Monthly Archives: April 2010

Modeling 101: Solving the Agency Maze

 

Go to Agency InformationIf you’ve read this far, you already know that a modeling career won’t just happen by itself.  You know it’s going to take disciplined preparation, a sound marketing strategy, and intelligent management.  You also know that if you’re interested in Fashion or Commercial modeling, your management needs to come through a modeling agency.  You may have even looked into it, and discovered that it’s not only hard to find a good agency, but even harder to find good information on how to apply to one.  If you’re really industrious and keep digging, eventually you’re going to open Pandora’s Box and find so many confusing terms you may start to wonder if they’re muddying the waters on purpose (hint: sometimes they are).  Don’t give up; it is possible to find your way through the maze.  But first, we need to run down some of that confusion.

Let’s start with the most basic: “What is a modeling agency?”  There’s a simple answer and one you need to hang onto as we meander through the cornfield: a modeling agency is an organization that finds paid modeling work for models. Whatever else it may or may not do, if it doesn’t book modeling work for its members, it’s not an agency.  That implies two very important criteria: an agency has both clients that need models and models that it can supply to clients. Those clients might include photographers, advertising and marketing firms, large corporations, or anybody else that routinely uses models.  This may seem obvious, but it’s really not.  Think about it—it’s not easy to become a real agency.  You can’t get a workable group of reliable models if you don’t have a critical mass of clients to hire them, and you can’t get reliable clients if you don’t have a critical mass of models to supply them.  It’s a Catch 22 that explains why a lot of organizations presenting themselves as modeling agencies really aren’t, and why the first two questions you should ask when considering signing with an agency are 1) How many models do you have, and 2) Who are your clients?  And be specific—pick 5 names at random from their model list and ask for their contact information.  Then call the models and ask for their impressions of the agency’s ability to find them work.  Call a few of the bigger names on their client list and speak with the marketing department to ask how often they book models and how satisfied they are with the service they receive from the agency.  In a local market, talk with advertising agencies and commercial photographers and ask the same questions.  Sound like a lot of work?  Why, yes, it is.  You are serious about this, though, right?

Another important distinction: model agencies make their money from commissions on their models’ contracts; if the models don’t work and don’t get paid, neither does the agency.  Why does that matter?  Because a legitimate agency won’t sign models that it doesn’t feel confident it can regularly place in paid modeling work.  Commissions are how they make their money, and it should tell you that if the “agent” you’re talking to is asking for a hefty signing fee to take you on, s/he’s not for real.  Real agencies don’t charge up-front signing fees, which is how you know they’re going to work really hard to find you the paying jobs that do put money in their pockets.  It’s pretty simple: do you want to contract with someone who has no incentive to find you work after you hand over a few hundred (or thousand) dollars in a signing fee or with somebody who only makes money when you’re actually working?  (There are, by the way, legitimate start-up expenses that you should expect to incur when signing with an agency—see Agency Scams, below—but you’ll never be asked to pay a fee just to be accepted.)

There are a few other things to look for.  You’re in the image business now, and so is the agency.  They have to look the part to reassure both models and clients that they’re for real.  It’s a pretty safe bet that a real agency is going to have an actual, brick-and-mortar address with a business telephone and somebody to answer it.  They’ll be listed in the business section of the phonebook , and they’ll have a website with a dedicated domain name.  If your would-be agent is working out of his car and you can’t find him either in the phone book or on the Web, he’s not for real.  (It’s not a bad way to evaluate a photographer either, by the way; whether or not s/he maintains a studio, a pro is going to make the necessary investment in professional presentation.  While we’re on the subject, it’s one of the ways photographers evaluate how serious you are too.  We’ll talk about that more in And You Call Yourself a Professional.”)

By the way, just to confuse things a bit, you should know that not every legitimate modeling agency calls itself by that term.  In some markets, most notably New York, the companies that do the work of agencies call themselves “Management” companies, and don’t mention the words “model” or “agency” in their title anywhere.  This has nothing to do with the work they do, and everything to do with the legal definitions and regulatory hoops they’re required to jump through by the local jurisdiction.  To make matters worse, there are people who call themselves “Model Management” companies, but don’t book modeling work.  Whatever the title, you still evaluate their legitimacy by asking the same question: do you find paying work for the models you represent?

The Model Manager

The “management company” title that NYC agencies use as a legal convenience is regrettable, because it’s similar to another type of representation, the Model Manager.  The similarity is unfortunate because the model manager function is so often abused that its legitimate functions are virtually lost in what seems like a perpetual fog of bad intent.  So what is a model manager?

In theory, a model manager could be someone who knows the modeling business well and helps a new model prepare him/herself to apply to an agency.  That may include initial consultation about the industry in general and the model’s particular opportunities, portfolio development with quality photographers, comp card design and printing, and some measure of training in how to present and conduct him/herself as a working professional.  If the model’s goals require changes—weight loss (or gain), skin care, better physical fitness, make-up awareness, posing techniques, communications skills, etc.—a good manager will be able to recommend viable resources to address perceived problems in the model’s presentation.  Certainly, a model should be able to expect a legitimate model manager to be able to recommend at least a few modeling agencies that s/he can apply to and some reasonable advice about how to make the application.

What the model manager doesn’t do, however, is book work for the model.  As you already know, that’s what an agency does.

Unfortunately, all too often the “model manager” title is taken as an unregulated invitation to abuse and exploit impressionable young women who have a dream of working in the modeling profession.  They almost always charge extravagant advance fees for their “services,” have little or no incentive to help the model pursue modeling work from other sources, and in fact often obstruct models from branching out and growing in the profession.  Since most of their income is derived from “signing up” new models, it goes without saying that they’ve never met a prospect who wasn’t the next big success story, but after they collect their fee, they have little interest in furthering the model’s career (of course, if she does manage, almost certainly without his help, to secure a paying job, the manager will be happy to collect a hefty commission).

Who are they? Occasionally he’s the model’s control-freak boyfriend, who has little interest in helping her become an autonomous professional capable of functioning independently without his “guidance.”  More frequently, he’s a self-proclaimed “glamour photographer” who uses a young woman’s insecurities and desire to please to talk her into posing naked in his studio.  Since his interest is exclusively in nude photography, he steers the 18 and 19 year-old women he prefers to photograph toward glamour nude work and gives them the impression that any natural reluctance they may be feeling about posing naked in front of a stranger is an aberration in the modeling business.  What he doesn’t tell them is that the all-nude portfolio he’s about to produce will effectively eliminate their ability to sign with a mainstream agency, since nudes are precisely what the agency doesn’t want to see on a model’s resumé.  It won’t help with professional commercial photographers, either, as many will simply refuse to work with models who are represented by model managers.

