Thursday, February 26, 2009

Modeling & Taxes (for parents of models under 18)

This post is not intended to replace or be used as professional tax advice. I am in no way a tax professional, nor do I claim to be an expert. The point of this post is to provide basic information to those that are concerned about how taxes and modeling go hand-in-hand. If you have any questions or concerns about your particular tax situation in relation to modeling, please contact your CPA or other trusted tax professional. If there is anything in this post that is inaccurate or wrong, please let me know and I will correct it asap. Additionally, the subject of modeling and taxes discussed in my posts deal with the United States only so if you live outside of the U.S. this topic may not be of any relevance to you.

So the good news for underage models (that means if you are under 18 years of age), is that the whole tax issue will be your parents’ responsibility. That means that you parents out there have another additional item to remember to include when tax time comes around.

If your child is a model—this includes baby, child and teen models—then chances are your child will be making some income from their modeling gigs. All money they make during their modeling career must be reported to the IRS for each tax season that your child is working in the industry. As an independent contractor, your child will receive his/her own tax forms in the mail. That means when tax season rolls around, you can expect to deal with two forms: the W-9 and the 1099 tax form.

In order for your child’s modeling agency or your child’s clients (if you freelance) to accurately prepare their tax documents and send you a 1099, a W-9 must be completed by you on behalf of your child. When you fill out the W-9 form you will need to provide your name, your child’s name, address and the EIC (Employer Identification Number). In this case, the EIC would typically be your child’s social security number. You’ll usually be asked to fill out the W-9 form when your child first begins modeling. Parents of freelance child models may or may not be asked to fill out a W-9 from each client they work with. That particular situation is a difficult one to explain—as it varies from client to client and the amount of money paid—so your best bet is to address this occurrence with your tax advisor.

Next, you’ll receive a 1099 tax form from your child’s modeling agency in the mail when the tax season starts. If your child is a freelance model, then you will receive 1099 tax forms from clients they have done paid work for, which may result in getting more than one. Of course the process is much easier if your child has an agent because then you only have one tax form to account for. The 1099 form basically states the amount of money your child has been paid for the tax year.

When you get ready to file your taxes do not forget to include the 1099 form for your child. Neglecting to do so may lead to an audit and penalties later on down the line.

I Grew!!!

Imagine my surprise when I got measured recently and found out that I am now 5'5" instead of 5'4"...and I'm 26-years-old! Where did that little one inch growth spurt come from? LOL. One inch in general may not seem like such a big deal but in modeling terms it can be huge for a model's career. Even with shorter models, clients and agencies can be discriminating so that one inch can make or break the possibility for garnering modeling opportunities.

I've already made the changes to my height on my resume and online profiles that state my height. However, even though I managed to officially reach the minimum height requirement for commercial/print modeling, I really have no idea how it happened. So if you email me to ask what's my secret and how I managed to make myself grow even way after I was supposed to, I really wouldn't be able to give you an answer so I apologize in advance about that.

Okay, that was my nerd moment but I just thought I'd share that news with you, my beloved blog readers haha. Don't worry, I will have the detailed modeling and taxes posts up and running fairly soon, hopefully by the end of today so you'll be able to focus on more important things than my growth spurt! LOL.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Modeling & Taxes (General Topic)


If you earn any money as a model then you have to pay taxes on it. You may not like it but that's the way it goes. If you are an underage model then your parents will be responsible for making sure the proper forms are filed or sent to your CPA. For models that are 18 years of age or older, you'll have to start keeping track of and reporting your income accordingly.

Think you can get away with not reporting your income? Think again. Uncle Sam and the IRS show no mercy and all it takes is one audit and penalties to quickly ruin your day (not to mention your finances). I wanted to make this initial post to address the fact that if you model, whether it's part-time or full-time, you'll need to be prepared to receive the proper tax documents, understand what they are, and what is needed of you when it comes to tax season.

Have I already lost you? Not sure what in the world I'm talking about? Don't worry, after this post, I plan on doing two, more detailed posts. The first one will address handling taxes for the parents of underage models and the second will address dealing with taxes for models that are of age (18 and older), so don't worry, if I've piqued your interest with this topic, or downright confused you, I'll soon provide you with more than enough information for you to digest and add to your modeling career experience.

