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This an excellent FAQ for models, provided "as is", for your information.

The Official Modeling Profession FAQ

Kevin Zwack Photography

http://www.cwe.com/kevinz/

kevinz@cwe.com

Version 3.1, November 2, 2000 -- Approximate Size: 70K Bytes

Copyright © 1995-2000
All Rights Reserved 

Kevin Zwack Photography
9653 Lamar Place
Westminster, Colorado 80021-5434
303-428-4166 (Voice)
303-428-9212 (Fax)


1.0 Table of Contents

  • Administrative Issues
  • General Information for Models and Photographers
  • Model's Questions
  • Q1.1: Copyright Restrictions

    This document is Copyright © 1995-2000 by Kevin Zwack Photography.  All rights reserved.  Permission is granted for personnel non-commercial use and distribution within the internet community provided this document is kept in its entirety and not modified in any way.  No part of this document may be copied or quoted within another document or publication, either electronic or otherwise, except under the United States Fair Use regulations and ISO copyright laws.  This document may not be included in commercial collections or compilations without the express written consent of the author.

    Q1.2: Disclaimers

    This FAQ is provided as is without any express or implied warranties.  While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, the author and contributors assume no responsibility for errors, or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.

    The contents of this FAQ reflect the personal opinions of the author and contributors, and not necessarily those of their employers and/or internet access providers.

    The author assumes no responsibility for inaccurate or libelous statements from contributors.

    The author assumes that all submitted material conforms to international copyright laws and accepts no liability for submissions in violation thereof.

    The contents and format of this document is subject to change without notice.

    The modeling industry is one in which are there are few rules and for all rules there are exceptions.  Therefore, the material in this FAQ is a mixture of facts, experiences, and opinions.  You should not depend solely on this information without taking into consideration your own situation and common sense.

    The fashion and modeling industries are volatile in the sense they change with every season, much like the weather.  The practices and needs of the industry also vary with different markets (e.g., cities, products).  A reputable agency can provide current information for a given market.

    AGFA is a registered trademark of Agfa-Gevaert, Leverkusen/Antwerp.
    Kodak is a trademark used under license from the Eastman Kodak Company.
    Penthouse is a trademark of Penthouse International, Ltd.
    Playboy is a registered trademark of Playboy Enterprises.

    Q1.3: Introduction

    Welcome to the Modeling Profession FAQ.  This FAQ is designed to help models get started in the modeling industry by answering their frequently asked questions.  Photographers will also find some of this information useful.  If after reading this (and hopefully some of the material listed herein) you think the modeling industry is right for you, then by all means pursue it to the best of your abilities. Good luck and have fun!

    Q2.0: Types of Modeling

    When we think of modeling, images of Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, or perhaps Fabio come to mind. However, these celebrities only represent a small segment of the modeling industry.

    Some types of modeling include:

    • High Fashion -- This is the type of modeling most often associated with supermodels we see on TV or in major fashion magazines.  High fashion models must generally be tall and slender.  Specific height and weight requirements vary with each market, and of course there are always exceptions.
    • Commercial -- Catalogs, brochures, annual reports and the like are a good source of steady income for models. While such models are generally not famous, they often make substantial incomes.
    • Specialty -- Specialty modeling essentially involves photographing body parts, such as feet, hands, eyes, lips, etc. This is mostly done for product photography such as shoes, jewelry, and cosmetics.
    • Nude -- Nude modeling can be loosely divided into several categories:
      • Nude fashion modeling, where the model is nude, yet sometimes "nothing" is showing in the photos.
      • Artistic/figure modeling, for the purpose of creating art, often shot in b/w, although this is not a requirement.
      • Glamour such as might be seen in Playboy or Penthouse.
      • Sexually explicit photos, usually for men's magazines and more recently adult web sites.
      Nude modeling can be a rewarding and fun experience, but be extra careful when choosing a photographer.  Be sure to ask for references from previous models.

    Modeling Work:

    In addition to the various types of modeling, models are often asked to perform several different kinds of work.  Some examples include:
    • Runway/Catwalk -- Modeling clothes at fashion shows.  Such shows not only take place in Paris, Milano, and New York, but also at local shopping malls and stores.  Almost every large city has a market for runway work.
    • Print Work -- Simply posing in front of the camera for still photographs.  Print work is usually split into two categories: commercial and editorial.  Commercial work is shooting advertisements and this form usually pays the best of the two.  Editorial work involves photos for articles and magazines, or even magazine covers.  While editorial often pays less than commercial, it offers great exposure which can lead to other work.
    • Mannequin Modeling -- Usually work in department stores where you pose perfectly still for long periods in window displays.
    • Promotions -- Models are often hired to appear at various functions such as car shows, conventions, etc., sometimes to pass out literature or to just stand around and look beautiful.
    • Media -- Models are sometimes asked to work in film and video, such a TV commercials.  While this can involve some acting ability, many models have obtained this type of work because they move well or have a good speaking voice.

    Q2.1: Model's Portfolios

    A model's portfolio or "book" is an essential tool for getting work in the modeling profession.  An agency will usually provide a modeling portfolio book to new models with the agency's name or logo on the cover.  Of course it is up to the model to get the blank pages filled in. (See Q3.2, Finding a Photographer).

    Before you spend a lot of time and money on a portfolio, check with your agency first.  They often have specific  requirements of their own and can provide you with a list of reputable fashion photographers to work with.  Avoid agencies that insist your entire book be shot by a particular photographer, as these situations are often kick-back arrangements

    At a minimum, your portfolio must have a head shot, and a 3/4 or full length shot:

    • The head shot must be clear (no diffusion) and little but natural looking makeup.  Avoid hats and sunglasses as these can hide your face too much.
    • Your full length shot must reveal your figure somewhat, so a clingy dress, swimsuit, or leotard might be used.  Baggy clothes will quickly tip off viewers that you have something to hide.
    The rest of your portfolio should consist of tear sheets (see Q3.6) or photos that show how diverse looking you can be, i.e., photos which demonstrate different looks, moods, and so on.  Portfolios may contain a mixture of b/w or color photographs, with a total of 10-20 photos being typical.  All your photos should have pizzazz, or be memorable in some way, but show the model in the best possible way.