The bottom line: the typical model manager’s influence probably won’t hurt your career  if what you want to specialize in is Internet nude modeling (and we’re not saying there’s anything wrong with that) since mainstream agencies weren’t going to handle you anyway.  On the other hand, if your model  manager is presenting himself as an agent who can book commercial work for you, he’s misleading you.  That nude portfolio and his bad reputation are going to kill any chance you might have had at a mainstream modeling career before it began.

The Mother Agency

Here’s another term you’ll eventually run into if you spend enough time in the maze, and like the model manager, it can be applied both to someone who performs a valuable function and to unethical people who use the label to take advantage of would-be models and their families.  Briefly, a mother agency is a local agency that has strong ties to a larger agency in one of the major markets, perhaps even including international locations, and can ease the way for a local model to gain representation there through the larger agency.  The mother agency finds talented local models with big-market potential, grooms them with training and local work while s/he prepares for the transition, and then provides introductions for the jump to the big time when the model is ready.  Like a good model manager’s function, the mother agent’s job is finished when the model signs with the bigger agency.

So what’s wrong with that?  Nothing, if the agency actually does what it claims.  In fact, it can be extremely valuable if you’re determined to make the kind of full-time career out of modeling that a small market just can’t sustain.  Without knowledgeable preparation and insider introductions, you’ll be just another pretty face in a huge crowd of pretty faces trying to crash the big-city party without a calling card.  If you’re already in New York and you really are talented enough to interest a big agency, you can get enough information from sites like this and the other links we’ll provide to make the rounds on your own; if you’re an inexperienced newby from Boise, Idaho, the Big Apple can be a scary—and expensive—place to wander around in looking for work, and the support of a good mother agency would be helpful and welcome.

A bad mother agency, however, is anything but helpful.  Bad mother agencies start off by being bad agencies.  They don’t pass the basic test of finding local work for their local models, so they don’t make money on commissions.  Instead, they make money by selling you everything else—sign-up fees, expensive training, overpriced photography by their in-house photographer, boring generic comp-cards at custom-design prices, and anything else they can talk you into believing you can’t be a model without.  A bad mother agency is probably a scam, and we’ll deal with that in the Agency Scams section below.

So, how do you find a good mother agency?  Assuming you need one, start with a process you’ve already been through.

You start by doing the basic work of verifying the legitimacy of the mother’s “agency” status using the same criteria as above, beginning with the base question: do you find paying work for models?  If it doesn’t pass the smell test as a local agency, then it’s not likely to be a legitimate mother agency either.  Additionally, even if you determine that the agency is doing real work locally for its models, you then have to find some way of verifying the claim that the agency has a mother relationship with the bigger agency.  That can be difficult too.

The mother agency concept is real.  Large, primary-market agencies do seek out partnerships with local and regional agencies to identify and groom local talent.  Consider the Wilhelmina International example.

Wilhelmina is a well-regarded New York-based agency with a global reach, including branch offices in Los Angeles, Miami, and Munich, Germany.  It also actively solicits relationships with regional agencies for the purpose of finding new talent.  From the Wilhelmina web site: “Wilhelmina Models also works with various licensees as well as hundreds of local model management firms across the country and globally to garner a variety of talent.”  There are, in fact, Wilhelmina “affiliates” all over the country, including Salt Lake City and Denver in our area sporting the Wilhelmina name.  Even Boise has an agency that appears to have been a local branch of the Salt Lake City affiliate at one time.  So does that make them all Wilhelmina Mini-Me’s?  Hardly.

Mostly they’re just local agencies that pay a considerable fee for the privilege of licensing the Wilhelmina name.  Wilhelmina International apparently does not prescribe or monitor their activities, nor are they subject to the parent corporation’s published Code of Ethics, which clearly states that it applies only to “the Company and all of its subsidiaries and other business entities controlled by it worldwide.”  To repeat, Wilhelmina International does not control its affiliates, much less those “hundreds of local model management firms across the country.”  In fact, a Portland, Oregon affiliate, Wilhelmina MTG, appears to have recently crashed and burned through mismanagement and accusations of fraud and financial improprieties, both from clients and former employees.  Wilhelmina UTG in Salt Lake City is on a Utah model cooperative’s blacklist, and generates the usual round of complaints about “bad mother agency” practices.  Their own website uses the usual sleight of hand to confuse visitors about the nature of their relationship with Wilhelmina International: “Wilhelmina Models is one of the largest modeling agencies in the world, founded by legendary supermodel Wilhelmina Cooper in 1967. Today, we lead the industry in diversity and depth and represent some of the biggest models and celebrity talent across the globe.”  Wilhelmina UTG even lists itself in the “About” section of the site as one of four U.S. offices, along with New York, LA, and Miami, even though, as indicated above, they are only listed as an affiliate by Wilhelmina International.  Uh, notice how that “we lead the industry” got slipped in there?  There’s no “we” here; Wilhelmina UTG is not Wilhelmina International, and that impressive client list didn’t get generated out of Salt Lake City either.

Even Wilhelmina is concerned enough about the abuses conducted using its name to issue the following disclaimer on its website:

“www.wilhelmina.com is the only official website of Wilhelmina International, Inc., one of the preeminent model management firms in the world. Impostors have used websites and email addresses incorporating the Wilhelmina name. Such activities do not have the authorization of Wilhelmina International, Inc. and they are fraudulent.“

Not to pick on Wilhelmina—they’re a major player in the business and their reputation is solid—but if even Wilhelmina recognizes that its name is no guarantee of authenticity, how are you supposed to vet your local agency’s claim to have a functional mother relationship with a large agency?

My conclusion is that if the local agency’s primary value to you is its claimed mother relationship with a big-market partner, you should exercise caution.  Choose your local agency because they’re doing a good job of placing local models in local work.  If they seem to be more interested in titillating you with promises of the big city than they are in helping you make the most of your local modeling experience, keep an eye on your purse.  Personally, I wouldn’t believe any extravagant mother-agency claims until I’d had a chance to sit down for a believable, non-pressure chat with the person in charge and been given the names and contact information of several local models who have made the jump to a large market with the assistance of the person sitting in front of me.  Ask hard questions and expect real, verifiable answers.  If you don’t get ‘em, walk.