I told you, modeling isn't always fun and games. =)

Because I live and work in California, I am mostly familiar with how the process works for that state. If you need more information or want to know how taxes and modeling work in the state you live in, I would recommend visiting the IRS website as well as researching online for other links about taxes and the state you live in.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Answering a Reader Question #36

"What kind of photoshop do you use?"

Hello and thanks for the question! I currently use Photoshop CS but I just got the Adobe Creative Suite 4 software, which has all the latest versions of Photoshop and Illustrator plus others, which I'll eventually be using. But for now, Photoshop CS works just fine for my retouching and design projects.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Baby Modeling Tips

Teens, adults and seniors aren’t the only ones chosen to be models. Baby models are always in high demand and if you think your little one has what it takes to make it in the industry, there are a few steps you’ll want to take note of in this post.

When it comes to baby models, I strongly encourage parents to get agency representation for their baby instead of trying to freelance. Having the backing of a modeling agency is not only the safest way of introducing your baby to the modeling world it is also the best way to ensure that your baby receives the best opportunities, clients, and pay.

However, it is important to know that not all modeling agencies work with baby models. In your search for the right agency, you’ll only be able to deal with agencies that either specialize in baby models or have a baby modeling division. It won’t matter how beautiful or charming your baby is, if the agency you’re interested in does not represent babies, you’ll be wasting your time. Make sure to check that each agency you look into states that it represents babies and take note of the age range requirements before submitting pictures and images.

Just as with older models, baby models don’t need professional pictures or a portfolio in order to snag an agent. Again, agencies almost always prefer non professional, digital snapshots over professionally polished images. Of course your baby won’t be doing any standing shots for a ¾ pose so take into account that photographing your baby for agency submission will be different than if you were submitting for your teen or younger child.

One of the most important factors for parents to keep track of when putting their baby into modeling is keeping up with his/her measurements/sizes. When it comes to potential baby models, measurements and sizes are super important information for agencies. Babies grow each day. This means your baby will gain more weight, will get taller, and will begin to develop physically. This is a challenge when casting for babies so if you aren’t on top of your baby’s measurements and stats, this will make the agency’s job much more difficult. Agencies will ask for monthly updates of sizes and measurements. If you have any problems measuring your child or finding the right sizes, you can ask your agent for assistance. Chances are they’ll have instructions for the parents of baby models to follow to ensure they report the right information.

Baby models also have to do test shoots for a portfolio, put together a comp/zed card, and other promotional material in order for the agency to properly market them so be prepared for those events in addition to taking your baby to castings and shoots. When it comes to paying upfront fees before being offered a contract, the same standard applies to baby modeling agencies as regular modeling agencies…don’t do it!!! Only when you have a signed contract in your hands can you be asked to cover any costs if needed. When it comes to baby modeling, be wary of scouts or recruiters. Legit baby modeling agencies don’t use recruiters to find babies at hot spots around town like they would teens and young adults. If you get approached, go home and do your research on the person that talked to you and be on the lookout for a potential scam. Online modeling agencies should also be treated with caution when it comes to sending your baby’s photos online. Unfortunately, scammers and pedophiles do what they can to get images of babies and young children so don’t fall into this trap. Deal with agencies that have a proven track record of success, great clients, and are well known. This will decrease your chances of becoming a victim.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Freelance Models Don’t Settle for Less Than You’re Worth!

(This post is mainly for freelance models whose goal is to progress in their careers past the local modeling level)

Being a freelance model is hard enough and it doesn’t help when clients seeking the services of freelancers either offer little to no pay or use fancy wordplay in their postings to make it sound like their project is worth your time and effort. I just wanted to address this latest pet peeve of mine and just state some basic guidelines for navigating the online freelancing scene for models.

Until I secure new agency representation, I am freelancing a lot right now and I must say I am just appalled at the posts I see on a number of sites, mainly Craigslist. Of course Craigslist is Craigslist so what can you expect—but regardless that doesn’t mean that these clients should be asking for professionalism for free.

