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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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Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Difference Between Casting Agencies & Talent/Modeling Agencies

Not all agencies are created equal. The word "agency" gets thrown around a lot and within the entertainment industry it's easy to get confused.

To avoid any mishaps and ensure that you're on the right track, I felt it would be good to do a post to break down the important differences between casting agencies and talent/modeling agencies.

Since I've written at length about talent and modeling agencies, the points listed below will be in direct reference to how casting agencies operate.

To sum up casting agencies in a nutshell: this type of business contains a database of actors, models and other types of talent and essentially acts as a matchmaker between the talent registered on the casting agency's site and those casting for various projects.

Whenever someone is looking for models or actors, they typically post their project on the casting agency's site and the talent that matches the requirements are notified and given a chance to submit themselves directly to the project. From there a casting or audition is arranged between the client casting the project and the talent submitting.

CASTING AGENCIES DON'T HAVE CONTRACTS

When you sign up for a casting agency there is no contract to sign or worries about being exclusive or non-exclusive. You can sign up with as many casting agencies as you want and don't have to worry about any conflicts. You are not "represented" by a casting agency and they aren't considered your "agent."

CASTING AGENCIES DON'T CHARGE COMMISSION

The great thing about casting agencies and booking projects through their services is that there isn't a commission you need to pay them. The casting agency makes its money in other ways so you don't have to pony up a percentage each time you book a gig.

CASTING AGENCIES LET YOU CONTROL YOUR CAREER

Many freelance models and actors use casting agencies as a method of finding local work for a variety of projects according to the preferences set in their member profiles. Updating your photos, resume of experience and other profile preferences are all in your hands. Simply login to your account and you can control everything.

CASTING AGENCIES WORK WITH TALENT/MODELING AGENCIES, TOO

This varies from casting agency to casting agency but oftentimes, traditional talent/modeling agencies work closely with local casting agencies so it isn't uncommon for a represented model/actor to have a profile on a casting site even though they have an actual agent.

This type of profile will look different on the casting agency site compared to someone who is freelance and doesn't have agency representation. For example, if a client is looking to cast a project and is looking at the profile on a casting agency site for an individual that is freelance, the contact info will be that of the model/actor. But if they are looking at a profile on a casting agency site for an individual that is agency repped, the contact info displayed on the profile will be that of the agency's (in most cases).

Because of this close working relationship between local casting agencies and talent/modeling agencies, it is common for both freelancers and repped talent to go to the same castings and auditions that may be held at the casting agency's office.

CASTING AGENCIES CHARGE AFFORDABLY FOR THEIR SERVICES

At least the legitimate ones do, haha. While the cost of being included in a local casting agency's database may differ from market to market (i.e. smaller and medium markets tend to have more affordable fees, while large markets may be a bit higher), in general you can opt to pay an annual fee or break it down into a smaller, recurring monthly fee.

This is one of the main ways casting agencies make a profit and why you don't have to fork over a percentage of your earnings in the form of a commission. As long as you keep up with your payments, your profile will remain active and viewable by potential clients.

Some casting agency sites let you set up a profile for free. Of course that tends to be limited in the services available but if you're hesitant to pay or want to test the waters first, checking out the free version is a good approach until you feel confident enough to pay for a basic membership.

CASTING AGENCIES LET YOU DO YOU

You don't have a booker at a casting agency to call or email to check in with or ask advice for in regards to what kinds of photos to have in your portfolio. They are the middleman that simply gives you a place to house your photos, video clips (for actors) and stats so you can get matched up to projects and be found by clients.

While they are on hand to answer basic customer service questions or troubleshoot tech issues, they are not in a position to guide you through your career the same way a standard talent/modeling agency does.

IS A CASTING AGENCY FOR YOU?

It is optional to enlist the services of a casting agency in regards to your modeling/acting career. I've found working with local casting agencies to be an incredibly beneficial tool and resource in finding work, connecting with clients and building my network.

I've always had profiles on local casting agency sites whether I had agency representation or not. The monthly fees are also affordable and, in my case, are tax write offs since they count as a business expense.

There are a score of casting agency sites out there and while there are those that contain nationwide castings as well as more location specific ones, I tend to focus on the local ones. This is mainly because the numbers game tends to be in your favor with local casting agencies compared to the ones that have nationwide castings where you're now competing for jobs along with other people around the country.

At the end of the day working with a reputable casting agency can only help your endeavors and not hurt them. Make sure the casting agency you're interested in is established, has reasonable rates and doesn't try to nag you with paying for additional services you don't need, or try to up-sell you on photoshoots and training courses.

Stay tuned for my next blog post, which will address some of the red flags to be on the lookout for when it comes to finding a solid casting agency to work with.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

How to Choose the Right Modeling Agency for Your Child

If you thought entering the modeling world was challenging, entering it as the parent of an aspiring child model is even more harrowing simply because you're dealing with the safety and welfare of a minor.

While much of the info listed below is going to be the same as the previous blog post I did about how to Choose the Right Modeling Agency for You, there are a few differences and additional things I want to point out to parents specifically, which is why I decided to do a post on this subject by itself instead of lumping it together with the other one.

And if I didn't include something on here that is on the other post, it's not because it doesn't apply--it's mostly because I didn't want this post to be longer than it already is, haha.

So let's jump into it!

MAKE SURE THE AGENCY REPRESENTS KIDS

Not all agencies are created equal so it's important to check the website to first determine whether an agency even works with kids.

For the ones that do, make your way to the part of the site that talks about how to submit your child for representation. Some agency sites have a "Submission" or "Join Us" page or may house this content on the Contact page, About Us section or mention guidelines/methods for submission on the FAQ page. Take some time to navigate the site overall and it should be relatively easy to locate this info.

Don't forget to take note of the age ranges represented. If your child is closer to the maximum age listed, still submit. It will be the agency's call whether or not that will make a difference. Never just assume your child doesn't meet the requirement and skip out.

MODELING AGENCY OR TALENT AGENCY?

The great thing about child models is that they're super marketable. Does your child want to act as well as model? Then you should be seeking the services of a Talent Agency and not a Modeling Agency.

Signing with a Talent Agency will kill two birds with one stone because these types of agencies represent both models and actors. That means one contract, one set of commission and one agency to work with instead of two.

Don't get sidetracked by the agency names, btw. Sometimes agencies don't use the word "Talent" in their names but do represent both actors and models. When doing online research for local agencies, check them all out and chances are you'll find that the ones that look like they only work with models may actually be talent agencies with other divisions.

Be thorough and leave no stone unturned when putting together a list of agencies to submit your child to.

LOOK AT THE ROSTER

Many agency websites that represent kids have photo galleries where you can view the current talent on the roster. It doesn't hurt to take a few moments to check out what ages and looks made the cut.

Do you see a lot of kids with a similar "look" as your child or not as many, if at all? These are things to take note of when you submit your child's photos and info and especially if you get invited to an interview with the agency.

Other agencies keep their child talent photos private and only allow them to be viewed by permission or request. This doesn't mean there's something fishy or that the agencies that make child models' photos public are suspicious. It's up to each agency which approach they'll choose.

LOCATION IS KEY

Similar to grown up models, parents of child models will want to consider starting local with agencies instead of jumping the gun and applying to places out-of-state or that are over 2 hours away by car.