Modeling Schools

Do you need to go to a modeling school?  In a word, no.  Are they completely useless, maybe even a scam?  Not necessarily.

A good school—that is, one that’s managed by somebody who actually has real experience in the modeling business and some teaching ability—can certainly help you improve your posture and probably teach you how to walk less awkwardly in heels.  They could give you some instruction on skin care and personal make-up, although it probably won’t be the very specific information required to know how to prepare your skin for a photo shoot.  The best thing they could teach you is something about how the modeling business works, about how tough it is and how small your chances are of making a living at it, but do you think a “school” that depends on inflating your unsophisticated dream of becoming a supermodel is really going to include that in the curriculum?

Modeling school can be fun, and if you or your family can afford it as a recreational lark, by all means, go for it.  Just don’t expect that your Barbizon diploma will improve your chances of getting a job as a model, because it won’t, period.  It’s highly unlikely they’ll teach you the most important thing you could learn—how to apply to an agency—and in fact, most legitimate agencies would really rather you didn’t go to a modeling school; moreover, sad to say, if you’ve already attended, it’s not going to be a real asset for your resumé.  If I were you, I wouldn’t mention it.

Are they a scam then?  Let’s try this definition: a scam promises you a service under false pretences, takes your money for that service, and then does what it knew it was going to do from the beginning, which is either fail to deliver the service completely or bait-and-switch it with a cheap substitute.  The better modeling schools will deliver what they promise; it’s just that what they promise isn’t really what you need, and in fact what you do need can be acquired from other sources, usually for free.

Sharon Johnson, my wife and Sourcelight partner, is a former runway model who actually used to teach informal classes for her modeling agency.  She could teach you everything you need to know about walking a runway in about ten minutes.  Buy her a decaf latte, and she’ll be happy.  Buy her lunch and she’ll teach your whole family.  Any good model photographer can teach you most of what you need to know about posing techniques in a couple of hours.  Work a session with him, and he’ll offer a lot of it for free just to help move the session along.  The rest you can learn by standing in front of a mirror with a posing chart.

You become a model by modeling in real modeling settings, and a good agency will help you achieve that by arranging for test shoots with actual photographers working in the field and/or by sending you out on low-pressure jobs.  If you really do need training, most good agencies have at least some informal training available to specifically address shortcomings in your technique or appearance and there’s usually little or no charge for it.

But up to a year of formal classes that mostly flatter your dream without actually teaching you what you need to know to achieve it?  How much discretionary income do you have available to blow on extravagant whims?

By the way, I’m not trying to promote Sourcelight Photography as some kind of pseudo modeling agency, and we certainly have no desire to function as a school for models.  I’m just saying that most of the technical information you need to work in the modeling field can be and often is provided by a good agency, model manager, or, yes, even a photographer with specific experience in model photography.  Most do it as a secondary part of their primary function, and generally for little or no cost.   This is the electronic age; good information is out there and it’s easily accessed.  Read this series, including the links to other information sources provided in the last section, and start working.

The Agency Scam

It’s a strange business with very few rules and a lot of very slippery assumptions.  As Geoffrey Rush tells Keira Knightly when she demands to be treated according to the “Pirate Code” in Pirates of the Caribbean, “Well, Missy, it’s not really a code… more like a guide.”  For me, personally I wouldn’t sign with any agency, mother- or otherwise, that told me I was perfect for modeling after a 1-minute interview and then handed me a list of start-up expenses. Whether it’s perpetrated by an agency, a mother agency, a model manager, or one of the infamous modeling schools, the scam works like this:

You’re approached on the street or in a mall by a self-proclaimed agent or you respond to an ad in the local paper or on Craig’s List.  The pitch is the same: we have modeling/acting/talent jobs just waiting to be filled and you would be perfect for them.  When you go for your interview, you’re almost immediately told that you’ve just been accepted as their next model/actor and then, after a bit more flattery about your perfect looks, height, weight, face, voice, etc., you’re handed a list of expenses you’re going to incur.  Those expenses include acting/modeling/voice lessons with the “agency’s” training department, an expensive set of portfolio photos shot with their designated photographer (who is invariably presented as a “professional from New York with decades of experience in fashion photography,” but who often turns out to be their own in-house flunky), and “your share” of various advertising and marketing expenses, including the cost of posting your photos to their on-line galleries.  Depending on how arrogant the scammer is and how gullible you are, the fees can vary from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.  Those modeling jobs they lured you in with?  They’re real alright, but they’re almost always national—never local—and they’re pulled from exactly the same on-line job-listing sources you could access yourself with a minimal amount of research, including that “Career Builder” ad where you found the scammer’s original solicitation.  Don’t believe me?  Go to Career Builder on-line and do a search for jobs in the genre you’re interested in.  Be even more specific: try sites like Casting Call, Star Search, or All Casting Calls or even, shudder, Craig’s List.  There are many more.  See what pops up.  See how hard it was to become your own agent?  Starting to wonder how anyone could have the nerve to charge you to find random, unfiltered casting calls like this for you?  Now you’re getting the idea.  It’s not hard.  It’s a racket.

Let’s be honest here.  Every agency, legitimate or not, has complaints.  I have yet to research a single local agency anywhere that didn’t have multiple complaints filed against it in the various complaint-listing forums (see the Links section).  Some are legitimate, some are phony complaints posted by competitors posing as former clients in order to harm the competition, and some are sincere but misguided protests from people who don’t understand what the modeling business actually requires and are operating on faulty beliefs taken from some mythical Pirate Code they heard about somewhere.  Usually those last complaints are based on two concerns: the belief that “legitimate agencies never charge anything except their commission,” and indignation over the agency’s insistence on using designated service providers, like a particular photographer.  As it turns out, both assumptions are just wrong.  Agencies do often charge for extras, even as an upfront cost, and there may be very good reasons for recommending particular service providers that have nothing to do with under-the-table kickback arrangements.

A good agency will spend considerable resources grooming and promoting their models.  These days they’re all going to maintain online galleries featuring their models’ portfolios, and many will still send out printed agency headsheet books or promotional flyers featuring model portfolios to their clients.  Understand, good agencies aren’t sitting around waiting for the phone to ring; they’re out actively putting your resumé in front of potential clients trying to drum up work for you.  That costs money, and it’s standard practice in the industry for them to recover that cost from the models on whose behalf they incurred it.  You can like it or not, but that’s how it is.  If no one told you before, then let me say it loud and clear:

This is your career and you need to be prepared to invest in it.  You’re going to have numerous expenses, which we’ll outline in the My Card, Sir article.  Agencies vary in how much they get involved in your preparation, but whether you arrange to do your comp cards on your own or the agency does it for you, paying for it is still your responsibility. Whether any particular agency’s fees are worth it for you or not depends on how well they answered your very first question—does the agency find work for its models (see how this keeps coming up?) and how well does it pay? The more active and aggressive the agency is in finding work, the higher their fees are likely to be.  An agency that doesn’t do much marketing isn’t going to have a lot of expenses to pass on to you; they’re also probably not going to be passing much work your way either.  See, it’s not really a Code… more like a guide.

