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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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Understanding Commercial/Print Modeling

I often talk about commercial/print modeling on this blog and the many benefits of doing this type of work but have come to understand that the concept/definition of this category may not always be quite clear to aspiring models learning the industry.

So I decided to do a new post to update some info in regards to this category and hopefully bring you guys more insight as to what commercial/print models do and the nature of their jobs.

Commercial/Print Doesn't Mean TV Commercials

It totally makes sense for people to think that because the word "commercial" is in the phrase, that it means acting in TV commercials. But when it comes to modeling, "commercial" is used in a different way.

In commercial/print the "commercial" part is mostly referring to the demographic that clients are targeting, which would be the average, everyday consumer. The businessman/woman, families, parents, kids/teens, etc.

So if you want to get into commercial/print modeling that doesn't mean you have to become an actor. Sometimes the term is shortened to "print models" or "commercial models" but either way if it has the word "model/modeling" in it, chances are it's strictly talking about modeling and not acting.

Commercial/Print Models Represent Companies/Brands, Products & Concepts/Ideas

Companies/brands like Burberry, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent hire fashion, runway and editorial models. Companies/brands like Target, Verizon, HP and Walmart hire commercial/print models. See the difference?

Commercial/print models are hired to represent a company or brand, mainly by depicting them using a product or somehow interacting with/showcasing whatever is being advertised. Is the product a new laptop? Then the company who makes the laptop is going to use a commercial/print model to take photos using this product, which could then appear in a magazine ad, an online banner or pop-up advertisement or on a billboard.

If Disney Cruises has a new family travel package they want to promote, they may hire commercial/print models to pose as a family, with the shoot taking place on the actual cruise ship, depicting them playing, laughing and enjoying the amenities.

The next time you go shopping at the store, take a look at the people that appear on the product packaging. Those are prime examples of commercial/print models.

Sometimes the concept is more abstract. It could be a concept, idea or design a company comes up with. If it's targeting the average, everyday consumer then chances are commercial/print models will be used.

How the Photos are Used for Commercial/Print Modeling

Alrighty then, now we're moving into what's known as "usage." Where and how are the photos taken of commercial/print models used? This was sort of answered above but there is a bit more to it.

Newer and inexperienced models often worry about where their pictures will wind up. There are horror stories of people manipulating modeling photos and misusing them but when it comes to commercial/print, there couldn't be a more "up-and-up part" of the industry.

When dealing with legitimate companies/brands, especially if it's a gig booked through a modeling agency, the odds of having to deal with your images appearing somewhere shady or being misused is super duper low. This is because the general nature of commercial/print modeling is very G-rated. It's highly unlikely that a company like Sprint, for example, would misuse a model's image in a negative or derogatory way. What good would that do for Sprint if it was found out?

Commercial/print models are hired by companies/brands to promote, support or represent them so rest assured, I doubt any print model is going to lose sleep at night after they've done a shoot.

Now that we've gotten that pesky "OMG, what if?" moment out of the way, let's focus on what actual usage for such images are as they relate to the industry.

I've talked about Model Release forms before and they do appear throughout a model's career. However, in the past I've mostly talked about release forms as they apply to a model shooting with a photographer to create images for each other's portfolios. What I'm about to go into is dealing with release forms as they apply to a model that has been hired for a specific purpose by a client (company/brand).

No commercial/print model is going to be in the dark about where and how their images will be used. Those who have agents will get these details ironed out completely beforehand. Freelance commercial/print models will be provided with this information as well. In the release form, the details of the intended usage will be stated right in the document. Below are the typical ways clients end up using the resulting images from a shoot with a commercial/print model:

- In Print: Duh, right? The final image(s) chosen by the client could end up appearing as a magazine advertisement, in a promotional flier or mailer, catalog, on a billboard or any other printed/published format.
- Online: The final images could appear on the company's website, in a pdf document, a pop-up ad, email newsletter or banner advertisement.
- Broadcast: Sometimes still images from a shoot may appear as part of a commercial or other broadcast project (TV show, infomercial, etc.). Again, this doesn't mean you'll end up being an actor, just that the still images from the shoot might also be included as part of a broadcast advertisement.
- Promotional Material: The final images could wind up in the form of banners, table displays or other printed materials that may be showcased at a tradeshow, convention or other public venue where the company/brand wants to advertise how the commercial/print models are using/interacting with the product or representing their company.
A Bit More About Release Forms & Usage

The release form will specify which types of usage applies to the project. What happens if that usage changes later on? Then the client is obligated to either have a clause that covers such a possibility in the release form or will be required to contact the agency or the model directly (if freelance) to notify them of a change in the terms. Sometimes this could result in the model getting paid an additional fee.

However, in some cases the client knows that the type of usage could change over time but may not know when. In such an event, they may offer what's know as a "buyout" rate, which is typically in addition to the actual pay rate the model would receive. The rate and buyout rate is always listed on the model release form so the model and their agency (if applicable) are all on the same page as the client as far as compensation goes.

If offered a buyout rate, this means you are agreeing to accept the money and be hired as the model with the understanding that you have no say in how the images will be used and that the client isn't obligated to pay any future monetary compensation if they want to change how the photos will be used whether it's a few months or years down the line.

However, if the word "perpetuity" appears anywhere in regards to usage and buyout rates, that means the model is allowing the client to use their images for as long as they want aka "forever", which may not include additional compensation (thanks to Noelle for reminding me to add this bit of important info!).

Are you still with me? :-)

If you're thinking to yourself that this all doesn't sound very fair and that the models are just signing everything away, I would advise you to step back and look at it from the appropriate perspective. This isn't a situation where you're supposed to fight for your rights and make a big stink. It's business, folks. This is how it's done everyday. Honestly, you're getting hired for a service and if you're getting a buyout rate, that means you'll be taking home a very nice paycheck at the end of the day for what may only end up being a few hour's worth of work.

In general, signing a release form (with or without a buyout rate) means that the model is understanding and agreeing that they have no say how the images will be used, that they do not own any rights/copyrights to those images, nor will they be allowed to pick which photos will be used in the final version. That's never going to change, by the way. I gotta say, that makes sense when it comes to commercial/print gigs where you're being hired by a company/brand for a specific purpose.

Models are only a part of the marketing/advertising process. The companies/brands have entire departments and personnel responsible for taking the images from a shoot and transforming them into the final product. You, as the model, are working for the company/brand, not the other way around.

Show up, do what you're supposed to do and when all is said and done, you get paid, you get exposure and--hopefully--tearsheets. And that's what it really all boils down to when it comes to your role and responsibilities as a model.

And now you know more than you did before about commercial/print modeling. :-)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How Much Do Models Get Paid? Part 1 - Overview

I was looking through my blog posts under the Label/Category "Money Matters" on my blog here lately and realized that while I have a good number of posts related to pay rates, advice on how to charge for modeling services, etc., I didn't really have a post that just kept it black and white when it comes to this very common question: "How much do models get paid?"

I believe you can never have too much information on any subject so that's why I'm adding another post to this category (a 3-part series to be exact) that will hopefully present yet another perspective and additional knowledge as to how models earn their keep.

Please note that this post is talking about payment and earnings for the average working model, not supermodels and the other high earning types of models we ogle over.

So How Much Do Models Make Anyway?

Whenever I'm asked this question I can't just give a straight answer because there isn't really just one that applies. The modeling industry is so vast and broad, there are different niches/categories of modeling to consider and don't forget that pay rate and earning potential is different for freelance models than those with agency representation.

The most generic answer based on the latest labor studies for the United States is $30,000-$40,000 per year, if we're talking about salary. But don't get it confused--remember that models don't get a salary paid to them in the form of a regular check once or twice a month like an employee at a company. It is an independent contractor role so the models are paid per assignment.