Remember: attending castings, go-sees and auditions when being represented are not paid so should your child get signed, the day-to-day routine of getting them to and from will eventually take a toll on your wallet. Staying local keeps these expenses to a minimum.

Even if you believe in your child enough to hop on a plane and go to where the opportunities are, unless the opportunity is an actual paid booking they've received through their agency, any costs related to airfare, lodging and transportation will be your responsibility as well.

Starting off with a local agency will still get your child into the industry and as their career progresses, you can then opt to either move on to a larger agency or consider relocating to a new market if things really seem to be taking off and you feel it is in your child's best interest.

KEEP IT IN PERSPECTIVE WITH PHOTOS

One of the easiest ways to know if an agency is reputable or not is when it comes to their submissions for child models.

I say this because of the many hundreds of agency websites I've reviewed over the years, the ones dealing with kid models always drive home the fact that non professional digital snapshots are preferred for submission because not only does it give them an accurate representation of what your child currently looks like, kids grow up. Fast. And that means they only have a certain window of time where they'll match whatever photos are taken of them.

When you're submitting to agencies directly, stick with non professional digital snapshots unless an agency specifically requests professional images. Sometimes this happens when agencies prefer to only work with established and experienced models. However, I mainly see this with adult models and not so much with kids but that's not to say it doesn't happen. Just a small mental note to keep in mind.

Have you already taken the initiative and gotten professional images for your child to submit? Then by all means, use them. Agencies are more than happy to check them out but it also helps to have digital snapshots as well. For parents who have never gotten professional photos of their child done, stick to the digital snapshots for now and once a contract is on the table, it will be the agency's job to guide you through the process of setting up those professional test shoots.

Now when it comes to interviewing with the agency in person, that's a slightly different conversation when it comes to what kind of photos to use moving forward. Once your child is signed, they WILL need professional headshots and other images to create their portfolio. Which leads to the next important point...

DON'T PAY UPFRONT FEES & NO HARD SALES TACTICS

If a contract isn't being offered to you first, there is no reason why an agency should be asking you to pay upfront fees for services like training, portfolio creation, comp card printing, etc. Additionally, it is not appropriate for an agency to pressure you to sign a contract right then and there without allowing you to take it home to look over for a few days.

Anytime an agency makes it seem like they'll snatch the opportunity away if you don't get on board on the spot, take it as a red flag and politely decline. If they're asking for personal financial information like a credit card, definitely get up, walk away and don't look back.

SUGGESTED PHOTOGRAPHERS VS. USING YOUR OWN

Your child has just gotten signed to an agency and you couldn't be happier. Now it's time to create those marketing materials that will allow the agency to do their job: headshots, comp/zed cards, portfolio, etc.

Many agencies will offer a list of recommended photographers to work with. This is common practice because they've undoubtedly worked with a fair share of photographers and want to know they can trust the quality of the images they receive.

However, the agency should not force you to use their photographers. The ideal situation would be to get this list with the understanding that the use of their recommended photographers is optional and that you are free to select anyone you want, as long as the quality of the work is up to their standards.

If you've got a photographer you want your child to work with that isn't on the agency's list, don't be surprised if the agency wants you to provide a link to that person's portfolio. Again, they want to make sure the quality is what they want so it's only fair that you show them your choice is a good one. If they agree, then you're golden. Should they not agree and tell you to find someone else, don't get discouraged, especially if you've got other options of your own to consider.

At the end of the day, it should be your choice whether or not you go with your own photographer or select one of theirs--not a decision you feel pressured into making if you don't want to or can't afford. A legitimate agency will work with you, not against you.

DON'T IGNORE YOUR GUT

When attending open calls and interviews pay attention to the atmosphere in the agency offices. Are the phones ringing, do the bookers appear to be busy and interacting with clients and models? How are the staff treating you? Do they seem genuinely engaged with you in conversation or are they a bit snooty and act like you're in the way?

Don't ignore your gut. But that doesn't mean you should over analyze and scrutinize every little thing. Make mental notes of how you are treated, if there are any awkward moments or if you felt completely at home the entire time. Think about the conversation you had with the agency staff and how they handled any questions or concerns you raised.

Remember: the modeling agency you end up signing with will be people you'll be interacting with for the duration of your contract so you want to make sure you're picking an agency that you look forward to working with. Even if an agency is the biggest and the best, if you feel uncomfortable or get a bad feeling that something's not right, it's likely a sign that it's not a good fit.

Most importantly: how did they interact with your child? Make sure to ask your son/daughter afterwards how they felt about the experience and take their feelings into consideration when making a decision who to move forward with for representation.

LOOK AT THE CONTRACT

Getting a contract offer is the goal but don't sign on the dotted line if you don't know what you're getting yourself into. Legitimate agencies allow you to take the contract home to review and will give a deadline for when to provide them with a signed copy if you're on board.

If your goal is to sign with more than one agency, don't sign an exclusive contract and vice-versa. Find out how long the contract is going to last. Not sure if you want to commit long-term to an agency? Then you'll likely be more comfortable signing a 1-2 year contract and not a 3-5 year one.

Understand how to get out of the contract if you want to terminate the working relationship early for whatever reason. Knowing where the "Exit Clause" is in the paperwork and what steps you need to follow to exercise that right will be important to identify before signing.

How much commission is the agency charging? 10-15%? 20-25%? These are things you need to know.

ASK QUESTIONS

Don't be afraid to ask questions and get clarification on anything you don't understand. It is the agency's job to educate and inform you about their contracts and methods of operation.

Make a list of questions ahead of time so you don't forget anything during the open call or interview you really want to ask. It's also a good idea to do your homework and check whether or not the agency's website has an FAQ page. Oftentimes that alone will answer most questions you probably already had in mind.

Find out how many models they have in your division and roughly how often they send models out on castings and go-sees. Ask what the agency's process is for setting up test shoots for building your portfolio and creating headshots and comp cards. Learn about any slow seasons during the year you should expect or if there are any ages or "looks" for child models that tend to be more popular than others.

These are all run-of-the-mill questions agencies are accustomed to addressing so there should be no reason why they should give you a hard time, get defensive or otherwise not provide you with answers. The way an agency interacts with you in the beginning is a great way to get an idea of what moving forward with them would look like once you accept the contract offer.

Friday, November 24, 2017

How to Choose the Right Modeling Agency for You

For those hoping to lead a successful modeling career, getting agency representation is the first step into the industry.

It makes sense because agencies are the experts, they have the connections, established working relationships with clients large and small, as well as the know-how to market models and negotiate the best pay rates for gigs.

I have written many blog posts related to the topic of modeling agencies but figured it would be helpful to do an updated post of sorts that provides a basic breakdown of just how to choose an agency that would be a good fit for you.

Of course I can't speak for everyone so consider the information below as a more generalized version of tips and things to keep in mind during your agency search.

LOCATION IS KEY

A general rule of thumb is to submit to agencies that are no farther than a 2 hour's drive from where you live. Being further makes agencies hesitant because they need models to be available on short notice.

Despite how confident a model may feel that she/he can accommodate a last minute casting, the truth is it's often difficult to drop everything and make arrangements to drive far or spend money on a flight to try and make a casting. Agencies know this and would rather not take the risk of trusting a model's word alone. Being close to the agency's location and client base is vital.

