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There is more to the modeling world than the media lets on. If you want to find out what it really takes and how to manage your modeling career, then you've come to the right place! This blog is dedicated to the aspiring and already established models who live to defy the standards and stereotypes in order to make a place for themselves in this crazy industry.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tips for Building an Entourage

When I use the term "entourage" as it relates to modeling, I like to think of this as a model's dream team. A group of highly talented individuals that are dedicated to making the model look his/her best.

Unlike the traditional definition for celebrities, where an entourage consists of a group of admirers and fans that just ride on a person's coattails and partakes of their success, I believe a model's entourage should serve as a more functional and businesslike entity.

If you're a model that wants to build an entourage, below are some helpful tips for pursuing such an endeavor with favorable results (if you simply want a group of people to just follow you around to make you feel self important, this blog pots won't be of any interest to you):

An Entourage Works "With" You, Not "For" You

I don't know why, but I think the word entourage has a negative connotation to it. Maybe because this term is originally related to A-list celebs that have the people in their entourage falling all over them left and right and basically serving as "Yes Men."

I'm no diva so I would never think of or treat anyone in my entourage this way. I strongly encourage models looking to build an entourage to use the mindset that these professionals are your partners, not subordinates. Yes, they are using their expertise to bring out the best in you and are following your orders but it is important to keep things in perspective. When you maintain that partnership relationship, it demonstrates an equal balance of respect.

Going into an entourage situation with a positive mindset and not a "holier than thou" attitude will bring out the best in yourself, as well as those in your crew.

Hire People You Trust

Because an entourage is all about taking care of a model's needs, it is important that the people you choose to have in your life in this capacity are individuals that you trust and get along with. A great starting point for locating people to include in your entourage are friends and family that have proven expertise in their respective fields (the keyword here is "proven"...just because your friend or cousin claims to be good at makeup doesn't mean much if their work isn't really that good or if their only experience has been putting makeup on their friends).

It is usually best to seek out people you already know first because chances are you've already developed a sense of trust with them. They know you well enough to understand what results you're looking for and how you operate. An entourage of people you've already established a relationship with means less of a learning curve that typically comes with hiring strangers you've never worked with before.

Spread the Word

The beauty of today's technology is that it's easy to reach a large group of people with little to no effort. There are a few ideal online resources that are perfect for advertising a casting call for your entourage needs.

Social networking sites that cater specifically to the modeling industry (Model Mayhem and One Model Place are prime examples) have casting sections, where you can create a detailed post about what you're looking for and how candidates can get in touch with you to be considered.

Twitter and Facebook are other great places to let people know that you're putting together an entourage. Models with Facebook fan pages should definitely use this resource to encourage their followers to submit themselves (if they have the right skill set and experience) or recommend individuals they think would be a good fit.

Include an Interview Phase

The individuals that make up a model's entourage are people that he/she will be in constant contact and communication with. Because of that, it is essential to screen the people you're considering. It's important to have an in-person meeting/interview so that you'll know what to expect.

A person's online profile and portfolio is all well and good but the physical interaction and working relationship is what will make or break the success of your entourage. The meeting/interview doesn't have to be super formal--you want to see each person in his/her most natural state. You'll be able to tell right away during the meeting if this is someone that you feel comfortable around and can envision working with.

Only Add the Essential Players to Your Team

While the exact people in a model's entourage varies, the most common slots that should be filled include (but are not limited to):
  • Makeup Artist
  • Hair Stylist
  • Wardrobe Stylist
  • Personal Assistant
You'll notice that I didn't add photographer to the list. That's an optional choice. Models are encouraged to work with multiple photographers to add more diversity to their portfolio. However, if there is one or two photographers that you enjoy shooting with, by all means add them to your dream team.

Pay for Their Services

Unless your entourage consists of your BFFs, it's highly unlikely that you'll find people to join your entourage and offer their services for free. There may be exceptions to the rule where the crew will come together for the benefit of tearsheets or copies of the images, which can be used to update and enhance everyone's portfolios but in general, you'll have a more loyal entourage if there is pay involved.

You don't have to spend a small fortune to keep your entourage intact. This is where it is important to negotiate rates for each person in your entourage. Most times, if a person knows they'll get consistent bookings through you, they will be open to offering a special rate that is less than what they might typically charge a regular client.

Don't have the funds for an adequate rate? The power of negotiation is everything. At minimum, at least try to afford paying for their gas and any applicable parking expenses. Providing food and drink is another great way to compensate industry professionals when money is tight. While not all people will accept these forms of compensation, there are some that will and will be thankful for the consideration, instead of assuming that you want them to work for free.

