeat the entire search process a third time. For this last and final round, I do everything the same except I select the "TF" option from the Compensation category in the Advanced Search (are you sensing a recurring theme here? lol).

Why Search TF on MM?

Although I'll always put paying work first, I'll still search for castings under MM's TF category because oftentimes I'll come across a trade opportunity that would be a great benefit for my portfolio. I'm always thinking of concepts/themes/looks that I can update my portfolio with and although I can easily post my own casting call or reach out to my contacts to try and put together a shoot myself, it's way easier to find someone looking for models that's already got the planning part of the process taken care of.

The way I see it is, it's much more effective to submit myself for a TF gig, get booked and only have to show up instead of doing the casting process on my own and have to spend time contacting everybody individually. In this instance, TF castings on MM are golden because I'll get quality results (remember, MM allows you to view member portfolios) and I don't have to pay anyone since everybody on the project is trading their time and expertise for copies of the images for use in our portfolios.

Additionally, for each of these three rounds of casting searches, I only submit to projects on the first page of results. Since I submit regularly, I don't worry too much about missing the latest castings. Once in a blue moon I'll venture to the second page of results but usually those posts are already expired or stuff I've already submitted for.

So there you have it. That's my regular routine when looking for modeling work on Model Mayhem. :-)

PS: In case you're wondering how often I have to do this in order to get results, my answer is: constantly. I submit to MM gigs (paid, negotiable and TF) every other day. If I'm working from home, I'll often do a casting search twice a day (once in the morning and once before bed), that way I'm on top of all the most recent postings. I don't do this for one week and then not touch the site for a long time. I do this every other day on a weekly basis. Only by constantly submitting and contacting people can you really get the ball rolling. 

There's even been times when I didn't get a gig I submitted to on MM but was contacted at a later date/time for a different opportunity because the client liked my profile/portfolio. The results don't always reveal themselves right away. If you don't have the patience to devote to such methods or get frustrated easily after submitting for a few days and not hearing anything back, you won't get results. It's as simple as that.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tips for Doing Photoshoots for Portfolio Building

(This post will be mainly beneficial to freelance models. Models signed to agencies have a bit of an advantage over freelance models because your agent will have a hand in giving you direction as to what types of images you should have to create your portfolio. Newbies aiming for agency representation, you're in good hands so there isn't much I really need to advise you on for this because your agent will be your go-to-person for initiating this process.)

All models need a portfolio to get their foot in the door. This means getting in touch with professional photographers and setting up test shoots. However, for those that are new to the game, there are some important things to keep in mind before diving right in and contacting photographers.

The tips below will serve as a guide for how to approach this situation in a way that will get you the most effective results:

Know What You Want/Need

Contacting a photographer and saying, "I need photos to make a portfolio," isn't going to get you very far or result in any serious takers wanting to work with you. It is important that you know what type(s) of modeling you plan on specializing in. Once you know that, then you can go about choosing the right photographers.

It is essential that your portfolio has at least 1-2 quality headshots and full body shots in various angles that are flattering to your figure. Please note: these should not be of the same type and quality as "snapshots" that you send to agencies. A freelance model's portfolio must have professional, modeling images--makeup, hair, outfits, the whole nine yards.

Having a basic idea of what you need to build your portfolio will get you faster results when searching for photographers to bring your ideas to life.

Pick the Right Kinds of Photographers

Want to save yourself a lot of time and stress? Choose your photographers wisely. While it's okay to shoot with one photographer in the beginning, you'll eventually want to branch out and work with several photographers in order to create more diversity with your images. Having only one person's work in your portfolio will make it boring to look at and to the trained eye of an industry expert, they'll be able to tell if all your portfolio pictures were shot by the same photographer.

Additionally, picking photographers with proven experience and portfolios that showcase they know how to shoot the types of modeling categories you want to specialize in is also very important. If you want to be a freelance swimwear model, don't hire a photographer who doesn't have any swimwear images in his/her portfolio. Want high fashion images? Don't hire a commercial/print photographer. Make sure you've seen his/her work before agreeing to do a shoot together.