The concept of relocating to be closer to agencies is a risky and expensive one that should be made very carefully. Runway/fashion model hopefuls may have housing options offered to them once they are signed to an agency but this is not guaranteed and not all agencies provide housing. So don't assume that will automatically happen for you should you choose to pick up and move.

Commercial/print models don't receive housing from agencies like runway/fashion models do so aspiring print models should definitely be realistic when it comes to which agencies they plan to submit to in terms of location.

When looking at potential agencies to submit to, think long and hard about where you are currently located in relation to the market you want to work in. If you live within commuting distance then you're good to go. Live outside of the 2 hour driving window? Then you'll want to start evaluating how realistic it will be for you to try and make a last minute casting or booking, as well as how you would convince an agency to believe that the distance won't affect their ability to work with you.

MATCH AGENCIES TO YOUR MODELING GOALS

Some aspiring models want to do it full-time and be the next supermodel. Others want to try something new and see if they'll like it. There are also those who simply want to do it for fun part-time as a hobby.

Make sure you know what you want to do with a modeling career and match that to the types of agencies you're considering.

If you want to go all in with modeling then clearly you'll want to seek agencies in large markets. Already located in that market? Then the next step is to review the submission guidelines of the agencies you're interested in and prepare accordingly.

Do you live in a small town that isn't known for modeling? Then you'll want to see about signing with a local agency to gain experience, build a resume and portfolio and then possibly plan to submit to agencies in a larger market that may require you to relocate. Or you may get lucky and find a mother agency locally whose job will be to place you with larger agencies in other markets nationally and/or internationally.

DON'T IGNORE YOUR GUT

When attending open calls and interviews pay attention to the atmosphere in the agency offices. Are the phones ringing, do the bookers appear to be busy and interacting with clients and models? How are the staff treating you? Do they seem genuinely engaged with you in conversation or are they a bit snooty and act like you're in the way?

Don't ignore your gut. But that doesn't mean you should over analyze and scrutinize every little thing. Make mental notes of how you are treated, if there are any awkward moments or if you felt completely at home the entire time. Think about the conversation you had with the agency staff and how they handled any questions or concerns you raised.

Remember: the modeling agency you end up signing with will be people you'll be interacting with for the duration of your contract so you want to make sure you're picking an agency that you look forward to working with. Even if an agency is the biggest and the best, if you feel uncomfortable or get a bad feeling that something's not right, it's likely a sign that it's not a good fit.

DON'T PAY UPFRONT FEES & NO HARD SALES TACTICS

If a contract isn't being offered to you first, there is no reason why an agency should be asking you to pay upfront fees for services like training, portfolio creation, comp card printing, etc. Additionally, it is not appropriate for an agency to pressure you to sign a contract right then and there without allowing you to take it home to look over for a few days.

Anytime an agency makes it seem like they'll snatch the opportunity away if you don't get on board on the spot, take it as a red flag and politely decline. If they're asking for personal financial information like a credit card, definitely get up, walk away and don't look back.

WHAT KIND OF WORK DO THEY BOOK?

Do you dream of walking runway shows in other countries? Do you want to appear in clothing catalogs and billboards? Do you see yourself modeling accessories for online websites or are you more interested in doing tradeshow/promotional modeling and hosting and/or acting? Then you'll want to thoroughly browse through agency websites to see what types of clients the agency has worked with.

Typically in the About section of the website, there will be a description of the types of projects booked, along with names of clients and/or a list of recent gigs the agency has gotten. Tracking down this information, along with learning more about the history/story of the agency, will allow you to see whether or not your goals are in line with that particular agency.

LOOK AT THE CONTRACT

Getting a contract offer is the goal but don't sign on the dotted line if you don't know what you're getting yourself into. Legitimate agencies allow you to take the contract home to review and will give a deadline for when to provide them with a signed copy if you're on board.

If your goal is to sign with more than one agency, don't sign an exclusive contract and vice-versa. Find out how long the contract is going to last. Not sure if you want to commit long-term to an agency? Then you'll likely be more comfortable signing a 1-2 year contract and not a 3-5 year one.

Understand how to get out of the contract if you want to terminate the working relationship early for whatever reason. Knowing where the "Exit Clause" is in the paperwork and what steps you need to follow to exercise that right will be important to identify before signing.

How much commission is the agency charging? 10-15%? 20-25%? These are things you need to know.

SUGGESTED PHOTOGRAPHERS VS. USING YOUR OWN

You've just gotten signed to an agency and you couldn't be happier. Now it's time to create those marketing materials that will allow the agency to do their job: headshots, comp/zed cards, portfolio, etc.

Many agencies will offer a list of recommended photographers to work with. This is common practice because they've undoubtedly worked with a fair share of photographers and want to know they can trust the quality of the images they receive.

However, the agency should not force you to use any of their photographers. The ideal situation would be to get this list with the understanding that the use of their recommended photographers is optional and that you are free to select anyone you want, as long as the quality of the work is up to their standards.

If you've got a photographer you want to work with that isn't on the agency's list, don't be surprised if the agency wants you to provide a link to that person's portfolio. Again, they want to make sure the quality is what they want so it's only fair that you show them your choice is a good one. If they agree, then you're golden. Should they not agree and tell you to find someone else, don't get discouraged, especially if you've got other options of your own to consider.

At the end of the day, it should be your choice whether or not you go with your own photographer or select one of theirs--not a decision you feel pressured into making if you don't want to or can't afford. A legitimate agency will work with you, not against you.

ASK QUESTIONS

Don't be afraid to ask questions and get clarification on anything you don't understand. It is the agency's job to educate and inform you about their contracts and methods of operation.

Make a list of questions ahead of time so you don't forget anything during the open call or interview you really want to ask. It's also a good idea to do your homework and check whether or not the agency's website has an FAQ page. Oftentimes that alone will answer most questions you probably already had in mind.

Find out how many models they have in your division and roughly how often they send models out on castings and go-sees. Ask what the agency's process is for setting up test shoots for building your portfolio and creating headshots and comp cards. Find out if they have a list of photographers they recommend or if you're free to choose our own.

These are all run-of-the-mill questions agencies are accustomed to addressing so there should be no reason why they should give you a hard time, get defensive or otherwise not provide you with answers. The way an agency interacts with you in the beginning is a great way to get an idea of what moving forward with them would look like once you accept the contract offer.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

What Are Male Models Supposed to Look Like?

The modeling world is filled with women. That's never been a secret and sadly, that often means male models fall by the wayside.

There are successful male models in all categories across the industry but the fact that the modeling business revolves around women can make it challenging for newbies to figure out how to pursue their goals of male modeling.

It is important to know that because there are different types of modeling categories out there, that means there are also different types of male models. They aren't all supposed to look alike and what ends up being in demand does change every year.

Let's break down the common attributes that come with male modeling in various popular categories, shall we?

THE MALE FASHION/RUNWAY/EDITORIAL MODEL

These are the typical types of models most of us tend to think of when it comes to men in modeling. What is important to know and understand if you're an aspiring male model is that agencies have all different looks and types on their rosters. It also depends on what market you want to work in. The male models in Los Angeles may not necessarily look the same as the ones working in New York and internationally.

