Saturday, January 31, 2009

Male Models Need Pampering, Too!

If you're a male model (agency represented or freelance), by now you've probably realized that you may be required to do certain things that regular guys don't have to. Being a model means looking like one and it isn't just your female counterparts that have to worry about maintaining their outer appearance.

Men in general are known for being rugged and even a bit "dirty" but when you enter the male modeling world, this isn't entirely true. So what does this mean for you as a male model? It means learning how to get pedicures, manicures, and (gasp!) maybe even facials! When you go in for a casting, go-see, or photoshoot, you should be "perfect" from head to toe. That means no dirty fingernails, no unsightly blemishes on your complexion, no hangnails and no gnarly feet. If you're the type of guy that cringes at the word "salon," "pedicure/manicure," and especially "metrosexual" then you'll need to get over that fear because unless you're already fairly diligent about your hygiene and outer appearance, you may need to step up your personal care routine a notch when it comes to your modeling assignments.

This post is mainly for the male models that don't give their face, fingernails and toenails a second thought. I always remember a segment from the "Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency Show" where she comes across a gorgeous guy with potential for male model stardom. She's all geared up to see what he's got--until she sees that his feet are pretty gross looking and not taken care of. The end result: she sent him home. Of course anything Janice Dickinson does tends to be exaggerated but her actions and decision to not work with the guy is something that happens all the time in the modeling industry. You never want to give anyone a reason to not want to work with you--regardless of how petty you may think it is. Modeling isn't about making other people accommodate you (unless you're a supermodel)'s about impressing the people that are responsible for booking you for work.

If you've got a casting or a shoot coming up, you'll want to get into the habit of giving yourself a little pampering a few days prior to the event. If you're all thumbs about personal care and grooming your fingernails, toenails and face properly, that's what salons are for. This may be the time to talk to your girlfriend or female friends and family members about where they go to get such services done. Instead of feeling embarrassed by these tasks, look at the situation as taking the necessary steps to making yourself look amazing in order to impress the client. In this case, it's safe to indulge in your male ego for a moment. By trusting professionals to do the work for you, you'll have less to worry about and will know without a doubt that when you show up for the casting or shoot, that you'll be looking top notch. Going to the spa may be intimidating at first but trust me, once you experience what it's like to be pampered--even if it's just a simple manicure or pedicure--you'll want to go back again! And you're not isn't just male models that have to take these steps--more and more regular men are making it a habit to indulge in spa services...many of them aren't even what we would consider metrosexual!

Being a male model means being at the top of your game at all times and that also includes the little things you normally wouldn't think about. So give the spa a may enjoy the experience more than you thought you would (and what women doesn't love a guy who is well groomed from top to bottom?).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Answering a Reader Question #35

Anonymous Wrote:

Hi I have a question I have a scar on my back due to surgery when I was an infant how to I deal with that when entering into modeling and sending pictures. also is the scar a major set back that could cause me to not get representation as a commercial print model?

Hello, and thanks for your question! Scars can be a hindrance on a modeling career but I find that it mainly depends on what type of modeling you want to do. Obviously if you wanted to be a swimsuit or lingerie model, having such scars would more than likely decrease your chances of getting work. However, you said that you are interested in getting agency representation as a commercial/print model. That changes things. While scars of any kind are generally not desired by a modeling agency, if it is something that can easily be hidden by clothing, then it should not pose a problem. Because it is on your back, I highly doubt that alone would set you back in your attempt to find a modeling agency, especially if you have a great look. So that being said, continue your agency search but be truthful when asked if you have any blemishes or scars. The agency will take a look at it and because each agency is different, some may not see it as a problem (since you wouldn't be exposing your back in the majority of the work they would book you), while others may see it as a bad thing.

When it comes to submitting your pictures, they almost always only ask for a frontal full body shot and profile shots, not back shots so I don't think you'll have to worry about your scar in that sense.

But all in all, I would say that for commercial/print purposes, having a scar on your back won't set you back awfully as it would if you had one on, say, your face, neck, chest, or another more visible part of your body.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dos and Don'ts for Posing

DO: Use magazines for inspiration when learning to pose.

DON'T: Simply copy magazine poses for all your shoots. Originality is also important.