As for the concerns about requiring you to use designated providers like a house photographer, there can be good reasons for that as well.  You are the walking representation of the agency’s brand, and they need your promotional materials to present them at a consistently high level.  If the pictures your personal portrait photographer took don’t meet modeling industry standards, they’re of no use to the agency (or you).  Portfolio photography is a very specific discipline with a very particular look.  The commercial headshot that every model needs is not a formal portrait, nor a beauty or glamour headshot.  A model photographer will know the difference and will be able to get you shots in the style that clients expect.  I would be suspicious of any agency that required me to work with one photographer only, but it’s common practice for an agency to have several photographers whose work they’ve already approved and can recommend to models. And the kickback?  Call it whatever you like; it’s common practice for us here at Sourcelight to provide a “finder’s fee” to anyone who refers work to us, usually in the form of a credit toward the finder’s own photography with us.  We also routinely negotiate discounted fees for commercial clients, based on the volume of work they send us.  None of this is unusual in any service industry.  You need professional photos (or comp cards or hair styles) delivered in the correct style.  If you don’t know what that is or how to find a professional to provide them, of course the agency’s going to step in with recommendations.  Wouldn’t you want them to?

When is it too much; when do required services and extras fees begin to creep over the line into scamming behavior?  Frankly, that’s just not always clear.  You’ll have to develop your own set of guidelines based, as we’ve said repeatedly, on your assessment of how well the agency performs its primary function—getting you paid jobs.  If all they’re interested in is selling you services and their job-creation activity is spotty, you’re probably being scammed.  If you are getting work and the agency can adequately demonstrate how those extra fees are contributing to your employment opportunities, you might just be in the hands of a very good agency.

And how do you get into those hands?  That’s the subject of the next article.

Back to the ArticlesNext

 

Modeling 101: Finding a Seat in the Big Tent

 

There are two common misconceptions about modeling for women: 1) you have to be 6’ tall, and 2) if you’re short but really spunky, #1 doesn’t apply.  Both notions, alas, are wrong; unfortunately, they’re also both correct.  If you want to walk a runway at a major fashion show in any of the world’s primary markets—say, New York, London, Paris, or Milan—you will have to be at least 5’9” tall and weigh no more than 115 pounds.  And no, they absolutely won’t make an exception for you, regardless of your spunky quotient.  On the other hand, you could be a lot shorter and be a runway star in the fashion show put on by the Macy’s store in your local mall.  It’s also true that being spunky, as well as a whole lot of other characteristics we discuss in And You Call Yourself a Professional, does matter.  All other things being equal, people with determination, discipline, and highly developed social skills get more work than rude, lazy slugs do.  The problem in trying to make a general statement about the requirements of the modeling industry is that it’s a huge business, with numerous distinct genres and sub-specialties, each with its own modeling needs and criteria.  Whether or not you have a realistic chance to make it as a model depends first of all on being realistic about which type of modeling we’re talking about.

Generally, modeling jobs fall into one of three categories: Fashion, Commercial, and Glamour.  You may also see other ways of dividing the industry, however, such as Editorial, Catalog and Commercial, and Advertising.  Part of the problem is that the categories often overlap, and the overlap can spawn a specific category that looks like something unique but really isn’t.

For example, Editorial is sometimes specifically defined as modeling for magazine articles and features that isn’t advertising.  If the local city-profile magazine is doing an article on female executives, they might interview and photograph a real executive or they might hire a model to pose as a generic example of an executive.  In that case you wouldn’t be selling a product (advertising); you’d be illustrating a story (editorial).  Since magazines themselves draw a formal distinction between advertising and editorial content, keeping that distinction for modeling has some merit.  On the other hand, some sources simply attach the word “Editorial” to other categories as a means of indicating that the modeling, whether it’s “Feature Editorial” or “Advertising Editorial,” is being performed for publication in a magazine.  You can always assume when you see the word “editorial” attached to a modeling job description that it means the target display is a magazine, whether print or online.  You can’t assume, however, that it is not advertising related.

“Advertising,” when used as a specific category, generally refers to modeling that involves wearing a product or demonstrating a service in print media, including magazines, newspapers, brochures, point-of-sale displays, or on packaging.  The products being advertised may or may not be considered fashionable, and most advertising modeling wouldn’t be considered by many in the industry to fall under the “Fashion” category.  On the other hand, if you’re wearing Donna Karan in a Vogue ad, no one would argue that you’re not modeling fashion.  And if you’re sporting a sexy bra in a Victoria’s Secret flyer, you’re cross-modeling elements of Fashion, Glamour, Commercial, Catalog, and Advertising, with a bit of the Lingerie specialty thrown in for good measure.

To make it even more confusing, there are various niches such as Junior, Plus-Size, and Parts (or Product), which cross over the categories however you distinguish them, and become categories in themselves.  A Plus-Size model, e.g., can easily work in Fashion, Commercial, and Glamour, and her statistical requirements are defined by the Plus-Size description rather than the modeling categories.

You get the picture.  The boundaries that define the various modeling categories aren’t that rigid, which is why a model whose personal stats don’t fit the typical expectations occasionally slips into a category she doesn’t seem to be suited for.  But that’s rare; there are plenty of models available who do fit the standards, and the industry just doesn’t need to take a chance on an exception.  Still, now that we’ve suggested it can’t be done, we’ll try to describe the Big Three—Fashion, Commercial, and Glamour—in definitive terms that will help you figure out where you can apply without needing an exception just to be considered.

Fashion

Let’s face it—when you say “modeling,” this is what most people think about.  Nobody dreams about being a spokesmodel for Ace Hardware; girls who grow up with modeling fantasies imagine themselves walking the runway at Couture Fashion Week in NYC or being fussed over by a team of stylists for a $5000-a-day Pierre Cardin ad in Elle or the cover shot of Vogue.  Unfortunately, fashion modeling is by far the most competitive and least accessible.