Fashion designers are all so different and eclectic across the board, so it only makes sense that certain designers would want their male models to look a particular way, compared to another designer. That means even if you have a look that wouldn't be of use to a client doesn't mean you wouldn't be the perfect fit for the next one.

Male models in the world of fashion, runway and editorial tend to be tall and leanly built. Not bodybuilder types, either. Some may have the six-pack, washboard abs, while others have an athletic toned body, while still others don't have much of a "physique" at all and are on the slimmer side in terms of body type.





They may have a beard or meticulously groomed facial hair or they may have the clean shaven face of a teenager. Their hair might be short and neatly cut, while other male models are known for their long and wild locks. Some might even be bald or have braids.




Tattoos are generally frowned upon in the modeling industry but male models in the fashion/runway/editorial world are often the exceptions to the rule, as long as their tattoos don't become the sole focus instead of the male model himself.

Remember that the exceptions to the rule are just that--exceptions and not the norm--so there was something about that particular male model that agencies and clients saw that puts them in the exceptional category. I'm not a mind reader so I couldn't tell you exactly why the industry would choose a certain individual as that exception to the rule and it is usually on a case-by-case basis.



THE MALE COMMERCIAL/PRINT/LIFESTYLE MODEL

These are the male models who reflect clients' demographics across the board and encompasses all ages and walks of life.

He can be athletically built, maybe even a bit of a beefcake (not bodybuilder status, however) or he can simply be a regular Joe who may not have washboard abs but maintains his physique in a way that means not sporting a gut.



Male print models can have facial hair or not. His hair may be completely dark, have wisps of gray or be totally salt and pepper.


Height is flexible although as long as the female models he shoots with don't completely tower over him, there isn't a stringent height or weight requirement. Being height/weight proportionate is key, though.

THE MALE TEEN/COLLEGE MODEL

Teen male models are supposed to look their age. The "man child" look likely wouldn't apply here, haha. College aged male models are likewise also supposed to look like they could easily be a student at the college level.






Body types for male models in these categories can vary and they obviously don't have to be beefed up bodybuilders. Hair style can range widely as well. Facial hair isn't always seen on teen male models although that doesn't mean they don't exist or aren't wanted. Same for college aged male models. As long as you still look your age, facial hair won't be a huge issue.

THE MALE FITNESS/BODYBUILDER MODEL

Male models that want to break into this category have to walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to their physique. While the categories of male models described above don't have stringent requirements for body type, fitness and bodybuilder categories do...and in a big way.

Bodybuilding is all about massive bulk and muscles so it makes sense that male models setting their sights in this direction have to make a dedicated effort to working out, eating right and understanding how to maintain their desired results.




Oftentimes, fitness modeling is used interchangeably with bodybuilding but for this particular post I'm going to talk about fitness modeling as it relates to sports/athletic modeling. While it does require male models to be very fit and in shape, the massive bulk of muscles doesn't have to be quite as large. Being toned, having a nice set of abs to show off and nicely defined arms and legs are ideal.




_________________________

The modeling world itself is always changing so don't feel the need to compare yourself to other male models or try to change things about yourself if it isn't necessary. It's about finding where you fit in.

Friday, July 28, 2017

ATTENTION: Ladies 5'6" & Shorter in California!!!

Now that I've got your attention, lol, I wanted to let you know of an opportunity that hopefully will be of interest to those of you on the shorter side who happen to live in California.

Chances are you already know this news if you follow me on social media but for those of you that don't or who only check out my blog for modeling related purposes, I'm pleased to announce that I am the new State Director for the first ever Miss California Petite Pageant!

So if you've ever thought about doing pageants, have done them in the past, always thought you were "too old" or were looking to try something new and see what it's all about, I strongly encourage you to apply because as State Director, I run the show (and you'd be in good hands)!

Essentially, it is my own pageant that I will be producing and putting together so contestants would be interacting with me directly throughout the whole process. To avoid writing a long blog post and getting lost in my words, below is a breakdown of what this all means and how you can be a part of the festivities!

WHAT: Miss California Petite Pageant 2018

WHO: I'm looking for ladies that are 5'6" or shorter in bare feet. You will be wearing heels in the pageant but your true height has to be 5'6" max. There is no size restriction so by "Petite," I'm strictly talking about height. I want women of all shapes and sizes!

There are 4 divisions: TEEN (13-17), MISS (18-26), MS. (24-40) & MRS. (30+).

MS. contestants must be unmarried but may have children. MRS. contestants must be married and may be with or without children. Married contestants under the age of 30 will automatically compete in the MRS. division.

AREAS OF COMPETITION: 1) Swimwear, 2) Evening Gown, 3) Private Interview with the Judges, 4) On-Stage Question (for the finalists). There is NO Talent Portion!

MRS. contestants will not compete in Swimwear and will instead compete in Fun Fashion, where they get to model an outfit of their choice on-stage that reflects their personality and sense of style.

WHEN: The Miss California Petite pageant will take place on April 13 - 15, 2018 (Friday thru Sunday).

WHERE: The host hotel is the Hyatt House in Emeryville, California. Check-in and interviews will take place at the host hotel. The On-Stage Finale Show will take place at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center in Oakland, California.

HOW TO APPLY: You must fill out the registration form to be considered:

https://www.misscaliforniapetite.com/register

My team and I will review all applicants and send an official acceptance email to those that have been selected. After being accepted as a contestant, the registration fee will need to be paid by the set deadline and all contestants will receive email instructions with the next steps, what to expect, a checklist, etc.

WHAT YOU WIN: The details of the prize package are listed on the registration page but in addition to all that, the 4 winners from each division will be trained by me personally to prepare for the National Competition, USA Petite, which takes place in Florida. I will also travel with my titleholders and accommodations will be paid.

If you win at USA Petite, you get a free cruise (you read that right!), with the TEEN and MISS winners going on to compete at the International Competition, Universal Petite, which actually takes place on the cruise ship! The MS. and MRS. winners do not have to compete and get to enjoy the cruise and support their sister queens.

Miss California Petite 2018 is a huge undertaking for me and a passion project I'm devoted to because it is creating experiences and opportunities specifically designed for shorter women (and we all know how tough it can be to get the foot in the door for us "shorties").

Even if you've never thought about pageants and just want to model, remember that winning a pageant opens up a score of networking opportunities, the chance to do a slew of photoshoots, making public appearances and those all open doors to people whose radar you wouldn't be on otherwise.

So take a chance and check it out. Pageants aren't for everyone but being a part of such an experience (and with me taking the lead), I can promise you it will be an unforgettable journey!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mature Models: Don't Compare Apples to Oranges

Because of the constant reminders that it's all about being young and that youth is what makes for a successful modeling career, it's easy to get discouraged if you've entertained the idea of getting into modeling later in life.

I would hope that you've read enough of my blog posts by now to see that there is, indeed, life after 25 for models.

I've done several posts in regards to the concept of modeling at virtually any age but I did want to do this particular post to remind you "mature" models out there that when it comes to submitting yourself to agencies that have your division, you shouldn't compare yourself to your younger counterparts.