When it comes to paying your entourage, be consistent and timely. If you say you'll pay same day, stick to that promise. If you're cutting checks, make sure you have the right contact info (mailing address) and keep everyone in the loop as to when you've mailed out their checks. Ask for confirmation so that you'll know each person got paid on time.

Don't Date Your Entourage!

It's common sense but is worth mentioning anyway. The last thing you want is to introduce any tension or drama to the entourage setting and dating someone in the group is the fastest way to accomplish just that.

People in a model's entourage work closely with one another and become a tight knit unit. Having a model dating one of the crew increases the odds of things going awry, especially if a breakup or arguments are involved. Keep your entourage all about work and it will help everyone stay focused.

Can't help your feelings? Then do the right thing and have that individual leave their position in the entourage. You may think I'm being too serious/dramatic but unless that person is very secure and low-drama/maintenance, continuing to have him/her work in that position will change the playing field and cause them to lose that business relationship and start treating you as a buddy/sweetie instead of a working partner. You'd be amazed how a person can change in all aspects once you place that relationship title on it.

My best piece of advice would be to keep the two separate at all costs.
_________________

Not all models need an entourage but if you come across people in the industry whose work you love and you enjoy working with them, it doesn't hurt to add this aspect to your modeling career. It makes your life much easier, everyone gets to do what they love and you'll all benefit from each job booked.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Did You Know...? #11

...Applying to agencies in other states or other countries is completely acceptable BUT if you get invited for an interview, the agency will NOT cover your expenses related to airfare, hotel/lodgings and transportation.

That means you better start saving up your pennies and be prepared to pay a lot of money if you're submitting to agencies that are far away from where you live.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tips for Working with Student Photographers

Think you're ready to try shooting with a student photographer? That's great! But you're probably wondering where you can find them. The most obvious answer: photography and art schools!

There are colleges dedicated solely to photography but you'll have better results by expanding your search to include local art schools, which almost always have a photography department.

The cool thing about seeking student photographers to work with is that the schools are much easier to locate. While modeling agencies tend to be abundant in the bigger cities/markets, photography and art schools are virtually everywhere--from the largest cities to the smallest towns. Even if there isn't such a school right in your city, chances are there's one or more to be found just a short drive away.

I would suggest doing an online search for photography and art schools in your area (they probably wouldn't take too kindly to models randomly wandering around campus trying to interest photographers to work with them, haha). Once you get your results, visit the school's official website and try to locate the number for the photography department. If there is just a general phone number for that department, call it.

If you have several phone numbers to choose from, including direct lines to certain people, search for the person who is in charge of the department (i.e. anyone with a title like "Director," "Supervisor, " etc. would be a likely choice). Or if there are direct numbers to the professors/instructors, pick whichever one you want to contact.

Give them a ring--faster than sending email if you're looking to start shooting sooner than later--and ask if there are any photography classes in need of models. Chances are they'll be more than happy to provide you with that info and you can take things from there.

While looking for local photographers on Model Mayhem, I've come across student photographers that have profiles on MM. So that is another way to locate these types of photographers. However, I wouldn't recommend that as a first choice because there isn't currently a filter that separates the "professionals" from the "students." And usually the only way you know the MM member is a student is if he/she says so on his/her profile.

If you happen to come across a student photographer on MM or any other similar website, shoot a message over, introducing yourself and stating that you're available for any shoots they need models for.

Shooting with Student Photographers: Pros & Cons

Student photographers are a hugely untapped resource that I think all models should look into at one time or another. True, these individuals are currently training to learn their craft and aren't "professional" but there are diamonds in the rough that have the natural talent, eye and ability that puts them well ahead of the class...even if they are still in school.

I've been fortunate to shoot with student photographers in the San Francisco area, who were not only good at what they did, they gave me valuable images for my portfolio. New/aspiring or established, models of all experience levels can get something good out of such a collaboration.

Below are some pros and cons that come with the decision to choose a student photographer to shoot with:

PROS

Opportunity to Get New Photos

Freelance models that need to put together their own portfolios will find working with a student photographer to be very beneficial for generating the images needed not just for a portfolio but a headshot and comp/zed card photos as well. Established models in need of updating their portfolios can also benefit from setting up test shoots with these types of photographers.

Student photographers are always glad for models to volunteer so you don't have to worry about paying a small fortune to work with them...they'll gladly work for free in exchange for your time and service.

Good for Getting the Feet Wet 

Most times student photographers aren't super picky about experience level when it comes to finding models for their assignments (of course it helps to be comfortable in front of the camera and naturally photogenic).