DO: Refer to the right kind of publications that reflect the type of modeling you do (fashion magazines for fashion/runway poses: Elle, W, Glamour, Vogue. Catalogs for commercial/print poses: Macy's, Nordstroms, Target, JC Penny's. Teen publications: Teen Vogue, Limited Too, Teen People).

DON'T: Feel like you need to master every single pose you've ever seen.

DO: Practice posing in front of a mirror to be comfortable with your body and learn what feels natural.

DON'T: Think that practicing in front of a mirror is lame, amateurish or unnecessary. Doing this simple exercise can help you greatly.

DO: Learn how to experiment. Even if you think the pose won't look good, try it out anyway and find out for yourself.

DON'T: Be rigid and uncomfortable--it will show on camera.

DO: Learn how to be completely at home in front of the camera.

DON'T: Fake it (unless you're REALLY good).

DO: Practice facial expressions in front of the mirror in addition to posing your body.

DON'T: Only learn the Victoria's Secret pout--there is more to modeling than that tired old expression.

DO: Pay attention to your hands, fingers, feet and toes when posing. Doing weird stuff with them can ruin an otherwise great pose.

DON'T: Tilt your head too much to the side (it can make you look like your neck is broken or catch an unpleasant "up your nose" shot).

DO: Learn how to pose in a studio as well as outdoors.

DON'T: Only learn how to pose standing up. It is important to know how to pose while sitting down, crouching, runnning, jumping, walking, lying down, etc.

DO: Practice posing with another model or looking at magazines to get inspiration for how to interact with one or more models.

DON'T: Assume you will never be asked to model with another person.

DO: Learn how to interact and pose with a model of the opposite sex.

DON'T: Go overboard with posing or feel you need to do a completely different pose every time the camera takes a picture. Many times simple changes to existing poses is more than enough.

DO: Learn how to extend your neck when appropriate to prevent it from looking short and stumpy. Also learn how to create nice lines using your arms and legs.

DON'T: Do poses that make you look short, stubby, or appear that you're missing limbs. Be aware of your appendages when you do a pose that involves being seated or call for you to crouch.

DO: Work with your photographer to create the appropriate poses for each modeling gig.

DON'T: Expect the photographer to tell you how to pose or direct you for every single shot. It is up to you to create that flow. The photographer will assist you when needed but don't expect them to show you how to do your job.

DO: Learn how to do and hold difficult poses. With practice you'll be able to pose in an unnatural way but make it come across as natural in front of the camera.

DON'T: Do stupid Myspace poses or poses that you'd do if you and your friends were clowning around with a camera. If you're going to be a model then you'll have to pose like one (but that doesn't mean you can't have fun).

DO: Have fun with your poses. Don't be afraid to laugh, smile, or act goofy (within reason and when appropriate) in front of the camera.

DON'T: Think you have it all figured out. When it comes to posing, chances are you're going to have to practice.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Answering a Reader Question #34

Deneshia Wrote:

Hi, I have photoshop cs2 and was wondering how do you make your own comp cards?

Hey, Deneshia, and thanks for the question! Luckily, I created a blog post to address just that situation. You can find it at this link:

How to Create Your Own Comp Card Using Photoshop

I use Photoshop CS so the tools and steps shouldn't differ too much from your CS2. If you need more assistance, shoot me an email and I'll be happy to walk you through the process!

Dealing with Inexperienced Clients

(This post will be more helpful for freelance models and even actors)

The thing about working freelance is that you won't always be dealing with clients that have huge budgets and industry professionals handling their projects. Companies turn to freelance models for a number of reasons, including but not limited to:

1) Limited budget or lack of one.

2) Avoiding agency fees in addition to the high rates agency represented models command.

3) Saves time and money instead of going through casting agencies or paying people to find them talent for projects.