Have a Plan

The best way to get usable images for building your portfolio is to collaborate with the photographer so that you both know what you're shooting and why. Set up a meeting before the shoot date and discuss the nitty gritty: locations, wardrobe options, types of poses, themes, etc. Doing this will give the photographer plenty to work with and allow him/her to prepare accordingly once a shoot date has been set.

Simply scheduling a shoot, showing up and "seeing what happens" is a waste of both a model and a photographer's time and doesn't always guarantee good results. Plan ahead and make life easier on yourself. The sooner you get the shoots done, the sooner you can get your pictures and begin putting your portfolio together so you can start submitting for modeling gigs.

Get Your Pictures

Photographers understand the importance of portfolio shoots and know that getting you the finished images is a priority. Make sure that you maintain good communication with the photographer after the shoot in order to find out what the time frame will be for receiving your images (but don't be a nag). If they say 1-2 weeks, then don't keep emailing/calling to ask if the pictures are ready. Be patient. Follow up only if you haven't gotten your images by the promised date/time frame.

There are two types of portfolios freelance models need to create/maintain: an online portfolio and a hard copy portfolio. That being said, be sure to tell the photographers you work with that you not only need the pictures for your digital/online portfolio but for print purposes as well. This is vital for a photographer to know so that they can prepare the right files for you.

For example, printing quality modeling pictures means the image file needs to be hi resolution (aka "hi res") so that when printed out, the photo won't look pixelated/distorted. Smaller size files are fine for posting online so hi res quality isn't usually necessary. As long as the picture is clear and not blurry or pixelated, it's fine to use in an online portfolio.

Models, Care About the Quality of the Work You Book

(This post will be mainly beneficial to freelance models).

Getting into the modeling game, especially via the freelance route, isn't easy. But then again, it isn't supposed to be. There's a lot on a freelance model's plate and--male or female--there's always a learning curve. In most cases, each person has his/her own reasons for wanting to get into modeling. Regardless of what those reasons may be, I believe it's important to strive for excellence in all the work you do.

Quality and integrity of the work you book are so crucial to a model's career, in my opinion. Because freelance models act as their own agent, all the decisions are up to them. There isn't an agency professional to weed out which clients are worth your time and effort and which ones aren't. Approaching the same situation as a freelance model isn't as simple and does take time and experience to master.

If you're simply trying to get paid, that's fine but don't make the mistake of compromising yourself for the sake of a paycheck. By that, I mean to say that sometimes paying opportunities aren't worth pursuing if the end results or the portfolio of the photographer/client isn't going to positively contribute to your own portfolio and resume. Nothing's worse than coming away from a shoot with pictures that you're not proud of and/or can't/won't use in your portfolio.

I'm constantly searching and submitting myself to modeling opportunities online and a lot of what I come across is just not worth even sending pictures to--even if they are paying. While the dollar amount gets my attention initially, if the quality of the work the client has put out (or the portfolio of the people they're putting in charge of the project) aren't what I would consider "good quality," I'll pass. Believe me, there's nothing snobby about such a decision--it's strictly from a business perspective.

Of course there's going to be opportunities where you think the quality is good and it turns out to be the opposite. Such things happen and it isn't your fault. Those are the exceptions to the rule. But in general, don't compromise the integrity of the portfolio you're trying to build, update or maintain just so you can get paid. On the flip side, freelance models that are new/starting out, don't get into the mindset that you have to take on crappy quality photoshoots because you don't have the experience to justify working with truly talented individuals. If you have the right look, a positive attitude and are eager to showcase your skills, there should be no reason why you can't find a photographer and/or client that's willing to take a chance on hiring you, whether the project is paying or a trade shoot.

Passing on a gig because you don't feel the work of the client is up to snuff doesn't make you judgmental, terrible, stuck up or a diva. Any project you participate in is a direct reflection of you and is what others, including future clients, will judge you by. If an opportunity happens to come to you and you aren't very impressed by their work/portfolio, it is okay to politely decline the offer.