It's helpful to think of "mature modeling" as a sub-category of commercial/print and lifestyle modeling. You're not modeling designer clothes on the runway or necessarily doing editorial spreads. Like traditional print models, you'll be representing the every day consumer but for your age group. People your age shop for all kinds of products from a number of reputable brands and it is those clients who need your lovely face to represent their products, company or concept.

Many modeling agencies have divisions specifically for mature models, while others tend to just consider them traditional commercial/print models. When it comes to submitting yourself to agencies for potential representation, it is important to remember that you aren't expected to look in your snapshots the same way a 16-year-old aspiring runway model would.

That being said, keep the following tips in mind when it comes time to start sending out your photos and info to the agencies on your list:

LOOK FOR AGENCIES WITH MATURE MODELING DIVISIONS

A basic online search for "mature modeling agencies" or "mature modeling" will turn up many results. The ones you want to focus on first are the actual agency websites. Some may specialize in only mature models, while others may be regular agencies that also have mature modeling as one of their divisions.

Don't get misled by blog posts and other sites that seem to only have the keywords/phrase "mature model/modeling" in the text. Stick to the legitimate results like the agency websites first. Articles that talk about the subject of mature modeling are also worth checking out, not just for informative purposes but oftentimes they'll list one or more names of agencies that deal with mature models, which can help add to your list of potential places to submit to.

CHECK OUT THE COMPETITION

I always find it helpful to go on agency websites and see the roster of models they currently represent. Check out the commercial/print section or the mature modeling section (if they have their own division) and see who is on there.

Look at the quality of the headshots, how the models are posed, their hairstyles, wardrobe, etc. It will give you a good idea of what that particular agency is looking for, as well as what to expect when you do test shoots or the types of work you could potentially book, should you be offered a contract.

Find mature models that have a similar "look" as you and see how many there are. Some agencies won't sign on new models if they already have a lot that are similar in appearance. Don't see anyone that quite matches your stats? That could mean they'd have room for someone with your look or it might not be in demand at that time. The only way to find out is to submit!

READ SUBMISSION GUIDELINES CAREFULLY

I will confess that one of the pet peeves I have with many agency websites is that their submission guidelines are basically written for young models. Even though they may represent mature models, it boggles my mind how many don't have a separate set of guidelines for other divisions. Some do but a good number don't.

So first thing's first: check out the agency's website and make your way to the part of the site that talks about how to send your info. Read any listed info from top to bottom. If there is any part that specifically discusses what to send for models in your age group/division (or for print models), follow it to a tee. Send only what they specifically ask for. No more, no less.

Don't see anything in regards to non-fashion/runway model submissions? Then do your submission according to what is listed on the site but tailor it for your age, which leads us to the next tip...

PREP THOSE SNAPSHOTS ACCORDINGLY

If you are in your 30s, 40s, 50s or even 60s, agencies aren't going to expect you to do the standard two-piece swimsuit snapshots for women or the shirtless shots for the men. Once the agency staff realize you're a mature model, everything will make sense so don't worry about that.

Ladies: Wear fitted clothing in solid colors (no logos, graphics or busy patterns). It can be a short-sleeve shirt or even a tank top, with fitted jeans or shorts. They don't have to be skinny jeans but they shouldn't be baggy. Or if you have a nice casual dress you like that shows off your figure in a flattering way, wear that.

For the full length body shot, you can be barefoot or if you choose to wear heels, keep it simple--they don't have to be stilettos. The key is to not wear anything that would take away the focus from your face.

If you can pull off the no-makeup look, rock it. If you're a bit anxious about that idea, keep any makeup you apply super light, such as concealer for any blemishes. Resist the temptation to wear lipstick and no fake lashes or heavy mascara (if you have light colored lashes that disappear otherwise, wear a very light coat of mascara that makes your eyelashes look natural and not overly dramatic).

Keep your hair out of your face. Long haired gals can wear a low ponytail or if you choose to wear it down, brush it behind your shoulders or keep it behind one shoulder.

Men: Simple, solid colored t-shirts or collared polo shirts are ideal (no logos, graphics or busy patterns), paired with nice jeans or khakis. You can get away with being barefoot if you choose to wear shorts but if you're wearing pants, casual shoes will likely be best. Most men can pull off the no-makeup look (color me jealous!), so chances are you won't have much to worry about as with your female counterparts.

You don't need to be a beefcake and super buff but your physique in general should be healthy and height/weight proportionate. Keep any facial hair well groomed and properly trimmed.

DON'T TOUCH THAT HAIR DYE!

If you've got the salt and pepper hair going, stick with it, especially if that's how you normally wear your hair.

There are older models who have yet to see any gray or who have made it a long time practice of dying their hair and if you fall under that category, don't do anything different. Don't have any gray hair to speak of? That's cool, it's not a mandatory requirement to be a mature model. It's mainly your age and how well you've kept yourself up, appearance-wise.

The good thing about pursuing the mature modeling path is that you're supposed to reflect your age group in the best of ways and that includes your hair color. So before reaching for that DIY kit or making an appointment at the salon, remember that the snapshots you submit should look like YOU on a daily basis.

Don't feel like you have to go to the extremes to alter your appearance unnecessarily. That's no fun and these days, youngins are dying their hair silver and gray and white so clearly you're doing something right if the millennials are trying to sport your look!

SMILE!

Runway and fashion models are known for the sexy pout and dead face stare but mature models typically are all about smiles and genuine expressions because that is the nature of the majority of the modeling work they'll be booked for. So don't be afraid to show off those pearly whites in your snapshots!

If the agency guidelines ask for snapshots with a smile and without a smile then follow what they say but if they don't go into details about exactly the types of shots they're looking for, play it up with a warm and friendly smile.

DON'T GET SCAMMED

Unfortunately, there are some people out there looking to make a quick buck by mislead aspiring mature models with offers that are just too good to be true.

Be wary of agencies that are only "online" and don't have a physical location. That's not to say online agencies are all scams BUT you dramatically decrease the odds of any shady happenings by considering agencies that have a brick and mortar location, as well as those that have been in the business for a while.

Any basic research will usually help you determine if a particular agency is worth checking out further. Keep in mind that if you get invited to an interview or open call, you are under no obligation to say yes to anything or to sign anything you don't want to. High pressure sales tactics are always red flags, as is the promise of representation if you pay X amount of dollars upfront.

You have the right to politely decline and walk away at all times--always remember that and do not sign anything you haven't read several times over or don't completely understand.

THE BOTTOM LINE: BE YOU

Models come in all shapes, sizes, races and ages. Mature models have a place in the modeling industry that is all their own and doesn't require trying to turn back the hands of time. That's why there's no need to get Botox, plastic surgery or completely transform yourself for this category of modeling.

Like traditional commercial/print, you're simply expected to be your fabulous self so stick with it, own your age and see if modeling can be another great chapter to add to your life. With the right agency and research, it is possible.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tips for Using "The Competition" to Further Your Modeling Career

Saying that the modeling world is competitive is an understatement.

One of the many reasons why it's so difficult to be truly successful in this industry is the fact that there are tons of female and male models that want the exact same jobs and there are certainly more candidates than there are openings for.

However, it is possible to use the spirit of competition to your advantage, especially if you're a freelance model looking for a way to boost your career, portfolio and resume.