If a company can save money when it comes to such projects, it will. Using freelance models means that most clients can pay a much lower rate for these type of models than agency models and have more control over their project. Some clients will have enough of a budget to use casting agencies or certain individuals that will handle the reviewing nx casting/auditioning process for them and then allow the client to choose the people they want to work with. From there, the client can hire a photographer and/or other professionals required to carry out the gig. But there are some clients out there that attempt to do everything in-house, meaning their own employees are responsible for recruiting models, interviewing/auditioning them and deciding who to use. When this happens, it can be an awkward experience for you as the model. Why? Simply because when clients take such projects into their own hands, you are more than likely dealing with individuals that have NO idea how to interact with models (or actors for that matter), which can make the casting experience for you very different from what you'd usually expect.

It isn't uncommon for models or actors to audition for clients that are somewhat uncomfortable working with such individuals in this respect (let's call the models and actors "talent" from this point on to simplify things). When you have someone that is not familiar with anything talent-related, this can make it more difficult for the talent to do a good job in the casting. Most of the time the person in charge of the casting won't be able to communicate very well about what they want from the talent and may have problems giving direction. This isn't their fault--they're simply regular office employees that have to do what their boss tells them. If it's an acting gig, then they'll more than likely use a regular digital video camera in a separated area of their company's office, so don't expect a studio filled with high tech, expensive equipment. Or if it's for a modeling gig, they may videotape your casting as well as use a regular digital camera to take your pictures.

If you find yourself in this situation, just do your best to follow their directions. Don't try to take over the audition and tell them how to run it (unless they ask for your assistance). Just because you may have more experience than them, this doesn't give you the right to tell them how to do their job. It's their project so let them do their job and you as the talent should do yours. There will be times when you may do what you consider an awful job as a result of the poor direction and inexperience of the client. When this happens, there isn't much you can do about it.

It is important to know that such situations do occur but this doesn't necessarily mean that the client you auditioned for is a scammer or unprofessional. It's just an unfortunate occurrence that happens when companies try to do everything themselves. Give it your best and move on.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Modeling Isn't Always Black & White

I've been consulting/mentoring aspiring models for almost two years now and the more I continue to research the industry and look up agencies for people, the more I learn about modeling--it's definitely not uncommon to learn about things you already have a fairly keen grasp on. It's led me to do this post to address the common questions and concerns I receive from the multitudes of emails I get.

When I say that modeling isn't always black and white, I'm basically saying that the answers most of you seek aren't always going to be absolute law. Sure, there are the requirements to be a model and things like that (those will always stay pretty steadfast), but in terms of ways to approach the industry and how to establish your place in it, there really is no straight answer. There will always be changes and exceptions to the rules.

I guess for many newbies the excitement and anticipation of embarking down the path towards becoming a model can make them overly anxious, which can lead to confusion, especially if you don't know where to start. So I guess the purpose of this particular post is to assure you that you really don't have that much to worry about. Common sense will carry you a long way and while I'm on the subject, as much as I am willing and able to help you in your journey, I can't do all the research for you. I can give you a solid starting point and help you along the way but most of the information I provide should be more than enough for you to hit the ground running and that's what I want to encourage--I want you to go out there and explore the industry, do your own research, develop your own questions that haven't already been answered and then find out how to get the results you want. If you're not willing to take the time to do this (in addition to the assistance I provide you), then I don't think you'd have the right attitude to model. Passion and dedication to your craft are two huge key traits to have when pursuing this field.

When it comes to the subject of modeling agencies, I think this is where many new models have the most questions, which is totally understandable. There are more than enough resources online and elsewhere from a large number of people, both credible and not so credible, to give you all the information you need. Unfortunately, many sources state certain facts and information and claim that they are absolute law, which is where I would disagree. By saying something is strictly black and white can create a lot of confusion for a newbie if they happen to come across another source that says the opposite--this causes them to question which one is right or wrong.

So I'll be the first to say that modeling isn't always black and white. When it comes to modeling agencies I cannot stress enough the fact that no two modeling agencies are alike. No agency (regardless of what type of models they represent) will operate exactly the same way and with the same guidelines as another agency. All agencies will have their own rules as to what requirements they are seeking in new models, what to bring to casting calls, and what type of photos to submit. I get new models asking me all the time what type of photos modeling agencies want and unfortunately, when put that way, it is entirely too broad of a question for me to answer specifically. The most basic answer is: headshot and full body shot, but that isn't the absolute rule all modeling agencies follow. Some may want more, some may want less. So it wouldn't be accurate for me to tell you that a headshot and full body shot is what you should always submit to an agency. This is why I always recommend going straight to the source to find these answers, which are the agency websites. The websites are there for a reason. Most almost always have an FAQ page or detailed information about what they want. And if you don't see it, then there will be a phone number so you can call and ask.