Are there times when a modeling assignment is worth not getting paid money? Sure, but before you make that decision, check to see if your situation falls into one of these categories:

- Tearsheets: I’ve already made a post about why tearsheets are better than money for models, but let me just restate their importance for the sake of this post. Tearsheets come from the actual publications that you have modeled in. This is direct proof that you were hired for a gig that resulted in publication, which is impressive to clients and is a great way to catalog your career and add to your “book” (lingo for “portfolio”). In my opinion, it is completely legitimate to do a modeling gig for tearsheets as compensation BUT be sure to inquire what publications they will be appearing in and decide then if it will benefit you or not.

- Money Isn’t an Issue to You: There may be some of you out there that really just want the experience, regardless of what is (or isn’t) being offered. If that describes you, well, then more power to you!

- Networking: Sometimes doing a freebie modeling gig can lead to great networking opportunities. In this situation, it’s best to do a lot of research on who you’re about to work with. Ask for websites or other information that you can use to see if this is really someone you can benefit from. It’s commonplace in the industry for people to talk a big game where—in reality—the “connections” they know aren’t even worth being connected with.

- ***Positive Exposure: Sometimes just getting the opportunity to work with a well known photographer or client is enough to jumpstart a model’s career and in those instances I do believe that it is justifiable to do a shoot for no monetary compensation. Again, make sure that this photographer or client is someone that is legit, reputable, and has the potential to boost your career and portfolio.***

***While I just talked about positive exposure being a good reason to do a modeling gig for little to no pay, that does not mean that all exposure is going to be worth your time. Even if you are a newbie, you should still be wary of what gigs you’ll do for “exposure.” Many people that post casting calls for models online will say that while they don’t offer any pay, you will get a lot of great exposure. In most cases they’re talking about a website or some other type of exposure that is not what I would consider “huge exposure.” Sorry, but this is not what you should settle for. When going through modeling gigs online, read through each post thoroughly and see if it even makes sense. For example, I’ve come across postings where the client states they are looking for models for a project for a company that is well known, will give you tons of exposure to make you famous (yes, they actually say things like that!), and may even have a team of makeup artists, hair stylists, and crew to work with you. Ummm…if they have the money to pay such a great crew to work on the shoot then they should also allot for money in their budget to pay you, the model. A model is a part of the crew that works to make the final results possible so why expect a model (new or not) to spend their time, effort, and talent in exchange for “exposure” that may not even register on the public radar? To put it another way, appearing on a website or a publication that no one has even heard of (and most likely won’t become well known) won’t do your career much good.***

Additionally, there are times when clients make posts claiming they’re so well known and reputable, yet they don’t even state the name of the company or provide a website where you can find out if that is indeed true. I’ve seen companies like IKEA, Verizon, and other large companies willingly state who they are and what they are looking for in castings. Be wary if a client doesn’t seem to want to reveal much about themselves as a company or if the post seems very broad and lacking information.

There is a trend on some modeling casting sites (also Craigslist) where a person will “make up” modeling gigs in order to collect email addresses and—even worse—pictures from unsuspecting models, male or female. Always be skeptical of posts that seem too general, broad or that don’t have a lot of information. On Craigslist in particular, there is an individual that will post 4-5 castings in a row that all appear similar and often don’t even make sense. I once saw this listing of headlines on Craigslist for the San Francisco/Bay Area:

1) Models Needed
2) Modeling Audition
3) Model Casting Call
4) Model Search

In each of the postings it said that some big name company was searching for models and that the pay was an unusually extraordinary amount (one said the pay range was from $3,000-5,000). The person who wrote these postings obviously didn’t care about trying to sound convincing because they were asking for models to shoot in far off places nowhere near where they listed their casting call, as well as giving shoot dates that were either in the past or so far in the future, it made the post as a whole seem ridiculous. For these reasons, please be careful of who you reply to with your information and pictures. If you come across such postings anywhere, report it as spam/fraud/abuse right away.

If the modeling gig in question actually does offer pay, make sure it is a decent rate. The problem with many clients that want to hire models is that oftentimes they have no experience working with models and may be a tad na├»ve when it comes to proper pay scales (or they may just be cheap jerks who want to see if anyone will take the bait!). There are clients that post on modeling casting sites that actually believe that it is reasonable to have a model work a 1-2 hour gig or even a 3-4 hour gig for $40-50 FLAT RATE—NOT PER HOUR!!! Yes, you read right and I’ve seen other pay ranges that are worse, believe it or not. Honestly, if it’s not $100 or more (and even $100 as a flat rate is cheap to me), you may want to think twice about whether this would be worth your time or not (remember to also calculate the cost for gas, travel, parking fees, etc. If those costs are almost half, are half, or exceed the amount you'd be paid, chances are it’s not worth it).