That height/weight standard is real: you have to be able to fit the clothes and the clothes are designed for tall beanpoles–at least 5’9” and v-e-r-y slender with a long, graceful neck.  Curves are non-essential (36″ hips, max), and a C-cup is usually too big.  Lips are the only place where “full” is helpful and they should open to a set of beautiful choppers.  Why so restrictive?  Couple of reasons.  One, these are original creations and the designer isn’t going to waste time and money making a variety of sizes just in case some gorgeous short gal shows up; and two, fabric drapes better on long frames, and the larger picture a 6-foot body creates just reads better in the back row of the auditorium.  You want fairness?  Get into something that lets you compete for a government contract.  You want to be a fashion model?  Be really tall and really skinny.  By the way, if any guys are reading this, 6’0” is your minimum, and if you plan to stand next to any 6’ female models, taller still would be still better (but not taller than 6’2″).  You need a good head of hair, and a jacket size of 40-42.  And if you’re starting to feel like the star of a cattle auction by now, get used to it.

What about that local fashion show for Dillards?  Those aren’t original designs; those are off-the-rack finished clothes, and they will have something to fit your 5’2” frame.  They also won’t pay you, at least not more than a token fee and a thank you.  The simple truth about haute couture fashion modeling is that very few models can actually make a living at it, and the jobs that pay real money only happen in a handful of places in the entire world.  In the U.S., that’s almost certain to be New York or maybe Chicago, with a slim possibility of work in secondary markets like Miami or L.A.  Sure, Eugene, Oregon’s Nike might need models for a shoe campaign, but they’re probably working through a New York ad agency.  Here in the Northwest, pickings are slim- to non-existent.  The bottom line: if you want to make a living as a high fashion model, you need to live where the livings are being made, and if you’re not willing to relocate, this is not your genre.

One more thing, maybe the most  important of all: virtually all fashion work is booked through a modeling agency, and the biggest jobs go through the biggest agencies.  This is not a genre you can tackle on your own.  If you want to work in fashion, your first job is selling yourself to a well-connected agency with an actual office in or strong ties to one of the big markets.  Local agencies can find you local work, but unless they have some sort of “farm team” relationship with a large-market major, they do not have the clout to place you in high-end work.

In summary, Fashion may get all the glory, but it’s a small fraction of the work being done in the modeling industry.  Don’t fit?  Don’t worry, most working models don’t.

Commercial

That’s because the vast majority of mainstream modeling happens in the Commercial genre.  Commercial modeling is about selling things through advertising and marketing, and most, though not all, commercial modeling jobs will result in an advertisement.  The ads may appear in print or the web-based version of print, or in live performance on a television commercial.

By the way, you may be wondering, why is this different from Fashion modeling?  Isn’t that about selling?  Well, yes, of course; it’s just that Fashion is such a specialized branch of commercial modeling with such a rigid set of criteria that it has become a unique category all its own.  That department-store runway show we mentioned above that you did in the local mall?  Not really fashion modeling.  That’s commercial, although it might be, confusingly, referred to as “commercial fashion.”  The products you’re modeling are off-the-shelf and the audience is local and low-visibility.  When Gucci shows product at Fashion Week in Milan, what they’re really selling (and the models are modeling) is the Gucci brand.  When the local Dillard’s store asks you to model Gucci, they’re trying to sell handbags and shoes.  In many ways, that’s the fundamental difference—Fashion sells image; Commercial sells product.

Take the famous Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition as an example.  Hoping for a boost to their typically poor sales during the slow winter sports season, in 1964 the magazine decided to produce a swimsuit article featuring beautiful women in bikinis on a warm beach in February.  For the models, this was classic feature work—illustrating a magazine article for the narrowly defined purpose of boosting sales of the magazine.  Originally, the only thought given to image was damage control—most thought that a blatant appeal to sex would cheapen the image of a sports magazine.  Now, of course, the swimsuit edition is not only Sports Illustrated’s best selling issue, but it has become a phenomenon in its own right, spinning off documentary television programs, numerous videos, and calendars. The swimsuit edition is often credited with validating the bikini as legitimate beach apparel, which of course also means it should be credited for creating the swimsuit-model genre as a distinct offshoot of its lingerie cousin.   If you’re a bikini designer, having your designs appear in SI is the equivalent to demonstrating them on a runway at Fashion Week.  For models, appearing in the SI swimsuit edition has become the definitive route to elevating a career to supermodel status.  In short, the annual swimsuit edition has now become a major fashion event and getting selected to model in it is the pinnacle of a swimsuit model’s achievement.

The same narrative could be spun for Victoria’s Secret.  What started out as simple commercial catalog work for the models has now been celebritized enough to make the release of each Victoria’s Secret catalog a fashion event, spawning television shows and Internet presentations and transforming a few VS models into supermodel celebrities.  This is not the Sears catalog, and modeling for Victoria’s Secret is no longer just about selling bras—it’s also about reinforcing the cheeky brand VS has created for itself.  If you’re in the catalog, you’re modeling Fashion, not Commercial.  Sure, your layout may sell some product, but that’s not really the point anymore.

Other than the fact that Fashion is just higher profile than Commercial with an important difference in its selling objective, you probably don’t care what title your modeling has, as long as it pays.  You should, though, because one key difference for models is that the criteria for getting selected are much looser for Commercial work.  In fact, there’s a place for virtually every age and body type in Commercial modeling.

Being pretty never hurts, but, probably thanks to Miller Lite’s decision to use retired pro football players in its advertising 20 years ago, the dominant trend in non-fashion advertising has been to feature models with “average” looks.  Advertising is vastly more sophisticated now than it used to be, primarily because consumers are more savvy.  By the time we reach buying age, we’ve all seen thousands of commercials on TV and been bombarded by clumsy advertising in every medium.  We’re mostly immune to the straight, naked pitch, and advertisers have to be a lot sneakier to get our attention.  One way of doing that is to tell a story, effectively transforming a sales pitch into a narrative that we can relate to, and most of us don’t relate to supermodel looks.  What does an hour-glass figure and a button nose have to do with selling Toro lawn-mowers?  That ad is more convincing if it features someone who looks like your own crabgrass-hating neighbor.