Representing yourself comes with its own territory, as well as pros and cons. One of the downsides is not having a modeling agency submitting you to castings and projects on your behalf. Coming across opportunities isn't always easy and oftentimes requires the use of several networking and casting sites, not to mention the countless online modeling groups one can join to get the latest scoop on local projects seeking models.

One way many models--myself and my colleagues included--have gone about finding new avenues to pursue is to look at what the competition is doing. I'm not talking about the Victoria's Secret models and the supermodels--that's an entirely different level, not to mention that you'd need the backing of a top agency to get those gigs. I'm not talking about them.

What I'm referencing is a bit more attainable. Thanks to social media--namely, Instagram--there are more models out there than you can shake a stick at. Some more successful than others, with many becoming what we all know now as "influencers." If you're stuck as to what modeling opportunities are ripe for the taking, it's a good idea to start by looking up the social media profiles of these types of models.

STALK THEM ONLINE (PROFESSIONALLY, THAT IS!)

Research the models that are doing the types of work you want to do yourself. That means runway, editorial, swimwear, fitness, glamour, etc, etc.

Chances are you already follow and/or are a fan of a number of models so that would be a good place to start (again, I'm not talking about the supermodels).

Follow their careers and take note of the types of jobs they're booking. 99% of the time they'll list the name of the client/publication/designer/photographer they are working with, as well as that person's social media handle and info.

So what are you supposed to do with this knowledge once you've seen it mentioned on the profiles of models you follow? Start making contact with those people.

The best way to put this into practice is when it comes to publications they've appeared in, as well as runway shows and even photoshoots. Let's tackle these one at a time:

MAGAZINES

I've already done blog posts about getting published as a model in a magazine (click HERE and HERE to check them out) and I've mentioned that there are countless publications out there today. That means even more chances to become a published model and get some digital and hard copy tearsheets to strengthen your portfolio and resume.

Once you find out what magazines the modeling competition you're researching has appeared in, visit the websites and profiles of those magazines to see what the guidelines are for getting published. Magazines are very good at posting what themes/looks they're in need of for future issues. After you've acquired that info, start putting together your team to get a submission going.

Diligently focus on getting submissions out to various publications and you will start racking up published credits that will benefit all those involved and bring new modeling jobs your way.

FASHION/RUNWAY SHOWS

Happen to come across a cool shot on IG of a model you like who is pictured strutting down a runway? Check out the caption and find out the name of the designer, fashion show, photographer, production company, etc. Any or all of these folks may be mentioned in the caption accompanying the photo.

If there's a website listed, even better. The key is to start becoming a detective and checking out who these individuals and companies are. Do you really like the designer's work that is displayed in the images posted by the model? Then reach out to the designer and introduce yourself. Inquire as to what future shows he/she plans on showing at and when casting calls will be held for new models and express your interest in attending.

It's rare that the designer wouldn't be mentioned in a caption/description but if you can't locate that info for whatever reason, see who else is mentioned or credited in the model's post and see if they can get you to the right person.

It really is 6 degrees of separation so all it usually takes is reaching out to one person to get directed to the individual or company you're seeking out.

PHOTOSHOOTS

Aside from publications and runway shows, models do tons of photoshoots. While professionally stalking certain successful models, take note of which photographers they've worked with. Again, the beauty of social media is that everyone automatically gives credit/mentions of the people involved in each project by listing their social media handle, website and other contact info.

Are you dying to work with a photographer that another model has shot with? Similar to what I described above for connecting with designers, use the same approach for photographers.

BASIC TIPS FOR ALL OF THE ABOVE

1. When contacting the key people you want to get in touch with (magazine publication, designer, photographer), practice common courtesy and "Like" their social media pages, send them a friend request (if they allow them) and Follow them online.

2. Keep your introduction brief. When emailing and direct messaging, don't send a novel. Think about how you can briefly tell the recipient of your message who you are, what you do, what you're interested in and why you want to work with them.

Don't forget to include your best contact info. Sending attachments (for email) should only be done if you have a professional headshot or comp card to pass along. Stick to 1 attachment and do not send huge files.

3. Don't stalk them for real! When I say "stalk professionally," I mean do your research to learn more about the person/company before you contact them. Do not call after business hours or send multiple messages to their inboxes. That's a surefire way to get yourself blocked or reported.

4. Hair stylists, makeup artists and wardrobe stylists all count as people you can also professionally stalk to find out how to work with them. So be on the lookout for those mentions when looking at what other model's are posting from their career highlights.

5. I wouldn't necessarily recommend contacting the model him/herself to get info about how you can work with the people they've worked with.

Not all professional models are as accessible or open as myself when it comes to being asked questions about our career moves. Some may not reply back at all, while others might have a bit of an attitude about it. Others could be totally great and allow you to pick their brain. But your results will be much more effective if you stick to contacting the professionals that you want to network with to build that working relationship.

6. It's okay to be a copycat. Just because one model is published in a particular magazine doesn't mean no one else can ever be published after him/her. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten work or at least developed a rapport with clients solely because I found out about them from another model's profile.

I've spoken to other professional models and they do the same thing. It's a common practice and you're not "copying" anybody. You're simply getting leads from the competition as to what modeling opportunities you could submit yourself for. Besides, if you do get chosen to work with those same individuals/companies, it's not like you'd be doing the exact same look, shoot, show or concept.

Your project will be totally different from the model you got the inspiration from and at the end of the day, it all counts towards growing your career, your networking pool and the doors that could open as a result of your affiliation with those projects.

Who says you can't embrace the competition? ;-)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Modeling & Tax Season: To Write Off or Not To Write Off?

I know that tax season for the year already passed but I felt it was still okay to post about the topic of taxes and modeling since I figure it's never too early to get info that could help people out when it comes time to file next year (and maybe even give you a jump start on organizing your receipts and other paperwork).

I've written a few articles on the subject (if you use the search tool on my blog and type in "taxes," the posts will come up--make sure you select the "Amodelsdiary.blogspot.com" option and not "Web") but this particular post is a bit more specific.

I want to talk about write offs, also referred to as "deductions." You may or may not have heard this term before but it is a popular one--namely, with business owners, entrepreneurs and independent contractors.

So what exactly is a write off as it relates to doing taxes? According to the site TurboTax:

"Well, a write-off is any legitimate expense that can be deducted from your taxable income on your tax return. For many, this is the trickiest part of filing their income tax, particularly because there is a fine line between which expenses are deductible and which ones are not."

The reason I highlighted the last sentence in red is precisely the reason I wanted to write this blog post. In previous posts I've done, I mentioned that models in particular likely shouldn't consider the expenses related to their modeling career as write offs because in the event of being audited by the IRS, they would need to have sufficient proof that the products and services they spent money on were solely related to their modeling endeavors (it can be difficult to convince an IRS agent that only models get their nails done or buy cute dresses and heels).

I wanted to dive a bit deeper into this concept and clarify any statements I've made in those other posts. Technically, you can write off certain expenses dealing with modeling. BUT it's something that each model does at his/her own risk. I say that because it is critical to keep in mind that not only do you have to meticulously keep track of all receipts, records and other documentation dealing with those expenses, your income made from modeling also needs to justify the deductions.