Oh and another thing I see that just gets my goat (yes, I went to the old school sayings on this one!) is when I see people posting for models and even actresses for their gigs and projects and offering them gift cards or gift certificates in lieu of monetary compensation. My thoughts on this: instead of using the money to buy the gift card/certificate, why don't you humor us and use that money to actually PAY your talent? This doesn't sound like rocket science to me, just simple common sense.

Asking yourself these questions will help you determine whether a modeling gig is going to be worth your time and effort. I think there are many models out there that are blindly willing to take on projects no matter whether it’s free or for chump change and I think that as long as those individuals continue to give clients their time, the clients will keep thinking they can find talent for mere pennies or nothing at all. In my opinion, it is an insult and it cheapens the quality of the industry, at least at the freelancing level. Do your best to submit to castings that actually pay a good rate that doesn’t undermine your worth as a professional. In freelancing you are your own business so associate yourself with others in the industry that will bring you higher. Working with a handful of wannabes with delusions of grandeur won’t move your career any further up the modeling industry food chain.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Be a Go-Getter!!!

Nothing upsets me more than an aspiring model with no drive or motivation. Unless you're scouted by a top agency or "discovered" in some other fashion, the modeling industry will not come to you. You can have the greatest look on the planet but if you don't take the steps necessary to put yourself out there, you won't get very far. It's one thing to be new to the industry and unsure how to go about it, but it's another thing completely to expect others to do the work for you.

I've come across people with this particular air of, "I want to be a model. This is what I really want, this is what I can do and this is the agency I want to sign with." Oh, if it were only that easy! In modeling, you have to be a go-getter or else you won't get any results. Having more to offer than just what you want will get you further than just stating matter-of-factly what makes you so special. Heck, I don't work for a modeling agency so it's not me you have to impress--it's the agencies! So go out there and show them why you're worthy of representation! Additionally, I am still seeing the same old posts on sites like Craigslist, where aspiring and even established models are posting about agency representation or describing themselves in a way that I guess is supposed to entice big name clients, agencies, photographers, etc. into wanting to work with them. The arrogance that comes across in these postings is actually appalling to me and I find it hard to believe that such individuals expect to be treated professionally.

The first thing to realize about this industry is that it isn't here to serve "you." Models are first and foremost a commodity. We willingly put ourselves out there to be used by clients and agencies. I'm not saying it's right, but it is a business and if you want to be a player, you've got to follow the rules of the game.

Looking for agency representation? Then start searching online for agency websites. The Internet has made it easier than ever to find such information and if you haven't figured that out by now and are still wondering how to get your foot in the door, then you're far from a go-getter. Being a go-getter means finding answers for yourself and not resting at the first sign of rejection or a challenge that may seem too much for you to handle. Unless you make noise, no one will listen. Freelance models also need to have this kind of approach to their work, even more so than models seeking agency representation because freelancers are solely responsible for their careers. Being driven, passionate, and determined will get you results, not sitting around fantasizing and wishing someone would discover you and make you into a model.

The desire to be a model takes more than just stating that you want to be one. Make people care by taking action. Do your research and find out what works for you and go out there and do it! When you're just starting out, your pride/ego needs to be put aside. Step outside of yourself at this stage and realize that you are one out of so many vying for the same thing--pretty faces come and go but if you bring more than just the physical appeal, you can get further than the competition. Not being a go-getter is a quick way to being forgotten by the industry before you've even introduced yourself.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Young Models: Don't Be Sneaky

At times I get emails from young, underage models, pleading for advice on how to approach their parents about allowing them to model or send pictures to agencies. While my heart really does go out to them, I never quite feel right about giving advice in this situation--mostly because the final decision is up to the parents. I'll never advise or condone sneaking or pursuing modeling behind your parents' back. So I thought I'd make this quick post to address this topic.

