INDUSTRY CRUSADERS! A.K.A. Models is Creating Alliances Within the Modeling Industry that Share, Educate, and Promote the Best Parts of the Industry while Striving to Make the Bad Parts a Little Better...YES, IT'S POSSIBLE. A Bit Controversial, but I'm not here as a model to post pictures of myself. I'm here as an educator and sometimes an advocate to help you educate yourself!
Things to Consider About the Role of Modeling Agencies
by Carol-Anne Blackwell
The common goal of a modeling
career focuses on having representation by a modeling agency to get the bigger
clients vs. being an independent model. There are other ways for
unrepresented models to find work, but the role of a modeling agency is
the topic of today.
Form an alliance with your agency using good communication skills.
The easiest comparison for a
modeling agency is relating it to the role of a specialized employment agency.
Their specialty is finding jobs for models (a.k.a.
talent) and finding models for jobs (a.k.a.
clients). This may sound basically easy, but it’s in your best professional
interest (as a model or parent) to
learn the role that a modeling agency plays in this industry; how it may or may
not work for your situation. Don’t forget about looking at the “Big Picture” of
how it affects all of the agency’s models, employees, and their clients.
There are literally hundreds of
reputable modeling agencies in
It’s always exciting for me to see a model having opportunities to be represented by agencies, hired by clients, travel, and able to be exposed to a variety of talented photographers. That is much rarer than aspiring models realize when they first enter the modeling industry, but they learn the challenges! From the point that a person makes the commitment to become a model, it opens the gates to a variety of other’s opinions, feelings, and personal struggle. This photo is of the Plus Model Joby Bach and this is some of what she said about her niche: "Firstly,I startedmodelingin 2009at the age of23 years.I'm 27 years oldtodayand I amrepresented bytheagency Montagein MontrealandatNaturalModelin L.A. I travel a lot and Its cool! Iloved workingwiththe greatest photographersof Canada.Sometimestheexperiencewas notnecessarilyeasy because a fewphotographersstillreveretheregularsize.There is alarge openingfor thiscategoryherein Canadarecently,and it’s greatbecause a lot ofwomen in society… they associate to us. Sincerely, I like torepresentthe categoryofvoluptuouswomen, accessible and healthy! Its so awesome!”
Read on to see that the concept of “success” gets a little more complicated… Viewpoints of a Model’s Success (Part 2) Is your personal success as a model
The industry places models into “types” that can often have controversial differences. Editorial, Fashion, Commercial, Promotional, Artistic, etc., and each of those divisions have their own niches where models represent a “look”. They are ALL models, so what is the indication of each model’s success? Each model “type” has ideal career and personal goals in their mind, but we know that the industry, media, & public view each model’s success a little differently from how the model views it.
How do YOU judge (your own) success as a model?
On one hand, I strongly recommend that you treat the "pursuit of modeling" as a business (in your mind, in person, and in your budget), while on the other hand you need to stay creative, flexible, and try to enjoy yourself. There will be enough times that you may not really be doing the things that you see yourself “really wanting to do” as a model. Other models face many of these same issues, and I just want you to keep this set in your mind as I begin to discuss more details about the industry.
Finding your niche as a model on a realistic level of where you will find work, or if you even want to be a model, will be a unique journey! Expand your view of what modeling really is, what’s expected from you, and finding where the “open doors” may be for you! The opportunities are out there, and not everyone knows about them, so use this to your advantage. Getting work from paying clients is a priority for a professional model. Getting signed with a reputable modeling agency is usually the goal, but it’s not the final step in your success, so you need to look at all of the potential options. Sometimes modeling is a stepping-stone into finding and developing other passions in your life!
Many models start out in their career knowing absolutely nothing about the “business” of being a model. They just want to try it! It can be very confusing for them, and most have made some simple, common mistakes right in the very beginning. Some mistakes were just embarrassing, but not career threatening, while other mistakes were avoidable and inexcusable. Don’t ever forget that you will be depended upon to do your job and many people will be counting on you whether you are doing a promotional modeling assignment or a photo shoot for a magazine. Show up late, not ready, or no-show for that assignment and see how happy they’ll all be. Time is money and people get cranky. You’ll be lucky to even get another job if you show your agency that you’re unreliable. The agencies do hold a lot of power, and it’s best if you respect their work in promoting you. That means alerting them if you have any reservations about the kinds of bookings that you'll do, rather than having to deal with it on the actual day of the booking!