Of course crafting a rejection response should be done tastefully. Even if you're thinking, "Man, your photos need work, buddy!" that's not what you're going to tell them. In such instances, it's perfectly acceptable to reply back with something along the lines of, "Thank you for the offer but at this time I'm not taking on any new projects" or "Thanks for the opportunity but I don't think I would be a good fit for your project but wish you the best of luck with your casting." It may not be 100% true but it is a safe way to let someone down. There's no need to be a diva. Never burn bridges with anyone in the modeling industry. Even if they don't appear to be that important, you never know who they know and you don't want to risk a future opportunity because someone has a big mouth and takes a rejection personally instead of in stride as a businessperson.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Difference Between "Posing" and "Posey" in Modeling

Newbies and those still gaining experience may or may not have heard the term "posey" used before but it's a very important one to know. "Posing" is exactly as we know this term to be: you're posing your body in a certain way. However, "posey" means something else entirely. In a nutshell, it means you're posing too much.

Yes--believe it or not--there is such a thing as posing too much. Unless a specific shoot calls for this, models need to be mindful that they're not going over the top. Not every shoot you do in your career is going to be of a high fashion nature so it helps to diversify your poses and learn when to take it up a notch and when to scale it back.

When used in the context of photoshoots and modeling, "posey" has a negative connotation to it but instead of receiving it as an insult, it should be taken as constructive criticism. So if you're on a shoot and the photographer and/or client says, "You're too posey," translate this to mean that you need to appear more natural. This doesn't mean you suck as a model. Constructive criticism is a part of any shoot and is meant to provide feedback in a way that is supposed to encourage improvement. All models receive constructive criticism, which differs greatly from someone downright "criticizing."

So what do you do when you get the, "Don't be so posey" feedback? Take a deep breath and relax. If you need to, shrug your shoulders and arms so that you can shake the tension away. You'll notice a difference in how your body feels after doing this. Now resume posing. The photographer/client will let you know right away if you're giving them what they want.

Still struggling with being too posey? This could be because you're over analyzing things. Being too analytical of what you're doing and how you're doing it is a quick way to become frustrated and check out of the shoot mentally. Despite wanting to plan everything out in your head so that you'll have poses ready to execute, more often than not the best shoots come about as a result of the model being able to go with the flow. Not every single pose needs to be strategically planned out. With time, newer models will learn how to know when to strategize and when to experiment with their posing.

Commercial/print and lifestyle needs to be especially careful of being too posey during shoots. These niches of the modeling industry are all about appearing natural and "posing without looking like you're posing." If needed, do an online image search for "lifestyle modeling" or "commercial/print modeling" and you'll see examples of models that are doing it right. Take note of these reference images so you can apply them to your own shoots in the future.

Fashion models can also benefit from learning how to pose without being posey. While a majority of your shoots will involve a lot of super posing, you'll prove to be more valuable and versatile as a model overall if you also know how to pose naturally with little to no effort. Sometimes a standing, full body shot of a model with his/her legs slightly apart and arms resting comfortably at his/her sides is all the posing required.

Creating a Relationship with the Camera

(This post can be used by all types of models but will be mainly beneficial to those specializing in commercial/print and lifestyle, where the poses and themes are much more natural.)

"Make love to the camera!" is a commonly referenced statement whenever it comes to photoshoots and modeling. While a bit exaggerated, the meaning behind the statement rings true. While no one expects you to literally "make love" to the camera, it is important that models know how to develop a relationship with this seemingly "artificial" piece of equipment.

Real photoshoots are more than just pointing and shooting a model. Amazing images are those that capture special moments that can't be achieved without the talents of the model and the photographer's timing. Many new models have a tendency to get nervous or apprehensive about appearing in front of a camera. The key is to develop a level of comfort and establish a "relationship" of sorts that allows you to be uninhibited and unfazed by anything going on around you.

Whenever I shoot, I cancel out everything around me...all that matters is what's going on between me and the camera. Sure, there's a human being behind the lens but, for me, it isn't even about the photographer. I focus on the camera by giving it humanistic traits. For example, I'll envision the camera itself as a person. Depending on the shoot/theme/concept, my "character" and who the camera becomes are related to one another.

One example of this is a lifestyle shoot I did a while back in San Francisco. It was a simple, natural light shoot that took place in the photographer's apartment/studio. We wanted the images to appear as "intimate" as possible by creating poses, expressions, gestures, etc. that appeared as if I was having a private moment with my boyfriend and someone just happened to capture the exchange.