I've seen some sources online insist that all modeling agencies want professional pictures and a portfolio of work from new models. This isn't true because how can a new and inexperienced model be expected to have a portfolio of work established if they've never modeled before? Are there agencies out there that expect professional pictures? Sure, but there is a vast majority that only want non professional pictures. So instead of trusting the black and white answer from a source, be your own detective and hunt down the answers for yourself. I've even come across modeling agencies that state differing opinions on what new models should do. There are professional, legitimate modeling agencies that state on their website that new models do not need modeling classes or training of any kind in order to sign with a good agency, and others that encourage models to seek training in order to become better prepared. So where does that leave you? It's up to you (and your parents) to decide...go with the option that makes you comfortable. Do what works for you.

I want new models to realize that some answers cannot be applied to all situations. Everything is on a case by case basis and it also depends on who you are dealing with. Instead of asking broad questions about modeling agencies, narrow your research down to the ones local to you and see what they require. This is a surefire way to get the detailed, specific information that will truly be useful to you as you get started on a modeling career.

There are also exceptions to the rule when it comes to the modeling industry (obviously the height issue is the major one that gets debated all the time when it comes to exceptions to the rule) but it is also important to remember that while there are exceptions there is also the majority and majority will rule unless things change. Acknowledge exceptions to the rule but also ground yourself in reality and work with what you have.

What works for one model may not work for the other but that doesn't mean you can't try. My critics say that I give "false hope" or provide information that is wrong and could be harmful to new models but I don't see it that way at all. I simply believe that everyone should be free to test the limits and see how far they can get. Even rejection is an end result of an effort attempted, which is a great life lesson in my opinion. If you read that you shouldn't apply to modeling agencies far away from you, that's fine but it is entirely up to you if you want to apply anyway and see what happens. The worst they can do is say "no" or not respond at all. You never know what could happen.

So to sum things up, there are rules in the industry that have been around forever. And there are various viewpoints and opinions about these rules that can be debated. But the bottom line is that the modeling industry has a tendency to break the very rules it tries to enforce. So if you're tormenting yourself trying to figure out the absolute laws to follow within the modeling industry, don't stress...the situations vary from person to person so don't worry about comparing yourself to the next girl or guy, or even the next modeling agency. Treat your situation according to your needs and desires. And do your research! I've got a lot of information to offer but you'd be surprised how much you can find out on your own! (Don't worry, that doesn't mean that I want you to stop asking me questions or keep yourself from asking as many as you want--keep 'em coming--I just want to make sure it's understood that with the large number of people I consult daily, to look up every nook and cranny of information for everyone is just exhausting! LOL).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Maternity Modeling

The great thing about modeling is that as long as consumers need products pushed to them, clients and companies will need models to sell them and reflect the tastes of the consumers. Maternity modeling allows female models to continue their modeling careers while showcasing their buns in the oven.

The maternity modeling market isn't huge but there is a demand for them, from maternity clothing lines to baby products and items targeted towards new mothers, there will always be a need for pregnant female models. This is ideal for models that want to have children but still want to continue their modeling career or even for women with no modeling experience who happen to be pregnant and would like to take a shot at maternity modeling. There aren't many modeling agencies that have maternity divisions but there are some that specialize only in maternity models and work with them from the moment their baby bump starts to show all the way until it's time to deliver the baby.

Maternity models vary in height, size, shape, and ethnicity so the requirements in that sense are fairly flexible. However, these type of models should have an attractive, symmetrical face, pleasant features, a great smile, good skin, and nice hair. Think commercial/print models, although many agencies will also take interest in women with a fashion and editorial look as well. Because most women don't start to show until about 2-3 months, this is the time range during which you should seek representation. Like regular models, non professional, digital snapshots are fine to start out with when submitting to agencies, unless otherwise noted on the agency website. If you are currently a model and become pregnant, it is important that you let your agency know and tell them when your due date is. They'll continue to book you regular work until you start to show and then will adjust accordingly. Not all agencies book maternity modeling work so if you a model in this situation, your agency may contract you out to an agency that represents maternity models or even start submitting you to any castings they do receive that need pregnant models. It all depends on what options are available to you and what you arrange with your agency.