The average working model in foreign markets don't fare much better, either, and make considerably less than the range listed for the U.S.

If you think about it, the salary range described above isn't a lot of money. Factor in the following: bills (cell phone, credit card, car payment), living expenses (rent/mortgage, insurance, utilities, food) and--for agency repped models--the commission that goes to the agency, and at the end of the day it doesn't leave you with much to work with.

Want to break down the pay rate for models even further? According to the site MyFootPath.com:

The average hourly pay for models is $15.83 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Yikes. Sounds awfully low, doesn't it? But that's how the numbers work out for the most part.

No Established Pay Rates

Keep in mind that the hourly pay listed above is the "average" based on a bunch of statistical and mathematical formulas that I won't even pretend to know how to break down because I suck at math, haha.

There are modeling gigs that pay super well. $100/hour is a common rate, as are those that pay a flat half day or full day rate. Depending on the client, budget and model needed, a project could pay anywhere from $300-$500 for a half day, while those on the higher end of the scale could shell out as much as $1,500-$2,000+ per day.

When it comes to hourly pay, the higher the pay rate, the less time the model will be needed and vice-versa. Half and full day rates tend to be better obviously but, again, the pay a model could end up with after all is said and done varies widely.

There is no payment guidebook that tells clients how much they need to pay models for each assignment. What does that mean? It means they can choose whatever amount they want unless they ask the model for his/her preferred rate. But that applies to freelance models only. Agency represented models don't have a say in what they'll get paid--it is the agency's job to negotiate on behalf of the model to get the highest, most fair rate.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, this brief post has a lot of variables in it. Nothing is set in stone and nothing is really all that clear cut. Why is that, you ask? The good news is you'll get an answer to that very question in part 2 of this 3-part series. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Latest on Dania Denise: January 2014

Happy 2014, everybody!

I know, I know, we're already getting into mid-January and I'm a bit late on doing a celebratory kind of blog post, lol, but I decided to jump right into my traditional informative posts to kick things off because I'd been getting a lot of emails asking for info about modeling contracts lately so I wanted to address that request sooner than later.

So consider this post my backwards way of making things correct in a timely manner. ;-)

Normally I wait a few more months in between doing "The Latest on Dania Denise" posts but I figured it is a new year and why not share with my readers what I've been doing now that we're in 2014?

Actor Mode

Being a model and actor certainly has its benefits. When work slows down in one category, it's like a rule of nature for projects to pick up in the other category. The holiday season meant a slow one for modeling so I got a chance to unwind and be lazy. However, shortly after New Year's Eve, I began booking more acting work, including a local TV commercial.

I've missed being in front of the camera and had a blast on the various acting gigs I've been on so far this month. Looking forward to booking many more in 2014!

Spring Bridal Fashion Season

Another year, another season of bridal shows! I'll be returning in February to participate as one of the regular bridal models for the Bay Area Wedding Fairs. There will be a casting call sometime later this month to find new faces and, as has become custom, I'll be helping out with the process by being the first person the attendees meet at the casting, informing them of what the panel is looking for, demonstrate a walk and help them practice before heading in to see the casting director.

I love being a part of the casting process, meeting all the people and seeing who gets to be a part of our bridal modeling family.

Prom Fashion Show

One of the shops I've worked with regularly through the bridal shows, ended up inviting me to be a model for their upcoming fashion show, which is all about showcasing the latest prom dresses for 2014.

The 2014 PROM SPECTACULAR...WHERE OUR HEART IS IN FULL BLOOM event is actually scheduled for the same day as the first bridal show in February. The good news is that it's an evening show, whereas the bridal show is in the morning. It'll be a tight schedule but definitely doable. For this show, I'll have between 2-3 dress changes and my fitting will be the first week of February.

Doing new fashion shows is always exciting and I can't wait to see what designs I'll get to wear. I'll be sure to share photos and hopefully video (if available) from the event.

