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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?


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...


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Models, Shoots, Shows + Common Sense Tips

I used to jokingly say, "Common sense is a superpower." Truth be told, I don't really joke about it anymore because it's true.

On almost every shoot I've been on this year I've heard at least one "WTH" type of story about a model.

I believe in signs so the fact that I keep hearing about all these ridiculous happenings that really shouldn't even be an issue is what motivated me to write this post.

If you've been guilty of this, I'm hoping that you learn why the matters touched on in this post are not okay to make a part of your career, not to mention your reputation.

Newbies and those just getting into modeling will be much better off reading this post sooner than later to avoid the following pitfalls and ensure that clients won't end up telling someone like me how they couldn't believe so-and-so did this or so-and-so did that.

To be honest, I wish I didn't have to list the following common sense tips for female and male models because it should be obvious but like my first sentence said, "Common sense is a superpower." Fingers crossed that I can help inspire and influence a wave of superhero models with common sense as their ultimate talent!

***These tips apply to both shoots and fashion shows so to save myself from sounding repetitive, I'm going to use the word "work" to cover both descriptions of modeling gigs.

COMMON SENSE TIP #1: Groom Yourself--You Know How (I hope)

It is crucial to understand that when you get booked for work as a model, you're supposed to come prepared...as in "groomed." Unless instructed to arrive "camera ready" with your hair and makeup already done, you will have a makeup artist and hair stylist onset to get you picture perfect or runway ready.

BUT that does not mean it is a day spa where you're going to have everything waxed, tweezed and shaved. That should already be done before you get to work!

I wish there was a camera to capture my expression when photographers, designers and other clients tell me they've had models show up for shoots with armpit stubble, hairy legs, wild eyebrows or other unsightly types of facial and body hair.

When these issues have to be dealt with onsite, it eats into prep time, sours the mood of everyone involved and just makes for a terrible first impression in a professional setting. For things that can't be dealt with onset for shoots, the photographer ends up getting saddled with more retouching work than he/she originally signed on for.

How can models who are guilty of this not be embarrassed or just not care??? It is beyond my understanding.

The bottom line: BEFORE you get to work (either that morning or the day/evening before), make it your mission to wax, shave, pluck, tweeze and whatever else you need to do in order to look amazing and feel amazing when you arrive.

The team in charge of putting you together in terms of hair and makeup will transform you but they weren't hired to do all that extra grooming.

COMMON SENSE TIP #2: "Dirty" Hair : Good. "Duuurrrty" Hair: Bad

Hair that hasn't been washed in a few days holds hair products and certain styles better. That's common knowledge in the modeling world. When hair is freshly washed it tends to be harder to work with, especially for those who have straight hair or use heated styling tools to straighten their tresses. It can be limp, flat and nearly impossible to hold volume. But with a few days' worth of natural oils, hair stylists can easily whip up an awesome hairstyle for both female and male models.

However, having hair that is super dirty and unwashed could be an icky experience for the person that has to deal with your hair. Ethnic hair (I fall under this category most certainly) oftentimes cannot be washed frequently and it is not unusual for models of color to wash their hair once or twice a week.

That fact does not--I repeat--does not apply to this particular issue I'm addressing. There's a difference between working on hair that hasn't been washed in a week and hair that hasn't been washed in WEEKS or even MONTHS.

I kid you not, I've had 2-3 hair stylists (and that's 2-3 hair stylists too many in my opinion) tell me horror stories about models who admitted they hadn't washed their hair in a really long time but expected the hair stylist to work miracles. Not only was their hair too dirty to work on with styling tools, it smelled awful.

Again, why is this happening and why do models think this is okay??? It's not. Make the time to get your hair together so that it is dirty enough to be styled properly but not so dirty that the hair stylist has to suppress a gag reflex while working on you.

Oh, and on a similar note: if you wear hair extensions, please make sure they look good and are presentable. Having roots that don't match the rest of the hair you're sporting is not a good look when you have to be on camera or on the runway. 