Do you look like a nerd?  A sweet grey-haired old lady with a wicked gleam in her eye?  A small child with freckles and spikey red hair?  Can you be goofy, quirky, interesting?  Somewhere an ad agency “creative” is working on a concept for a campaign that needs a model who looks exactly like you. The dominant consumer market for the past 40 years has been the Baby Boomer generation, most of whom are now turning 60.  Hint: luxury cars, fine jewelry, designer clothes (and Viagra) aren’t pitched to teenagers.  If you’re a fit, average-looking middle-aged guy with some acting ability who can deliver a credible line reading on camera, agencies are looking for you.  You have natural marketing appeal for the biggest target out there.  In short, the range of work available in the Commercial sector is extensive, and the appearance qualifications are similarly diverse.

The line reading thing, by the way, is important—in addition to television, there is also live modeling work, greeting visitors and handing out products at venues like trade shows and shopping malls.  Think of it as “modeling in motion,” and if you can walk and talk at the same time, your stock as a commercial model goes up considerably.  Not glamorous enough for you?  Trade show models—often referred to as “greeters”—routinely earn $400-600 a day.  No, it’s not glamorous, but this is the business of modeling.  Do you want to wear a title or do you want to wear a name tag and earn a paycheck?

One key similarity between Fashion and Commercial modeling, however, is that virtually all paying jobs are delivered through an agency.  Whether the campaign is generated by the corporation’s internal marketing department or an external advertising firm, if it requires models, nobody’s going to go looking for you on Craig’s List; they’re going to call an agency.  You don’t have an agent?  You don’t have a career.   The good news is that while Fashion work is almost exclusively restricted to a few major cities, Commercial models are doing paid work in every reasonably sized urban market, and local modeling agencies can be effective without needing any major-market connections.

Glamour

If you’re getting the idea that trying to model without an agent is impossible, you’re mostly right.  The one exception is Glamour modeling, which mainstream agencies rarely represent.  Although the term as applied to a specific modeling genre is fairly new, the practice of depicting attractive women in various stages of undress with an erotic intent has a long history.

Not surprisingly, given the popularity of the nude as an art subject since the first caveman decided to decorate his walls with pics of his mate, some of the first subjects photographed after the invention of the daguerreotype in 1839 were risqué nudes.  The early 1900s saw the debut of the “naughty French postcard” and other art of that period exhibiting the kind of opulence and even decadence that you might expect as one cultural era comes to an end and another begins, including frankly erotic subjects.

Hollywood Glamour - Jean Harlow By the late 1920s, Hollywood had begun to understand the marketing potential in its glamorous reputation, and the film industry began to publicize its stars with sensual portraits photographed in a dramatic style that has come to be known as “Hollywood Glamour.”

 

Betty Grable's famous WWII poster

 

 

 

An offshoot of that—the “pin-up” photo of a scantily dressed woman in a playful pose—had been around for some time, and was an extremely popular poster subject during World War II.  Betty Grable’s famous pinup in a bathing suit was so popular with American GI’s that it was featured in Life Magazine’s “100 Photographs that Changed the World” issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marilyn Monroe_1953 Playboy Cover Not featured in Life, but equally foundational in defining the modern notion of glamour as a frankly sexual genre and popularizing it for a mainstream audience was the debut issue of Playboy Magazine in 1953.   Having the good sense to use the world’s most recognizable Hollywood starlet as its first nude centerfold instantly catapulted the magazine past its more conservative rivals.

Marilyn Monroe_Playboy Pictorial 1953When asked what she had on during the photo session, Marilyn Monroe famously answered, “the radio,” and because of her immense popularity, no one gasped.  Modern glamour was born, and Playboy essentially defined its parameters for most of the next 50 years.

 

 

 

 

So what, then, is Glamour modeling?  Sexy, yes—that appears to be a given—but does it have to be nude?  If it’s neither Fashion nor Commercial and agencies don’t place the models, then who’s the client?

Although the sheer numbers of people working in the field guarantee some squishiness in its definition, Glamour is generally considered to be sensual imagery that HINTS at sexiness, but draws the line at depicting actual sexual acts.  Squishy, right?  Comes with the territory, frankly.  It might be easier to discuss what Glamour modeling is not.

First, by almost everyone’s definition, Glamour is not pornography.  Although the subject matter is usually adult, think of it as PG- or R-rated rather than X-rated, romantic and/or sexually alluring rather than overtly sexual (yep,  still  squishy—just roll with it).  The model may be fully or semi-clothed, and any apparent nudity is usually of the “implied” variety where the nipples and genitalia are concealed behind fabric or posing tricks, such as the notorious “hand bra.”  To be sure, Glamour modeling can include nudity, but that is generally further segregated into a “Glamour nude” sub-category.  You have to consider the venue; if you’re modeling for Playboy, you should assume your Glamour assignment will require nudity; if the client is one of the new “lad-boy” magazines like Maxim and FHM that specialize in romanticized implied-nude imagery, probably not.  If it’s the amateur “garage glamour” photographer down the street, it’s best to clarify the point long before you get to the session.  More on that below.

So who’s the client?  Well, first of all, Glamour is almost exclusively a photography genre, although there have been a few well-known painters along the way whose style established a characteristic illustration look that is often emulated.  Alberto Vargas, in particular, achieved international fame as a regular contributor to Playboy Magazine throughout the 1960s.  His work was so definitive that the term “Vargas Girl (or Nude)” is a self-explanatory description for anyone working in the field, including photographers like Robert Alvarado, whose pin-up work evokes Vargas’s signature illustrative style.  Since the ratio of artists to photographers is something like 1 to a bazillion, the odds are good that your Glamour modeling client is going to have a camera in his/her hands.

And until recently, most glamour photography was intended for some sort of commercial presentation, including calendars, pin-up posters and postcards, and, especially, men’s magazines.  The Internet has now added a new wrinkle to the established print magazine market, with a proliferation of online subscription sites that feature “sets” of glamour imagery.  These are groupings of glamour photos of the same model, shot to various degrees of nudity and sexuality, depending on the focus of the site.  A few, like the genre-originating Domai, aspire to a fine-art standard; others are noticeably less fastidious, with an overtly sexual orientation that can reasonably be categorized as soft- or even hard-core porn.  Buyer (and model) beware.

The most interesting—and potentially most lucrative—development for glamour modeling is the explosion of amateur photographers practicing what has come to be known as “garage glamour,” a reference to the frequent location of the sessions.  This is clearly a technology-driven development, since, until recently, the extreme lighting and specialty retouching requirements, as well as the exorbitant expense of the film required to practice long enough to be good at it, had always restricted model photography to the professional whose commercial contracts could justify the hefty investment.  Now however, the proliferation of affordable digital cameras with their extreme low-light capability, reusable recording media, and reliable automation, as well as readily available retouching software have all combined to spawn an underground modeling market that could never have existed before.