    They should represent your best work and be flattering to your looks.  In particular, choose poses which make you look tall and/or slender, rather than photos which make you look heavier.  Be sure your face is clearly visible in most of the photos.

    Be careful of photographers who are not familiar with the requirements of the industry.  Many unqualified photographers take artsy pictures, which are of little help in getting a model work.  Portfolio pictures should be treated like any other commercial/advertisement, except that in this case the model is the product.

    Do not put nude photos in your portfolio unless you are strictly a nude model.  Nude photos are not used in fashion portfolios except in certain markets, and then only "fashion nudes" as described in Q2.0 are used.  If you are interviewing (Q3.3) for a "nude" job, bring your nude photos, if any, in a separate envelope apart from your portfolio.  Potential fashion clients might be offended with nudity, so use discretion.  Be aware that nude photos are taboo in many countries and that bringing nude photos into such countries could result in your being arrested.

    Photos are usually printed on 8x10 or A4 size, F-finish (glossy) paper, with or without borders.  I usually provide 8x12 photos which create the illusion of a taller more slender image.  Photos larger than this will not fit most books and would be a waste of money.  Again, check with your agency or use a photographer who is familiar with the requirements of the local market.

    Models sometimes include a contact sheet or two which shows a diverse range of poses from a single photo session. Experienced agencies and photographers often keep a loupe handy just for viewing contact sheets.  However, it would be a good idea to have one with you. (See Q3.9 for information on loupes.)

    You can and should build your portfolio up by testing with different photographers, as different photographers can help you achieve different looks and posing techniques.  I feel photographers have a professional and ethical obligation to explain this to potential models.  You should avoid any photographers who insist on shooting your entire portfolio themselves.  Granted, after explaining this to people, I have had clients who say "well our daughter Suzy wants to be a model now; we don't have time for all this testing business; just shoot the whole thing; we don't care how much it costs..."

    Be sure to keep your portfolio current.  If you obtain tear sheets from a job, be sure to put them in your book.  If your looks change with time or you change your hair style or whatever, get new photographs to add to your book.  Models in their teen years should have new pictures annually, while older models can go two years or more.

    Be sure to keep your name, address and phone number of your agency in your book, in case it gets lost or stolen.  It's also a good idea to keep one or two laser copies of your book as well.

    Q2.2: Comp/Index/Sed/Zed Cards

    Composite cards go by many different names.  They are to models what business cards are for the rest of us, but in some ways even more important.  A comp card contains photos of a model, either color or b/w, along with the model's name, height, weight, measurements, and his/her agency's name and phone number or other contact information.  Other information might include clothing sizes, social security number, or special talents.

    For b/w comp cards, it's a good idea to list your hair and eye color (and even your skin color).

    Note that comp cards used in the acting/entertainment profession are considerably different than modeling comp cards.  Be sure you are getting the right style.

    An agency can usually arrange to have a model's comp cards printed, but in most cases models are expected to pay the agency or printer for their own comp cards.  The setup costs for comp cards is fairly high such that comp cards are usually only cost effective for quantities of 200 or more.  At the other extreme, do not buy too many comp cards; your looks will likely change in two years or less, at which time you will need to get new comp cards. Your agency can probably recommend a good starting quantity for their market.

    If you are not with an agency, your photographer can probably recommend a good printer to make your cards.  In the United States, there is one "mail order" printer that I know of which specializes in comp cards:

    NRS Publicity Printing
    681-B N. Perkins
    Appleton, WI 54914
    (414) 739-2503
    (800) 972-8108

    Call them and ask for their brochure and sample comp cards.  I found their B/W samples to be quite good, but their color comp cards had poor color balance.  I have not done business with them so I cannot speak to their business practices. [I would be interested to hear from anyone who has used them.]

    Avoid large fancy comp cards that fold; most people punch holes in them and bind them, so folded cards are seldom seen on the inside.  Stick with standard sizes (5.5 x 8.5 inches is common) and styles; it's your looks, and thus the pictures that make the difference.

    Another option which has become popular is to make pseudo-comp-cards using color xerographic machines.  This can be a low cost alternative, especially for temporary comp cards until you get better photos.

    Once you get your comp cards, make them available to clients and photographers that you meet at interviews.  Keep some handy in the back of your portfolio.  Your comp cards are your easiest way to market yourself and you want people to remember what you look like so they will consider using you for all future jobs.  The key to getting modeling work is getting clients to think of you when they need a model.

    Q2.3: Release Forms

    In order to prevent lawsuits, release forms are not only common place but required for many types of photo sessions.  They are required in the United States in order to use photographs for commercial purposes.  Essentially a release form gives a photographer or his clients the right to sell your photos.

    As a model you should understand that release forms are a routine requirement for most photography sessions.  For most types of modeling, you should not have any cause for concern about signing a release, but always read anything carefully before you sign it.  When in doubt, ask your agency or private attorney for advice.  If you have a problem with having your photos published, then modeling is probably the wrong profession to be in.

    Signing a release form for nude photography or other pictures that you might be uncomfortable with deserves special consideration.  By signing a release form, you are giving permission for the pictures to be published at any time, forever. Consider whether you want nude pictures of yourself published years from now.

    A reputable photographer will take the time to discuss and answer any questions you might have about release forms.