To be honest, I'm very amused at the fact that I'll be modeling prom dresses for high school girls and I haven't been in high school for over 10 years now. Is that ironic or what? LOL.

Pageants, Sashes & Crowns, Oh, My!

Some of you may or may not know that I do coaching and consulting, including pageantry. I've done a small handful of pageants in my day (the last one I did was the 2009 Miss California USA pageant, where I competed as Miss North Bay Area).

For the past few years I've been coaching an extraordinary young lady, Jennifer Smith, who has also become my protege. Well, all the hard work paid off because this past Saturday, Jennifer was crowned 2014's Miss Silicon Valley's Outstanding Teen! Words can't express how proud I am of her and how far we've come to reach this moment.
I was pretty much having a heart attack while Jennifer was being crowned, lol.
Jennifer (left) after the crowning, posing with her friend, who is a fellow titleholder from another pageant and who came to show her support.
Now that she's a titleholder, we'll be going off to Fresno in June to compete in the Miss California Teen pageant. If she wins that, she'll go on to compete for Miss America Teen (I've been told that she'll be required to have her coach--that's me!!!--travel to the pageant with her as her escort and companion). That's far down the road from now but we'll see what happens in Fresno and will take things from there.

Until then, Jennifer will be busy fulfilling the duties of her title and I'm sure this is going to be an amazing year for her. On my end, it's exciting because it's my first win as a pageant coach and that always means more business and networking opportunities. I already have my next student lined up, who wants to compete for next year in the same pageant Jennifer won at. I'm hoping it'll be the first of many students I'll get to coach and help develop into the new generation of young role models society is always in need of.


Things are still a bit slow on the modeling end as far as shoots go but that's cool because I'm continuing to be selective in who I work with and what opportunities I'll accept and which ones I'll pass on. I did get contacted by a male model I worked with years ago through the bridal shows, who expressed interest in doing a couples shoot.

He just moved back to the Bay Area and I was happy to hear from him. I'm looking forward to shooting with him and creating some really hot (yet classy) editorial images that will benefit both our portfolios.

My agent has been gung-ho on booking me for acting work these days so when I get free time away from the other businesses I run, I plan on ramping up my freelance modeling efforts and snagging some great modeling gigs so I can get more tearsheets to add to my portfolio.

So far January has been good to me and it makes me even more excited about the rest of the year to come! As always, be on the lookout for new informative posts and other tidbits as they relate to my career. Oh, and guess what? I found the photos from my first very test shoot as a model back when I first started at age 15! I'll be sharing those photos and reminiscing about what my first test shoot experience was like and how that helped bring me to where I am today.

It's a new year, folks, and there's no time like the present to set the bar for success even higher!

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Meat & Potatoes of Modeling Contracts

Modeling contracts can be intimidating and it's no wonder that I often get panicked emails and messages from model hopefuls with all sorts of questions.

I have a handful of blog posts that talk about modeling contracts but I know it never hurts to add more content to expand on the subject. And I do plan on adding more posts to that category over time.

This post will focus on the main parts contained within the typical modeling agency contract. But please note that each agency has its own contracts it uses and the clauses contained are specifically relevant to how that business operates. Because I don't know what every single agency contract looks like, the purpose of this post is to shed light on the most common clauses that can be found in a majority of these types of documents.

Also keep in mind that I am by no means a legal professional (or claiming to be one). The terms and descriptions I'll be referring to are all based on my experiences and knowledge of the modeling industry and are meant to be informative. The clauses described below are in no certain order.

What's a Clause Anyway?

I know a lot of my readers are pretty young and may or may not be familiar with some of the words I use. "Clause" as it relates to a contract basically means a section or part of the document that addresses a particular topic. These clauses are usually numbered, making it easier to reference when talking about what the contract says.

Now that you know what a clause is, let's get to the meat and potatoes...