Another factor in the rapid expansion of the glamour photography and modeling market is the proliferation of online photographer/model networking sites like Model Mayhem, One Model Place, and numerous others.  The sites enable would-be models and photographers to create and maintain free online portfolios, and then arrange appointments for photo sessions.  Every urban area in the U.S. has a sizable number of both, generating a groundswell of model-photography activity and, in essence, creating an entirely new genre: Internet Modeling.

Although some successful models do book Commercial work from the sites, the vast majority of paid activity is in the Glamour field, and a large portion of that is nude work. We’ll compare the various sites and discuss how to leverage the opportunities they present in more detail, both in their own article and as part of our discussion on professional behavior; the thing to note here is that for the amateur photographer, the online portfolio is not only a way to meet and schedule models, it’s also a place to “hang” the finished art, thus making Internet Modeling a viable subject to shoot—and pay for—in itself.  There’s no comparable activity—where the photographers actually become the client and shoot for themselves—in either Fashion or Commercial modeling.

The physical requirements for Glamour?  Not as restrictive as you might think.  Obviously you need to be attractive, with natural curves, and a willingness to show some skin.  There are virtually no height restrictions.  This is also one of the few areas where body modifications aren’t necessarily a barrier (see below).

Specialty Modeling

Juniors.  Junior models are usually age 13-19.  Height requirements are less than for Fashion models, and the work includes editorial and commercial, usually catalog and local advertising, and usually for products or services pitched to teenagers.

Plus Size.  Plus models are usually defined as size 14-18 and include the 18-30 age group.  They also model editorial and commercial, including catalog and other advertising, usually for products and services aimed at a similarly plus-size demographic.  One important note: Plus Size does not mean obese.  Successful Plus Size models fit the same appearance criteria as other Commercial and even Fashion models—they’re fit, attractive, and well-proportioned; they just happen to be bigger gals than their petite counterparts.

Swimwear and Lingerie.  Models who specialize in this genre, whether the focus is Commercial or Fashion, need to be noticeably fit with natural curves and even skin tones.  Bust-size, not surprisingly is usually expected to be 34B (the long-time standard for lingerie) or larger, particularly if the modeling is in the Glamour field.  You can thank Sports Illustrated and companies like Victoria’s Secret and Fredericks of Hollywood for turning this into a specialized genre of its own.

Parts (or Product) Modeling. Parts models are people with a particular feature that stands out.  If you have unusually graceful hands, long shapely legs, or a face with perfect bone structure and flawless skin, among other traits, you may very well be able to find work that features your particular, well… part: gloves, nail polish, and jewelry for a hand model; make-up, jewelry, and hair products for the perfect face, etc.  If you’re interested in this type of specialty modeling, talk to your agency.  This is one of the few opportunities for non-standard models to work in Fashion.

• The Male Model. A final note about male modeling: we’ve given short shrift to the guys here.  Most of the advice for female Fashion and Commercial models holds true for men as well—tall and lean for Fashion and versatile for Commercial.  The one key difference is Glamour modeling, which has so far been virtually non-existent for males outside of the gay-porn market.  That culture may be changing as women become more comfortable in expressing an appreciation for beefcake images.  The proliferation of “Men of Firehouse 13” calendars has been an interesting development in recent years, while the overtly heterosexual and unabashedly egotistical spokesman in the recent Old Spice commercials (“Ladies, I’m the man your man could smell like”) is a surprisingly daring departure from the robotic action hero or beer-crazed idiot that usually pitches products for men.  A male brazenly flaunting his body as the sole basis for his attractiveness is, well… female.  Fashion has been pushing the sexuality envelope for men for a long time, but Glamour has been slow to follow, and whether the Old Spice man becomes a trend or not remains to be seen.

• Body Art. It’s not a modeling specialty, but it is a special concern for models.  With body modifications so prevalent these days, it’s important to consider the effect that prominent tattoos and piercings may have on your marketability.  In fact, we consider it important enough that we’ve devoted an entire article to discussing it.

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Modeling 101: So You Want to Be a Model

 

So people have been telling you, “You are SO pretty… you ought to be a model” since you were two years old.  You’ve memorized all the names, personal statistics, and public travails of America’s Next Top Model, and you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, I could SO rock that.”  Or maybe you responded to an ad from a “well-known” modeling school or a so-called “Model Manager” who told you that with your looks (and their help), success in modeling was just a few hundred dollars and a couple of classes away.  Fame, fortune, a glamorous lifestyle, and the easiest job you can possibly imagine—standing in front of a camera looking just like you do naturally… what’s not to like?

Ahh, if only it were so easy.

Realistically, though you’re probably not that naïve.  You know that nothing that good is ever that easy, and you’re smart enough to know that the super-model salaries and cover-girl fame that make the headlines are rare.  You’re realistic; you’re not asking to be a superstar.  You don’t expect to walk the runway in Milan.  You just find the business interesting and you’d like to consider the possibility of making a decent living as a model.

Fair enough.  As the compulsive gambler, Boog, observes in the old movie, Diner, ”If you don’t have dreams, you got nightmares.”  So in the spirit of helping you to embrace your dreams (and keep them from turning into nightmares) this series of articles is designed to help you train a critical eye on the modeling business, on yourself, and on the possibility that there might be a place where the two can realistically line up.  In order to do that, we have to first ask some hard questions:

1. Why do you want to be a model? That might seem blatantly obvious, but surprisingly few of us ever ask the “why” question about any major decision in life.  Wanting to do something seems like a sufficiently self-explanatory answer, but it usually isn’t.  Why modeling instead of, say… gardening or dog-walking?

Do you have a big personality that loves the spotlight, or are you a self-confident person who enjoys collaborating with other strong-willed people?  Or maybe, honestly, you tend to be a timid person who’s a bit insecure, and you’re hoping that having your picture taken professionally will make you feel better about yourself.  Maybe you love fashion and its wildly expressive nature, and modeling seems like your best option to participate.  Or maybe you’re an intense, artistically inclined person who likes the idea of being able to collaborate in the creation of some really cool images that are going to be framed and hung on a wall somewhere (maybe yours).  For some people, modeling—especially nude modeling—is a way of revealing an uninhibited nature and positively expressing a personal philosophy about the human form that might differ from the mainstream.    Maybe you’re serious about wanting a career, or maybe you just want to have some fun.  They’re both viable reasons for wanting to be a model, but they’re not the same thing.

