Monday, November 15, 2010

What's a professional model?

Okay- I spent an hour this morning looking at new model photos and thank goodness it was before breakfast because would have had an upset stomach. Don't take that the wrong way. The models were NOT unattractive! The photos and the way they were presented was very disturbing! I am SO glad we are having a workshop this weekend as it has solidified my reasons for doing it. There is so much bad info out there and young people today (and many moms) have no idea how to present themselves PROFESSIONALLY TO A TALENT AGENCY and therefore would have no idea how to present themselves as PROFESSIONAL MODELS.

Professional models are not people playing "dress up" on Facebook. Professional models get dressed up for photo shoots by paying clients to portray bank tellers, doctors, retail clients, spokespeople, sick people etc, etc, etc. What good are photos of you looking off into the distance with your hands on your hips and your spine contorted into an unnatural position standing on a concrete post?? Bragging rights so you can say that you are the "Queen of the Facebook Models" today? I have models with no FB presence that make 150.00 or more and hour with photos of themselves sitting and standing in pretty normal positions. No bragging- just making a little extra money.

Now I am not saying you can't get cool photos done- there is a lot to be said for practice making perfect BUT you should have a mix of commercial, editorial and this dramatic fashion editorial stuff that I keep seeing. (even though there is NO market here for it). I get that it is FUN. Fun is good. But when a model has nothing to give me but FUN photos- I can't get them work. Fun does not equal paying jobs in upstate NY. Guess what? It doesn't equal paying jobs in NYC either. When and IF you get an agent in NYC they are going to scrap all of your fun photos and make you get new ones anyway. All the big agencies want to see the SAME THINGS I DO: a basic smiling shot of your face and a full [clothed for God's sake] body shot. That's it. This is simple stuff. When you are responding to a request from your favorite photog for another TFP (Time for Prints) shoot what so many models are forgetting is the: “What’s in it for me?” part. That’s right- you can make requests. For example if the photog has an idea like they want to shoot you in front of a fire house in a bikini top, bunker pants and a fire hat, that is all well and good but as your agent I would have no use for that shot. It is ABSOLUTELY appropriate for you to ask that photographer if they wouldn’t mind taking a few new head shots of you at the beginning or end of that shoot for your web page or book. It is your TIME too remember. Every good photographer I know is happy to do that! The TFP should be good for both parties. Also there is a point in time where a good model, a professional model doesn’t need a portfolio of 200 TFP shots unless they are changing their look weekly and need those shots to keep current. If you are that in demand you can start charging for those shots. You can simply say “I am very flattered but I have enough prints for my portfolio now- if you want me I have a small fee for my time.”

This morning I opened up a photo of a girl with a "duck face" for her head shot and then a duck face for a full body shot. Seriously?? We get about 100 new model submission a week and are booking models for jobs every day. I don't have time to tell her what she did wrong (it's all outlined on my web site). Another submission I opened the girl had the duck face (which I truly need explained to me 'cause I don’t get it) and a photo of her dancing on a pole in a bar. Uh….I don't know what to say.

Who do these people think opens these emails? My assistant and I are professional business women and our clients are all professionals as well. We respond well to professional emails AND people who can follow directions. Some of these inquires have no punctuation and NO CAPITALIZATION. Honesly that activates a twitch in my right eye. It is just a matter of hitting the shift key with your pinky. Great Ceasar's ghost, you don't have to split an atom to create a capital letter.

I also get submissions from people's phones. No name. No contact info. No physical stats. Just a duck face photo sent to my inbox. At least they didn't have to deal with trying to figure out how to create that confounding capital letter. Sometimes I will get really lucky and it will say "sent from my iphone". Congratulations.

Present yourself as the model you want to be. Every agency from AMS Models, to NEXT, to FORD has submission guidelines- read them before you submit! If you don’t submit properly you may never hear back because they threw your submission away. If they say no make-up and wear a close fitting dress then don’t send in a photo of you in full make-up and a ball gown- You won’t hear back.

I always say that modeling in upstate NY is a hobby that pays and no one is going to get rich or pay their mortgage with the money but you have to put some effort into it. I do have people that make a few extra thousand dollars a year and these are the people that go to auditions when they come up and they have updated photos that are reflective of the market. No they aren't dangling from a tree limb with enough eyeliner to make Marilyn Manson jealous, and they are wearing a lab coat instead of a ball gown but THEY are getting paying gigs.
This post is for the people that are interested in getting paying Modeling jobs. Not Promotional work- that is something else. Not playing the "I have more pretty photos on FB than you do" game but becoming a professional, money making model.

I don't candy coat this topic (if you didn't get that already). If you want to know how it is I will tell you- there are enough people out there that will tell you exactly what you want to hear because they are trying to take money from you or trying to make a name for themselves or they are CLUELESS and have no experience in this industry. I have spent 30 years in this business and the last 11 as an agent. I have kept current and have had a couple of AMS talent go on to NY. VERY FEW. Why? Because it is hard to become a model in NYC- That's why. I have seen thousands of models. Less than 6 have gone on to make it in NYC and do really well. Those are tough odds.
If someone is telling you that you are going to be a big model in NYC then you should take a hard look at yourself and what you are up against. It is good to dream. I had a dream and I am living it. You have to dream to achieve but this is an industry where people PREY on dreamers more than any business I have ever seen. Google is your friend. An honest agent who will tell you the truth and not ask for your money is your friend. Someone that wants to TAKE something from you and buy your dream for a price is NOT your friend, and if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Don’t go into this blindly and don’t even take my word for it either. Do your homework. Knowledge is power.

1 comment:

Joyce Granger said...

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Joyce Granger