I've had some girls toy with the idea of sending their photos and information to agencies without letting their parents know, in the hopes of getting an agency interested in them, which would in turn somehow be proof enough to the parents that modeling is something they should be allowed to do. This idea sounds great in theory but it could end up backfiring and working against you. For one thing, I'm sure your parents wouldn't appreciate suddenly being propositioned by a modeling agency that wants to sign you...most adults don't like being pushed into a corner anyway. Additionally, if the agency finds out that your parents don't even know why they are contacting you in the first place, that could reflect badly on you. Agencies do not like to have their time wasted, especially if it turns out that even with the interest, your parents still won't allow you to model.

I've been going through a lot of agency websites in the past few days and I'm starting to notice that many of them are explicitly stating on their websites that if you are under 18 years of age, you better have a parent/guardian with you when visiting the office for casting calls or interviews and many are even going as far to state that you must have a parent/guardian submit your pictures and information on your behalf if you are underage. This means that you can't even send an email on your own to express interest in agency representation--your parents have to do it for you in order for the agency to consider your submission.

This goes to show that there must be a trend of young, aspiring male and female models eager to enter the field by any means necessary--even if that means keeping their parents out of the loop. Again, I don't condone this kind of behavior or encourage it. It's one thing to be passionate and determined about entering the modeling industry but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it and lying about your parents' involvement--or lack thereof--is the wrong way.

If you're having trouble convincing your parents to let you pursue modeling, don't lose hope. It may take some time to convince them and understand that until you turn 18, they have the final say on the matter. Check out this link I did a while back addressing how to talk to your parents about modeling...hopefully it will help out:

The Parents

Monday, February 2, 2009

Upcoming Shoot: Leather Accessories Model


So I'm pretty excited about one of my upcoming shoots because it is for a really awesome designer out of San Francisco, by the name of Basil Racuk. He specializes in handcrafted leather accessories for men and women. I submitted myself to one of his casting notices online and was immediately chosen for the shoot! I'll be the only female model shooting with three male models (ah, the perks of the job!). Each of us will have a different theme, which reflects the style and feel of the accessories being shot. I met up with the designer, photographer, potential art director and two of the three male models in San Francisco yesterday to discuss the designer's ideas and concepts.

I'm pretty stoked about his vision for my role. My shoot will ideally be shot in a hotel lobby with a very modern, sleek decor. He wants me to play the character role of the "dominant female in the power business suit." It's supposed to have a very "German, edgy feel" in terms of my expression and poses. He's even giving us a list of movies to watch so that we can get a better feel for the characters we're supposed to portray (sometimes even models get "homework" haha). I'll be sure to share my list of movies with you when I get them.

Each model with get his/her own solo shoot and then we're ideally going to do scenario shoots involving some or all four of us, which is going to be super fun. I love shooting with other models just as much--I think maybe even more--than doing solo shoots by myself. There's much more to play off of and you can create such great, dynamic images with more than one person. The shoot is tentatively scheduled for mid February. The final images will be used not only for Basil Racuk's website (www.basilracuk.com), but also packaged for submission to a number of magazines. Because Basil's work has already been featured in other publications, I have a lot of confidence that our images will be chosen and I will finally receive the almighty tearsheets for my portfolio. Fingers crossed!!!

Here are some images to check out from both the designer and photographer I'll be working with:

Basil Racuk (on the far right--those aren't the 3 models I'll be working with though, darn! lol):



A few press pieces done on Basil's work:





Here are a few samples of the photographer's work. Her name is Kelsey Winterkorn and her work is amazing! I definitely suggest checking out her website (Kelseywinterkorn.com). She specializes in everything from fashion and runway photography to editorial and product photography. She's traveled the world and has only been shooting for one year and is already published in a ridiculous number of magazines! We hit it off instantly and I cannot WAIT to work with her:







I'm definitely excited about this shoot for a number of reasons but I think mostly because it's something outside of the typical commercial/print work that I do, but it isn't work that is completely out of my element or reach. I love doing accessory modeling work and while some clients tend to still prefer the taller girls for shoots where height doesn't even come into play, I think by networking with Basil and Kelsey, I'll be able to start booking more gigs like this and ultimately building my portfolio with more magazine/editorial quality work. I'll be sure to do a post on here after the shoot as well as share the images when I get copies of them!