There can be multiple reasons for doing almost anything, including modeling, and being honest with yourself about why you’re interested in an activity often goes a long way toward determining how successful you’ll be in participating.  The big question is: do you want to do it for money or for fun? Answer that truthfully, and you’re halfway to making a good decision about how to handle the modeling question.  If you know that you’re only interested in modeling if you can be assured of making a good living at it, you also need to know that only a very small fraction of people ever earn a full-time income from modeling.  Why set yourself up for failure trying to do something you’re neither passionate about nor suited for?  Before you do anything else, ask yourself the why question, listen to the answer, and then choose your path accordingly.

2. What kind of modeling are you suited for? If you did a good job of answering #1 above, you already know what you want from modeling, and now what you need is some straight talk about what the modeling industry wants from you.  You need good information about the various genres available and the expectations/requirements for each.  Oh, and you need to not take it personally when you discover that who and what you are isn’t what the industry is looking for.  If you’re over 19 and under 5’8”, you can forget about starting a career as a runway model.  Heavily tattooed?  Cross commercial modeling off your list.  Need your boyfriend’s permission?  Cross everything off.  Modeling is a no-excuses, profit-driven business and you need to understand up front that unless you’re already famous for some other reason, the industry won’t make exceptions for you.  In the next article, we’ll present you with a lot more specific information about genres and requirements.  Read it and take it to heart.  If what you’re interested in isn’t what you’re suited for, you’re not just wasting your time, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of rejection and self-doubt.  Which brings us to:

3. How strong is your ego? Can you handle rejection? Are you ready to face, say, a 90% rejection rate?  That’s responding to a hundred calls and getting told ninety times, “Sorry, you’re not what we’re looking for.”  Can you keep your confidence up when your agency hasn’t called about a job in a month?  Two months?  Can you handle the landlord knocking on your door every day to remind you that the rent is overdue?  If you’re really confident (and if you’re not, you’re seriously looking into the wrong business) it’s natural to have a brief snort at all those people who are just too blind to recognize your extraordinary worth, but if you let that turn you angry and bitter, you’ll keep missing the point—it’s not personal.  Remember that; we’ll repeat it later.

Even after you get a job, you’ll still find your confidence being tested.  Can you take criticism?  Most people can’t.  Most people either get angry and belligerent, or slip away to a quiet corner to have a good cry.  Modeling isn’t a democracy, and if you’re not the one paying for the session, you’re not the boss.  People WILL tell you what to do, and they may or may not be polite about it.  No one has the right to abuse you on a job, but no one has the time for you to be a drama queen either.  Photographers, stylists, and make-up artists will tell you, either explicitly or implicitly, what’s wrong with your face and your body and what they’re going to do to fix your “problems”.  Some days will be golden, and some days the ad agency representative and the photographer are going to pose you and repose you like a mannequin until you feel like a complete idiot who can’t do anything right.  It’s nothing personal, it’s not a comment on your general competence or private worth; it’s just that the modeling business is all about embodying an image that somebody else created, and you have to be willing to adapt to whatever the image requires of you.  Here’s the key thing you have to remember, especially for commercial modeling: your job is to display a product that someone is trying to sell.  The product is the star, not you, and experienced models casually refer to themselves as “clothes hangers.”  That’s the business, and if it offends you, this is a good time to reevaluate your goals.

But what if your preferred niche is nude modeling, either glamour or fine-art?  Aren’t you the focus of the image then?  Aren’t YOU the product?  No, still not.  If you’re modeling for Playboy Magazine, the product you’re selling is Playboy and the lifestyle it represents, which—let’s be direct about this—is unapologetically sexual.  The sets, the make-up, the poses, and the attitude are all going to be selected for you by a stylist for the express purpose of selling sex as a commodity that may or may not be consistent with your self-image.  Fine-art nudes, on the other hand, are often formal studies designed to illustrate basic compositional elements like light-and-shadow, lines and curves, inner forces and surface textures; or they’re intended to evoke certain elemental feelings about our human nature in general and sensuality in particular.  In art modeling, you’ll likely be expected to embody an archetype rather than an individual.  That’s still not a broad stroke for your ego, if being the recognizable star of the image matters to you.  If you want to be the subject of the picture, find a good portrait artist, and pay him/her to focus on you.  If you want to be a model, be prepared to disappear into a concept.  We can’t emphasize this enough: you’re going to get rejected more often (probably a lot more often) than you’re going to get accepted, and even when you do get a job, you’re often going to feel more like a lump of unattractive clay than a human.  Think hard about how well you handle rejection in your personal life, and then ask yourself if you really want to make a career out of it.

4. How disciplined are you? Sure, every now and then a superstar is discovered in a Burger King and zooms straight to the top of the modeling profession.  Somebody has to win America’s Next Top Model, be the next American Idol, the next dancing star… Somebody has to be the last person Donald Trump doesn’t fire.  For the rest of us, whether we’re singers, dancers, executives, photographers, or models, having a viable plan and the discipline to execute it is the best way to improve our chances to succeed.  It’s not about rigging the game, winning the lottery, or charming the viewing audience into picking up their phones and voting for you; it’s about creating opportunities for yourself by consistently managing those things you have control over in order to improve your odds.  Above all, it’s about understanding professional behavior and treating your modeling experience like a real job, with a full commitment to a strong work ethic that potential employers will recognize and respond to.  As a photography studio that works with dozens of models each year and is contacted by dozens more, we can promise you—not one model in a hundred actually is disciplined enough to learn the ropes and work the system to create opportunities rather than simply waiting around for them to materialize out of thin air.  If you are that one—that rare bird who’s willing to learn the trade, including adult communication skills that go beyond adolescent textspeak, and pursue it consistently, every day—your odds of getting viable modeling jobs with serious professionals who are looking for other professionals to collaborate with will be exponentially improved.

That’s the job.  If you’re agency-represented, your agency is going to work hardest to place those models who work the hardest to support those placement efforts.  If you’re representing yourself and you don’t know how to approach potential employers in a professional manner, don’t know how to communicate like a responsible adult, or make—and keep—commitments, then get ready to join the 99% of the modeling workforce that never works.

Anyone can learn the skills, but having the discipline to integrate them into a functional work ethic and practice them consistently is a matter of character and will.  The people who succeed in any profession aren’t necessarily the smartest or most talented; they are, however, always the most disciplined.  We’ll provide a lot of information about professional presentation, communication, and management strategies here in the series, but only you know how hard you’re willing to work to be a professional.

Now, if you’re still with us, welcome to the wacky world of modeling.  Read on.

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