    Q2.4: Negatives and Copyrights

    Models need to understand that in almost all situations, the photographer or his client owns the copyrights and negatives or other media of a photo session.  Do not expect to be given any negatives, nor should you have copies made of any photos you receive, except for promoting yourself.  In particular, it is illegal for you to sell the photos of yourself unless you purchase the copyrights to the images from the photographer.

    Models are often required to send their portfolios or photos out of town to other agencies and clients.  While you can send your book out, models should instead send copies so they do not lose their portfolios, and so they have their portfolios at all times for local interviews.

    It has become increasingly expensive for models to buy additional prints.  However, technology has provided an answer.  It is now common practice for models to send "lasers" (color xerographic copies) of pictures.  While this practice hurts photographers to some extent, it has become common in the business.  To this end, I now provide a letter on my letterhead granting the model rights to have the images copied for self promotion purposes.  This prevents models from getting a hard time from reproduction centers that enforce copyright laws.  (My photos contain a copyright notices on the back, but models have been challenged even on photos without a copyright notice.)

    Portfolios based on PhotoCD technology and electronic (e.g. WWW) transmission are starting to enter the profession as well.  Both of these present their own copyright problems.  It is yet to be determined how these will be solved in the long term.

    Q2.5: Modeling Books & Videos

    There are several fine books available on modeling that can benefit both models and photographers. They should be available in bookstores or your local library. In bookstores, modeling books are frequently located in the fashion/beauty section or the photography section.
    • Anderson, Marie, "MODEL -- The Complete Guide to Becoming a Professional Model", Doubleday, 1988. ISBN 0-385-26020-2.
    • [A good how-to book on getting into modeling. Covers a broad range of important topics.]
       
    • Cheyenne, "Posing Techniques for Photographers and Models", AMPHOTO, 1983. ISBN 0-8174-5544-2.
    • [Focusing on print modeling, this book is written for both models and photographers. Not a great book but might be useful for beginners.]
       
    • Elgort, Author, "Author Elgort's Models Manual", Distributed Arts Publishers, 1993. ISBN 0-9639236-0-9.
    • [Essentially lots of wonderful pictures with a few quotes and such from models thrown in. No really useful information for someone wanting to get into the business.]
       
    • Esch, Natasham "The Wilhelmina Guide to Modeling", Fireside (Simon and Schuster), 1996. ISBN 0-684-81491-9.
    • [An up to date and comprehensive guide for models; recommended.]
       
    • Goldman, Larry, "Becoming a Professional Model", Beech Tree Books, 1986. ISBN 0-688-04765-3.
    • [A good general how-to book on getting into modeling.]
       
    • Gross, Michael, "MODEL -- The ugly business of beautiful women", William Morrow and Company, 1995. ISBN 0-688-12659-6.
    • [A history of the modeling business, war stories, and seedy tales. Makes for interesting reading if you are in the business.]
       
    • Maiwald, Sue, "Exposed! How to Become a Model Without Getting Scammed", Maiwald Productions, 1994.
    • [Written by a formal model, this booklet offers useful advice for getting into the modeling profession. Copies may be ordered by sending a check or money order for US $4.95 per copy plus US $1.50 shipping and handling to EXPOSED!, POB 370853, Denver, CO 80237. Colorado residents must add applicable sales tax.]
       
    • Matheson, Eve, "The Modeling Handbook, Third Edition", Henry Holt and Company, 1995. ISBN 0-8050-3830-2.
    • [This is one book I whole heartily recommend to all models. What is most useful is that this book contains a (fairly current) list of most of the major agencies in major markets throughout the world.]
       
    • Morris, Sandra, "Catwalk -- Inside the World of Supermodels", Universe Publishing, 1996. ISBN 0-7893-0056-7.
    • [A great book for supermodel fans and some practical information about the modeling profession.]

    Videos:

    • Glamour Video Associates, "Glamour Photography for Models and Photographers", 1987.
    • [An excellent video features all aspects of glamour photography including makeup, lighting, posing, etc. The video contains a good blend of information aimed at both models and photographers.]
    • Forte Entertainment, "The Practical Guide to Modeling", 1987.
    • Volume I: How to Become a Model
      Volume II: On The Set: Preparing for Pictures
      Volume III: Designing Your Portfolio
      [This is a excellent series for getting models started.  The production quality is excellent, the information useful and well presented.  Highly recommended.]
    • Kodak Advanced Photography Series, "Glamour Photography", 1985.
    • [Intended for photographers, this video may also be useful for models interested in glamour photography, posing, etc.]
    Check for these videos at local video store. If they are not in stock, ask if they can be ordered for you. Also look for mail order ads in photography magazines.

    Q2.6: Makeup Books & Videos

    • Aucoin, Kevin, "The Art of Makeup", HarperCollins, 1994. ISBN 0-06-017186-3.
    • [A beautiful book with wonderful pictures and good makeup tips. The how-to information is not thorough enough to really learn all one should know about makeup.]
    • Aucoin, Kevin, "Making Faces", 1997. ISBN 0-316-28686-9.
    • [The best how-to book yet...]
    • Jackson, Carole, "Color Me Beautiful MakeUp Book", Ballantine Books, 1988. ISBN 0-345-34842-7.
    • [A pretty good how-to book. Covers every day makeup, but also useful for makeup artists and models.]
    • Crawford, Cindy, et al; "Cindy Crawford's Basic Face -- A  Makeup Workbook"; Broadway Books, 1996. ISBN 0-553-06220-4.
    • [A wonderful book for models to help with their makeup and young women in general.  Highly recommended.]
    • Jewell, Diana Lewis, "Making Up by Rex", Clarkson Potter, 1986. ISBN 0-517-56954-1 or paperback 0-517-56955-8.
    • [Contains lots of good how-to information. Useful for every day makeup as well as photography makeup.]
    • Payton, William, "Creating Beautiful Faces -- The Art of Corrective Makeup", Unpublished, 1993.
    • [As a photographer and makeup artist, Bill is one of the best in the business. He taught me makeup and I shall be eternally grateful for his classes. Look for his workshops under his trade name "Destin Beach Photographic Workshops".]