Go above and beyond what is basically required of you even if you are not getting compensated such as volunteering for charity events, etc. because your own effort is part of your brand, but it’s a win-win situation for everyone. You never know who you’ll meet and it could somehow open another door in your career. Think of yourself as always having someone watching you, too, because you never know sometimes how things can get back to your agency…good and bad. With social networking, smartphone cameras, videos, gossip, etc...Your brand is your public presence.
Some new models think they’ll have “on the job” training as their primary source of education. They heard that if a modeling agency “wants” you that they will just help you learn as you go. It can happen. To a very “small” degree of the entire model population that may be just like winning the lottery, though! If they are discovered by the “right” person, at the “right” time, and by the “right” agency that has the resources for such a discovery, that’s an initial success for at least a little while… until the model sees that money and security isn't as dependable as they thought! They may even find themselves in debt!
There‘s a chance for learning as you go, but be a quick learner because there‘s not much time before you’re faced with situations where there will be few excuses that even the most patient agents will just write you off. Most people don’t just “wake up” and become successful models overnight, so take this time before you jump in to this industry to familiarize yourself with at least the basics. As you discover where your niche may be, you should do all you can to polish yourself up on the necessary skills and contacts.
It can be overwhelming to be just tossed into an industry that shows little (to no) mercy. Investment of time and money is a “risky” business for the model and their agent, and ultimately it comes out of the model’s earnings for expenses that their agent “may” cover for them initially. A model’s career is relatively short lived compared to other occupations, but time is money, and ultimately you must work on book-keeping, budget, health, fitness, mental health, refining modeling skills like “runway” walk, poise with clients, social networking, presentation in front of others for public relations, and photographic posing techniques. It never hurts to get familiarized with the important names of the industry (a.k.a. homework…names of current & past models, designers, photographers, agencies, magazines, etc.). It can help you connect to your industry, be informed, respect the history, improve the future, and evaluate what they may be looking for!
Some approaches in reaching your success we will discuss are just simple, “common sense” ways of developing the basic knowledge of promoting yourself as a model. Depending on where you live, your height, your size, your age, and if you have a commercial or high fashion look will be one of the biggest factors of what level you are realistically at. Some agencies want an established “working” model with a developed portfolio of pictures and tear sheets to add to their roster, especially if they are attractive to the client’s needs that they work with. Everyone is looking for the new talent, too, but the less work on preparing that model to work is very appealing!
For some young models, some fashion agencies who are looking for new models without experience may refer to non-professional, basic camera (digital or Polaroid) pictures to evaluate new models. They like seeing little-to-no make-up to evaluate skin and features without distractions of lines and color. They prefer appropriate, fitted clothes that show the shape and lines of the body versus clothes with too many distractions and layers that hide the models true form. Professionals are trained to scout through those raw, new faces, and mold them into how they want them to look and market them. Be prepared to remember which agencies that just need simple photographs with “little-to-no make-up” versus an actual “beginner’s” portfolio taken from your hometown portrait photographer. In that case, discuss the different types of photographers and what kinds of pictures that your agency may want (or NOT want) in your model’s portfolio.
It doesn’t hurt to arm yourself with some facts, tips, and honest “opinions” of the modeling industry if it can give you a head start against some stiff competition! It is really a hugely, competitive industry that changes season to season, so with some basic information you can stay on top of what the trends are (homework), who are the people promoting those trends (homework), and how you can be involved (more homework). Don’t mistake the word “competition” as meaning that you have to be “bitchy” to “compete“. Leave anger, insecurities, and personal issues at home and away from clients, other models, and industry professionals.
