Mature Models: Don't Compare Apples to Oranges
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!
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.