    Videos:

    • Perrin, John & Trish, "On Broadway -- Make it Hot" Series, Photo Concepts International, 1988.
    • Volume I: Fashion/Art -- The Magic of Blank & White
      Volume II: Makeup Magic
      [Part of a seven volume series, the first volume covers makeup for B/W photography.  The second volume covers color makeup.  These two volumes are the best videos I've seen for photographic makeup.  Anyone serious about makeup should check these out.]
    • Smith, Shannon, "Photographic Makeup Techniques", Art Ketchum Studios.
    • [This is the second volume in a series produced by Art Ketchum.  The production quality is not up to par, but Shannon presents many useful makeup tips.]
    Check for these videos at local video store.  If they are not in stock, ask if they can be ordered for you.  Also look for mail-order ads in photography magazines.

    Q2.7: Useful Web Sites

    What follows is a listing of web sites which might be of interest to models and photographers:

    The internet is too dynamic to list all the useful sites.  Check with your favorite search engines for more listings.

    Q2.8: Travel Tips

    In the fashion industry, successful models and photographers are frequently required to travel. The rec.travel.* newsgroups are an excellent source of travel information.  Especially useful is their FAQ located at: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/user/mkant/Public/Travel/airfare.html

    Q2.9: International Travel

    International travel poses special problems for models and photographers.  If you do not already have a passport, be sure to get one well in advance before traveling abroad.  Call the appropriate officials in your country for passport and other travel information.

    Some destinations also require visas, which can involve a lengthy process.  As a photographer, you may require a special commercial or business visa.  It is best to arrange for such things well in advance of your trip.  A good travel agent who frequently handles international travel can be invaluable.

    I have found the following items to be essential for models and/or photographers when traveling abroad:

    • Passport, visa.
    • Prescription and over the counter medications.  They are often difficult to obtain in foreign countries.
    • Voltage converter kit.  Be sure to get one of the more complete kits which includes all the various plugs and receptacles that you might encounter.  Be sure the one you purchase is rated with enough watts to handle that big blow dryer or curling iron.
    • A language conversion dictionary, e.g., English/French.  Those little computerized language translators are also handy to keep in your pocket, purse, or camera bag. [Stavros Macrakis <macrakis@osf.org>] writes " I find that small paperback dictionaries are more complete, and much cheaper."
    • A little computerized currency converter and pocket calculator is also useful.
    • A small travel iron.
    • A small travel steamer.
    • An extension cord (more important than you can possibly imagine).
    • A list of local phone numbers for your long distance carrier, such as AT&T or MCI.
    • A small "beeper" used to create DTMF or "Touch-Tone" tones. Many countries still have rotary phones, which can make long distance call difficult unless you have a DTMF tone generator.
    • Get a detailed street map of the city you are visiting at the airport or train station.
    • Take time to learn the mass transit systems in the cities you visit.  The cities with large fashion markets often have excellent subway (underground) systems which are fast and inexpensive.  Maps you often available free at the stops.
    • Photographers also have the problem of their photography equipment.  I find that for lighting and grip equipment, it is easier to rent/hire the necessary equipment at my destination, if possible.
    • As for your camera equipment, it is essential that you obtain a "Carnet" from your customs office before you leave.  A Carnet is a customs document which allows you take your equipment into a country (or when returning to your own country) without having to pay customs duty on all your equipment.  You will have to bring all of your equipment to the customs office so the serial numbers and descriptions can be recorded (apparently they don't trust anyone).  Keep the Carnet document on your person at all times, as it can provide a useful inventory should your equipment become lost or stolen.
    • The following book is an essential source of useful information for photographers traveling abroad: Haas, Ken, "The Location Photographer's Handbook", Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990. ISBN 0-442-31948-7.

    Q3.0: How Does One Become a Model?

    There are many answers to this question.  On rare occasions models are "discovered" and become an overnight success, as was the case with Claudia Schiffer.  These are often the stories you hear about because the press likes to print these.  Most often however, models become successful only through hard work and many tedious interviews.  Like most careers, it takes years for most models to reach a point where they are making a substantial income.

    Options available (in decreasing order of preference) are:

    • Find a reputable agency to represent you.
    • Find a reputable photographer in the fashion industry to help get you started.
    • Enter a reputable contest or model search.  While a few of these often produce working models, many are scams that often charge exorbitant entry fees while giving little in return.
    • Find a client to hire you.  If your uncle Ed sells used cars, tell him that you want to be in his ads.
    You can always promote and market yourself -- I have met some models who are very successful at this and the internet is making it easier.  This requires some special skills that many models do not possess.  For example, you must successfully "network" with as many people involved as possible, but this can be difficult to initiate.

    There are some national modeling books/listings in which a model can pay to have pictures and/or a comp card published. How effective this approach is probably varies greatly from model to model, but I suspect this is less likely to be successful as other methods.

    The World Wide Web (WWW) offers a new means to promote models electronically and there are many web sites listing models, as well as models with their own web pages.  If you go this route you should be able to get yourself listed for free; avoid sites that charge.

    You can always try putting an ad in alt.models or rec.photo.technique.people, after all it's free.  Be sure to list your location and other pertinent information.  The downside of this is that these Usenet groups seem to attract the less competent "photographers".

    Frankly, I still prefer to use models from an agency.  The good agencies weed out the "flakes" and agency models tend to be more professional, harder working, and more experienced.