To build my relationship with the camera for this shoot, I envisioned the camera as my boyfriend, my lover, my confidant. I knew that my eye contact would be the selling point of the images, even if I wasn't looking at the camera. Ladies and fellas, think about how you gaze at your significant other when you've in love. Your entire face is relaxed, soft and endearing. This type of look being given to the camera differs greatly from a high fashion or editorial shoot where that type of eye contact is edgier, direct, wild-eyed and intensely focused.

Even when I wasn't looking directly at the camera, I kept that relationship between the camera and myself going. If I was looking away, I pretended I was reacting to my imaginary companion...I stayed "in the moment." As I've stated before, modeling is similar to acting when you have to embody a persona that may or may not reflect how you are in real life.

I like to romanticize the nature of the relationship between model and camera because, if you think about it, this connection is the strongest during the entire process of the shoot. Unless you're truly able to develop that comfort level with the camera, no amount of posing, expressions or gestures will produce accurately genuine results. Don't think of the camera as a thing or an "it"...think of the camera as a "who." By doing this, with time and experience, I guarantee you'll strengthen your skills as a model that constantly puts out amazing photos.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Quick Tip #44

Category: Email Communication
For: Male & Female Models

Just a quick note to my readers: when sending me an email directly, please remember to mention my name somewhere in the body of your email. I'm pretty good about checking my Spam folder for emails that should have gone to my inbox but I have noticed that the messages from aspiring models going to my Spam folder are ending up there because my name isn't in the email, which causes Gmail to mark it as junk mail.

I'll continue to check my Spam folder to make sure I'm not losing anyone's messages but in the future, take the extra step to include my name in the salutation and/or body of the email so that Gmail will send it directly to my inbox where it belongs. Thanks!

Friday, May 4, 2012

It's Okay to Get Manis and Pedis, Male Models

Male models often get a tough rap because they have to do things to maintain their look that's sometimes considered "feminine" or even "gay." But if you've read my post, "Real Male Models Wear Makeup!" then you already understand what comes with the territory.

Being well groomed from head to toe is a big aspect of a male model's career. Whether you're sporting the manly, rugged look or a more baby-faced one, there are steps you may need to take in order to maintain your appearance. Sure, Photoshop does a lot to make models look picture perfect but when it comes to attending castings and go-sees, you have to sell your look upfront and "as is" in order to book the gig.

This means paying attention to the small stuff like your fingernails and toenails. Depending on your lifestyle, you may or may not have a need to do anything to groom your fingernails and toenails. However, as a male model of any experience level, you'll want to develop a habit of making sure your digits are properly groomed at all times, especially when heading to a casting or go-see.

Getting clean nails can be done at home but I just want to put it out there into the universe that for male models--men in general, really--going to a local nail salon and getting a manicure and/or pedicure done is perfectly acceptable and even necessary at times. If you know and understand the term "metrosexual," you'll know that men appearing in stereotypically "female" places like nail salons and day spas is becoming more commonplace these days. In major cities and even medium-sized ones, such a sight doesn't even get a second look.

Male models just starting out could feel intimidated by this concept but the good news is that your fingers and toes don't require as much attention as your female counterparts. Getting a mani and pedi is mainly about having your nails free of the gunk that gets underneath, filing/shaping the nails, trimming the cuticles and sloughing off layers of dead skin cells. All you need is maintenance every now and then and that's the extent of your involvement with a nail salon. You can opt to have your nails buffed to a nice shine and even get a hand/foot massage in the process.

Not only will you come out looking good but feeling good as well...and you can take that heavenly feeling directly to your next casting, go-see or booked gig. Talk about being on cloud nine! Who knows, you might even get addicted to it. ;-)

Using Formality When Communicating With Modeling Agencies

It's difficult for newbie models, especially young ones, to put the whole modeling industry into the right perspective when first starting out. The idea of strutting down catwalks, appearing in photoshoots and seeing published images of themselves in magazines is overwhelming, which often causes new models to overlook a lot of the "little things" that are much more important during this process.