Description of Both Parties & Responsibilities

This is the part that identifies the Agency and the Model. The wording contained in this clause usually talks about the basic role the agency will play and what role the model will play, which goes into effect once both parties sign the contract.

This clause often contains specific lists or descriptions of duties that the Agency will undertake, such as being in charge of developing and guiding the model's career, making executive decisions and offering counsel when it comes to marketing and the types of projects the Agency will consider for the model.

If you're not sure exactly what a modeling agency does, this part of the clause will spell it out for you.

There is also information related to what the model agrees to do in order to hold up their end of the deal. For instance, agreeing to inform the Agency of any outside projects they are contacted about, seeking advice from the Agency for any situations related to the model's career and agreeing to provide the Agency with the proper marketing materials needed to promote them (i.e. portfolio images, headshots, comp cards, etc.)


When reviewing any modeling contract, make sure to find out whether or not your representation would be "exclusive" or "non-exclusive." How do you find this out? By reading the contract of course! Somewhere there will be a clause that says either of these terms. Still can't find it or not sure if the term you've come across in the paperwork is talking about the type of representation you'll receive? Then ask the agency to point it out or for clarification.

Don't know what "exclusive" or "non-exclusive" means when it comes to contracts? Then CLICK HERE.

Duration of Contract

All modeling contracts clearly state how long a model will be represented for. This could range from 1 year to 5 years. It all depends on the agency but this information will be in the contract. Details regarding renewing representation if a model wishes to remain with the agency is also contained in this part of the document.

Exit Clause

Sometimes this is buried within another clause, such as the duration of the contract. It may be easy to locate or it may require some close reading. Either way, agency contracts always state what the guidelines are for terminating the agreement and what a model needs to do if they feel they no longer wish to have representation through a particular agency.

The most common phrase I've read in nearly every modeling contract I've come across (mine and others included) usually says something to this effect:

"This agreement may be terminated at any time, for any reason by either party."

That's a good thing, by the way. Always follow what is outlined in the exit clause of a modeling contract if you wish to break ties. Are the rules not quite clear? Again, ask the agency for clarification.

Commission Amount

All modeling contracts specifically state how much commission will be taken out of each assignment booked for the model through the agency. The actual amount varies on market/location and the current trends. Back when I first started the commission was 10% but today in most large markets, it's more like 20-25%.

Medium to smaller market agencies may take less and often stick to 10-15%. This is all normal and, again, varies based on several factors.

Agencies overseas tend to take considerably more, although I personally have no experience in being contracted with any international agencies. However, I have been told my colleagues who live and model in other countries that their agencies take as much as 40-75% commission. So next time you think about complaining when you see what's left from your check after your agent's taken its cut, remember it could be worse.

Power of Attorney

Without getting all legalese on the subject, this part of the contract basically states that the model agrees to let the Agency act as their legal counsel. If a client ends up not paying for a model's services, if there is a dispute of some kind between the model and the client or if the client ends up breaking the terms of whatever paperwork was signed between them and the agency, then the power of attorney gives the modeling agency the authority to take care of all legal matters on behalf of the model.

This is a great form of protection for a model since it means they don't have to worry about hiring their own lawyer and having an agency's legal professionals take care of business often gets the best results, compared to a model trying to accomplish this on his/her own.


Agencies have to feel confident that the models they represent will always act professionally and in the best interest of the agency as well as themselves. Having an etiquette or code of conduct clause in a contract means the model who signs it assumes automatic accountability and responsibility for their actions, including any consequences.


I'm sure there are plenty of other clauses I left out and seeing as how some contracts can be as short as 2-3 pages or as long as 10+ pages, I'm sure you can see why I've chosen to only include the most commonly used ones.

Any questions or concerns about the contract you've got in front of you? Then don't sign it yet! It's perfectly acceptable to ask the agency for clarification about anything you don't understand. In fact, it's encouraged and shows great initiative on the part of the model. Only after you feel confident that you understand what's being presented to you, should you sign the contract.