    In any case, you should also look for a photographer (see Q3.2 below).  No matter which route you take, you will need some professional quality photos early on.  If you get photos first, you can bring them to prospective agencies. If you get an agency first, they can help you locate a suitable photographer.  Either way works.

    Q3.1: How Do I Find an Agency?

    Finding a reputable agency is probably the best means for a prospective model to break into the business.  There are several approaches to finding an agency:
    • Ask someone you know who is a model.
    • Ask a commercial photographer which agencies he works with.
    • Sometimes local newspapers will promote local models in their fashion editorials.  See if the model and/or agency is credited in the article or photos.  Such agencies are probably getting other work for their models too.
    • Check your yellow pages or phone book.
    • Check some of the WWW sites listed in this document or use a search engine such as Yahoo.  Many contain lists of agencies throughout the world.
    When choosing an agency, you want to avoid agencies which make their money from selling modeling classes.  Also avoid agencies that charge "signing fees" or other nonsense.  To start your career, you will likely have to pay for photos and comp cards, but you should not have to pay any "fees" to an agency.

    Avoid agencies that insist you use one particular photographer, stay at a certain hotel, etc.  Scams like this often involve kick-back arrangements and generally do not provide the best price or service.

    Ask a prospective agency what other models they represent, and which ones have received work in the past week or two. Ask for references of other models that you might call.

    Before signing with an agency, check with the local Better Business Bureau or other appropriate consumer protection agency about the agency's reputation.

    Do not sign with the first agency that offers you a modeling contract.  Interview with several agencies first.  Their fees can vary significantly.

    Do not sign a modeling contract on the spot.  Take it home overnight, and read it over carefully.  If you see a clause that you don't like, ask them to take it out.  (Note: Some countries or markets do not use formal contracts, which has good and bad points.)  Most contracts can be negotiated, so feel free to ask for changes that would be fair for both parties.  If you want, you can always ask a lawyer to examine the contract for you.

    Never accept a clause that says if you leave the agency you will not model elsewhere.  Such classes are not enforceable in most states.  Tell the agency that they do not have to worry about you leaving them if they treat you right.

    Always remember that an agency's job is to get you work.  So in a sense, the agency works for you.

    Never rely solely on an agency to promote you and manage your career.  Always promote and market yourself when opportunities arise and be in charge of your own career.  Only you know what's best for you.

    If you have not heard from your agency recently, it often helps to call them or stop by to gently remind (or prod) them that you are one of their models.  This seems to be highly effective in getting more work for models.  Become friends with the bookers.

    While you should consider the advice of your agency, all decisions are yours alone to make.  In particular, it is highly questionable when an agency recommends cosmetic surgery.  Suggesting a new hair style or nail polish is fine, but drastic and permanent alterations to your looks will usually not make or break your modeling career.  It is unlikely that you would recoup the expense of cosmetic surgery and the risks to your own health are not worth it for a modeling job.  As always, use your own judgment to make the final decision.

    Q3.2: How do I Find a Photographer?

    Early on you will need photos to start your portfolio, for your comp card, and sometimes just to see if you are photogenic.
    If you are with a reputable agency, they should be able to provide a list of competent photographers to choose from.  Ask other models who they used.  Otherwise, check your phone book for commercial fashion photographers. You should avoid portrait, wedding, wildlife, etc. photographers as they do not understand the needs of the modeling business when it comes to pictures.

    Of course you can always post an ad in alt.models or rec.photo.technique.people (be sure to ask for an experienced fashion photographer in the later news group). Always list your location, as these are read the world over.

    Several web sites have photographers listed, see Q2.7 Useful WWW Sites.

    Ask your agency how they want your pictures done.  Many have very specific requirements such as studio/location, background, size, film, etc., even lighting.

    Discuss with the photographer the option of testing, or trading some modeling time for the photos.  The days of free testing are generally long gone, but most photographers will do the pictures at cost or some low rate.  You should not have to pay and arm and a leg for photos, and expensive photographers are generally best avoided.

    Plan on paying for a stylist as well.  A good stylist can teach you about hair and makeup, as well as help you produce better photos.  It is the industry practice for the model to pay for the stylist during testing.  The photographer or agency should be able to recommend one or more stylists for you to choose.

    Regrettably I must offer one last caution.  While not common, there are some unethical individuals who claim to be professional photographers to photograph woman for the wrong reasons.  If during a photo session you receive improper suggestive remarks or sexual advances, LEAVE IMMEDIATELY!  Be sure to warn your agency about the person(s) involved.  If the circumstances warrant it, do not be embarrassed to notify the police as well.

    Q3.3: Auditions/Go-Sees/Interviews/Casting Calls

    Your agency will try to get you modeling jobs by sending you on "go-sees" to as many prospective clients and photographers as possible.  The frequency of your go-sees varies drastically with the market, sometimes producing only one a week or month.  Good models may sometimes be run ragged from having as many as ten such appointments a day in a great market.

    The purpose of a go-see is to allow the prospective client to view your portfolio and to see what you look like in person. Always bring your portfolio and comp cards with you!

    Unless requested otherwise, you should wear business attire which flatters your looks.  Sometimes however, a client who sells blue jeans, for example, might ask you to wear blue jeans to the interview.  It doesn't hurt to wear the client's brand of clothing.  :)  Check with your agency (or the client if you have no agency) what to bring or wear. Ask your agency for a "bring list".

    Always arrive on time to your interviews.  If you do not know where the meeting place is in advance, find out.  Never assume you can find an address (especially in a strange city) easily; if you get lost you could be late.

    Always introduce yourself to people you meet, offer a firm handshake, and make eye contact (except in countries which have different customs.)  Hand them your portfolio to review.  Be polite and personable, but do not try to create a conversion unless the client initiates this.  Do not explain or critique your photos.  Clients usually do not have time for this.