A few examples of write offs that professional models include when it comes time to file taxes include but are not limited to:

- Makeup Products

- Skincare/Hair Care Products

- Body/Health & Wellness Treatments

- Wardrobe/Accessories

- Gas/Mileage for Transportation

- Travel/Airfare/Accommodations

- Marketing Materials (business cards, website maintenance costs, casting services that cost money, etc.)

What's the big deal about write offs? Being able to deduct certain expenses typically means the ability to reduce your taxable income. What does that mean? It means you tend to pay less in taxes to the government. In some cases, you might even get a refund instead of owing money. Who wouldn't want a piece of that action?

So how can you do write offs for your taxes and stay in Uncle Sam's good graces?

ONLY DO WRITE OFFS IF YOU ARE PROFESSIONALLY MODELING AKA "GETTING PAID"

If you're an Instagram model, mostly post selfies or do a ton of various test shoots but do not earn an actual income from modeling, you might not want to take the chance of designating the items listed above as a tax write off.

However, if you've booked paid work throughout the year, traveled extensively for modeling assignments and basically are collecting checks from the work you book, then you have a solid professional standing that would allow for the items listed above to be considered a tax write off.

How much should your income be? There isn't a magic number (the more money you earn, the better of course) but that leads me to the next point...

YOUR EXPENSES AREN'T MORE THAN YOUR EARNINGS FROM MODELING

One of the main ways Uncle Sam determines whether someone is operating as an entrepreneur/business or if they're just doing something part-time for fun is whether or not they actually earn a profit or if they have more expenses than income.

For example, if you consider yourself a professional model and you're doing write offs related to it, keep an eye on how much income you make compared to how much you're spending on expenses for modeling. If you go on record too many years in a row with expenses that are more than the income you earn, the IRS will basically say, "That's a hobby," and won't allow you to continue writing off those expenses.

I will say, however, that you are allowed to report a "loss" with modeling if you happen to have a low earning year. That's okay because all businesses large and small, modeling as an independent contractor included, don't always have a profitable year when it comes time to do taxes and declare income. But that's why I stress that you need to keep close track of the numbers you're spending and bringing in so that you can balance the two properly and avoid any penalties/fees.

YOU CAN PROVE YOU MODEL PROFESSIONALLY IN THE EVENT OF AN AUDIT

I don't know what the odds are of getting audited by the IRS but in the event that you lose out and end up having the IRS examine your tax paperwork to make sure everything is on point, you better make sure you have sufficient evidence that the tax deductions you claimed are explicitly related to modeling as a professional career.

That doesn't mean you need to be a supermodel for the feds to believe you but you should have plenty of ways to prove that you get paid for what you do and generate credible results. That includes pay check stubs, bank statements and other similar financial records, as well as actual evidence like tearsheets (hard copy and digital), a website, resume, contracts, model release forms--anything that shows the IRS that yes, you are a professional model who gets paid for your services.

If your presence online is non-existent or only contains social media profiles with some photoshoots but nothing more substantial like published work or photos from shows and assignments for clients or your agency, it could cast doubt and the feds might not consider your write offs as legitimate.

I am not--I repeat--am NOT a tax professional. I live and work in California and have a CPA who I've worked with for several years and I sit with her each tax season and meticulously go through everything so the information I've written about above is for general informative purposes based on my own experiences and research.

The details and exceptions will likely vary from state to state. If you are under the age of 18 in the US, your parents will be the ones responsible for this part of the process (lucky you!). It is your responsibility to make sure you understand what you're doing if you file your own taxes or place your trust in a certified and reputable tax professional who has experience dealing with independent contractors and small businesses.

In case you're curious about the things I write off for my own modeling career, here ya go: skincare items, makeup/cosmetics, salon appointments (waxing and manicure/pedicure services), wardrobe/shoes/accessories I specifically wear for shoots and castings, hair care services, casting website membership costs, business cards/comp card printing services, website maintenance costs, mileage for all the driving I do to castings and bookings and airfare/rental car/hotel costs related to work travels. 

It's a lot, right? Well, I have been doing this for a looong time and I have super OCD organized documentation (spreadsheets!) and receipts for everything I buy. Additionally, a Google search easily turns up plenty of proof that I do modeling at a professional level and earn income as a result.

Newbies just starting out may not be in a position to do tax write offs just yet but once you start earning money from paid bookings and keep at it consistently enough to see a profit, you will eventually be able to benefit from choosing which expenses can help you out in the long run come tax time where write offs are concerned.

If you have any specifics questions or concerns, you'd be better off asking a tax professional instead of me since I can only provide general info but hopefully this post will get you on the right track and thinking seriously about what it takes to get your taxes filed effectively if you are fortunate enough to earn a decent profit from modeling.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Modeling on the Runway: Do's & Don'ts

It's rare that I meet aspiring models who don't have goals of being in a fashion show and doing their thing on the runway.

I can't say I blame them--there's something about being in the spotlight with all eyes on you as you strut down the catwalk. It's a pure adrenaline rush.

I've written numerous topics about the runway walk on this blog but wanted to add this post to break down some of the important dos and don'ts that female and male models can learn from, especially if you're just getting into the industry.

Remember: you don't have to be in Fashion Week to use these tips to your advantage. Whether you're doing a huge show or have the chance to model in a student fashion show or other type of event, the work atmosphere tends to be pretty similar so going in armed with the info below will help position you to be the type of model that clients will want to work with again and again.

DO: ARRIVE EARLY

My motto is, "Early is on time and on time is late." Once you know the time and address of where you need to be, do whatever it takes to get there early. How early? Depends on how long it takes you to get yourself together. I personally prefer to get to my shows 30 minutes to 1 hour early. If your first instinct is, "Dang, that's so early!" then you clearly don't grasp why being that early is totally not a big deal for me.

I'd rather be that early so I can take my time finding parking, checking any last minute emails/texts so that I can put my phone away once I get inside, as well as mentally prep for the event. Going in cool, calm and collected will always make for a better modeling experience compared to being late or even on time but feeling rushed and panicked.

Another perk: being early usually means you get first dibs on getting hair and makeup done!

DON'T: ACT LIKE YOU RULE THE ROOST AND/OR HAVE A MELTDOWN

Want to learn how to NOT make friends? Walk into a show as if you're the supermodel and everyone else is just furniture. You are one of many models because that's how a fashion show works. It's a team effort and if the production is organized properly, you should have already gone to your fitting in advance and been assigned the outfits you're supposed to wear.

However, Murphy's Law has a knack for creeping up and it's not uncommon for models to not have their outfits show up at a show (for whatever reason) or even have one or more of their assigned clothes given to another model to wear (this happened to me before).

Things happen backstage that could affect your participation in the show. Do. Not. Make. A. Scene. It's completely understandable that you would want to BUT saving face and keeping a cool head will make you look so much better in the eyes of the designer and the other models. Save your emotions for when you get home and by that, I don't mean blast the people involved on social media. That's just not a good look.

If something happens at the show, don't let it affect your ability to do what you were hired to do. Work with whoever you need to in order to do damage control, figure out a solution and keep it moving.

DO: BRING YOUR OWN STUFF

Even if I know a full team is going to be there to take care of hair and makeup at a fashion show, I will still bring my "Model Bag," that contains my own makeup, thermal styling spray, several types of bras and undies and 3-4 pairs of shoes (among other items).