Of course maternity models have to maintain their health and their weight and if you plan on pursuing this type of modeling, start taking care of your skin diligently, since pregnancy can wreak havoc on your complexion due to hormonal changes within your body. Agencies that work with maternity models know how to work with pregnant women so rest assured, you won't feel the need to sweat the small stuff. Because stretch marks can be a hindrance, it is important to begin religiously moisturizing your stomach and surrounding areas as soon as you find out you are pregnant. Proper moisturization during your pregnancy will help prevent or minimize the amount of stretch marks you may get, depending on how much your skin stretches. Additionally, moisturizing your stomach will also help with the state of your skin after giving birth. Stretch marks in general are impossible to get rid of but if caught early, you can definitely control or avoid them altogether.

Of course you don't have to have an agent to do maternity modeling. Freelance is also an option and there are plenty of photographers that love to take photos of women during this special time in their lives. You can always do a test shoot for fun to see how you like it or you can start networking and finding out if there are any castings for maternity models in your area. If you don't live in the New York area, then you'll more than likely have to freelance to find opportunities. Stock photographers especially need real life models, including pregnant ones, so this could also be another alternative to breaking into this type of modeling.

The thing to remember about maternity modeling is that you'll only be able to work as long as you are pregnant. Once you've given birth, you're technically no longer a maternity model. However, some agencies even work with models that have just given birth and refer to them as "New Moms"--there's even "New Dads" and "Babies/Toddlers" with such agencies so if you want, your whole family could get in on the fun!

Here is what I could find in terms of maternity modeling:


- Fit Pregnancy is a bimonthly magazine devoted to all things related to pregnancy and motherhood. They state on their website that they hire their maternity models through agencies in New York, including Ford and Next Models, which means that these agencies represent maternity models.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Updated Comp/Zed Card

Hey, all! Just a quick post to share my new comp/zed card with you. I did this one in Photoshop and just decided to have a good one handy now that I'm actively looking for agency representation. It may give you a few ideas on how you may want to do your comp/zed card...of course there are websites that will put the images together for you if you aren't familiar with Photoshop.



***UPDATE: I actually redid the back of my comp card, which can be seen below.***

My decisions for choosing the images I did were pretty simple. I wanted to make sure that I chose four pictures that didn't all look the same and showcased the different types of work I was interested in:

1) Swimwear
2) Jewelry/Beauty
3) Print
4) Commercial Fashion

I made sure to include different angles of my body, including a full body shot, waist up, slight profile, and 3/4. It's important to choose photos that are different from each other but still allow you to be identifiable. In other words, you never want to look completely different in every image you use on your comp card. It's okay to have at least one dramatically different image but overall you want to make sure you are recognizable. Sometimes agencies and clients don't like to see too much of a chameleon in a model's comp/zed card because this can lead to confusion: which look is the one they can expect when you walk through the door? You never want to make them guess.

Because I am mainly a print model, I also went with images that were more natural and didn't have any crazy makeup or fancy hairstyles. When choosing the field of modeling you want to target it is important to include pictures that reflect this.

Since I'm freelancing at the moment, I made sure to list my basic stats as well as my email address and website. I didn't want to put my phone number on there because I don't want that information to be out on display for all to see. Clients and agencies will be fine with an email address and having my website on there is also a direct way to show them my resume of experience without having to ask me to explain it all. Also note that on the front I used my legal name for paperwork/legal purposes. When dealing with clients or agencies, I'll be sure to let them know about my model alias but in general, I've found that it's easier to introduce myself with my legal name first and then tell them my model alias.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tips for Dealing with Flash Photography

Taking photos as a model means not only dealing with the photographer and whoever else is on set, but with the photography equipment as well. Being familiar with how to work with such items can make all the difference in how your images come out.