    Remain quiet except to answer questions from the client.  Do try however, to appear enthusiastic, show positive energy, and maintain a presence about you.  Maintain good posture at all times.

    A go-see can take as little as 30 seconds; just enough time to quickly flip through your book.  This does not necessarily mean rejection however.  Sometimes the client may ask to see you walk, especially if the job will involve ramp work.

    When the client is finished with you, thank them for their time and see yourself out.

    Go-sees are one of the most difficult aspects of modeling.  It is understandably difficult to meet strangers all day and have them assess your looks.  Secondly, modeling is filled with rejection.  No matter how many go-sees you do, only a fraction of them will result in jobs.  Never the less, a successful model must relentlessly follow the go-see process until he or she becomes successful/famous enough to obtain regular work.

    Q3.4: Appointment Book?

    A model should always keep an appointment or day calendar with her/him at all times. You should be meticulous in recording your future appointments, go-sees, hours worked, etc. I n addition, keep a phone/address book of all photographers, clients, makeup artists, etc. that you work with.  These people are part of your networking process in acquiring more work.

    Q3.5: Résumé

    As you begin to get work, you should maintain a current résumé and keep copies of it in your portfolio.  Clients and photographers often prefer to work with an experienced model, since they are likely to be more professional and dependable.

    Your résumé should be brief and simple.  Just list the dates and clients you have worked for in the past.  Also, include the type of work you did such as a ramp show, swimsuit catalog, or whatever.  Résumé's kept in chronological or reverse chronological order are most common.

    Q3.6: Tear Sheets?

    Tear sheets are the Holy Grail for new models.  Tear sheets are the finished ads or editorial photos of you from published works.  Often times these are literally pages torn out of the magazines, catalogs, or whatever.  Be sure to put these in your portfolio to show clients your work experience.

    Q3.7: Vouchers?

    Depending on how your agency works, they may give you a voucher book to keep.  These are forms which your client must sign after each work session indicating how many hours you worked.  These are sort of like a time-card in that they determine how much the client is billed and how much you get paid.  If you use vouchers, always bring them to every job, no exceptions!  Always be sure you spell the client's name correctly on your voucher forms to avoid embarrassment.

    Q3.8: How Should I Prepare for a Photo Session?

    Like most professions, modeling is one that requires some time and effort on your part outside of working.  The following tips will help ensure your success.
    • Men and woman both should get a professional manicure and maintain their nails in perfect condition.
    • Eat properly and maintain your weight at desired levels.  Some models become depressed when traveling to foreign countries and put on excessive weight as a result.  Be sure to avoid foods which degrade your skin complexion.
    • Use appropriate products to treat dry or oily skin conditions.
    • Avoid getting sun-burned or a tan just prior to a job.  Sometimes however, you may be asked to tan before a job.  In this case, a tanning booth works best as there is less chance of sunburn, and no tan lines.
    • Modern high quality self tanning products from fine department stores work well and photograph well.  For best results it should be applied a day in advance.  The key is to apply it evenly.  You'll have to stand around naked until it dries, however.
    • Common sense here, but bruises, scars, scratches, and tattoos will work against you in getting work.  Be careful.
    • Maintain a healthy life-style of exercise, sleep, etc.  No drugs, minimal alcohol.  Models who do the clubs every night quickly find themselves unemployed if not black-listed.
    • Practice walking, posing, and depicting different facial expressions/moods on a regular basis.
    • Woman should shave (or whatever) to remove unwanted body hair before a job.  Do this far enough in advance to allow any resulting red marks to fade.
    • If you will be wearing revealing clothing such as swimsuits, lingerie', or posing nude, do not wear any tight clothing or elastic 12-24 hours prior to the job.
    • Your hair should be freshly shampooed and conditioned before each job.  Bring combs, brushes, curling irons, hair spray, etc. that you normally use for touch ups to each job.  Avoid last minute perms or haircuts just before a job unless told to do so.  Longer hair is preferred on female models as this is more versatile, but there are always exceptions.
    • If you are testing or shooting for your own portfolio, your choice of clothing will impact your photos.  You want to choose clothing that flatters your appearance.  Avoid loud patterns as these distract the viewer.  All black or all white outfits can be used to create low or high key photos respectively, depending on your own looks.

    •  
    • Do not eat a large meal just before a photo shoot.  It can make your stomach bulge and make you sleepy.
    See also what to bring to photo sessions in the next section.

    Q3.9: What Should I Bring to a Photo Session?

    Models should have a tote bag of things to bring to their photo sessions. T he following are examples of things that might be included.  (They are some of the things I carry in my makeup kit.)

    Hair care:

    • Bobby Pins
    • Brush
    • Comb
    • Curlers
    • Curling Iron
    • Duck-bill Clips
    • Hair (blow) Dryer
    • Hair Pins
    • Hair Spray
    • Scrungees or hair bands
    • Styling Gel
    Cosmetics:
    • Blushes
    • Blush Brush
    • Concealer
    • Cosmetic Sponges
    • Cotton Balls
    • Cotton Swabs (e.g., Q-tips)
    • Cover Sticks
    • Eye Liners
    • Eye Shadow (avoid sparkle types)
    • Eyebrow Brush
    • Eyebrow Pencil
    • Eyelash Curler
    • Facial Cleanser
    • Facial Tissues
    • Facial Toner
    • False Eye Lashes
    • Foundation
    • Lip Balm
    • Lip Brushes
    • Lip Gloss
    • Lip Pencils
    • Lipsticks
    • Mascara (water proof)
    • Mascara Remover
    • Moisturizing Cream
    • Nail Clippers
    • Nail File
    • Nail Polish
    • Nail Polish Remover
    • Pencil Sharpener
    • Powder Brush
    • Powder Puffs
    • Scissors
    • Skin Conditioner
    • Sun Screen/Lotion
    • Towel
    • Translucent powder
    • Tweezers (angled style)
    • Vitamin E Stick
    • Wash Cloth
    Miscellaneous:
    • Appointment Book
    • Band-Aids (round)
    • Bath Robe -- something warm to put on during nude or swimsuit sessions.
    • Clothes Pins -- useful to pin back clothes that don't fit properly.
    • Comp-cards
    • Jewelry -- Keep some inexpensive jewelry with you, especially earrings, bracelets, necklaces.  Earrings are very important if you have pierced ears.
    • Loupe -- A type of magnifying glass sold at camera stores which are useful for looking at contact sheets.  An inexpensive plastic one is fine.  AGFA makes a cheap 8X loupe which works well for models.  Check local camera stores.
    • Mirror -- for hair and makeup touch-ups.
    • Mosquito/bug Spray -- for location work.
    • Panty-hose -- woman should always bring several pair of panty-hose, in both nude/tan, black, and perhaps white. Avoid "shiny" looking or opaque hose as these do not photograph well.
    • Portfolio
    • Safety Pins -- always ask before poking holes in a client's clothing samples.
    • Shoes -- Models are frequently required to use their own shoes at photo shoots . Woman should keep one or two pairs of heels or pumps in their tote bag in neutral colors, such as a pair of black, beige, white shoes.  Men should have a pair of black dress shoes available, and possibly brown ones.  A pair of comfortable sneakers or tennis shoes are often helpful too.
    • Shoe Polish
    • Underwear -- woman should bring a set of bra and panties in both black and white, so that a color which does not show through the clothing you will be modeling can be used.
    • Voucher Book
    • Bring a bottle of water or beverage.
    • Bring a snack if it will be a long shoot.
    Remember, this is a list of suggestions.  Nobody can carry all this stuff around all the time . Check with your agency or the client for a "bring list".

    Items used for modeling should be used only for modeling, especially shoes.  You want anything you wear in a photo session to look brand new.  Also, items used exclusively for modeling may be tax deductible, check with your accountant.

    Q3.10: Do I Need to Know How to Pose?

    Yes, but...  An experienced photographer can direct a model into poses.  However, a professional model should have a repertoire of 36 or more poses.  You should be able to move swiftly through a routine of poses.  Photographers can shoot a 36 exposure roll with a professional model in about 30 seconds.

    It is definitely in your best interest to come up with a routine of poses.  Start by learning 12 at a time.  Get ideas from ads in fashion magazines.  Study photos of yourself carefully.  You can learn which poses work well and which ones do not.  Avoid unflattering poses.

    Even more important, is to practice facial expressions in front of a mirror.  Learn how to smile without showing too much of your gums.  Practice facial expressions which depict different moods.

    Q3.11: Do I Need to Know About Makeup?

    Absolutely.  When you arrive at a photo session, one of three situations will exist:
    • You won't need to wear any makeup.  Unlikely, except perhaps for nude figure work or specialty modeling.
    • A makeup artist (or the photographer) will apply your makeup.
    • You will be required to apply your own makeup.  This is common, especially for low budget or testing situations.
    The first thing you must learn is that photography makeup is not the same as our everyday makeup.  Both the products and their application can be different from everyday makeup.  Most women apply their makeup wrong anyway because they were taught by someone at a cosmetics counter, not a professional makeup artist.

    You must understand that makeup must be applied according to the nature of the desired picture, the type of film that will be used, and the type of lighting used, etc.

    I frequently run across models who insist they know how to do their own makeup, when in fact they do not.  Remember, incompetent people never think they're incompetent.  :)  If a make-up artist or the photographer are available to do your makeup, always take advantage of this.  By letting them do it, it becomes their responsibility and one less thing to worry about.  Besides, you might learn a new makeup trick or two.

    Learn as much as you can from professional makeup artists when you are fortunate enough to have one work on you. Consider reading some of the books cited in Q2.6.  Always ask the photographer about the type of makeup he/she wants, and about the type of lighting and film that will be used . Do not use iridescent (glittery) eye shadows as they do not photograph well.

    Q3.12: What Do Photographers/Clients Look for in a Model?

    There are two aspects to this question:  First, the physical appearance which will get your foot in the door.  Desirable physical attributes change with trends in the industry and the type of model required.  Obviously tall and slim have been in vogue for some time, although  there is also some work available for petite models as well.  Currently high prominent cheek bones, large eyes, and full sensuous lips are good features to have.

    Few models are perfect, but different physical appearances can help get you work in a particular market.  For example, long beautiful hair might get you a shampoo ad.

    While physical appearances can get you work the first time, your degree of professionalism and dependability  will get you repeat work with a client or photographer.  Conversely, a model who behaves unprofessionaly will not be hired again by that client or photographer.  See Q3.13 below.

    Q3.13: Modeling Professionalism?