COMMON SENSE TIP #3: Bring Extra Stuff Even if You Haven't Been Told To

Typically the client will tell models if additional stuff needs to be brought to work, such as several types of underwear, bras, shoes, etc. But even if you aren't instructed to do so, bring these types of items anyway. The "Model Bag" exists for a reason (I plan on doing a post to break down what this item is so don't stress if you're unfamiliar).

The types of additional stuff you may need to bring will vary based on the theme of the shoot, the types of outfits you'll be wearing, location, etc. As the date for your gig gets closer, you'll have a better idea of what to expect and that will determine what you'll need to pack.

Ladies, bringing thong underwear in nude, white and black, strapless bras in nude, black and white and a few pairs of heels in nude and black should be the most basic supplemental items you should automatically pack. Notice I used the word "and" and not "or" when I listed the colors of the undergarments? That's because you should have all those colors. Don't have them? Go buy them. Now.

Male models don't technically have to worry about this aspect of things like the ladies do. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't still take the initiative and inquire about what supplemental wardrobe options or items to bring. This not only makes you look professional, it gives the client assurance that you'll arrive ready.

COMMON SENSE TIP #4: Put Your F@$%*# Phone Away

I get it. Social media and branding now dictates that we document everything we do, including being onset for modeling work. However, there is a time and place to whip out your phone. Here are the times when it is not okay:

- While getting your hair and makeup done. If you want to look like a clown, have your eyeball poked or get burned with the curling iron, interact with your phone more than the hair and makeup artist. They need your attention and that means putting the phone away so you can sit up, face forward and be the canvas they need to transform.

- During work. By this, I mean running to check your phone in between posing sets during a shoot or after stepping off the runway during a show. The client and crew are not on your time. You are on their time. The BTS photos and other candids you want to take and share with the world will happen but do what you're supposed to do first and then get as snap happy as you want once you have a break that is long enough to do so. Or ask someone onset who isn't busy to take pictures of you with your phone.

COMMON SENSE TIP #5: Don't Mess Up the Clothes You're Wearing--They're Not Yours

Whether it's a fashion show or a shoot, if you're wearing clothing that doesn't belong to you, make sure you're being extra careful with whatever you're doing.

To avoid a disaster, you shouldn't eat or drink while wearing an outfit. Wait until you're changed or if you absolutely have to eat/drink, take all precautions with extra napkins, eat over a trash bin and/or stick your neck out far so that you're not holding the food/beverage right over the clothes, etc.

Ladies, if you're wearing a gown or other long dress and have to use the bathroom, take a note from the brides out there and grab a lady friend to give you assistance so that you don't end up potentially ruining the garment (no need to be embarrassed by the situation, many helpers/dressers/assistants have done this before or are aware of this possibly happening).

Believe me, it's better to be embarrassed and come away from the restroom with your outfit intact instead of getting cussed out, blacklisted or possibly even responsible for the cost of cleaning the garment if it gets messed up because you thought you could teeter-totter over the toilet with precision while wearing a gown with a train.

If you know you're a tad disaster prone or clumsy, err on the side of caution and bring some comfy and easy to change into clothing so that if you need to do something that could possibly ruin an outfit, you can switch things up and do what you gotta do with no worries.

COMMON SENSE TIP #7: Taking a Shower is Enough.

It may seem counter intuitive but don't wear deodorant. I don't care what the newest television commercials say. Don't chance it. Deodorant can streak, stain and mess up certain fabrics. If you're one for sweating, a common practice many models use (myself included) is to take tissues or paper towels and place them under your arms whenever you're not in front of the camera or on the runway. This will create an absorbent barrier between your pits and the fabric. It may look silly but it's part of the territory and people onset will understand and even be ready with a roll of paper towels or box of tissues once you request it.

The same goes for perfumes, colognes and body sprays. They can stain the clothing and may linger on the fabric after you've long gone. Designers oftentimes don't want their clothes coming back to them smelling like random people, not to mention being considerate of people's potential allergies or sensitivity to certain scents.

I can't readily say that this is a complete list of common sense tips and I have a feeling I may end up adding to it over time but these are the biggest faux pas I've heard about and I pray that you read and learn and spread the word because if we can prevent these things from happening, we could all potentially be blessed with that superpower that is known as "Common Sense."