Posing in a studio can be an amazing experience for any model but because shooting indoors is very different from shooting outdoors, you'll need to learn to adjust, namely when it comes to dealing with the lighting equipment. To maintain good color balance and avoid any harsh shadows, photographers must use lights--flash photography is becoming more and more widely used to create images that are clean, crisp and capture the subject perfectly. However, having such high intensity light flashing in front of your eyes can wreak havoc on your vision and can also be distracting, especially if you're not used to it.

The problem some models have deals with the issue of blinking. Of course you're going to have to blink and it isn't uncommon to accidentally blink during your photoshoot but with flash photography, I find that blinking usually becomes more of a problem. But luckily, it is one that can be easily remedied with practice. Some models have a tendency to blink a lot or their eyes get dry easily, causing them to blink faster/more often. When a photo is taken during a blink either the model will look like she/he is closing his/her eyes or it may be in mid-blink, making it look like you're sleepy, drunk, or let's face it--strung out on drugs haha. To avoid these unsightly accidental pictures, it is helpful to communicate with your photographer to work around the flash/blink scenario.

One tip I've followed and put into practice with each studio shoot I do is to have the photographer do a countdown. I'll close my eyes and the photographer will count to 3 and then I'll open my eyes and take the photo with my expression and pose ready. This ensures that I won't blink as the photographer takes the picture and it gives my eyes some time to adjust to the lighting and avoid them from becoming dried out. However, there is one setback to this suggestion if you are new to the game...if done wrong, the countdown method can have you looking like a deer in headlights. By now I'm sure I don't have to tell you that the eyes can make or break a photo. If you want to put the countdown method to use in your shoots, practice! Learn how to open your eyes and compose your expression so that the final image comes out naturally and not fake or weird looking. While I have my eyes closed, I picture my facial expression in my head as well as how I want my body to be when the flash goes off. This is where practicing in front of a mirror is important. Unless you know how your body moves and what expressions your face can do, you won't be able to train it to adapt to the routine of flash photography in a studio.

This particular method of preserving your eyes also works well for shoots outdoors where you have the unfortunate task of facing the sun. Of course be sure to tell your photographer that you need a countdown before they take the picture. If you have good chemistry with the person you're working with, you'll easily be able to incorporate this method and get great pictures while keeping yourself from going blind.

Happy 2009!!!

Happy New Year's everybody (I know I'm a bit late on that but hey, I've been a busy gal!). Once again an entire year has passed us by and we're on a new slate and hopefully headed towards better times. I want to briefly thank all of you that are fans of my blog, my readers, my followers--basically anyone who has managed to come across A Model's Diary - Modeling 101--I really appreciate it. I am looking forward to continuing to offer my experience, advice, and resources to help guide you model hopefuls down the path towards becoming involved in the modeling industry.

I haven't really had a chance to update as often as I would have liked the past month but don't worry, I plan on having new posts up as soon as possible! After leaving Ford Models in San Francisco, I didn't jump onto the agency hunt right away. For one thing, I left for two weeks to visit Sydney, Australia to see family for the Christmas and New Year's Eve holiday season. I didn't want to submit my pictures and information and then end up not being available for casting calls or interviews. I figure if I'm going to do this agency hunt, I need to do it when I have made time for it and December just wasn't the right period to pursue it. Prior to leaving for Australia, I had a lot of things to deal with like packing, making phone calls, letting everyone know I'd be MIA for 2 weeks, etc. My art business, DDM Creations, and my writing career also had to take priority for a bit. But modeling was never far from my mind, let me tell you! =)

Now that I'm back, I've had a chance to sleep off my jet lag and really take time to look into agencies I am interested in. Of course I've got the choice ones in San Francisco, but I'm also going to go out on a limb and send my stuff to Los Angeles agencies. There are two major commercial/print agencies in New York that I'm going to send my info to just to see what happens. You really never know, right? Either way, I hope to have success with at least one of these agencies...and believe me, no more exclusive contracts!!!

I'm still submitting to modeling and acting gigs freelance, and there has actually been a lot of castings going on lately so I'm definitely ready and waiting to hear back from potential gigs. I'll be sure to let you all know how that goes!

Well, I just wanted to drop a note to let everyone know that I am alive and well and to wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2009! Let's see what happens!!!