I do this more as a backup plan and I don't announce to the hair and makeup team that I've brought my own stuff. I've been to shows where there were more models than people there to get them ready and in worst case scenarios, I've done my own makeup and/or hair if I felt they weren't going to get to me in time. The last thing I want is to be late getting into my clothes because I was stuck in the chair.

I also bring my makeup because I've had makeup artists not have the right color to match me (this doesn't happen as often anymore, thankfully) but basically, I always recommend bringing stuff that belongs to you in case something isn't onsite for you and you don't have to worry about borrowing other people's things.

DON'T: GO ROGUE

You know why fashion shows look so cool? It's because the models do what they're supposed to. Much of the choreography or instruction for where to hit certain marks on the runway are taught to the models the day of the show. When everyone looks uniform, it makes the overall show run smoothly.

If you break protocol and decide to do something different or stay to pose at the end of the runway too long because you're soaking up the spotlight, you'll throw off the pace for the other models, not to mention you'll get backstage to some pretty angry people.

Enjoy the time you're on the runway for the brief time you're on it and respect the fact that that's what your colleagues in the show are trying to do, too.

DO: MAINTAIN A CLEAN FACE & BODY

Unless told otherwise, models (male and female) should arrive to the show without makeup on and with their hair a little dirty (to make for easy styling) but without a ton of product in it. This will make the hair and makeup team's job easier and keep them in a good mood.

Body-wise, do not wear heavily scented body lotion, perfume, deodorant, cologne or body spray. These scents can stain and/or linger on the fabric afterwards, which tends to be a huge pet peeve for designers. An industry insider tip for not sweating onto an outfit is to wear tissue under your arms to absorb the sweat while you're waiting to go on the runway. Simply take them out and toss them when it's your turn and it'll minimize any chance of pit stains happening.

Also nix body oils and lotions containing body glitter. Again, it will get on the clothes and the designer will not be happy. You can wear lotion (who wants dry skin?) but make sure it's either lightly scented or non-scented and not greasy.

DON'T: BE BASHFUL

I have yet to be in a fashion show where once you step off the runway, you don't encounter a lot of fast-paced madness backstage. Oftentimes models only have seconds to get out of one outfit and into another. This means you don't have the luxury of trying to be modest and cover yourself up.

Many seasoned runway models have no problem dropping their clothes and walking over to their next outfit with just a thong on and no bra. They don't even bother to cover themselves because they're going to be dressed in a matter of minutes anyway.

Male and female models are dressed separately for shows so if there's any worries about someone of the opposite sex "seeing you," you'll be fine. It is a work environment and trust me, the people backstage have seen their fair share of half naked or nude female and male models changing so it's not like they're going to be hitting on you. That's not what they are there for.

If you have issues with being in a state of undress in front of others or if you feel the need to take your outfit and find a corner to get dressed in, I'm sad to say the world of fashion may end up being a rude awakening for you. Again, it is a work environment and everyone is there to put on a good show so keep things in that perspective and you'll do just fine.

DO: BE NICE TO YOUR DRESSERS

Dressers are amazing people whose purpose is to help models get in and out of the clothes they're modeling. 99% of the time these are unpaid volunteers so they are doing it for the love of fashion and oftentimes for networking reasons and to get their foot in the modeling industry door.

Don't be weird or act like the dresser helping you is a creeper. In the "real world," it isn't normal for people who are essentially strangers to assist you with putting on and taking off clothes. But fashion shows are a different type of reality and they are there to do a specific job that is actually beneficial because it makes your job as a model that much easier.

Many designs are difficult to put on yourself and having dressers help with zippers, lace-up corsets, tightening, fastening, pinning, smoothing and altering the clothes is a God send to models who just want to focus on looking good once they hit the runway.

I once did a runway show where I had to wear a skin tight leather body suit and not only was I not able to wear a bra or panties, I had to have body oil applied in order to slide into the garment. The woman who was in charge of applying the oil (not to my private parts of course), was super nice, chill and I didn't hesitate or act weird because I knew why she was there and she was definitely helping me out. Just another day at the office. :-)

Dressers are your friend. Be nice to them.

DON'T: MISTREAT THE CLOTHES

Eating, drinking and messing around while wearing a designer's clothes are huge no-nos. Be aware of your movements when backstage and be mindful of keeping your outfit from getting stepped on, torn or snagged. If you need assistance doing something to avoid possibly ruining what you're wearing, don't hesitate to ask for help.

DO: NOT BE SCARED OF THE END OF THE RUNWAY

The only time photographers have a real shot at getting decent photos of models in a fashion show is when they come to the end of the runway and pose. Don't be a blur when you get to the end and scurry away. Once you hit your mark, revel in the moment for a few seconds. 5-7 seconds is pretty ideal. It sounds fast but believe me, on stage it is the perfect amount of time for photographers to get good flicks.

That doesn't mean you need to hold the same pose for 5-7 seconds and become a mannequin, however. If you've ever watched a fashion show, you'll see the model stop at the end of the runway and hit one pose, then slightly shift to a different pose before they walk away. So that's the amount of time you have to do at least 2 poses, which easily eats up those seconds. If you stay any longer, it will be noticeable and likely pretty awkward.

Unless your garment has a special feature that you need to showcase that might take a few extra seconds, don't linger too long.

DON'T: BREAK IN NEW SHOES AT A RUNWAY SHOW

While this certainly applies to female models it can also go for male models, too. I can't stress enough the importance of breaking in new shoes well in advance of any shows you plan on walking in. If you want to break your feet, wear brand new shoes in a fashion show. I guarantee you'll have blisters galore.

Practicing your walk is vital so if you're going to kill two birds with one stone, break in your new shoes while doing your practice walks at home. Want to make sure you're doing right by your tootsies? Then you can check out the following link (for female models):

Breaking In Heels for Modeling: Why It's So Important

DO: WATCH VIDEOS

One of the best ways to learn the world of runway is to watch shows. YouTube and other online sites have more reference videos than you can shake a stick at. You'll see that no two shows are exactly the same. Each model has his/her own walk and style and the types of runway stages all differ.

If you're trying to figure out your own sense of runway style, don't be pressured to master everything you've seen in the videos. Things will vary from show to show in terms of what you'll be wearing, where you'll be walking, how many marks you'll have to hit, etc. So take it one show at a time and you'll learn to adjust accordingly, if needed.

DON'T: BUG THE DESIGNER

Chances are the designer is going to be stressed and running around like a chicken with its head cut off. That's understandable--their brand and rep is on the line with each show and they want each event to go well. If you have questions or concerns for the designer, that's okay but be observant and pick the right time to approach them. If there is someone else you know that can answer your questions, pull them aside instead, especially if you see that the designer is tied up.

They've got a lot on their plate and many models to keep track of so don't they won't have the time to pay a lot of attention to catering to your needs and wants. Don't take it personally.

DO: YOUR BEST & HAVE FUN 

No one is perfect on the runway in their first show. We all have to start somewhere so go into your first show with a lot of energy, enthusiasm and come away with knowing what you did well and what you want to improve on. Practice, practice, practice! The more you know your body and your walk, the more confident you'll be in any show, no matter how big or small the production is.