I receive tons of emails and Facebook messages from so many aspiring models and there's one central theme I keep noticing: the lack of formality in their correspondence. Let me make one thing clear before any of you readers think that you're doing something wrong: when contacting me, it isn't supposed to be super formal--after all, I'm here to help and work with you so there's no real need to be super stuffy and proper with me. If you prefer to be formal, by all means, do what works for you...I just want to make clear that based on this post, I'm not requiring models that contact me to feel like they need to be super formal.

Where my main concern lies is that if newbie models are communicating with me so informally/casually, how will they phrase their communication with actual agencies and clients? While formality is important for both freelance and agency represented models, for this post I'm going to focus on the agency aspect since this is a common goal that most new models seek.

Formality in this sense means conducting yourself properly and using a business approach. Always remember: modeling agencies are BUSINESSES. Their goal is to make money and show their competition why they're better. So when you're submitting yourself to agencies, you have to be businesslike. Yes, that means even if you're 14, 15 or 16-years-old, when you appear in front of agencies at interviews and casting calls or are sending them your submissions via email or snail mail, you have to "talk" to them the right way.

Let's take a minute to further illustrate my point to help get the message across more effectively...

Many of the emails I get from aspiring models typically start off as follows:

- "Hi Dania!"
- "Dear Dania"
- "Hello/Hi"
- "Hello Ms. Denise"
- "Ms. Denise"
- "Ms. Dania"

Now here are some of the salutations I also get:

- "Hey hey hey!"
- "Hi!!!!!!"
- "What's up?"
- "Yo" (yes, I kid you not on that one, lol)
- "OMG..."

Can you see the difference? The first list is what I would call "formal," while the latter...yeah, you get it. So ask yourself this: which of those salutations would you use when composing an email or writing a cover letter to a modeling agency?

My young, dear, sweet, aspiring models...I understand that you're young and there's still a lot about the world you don't know or have direct experience with, including business matters, but if you want to get into modeling and deal with agencies and their high profile clients, you have to realize that you're entering a very grown-up world. While agencies and clients will keep in mind your age, they'll still have to treat you as a young adult.

Your first step is agency representation and that means contacting agencies with your interest. Even though talking to me is pretty causal and laid-back, I'm not an agent. Maximize your results by knowing and understanding the importance of addressing agencies formally. Even if you feel like you're being too formal, it's better than being too casual and having agencies think you're immature or juvenile.

I feel like this social media and Internet obsession has caused us, as a society, to get lazy and too comfortable with being super casual, talking and emailing like we text, etc. And that can be bad for trying to develop a businesslike attitude when dealing with agencies. By all means, hAvE FuN TXTNG & tLkNg Lyk Dis w/Ur FRENZ but not when communicating with agencies and their clients. Learn how to use proper grammar, complete sentences, etc. and believe me, you'll get a lot farther with agencies.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Latest on Dania Denise

Brocade Bridal Fashion Show, San Francisco.
Hey, readers! Just wanted to drop you all a quick post to let you know that I'm still around! It's been a few weeks since I've added a new post on here but I just finished moving (not far, I'm still in Northern California) and getting resettled. Organizing everything has taken a lot of my time and energy. On top of moving, I still had to maintain my work schedule so you can imagine how thinly I've been stretching myself these past few weeks. I'm pretty tired these days, lol.

The Spring bridal season for Brocade Weddings came to a close last Sunday and the Fall season doesn't start up until September so I've got a nice break there from the shows. However, I did just book another fashion show with the San Francisco boutique retailer, Saffron Rare Threads, which will take place later on this month. So that'll be fun!

As always, when one category of work slows down, the others pick up. Because of the move and other priorities I had going on, I haven't had a chance to do as much modeling but I did do a handful of acting projects. I'm guessing that in a week or so that will flip, which means modeling projects picking up and the acting work slowing down. It's a nice balance for me, though, so no complaints!

Now that I've gotten the move out of the way, I've finally had a chance to sit down and start submitting to gigs left and right. The next step is playing the waiting game and hoping I get some hits! I do plan on continuing to add more posts to my blog here for your reading pleasure--honestly, my mind has been running a mile a minute these days so I haven't had a chance to slow down enough to compose an informative and entertaining blog post. But I do miss updating my blog so I thought I'd get back into the swing of things by updating you with this latest post.

So stay tuned...can you believe it's already May?!