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).