    There are plenty of attractive men and woman our there who want to be models.  What is most important to clients and photographers are models who are professional and dependable.  Your looks might get you a job once, but your professionalism will get you repeat work.  Some advice:
    • Always be on time for a job.  A photo shoot with assistants, makeup artists, location rentals, equipment rentals, not to mention the clients time can cost tens of thousands of dollars.  Wasting people's time costs money.  Allow enough time in case you have difficulty finding the location.  In general, plan on arriving 15 minutes early.
    • Accidents happen, but if you are going to be late try to call and let people know.  Get a cell phone, but keep it turned off while shooting.
    • When you arrive you should look and feel your best, ready to work, not tired from lack of sleep.  No hang-overs!
    • You are being paid to do a job.  No whining or complaining, unless of course you feel that your physical well-being is in question.
    • You like the clients product or clothes, no matter how stupid they look.
    • Never steal anything from a session. I f you forget to remove the earrings or whatever, return them immediately or people will assume you stole them deliberately.  Models who steal are quickly black-listed and never work in that market again.
    • Pay attention to what you are doing.  Often times you may be asked to repeat the previous pose.  If your mind is wandering, the photographer will have to direct you back to that pose again; wasting time.
    • Be pleasant and cheerful to the people you work with.  Modeling is hard work but so is everyone else's job.  Nobody wants to be around someone who isn't a team player.
    • Always remember that the photographer is the one who is ultimately responsible for every photo shoot.  Everyone works a little differently and some photographers might want to hear your ideas or suggestions, while others do not. Watch and listen to see how a particular team works before offering advice.  In any case, the photographer and client always have the final say.  Certainly you can refuse to do something if you feel your safety or well-being would be endangered.
    • Treat every session and appointment, even if you are just testing, as though it was the most important session of your life.  The people you please or make angry today just might make or break your career months down the road.
    • Always bring your voucher book to your sessions.  Having the client sign you voucher book provides them a last impression of you.  Be sure to spell the client's name right!
    • Always pick up after yourself; do not expect others to pick up after you.

    Q3.14 What About Taxes?

    Depending on your country, there will likely be various tax laws to follow concerning your income as a model.  The following general advice is recommended:
    • An agency can provide helpful information for the country you live in, and/or the country you are working in regarding tax laws.
    • The single best piece of advice is to maintain detailed and accurate records and receipts from your profession.  This can include mileage to/from appointments, money spent for clothes and accessories used exclusively for modeling, travel tickets and expenditures, etc.
    • If you are getting work frequently, you will likely have to make periodic (e.g., quarterly) estimated tax payments.
    • Find an accountant who specializes in taxes for self-employed people to advise you and help plan for tax requirements.
    • Being self-employed, you are less likely to be audited if you have a professional CPA prepare your tax returns, rather than doing them yourself.

    Q3.15 Should You Become a Model?

    Despite the glamour and hype you have seen about the modeling profession, it's hard work.  It's boring.  It's tedious.  It's filled with rejection, ups and downs.  It's a life-style, not an 8-5 job.  Not all jobs pay that well and there is tremendous competition.  The market is filled with wanna-be models.

    Unless you are seriously committed about modeling, willing to work at it on your own time, live a healthy life-style, etc., you are not likely to succeed as a model.  You have to understand that there are lots of other people who want to be models. They are doing everything they can to be successful.  Are you willing to put the time and energy into competing with these people, 24-hours a day?

    Do you have what it takes to be a model?  Are you tall and slender and unusually attractive enough that you are as good or better looking than most other models?  Be really honest with yourself about this.  Ask the opinions of your friends (but not your parents, they're too biased.)

    Besides looks, do you have the tenacity, patience, aptitude, fortitude, interpersonal skills, communication skills, stamina, etc.?

    If you think you do, then go for it!  Despite its drawbacks, modeling can be fun, exciting, and adventurous.  Be sure to maintain realistic expectations however; the odds of becoming a highly successful or famous model are similar to winning a lottery.

    Q3.16 Photo Clubs/Group Shoots?

    As a model, you will sooner or later see an ad or hear about photo clubs, group shoots, "workshops", or whatever.  Generally these are organized events in which a number of photographers photograph models.  Depending on the situation, there could be four or more (perhaps a dozen) photographers shooting a single model at one time.

    There are good and bad points to these events.  First, some problems:

    • Depending on how well the event is organized, they can become free-for-alls and chaotic.  There is often little chance for a photographer to direct a model for any length of time, let alone establish a rapport with a model which is so necessary for good pictures.
    • While some models do well in these situations, I have seen other models "freak-out" at these events.
    • These events often attract "amateur" photographers or worse who are more interested in taking sexy pictures of or hitting on pretty woman rather than learning about photography.
    • The "models" used at such events are sometimes strippers, rather than the high fashion models you might be expecting.
    • Due to the spontaneity (i.e., lack of planning), it is often difficult for even good photographers to take good pictures at these events.  Remember that most successful photo shoots require hours if not days of planning and are done under more controlled circumstances.
    The good news about these events:
    • It's a an opportunity to get paid for modeling.
    • The photographers usually represent a wide range of abilities, but some will be extremely talented.  Thus you can often obtain some terrific images at little or no cost.
    • It's an opportunity to "network" with photographers and other models.
    • Many workshops are well run and can provide useful experience as well as help you learn to pose better.
    • Such events can be a means to safely break into glamour or nude modeling as opposed to working alone with a stranger.
    Some advice for models if you are considering participating at one of these events:
    • Talk with the organizers about what is expected of you.  What will you be wearing?  Or are you to pose nude?  What will the ratio of photographers to models be?
    • Ensure you will have a proper place to change clothes, be given breaks, beverages, etc.
    • Understand exactly how long you be working and how much you will be paid.
    • Ask to speak to previous models who worked for the organizers in the past.
    • Try to make a mental note of which photographers treat you professionally and which do not.  Ask the good photographers for their business cards.
    • Never give out you last name, address, or phone number, where you work, etc.  If a photographer asks for your phone number or other information to reach you, ask that he give you a business card and that you will call him instead.
    • Depending on the situation, try to "rotate" through all the photographers by giving each of them you attention, look in their lens, etc.
    • If you want some prints, arrange to meet at a neutral location after the photographer has time to process and print the photos.
    • Get references and/or advice from the other models about which photographers you should or should not work with on your own.
    • If you are interested in finding these events, check in photography magazines, local camera stores for flyers, or your local newspaper which might have ads where used camera equipment is listed.  Local colleges and art schools also sponsor such events.
    -- EOD --

 

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