New models can use these types of test shoots to get a feel for what doing a shoot is like without the pressure of the "real world" working environment where there's a lot of money and a company/client's reputation at stake. Plus, the student is also on a learning curve so there's somewhat of an equal ground between model and photographer.

Work on Awesome Concepts 

Professional photographers have amazing ideas but I find that it's the student photographers that come up with the most off-the-wall, coolest themes and looks. If you're adventurous when it comes to shoots, working with a student photographer will meet that need. However, there are also traditional looks they shoot for as well, such as portraits and lifestyle themes.

Networking 

Although it is a school setting, you're still working with a photographer and that means networking. If you and the photographer really get along, chances are he/she will invite you back to be a model again and that means more pictures for your portfolio, as well as experience gained or possibly other opportunities that might be of interest to you.

Always in Demand 

Student photographers are given photoshoots to complete on a very regular basis. Depending on the type of courses they're taking, it isn't uncommon for these kind of students to be responsible for conducting 2-3 shoots a week or every other week. This means a constant need for models.

CONS

Little to No Pay 

I'm pretty sure you've heard the term "starving student." Well, the same goes for students attending photography school. The cost of those types of schools is usually super high, especially if it's a private school, and that means they don't have the funds to give a model a huge payout. Sometimes all they can offer is money for gas or they'll buy you lunch.

Those on super tight budgets will simply offer a traditional TF shoot, which means you'll get a copy of the images in exchange for your modeling services. If you're looking to make bank, you won't find it shooting with student photographers.

Not on The Same Level As a Pro Shoot

Many times models that shoot with student photographers are responsible for their own hair, makeup and even wardrobe. Typically, the only times these are provided for the model is if the student photographer is able to hire a hair stylist/makeup artist and/or wardrobe person for the shoot. However, not many in those fields are willing to work for free so that means the student has to work with what they have, which could mean leaving the model to be responsible for these factors.

Shooting on The Fly or On a Time Crunch 

Sometimes student photographers don't always plan properly (or have the ability to do so), which may result in shooting wherever you can, however you can and hoping that it will produce useable images. This could make the shoot overall appear unorganized, which could be a turnoff to some models.

On the flip side, there are times when the instructor will book a venue for the students, where they can set up their equipment and are given an assigned window of time to get their shooting done. This is the time crunch situation where you either get the shots you need or you don't.

Quality Images Aren't Guaranteed 

Remember when I said that there are a lot of naturally talented student photographers out there? Well, that's true but there's also a lot of them that...aren't (lol). It's not that they're just no good but, hey, they are students and there are some that need a lot more training and time to develop their skills.

Even if you have an experience where the photos didn't turn out good enough to use in your portfolio, there's always the opportunity to work with a different student photographer...hopefully one whose portfolio you've seen and feel confident he/she can get you the results you're looking for.

Did You Know...? #10

...That signing to a "talent" agency as a model doesn't mean you also have to do acting. Models sign with talent agencies all the time and the agent won't force you into acting work if you don't want to do it or have no interest in that field.

Samples of Male Model Comp Cards

Since I just posted my own updated modeling comp/zed card, I figured it would be beneficial for my male readers to see what a comp card for a male model would look like. I found these images through a regular Google Images search--hopefully I won't get in trouble for posting these, since these are agency represented male models.

However, if I get told to take them down, I'll try to replace them with different ones that are okay to share on my blog:





Saturday, June 2, 2012

New Dania Denise Comp Card Designs

The front of my modeling business card.
I can't tell you how invaluable it has been for me to know how to do graphic design. Using my Photoshop savvy, I've been able to design and print my own business cards and modeling comp cards, which has not only been convenient but definitely much more cost effective.

Since I've recently updated my portfolio with one test shoot so far, I've found a new headshot and other images that I wanted to revamp my comp cards with.

Since I freelance in addition to having an agent, I created two comp cards: one for commercial/print and lifestyle projects an another for more fashion oriented work.

Here they are (the black rectangle on both are covering up my phone number...can't just put that info out on the Internet for everyone to see!):

My commercial/print comp card.

My fashion comp card. I'm not doing new shoots for this category so I just used existing fashion/editorial images I'd already had in my portfolio.
As I continue doing test shoots to update my images for both types of modeling, I can easily swap the images on my comp cards so it will continue to stay up to date. I don't typically need to print my comp cards but I have already ordered my new business cards. So far I've had to email my comp cards or a link to it for castings, so it's been helpful to have it readily available as a hi res file on my laptop.

Anyone interested in having me design their comp cards or business cards, feel free to shoot me an email at: daniadenise@gmail.com. I offer affordable, flat rates, as well as links to recommended sites where you can get your business cards and comp cards printed at good prices with great quality.