Everyone has their own personal issues and there is a time and a place for venting about your bad day or complaints. If there are issues of emotional or physical health, seek professional guidance before you even start your modeling career. This is a serious matter. Models can find themselves dealing with loneliness, low self-esteems, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addictions, drugs, sexual abuse, negativity, etc...You know you better than most, so it's up to you to keep yourself vibrant, healthy, passionate, and strong to avoid dangerous or deadly situations like suicide, prostitution, human trafficking, or ANY other vulnerable situation that you may be led toward.
Same goes for low self-esteems and insecurity issues. If your self-esteem and body image are lacking confidence, you need to look at the “pros and cons” of this business of modeling because many models are prone to face rejection, feeling imperfect, and that can even lead to facing depression in someone that has never suffered from it before! Both the top models and newer models are exposed to unrealistic standards, and the means of attaining the “imagery of perfection” by this industry can lead to restrictive diets and even cosmetic/corrective surgeries. Even Plus Models are prone to attaining their industry’s standards.
Do we wonder why girls (and boys) start “dieting” at a very young age when they are already at a healthy weight or BMI? What will you do if and when you’re told you need to lose weight? Even Plus Models keep track of their size. It’s very stressful to hear, but when modeling is your career, it can happen.
Work out a plan that is best for your health by considering a diet that allows your body and brain to have “energy“, and consider how to reach your goals with exercise (flexibility, endurance, and a tone physique in all the right places are a good start). You’ll hear from other models about what they do to shed pounds, so resist the temptation if it sounds unhealthy! Use a doctor or nutritionist’s advice to what they feel you should do to stay healthy if you want to try to lower an existing healthy weight. I hate this topic in the industry, but I know it's something that can happen...never a good feeling to not feel good enough.
It may be a different scenario dependent upon the “type” of model that you are because the industry standards vary. You may not be too far off from being one type of model, but feel worlds away from another. Some models are even at the size where they would make a great glamour model, swimsuit model, plus-size model and are told NOT to lose any weight or they won’t work. Sounds good, but that’s a competitive part of the industry, too, that has its own drawbacks within the modeling industry. After years have passed, you may look back upon your years as a model and have different views and experiences from other models. That is the point that I make about your success. Tons of models out there remain nameless. They are still considered successful by the industry’s standards regarding that they “commercially” even earn money, while some have the successful “industry esteem” just by the print work they have in their portfolio…even though their bank account doesn’t reflect financial success. There are various levels of success where models can view their career, so the model needs to reflect on how they overcame challenges and obstacles and were able to balance it out to consider it a success!
P.S. as a side note: Make every effort to keep your name credited and attached to as many photos as possible. This is one step that has been overlooked in the past…ask any photographer how they’d like to see their pictures go around without their credit. The industry professionals should support each other’s profession and ensure everyone receives credit.
Modeling Industry Professionals should be making videos to help their fans know them (and get new ones) I personally vouch for Jeff Walker's tips! Go to his website and he has a lot of beneficial info.
Many people within the Modeling Industry are still students, Young Adults, and Growing-Adults. Listen to the entire 10 minutes of his video as a reminder to you to use your best skills as an asset in your career and life.
When I was a little girl, the family joke was that I should be an "actress" when I grow up! I guess they mistook my "passion" for acting, because anything to do alone in front of others was never my kind of dream career. LOL!
I still have that "passion", maybe even more, but the spin on the careers in acting have shifted toward "looking like a model", "posing like a model", "obsessed with their weight like a model", and even "taking over magazines like models"...oh, ya... and still be "talented" as an actor...Let's even carry that pressure on to other performing artists in Entertainment. I see the pressure to maintain a given image even on the "Image-Makers" throughout the industry.
Aesthetic laborers/workers in the entertainment. talent, modeling industry need to find healthy strategies that build up their immunity to others negative (or just carelessly spoken) critique. If this is a part of the industry that you recognize...even if not just for yourself, but as happening to others...don't get discouraged! Let the knowledge be shared that you are far from alone in those insecure moments within different parts of a career.
Many creative people even have that sensitivity on a higher level! Others that don't "get by" aesthetically and are not used to being judged, viewed, and critiqued on every part of their body in their careers often don't relate to what it takes mentally and emotionally.
It's part of the industry's image that doesn't score much empathy for a variety of reasons. There is more to learn about our society from how our models are viewed by various groups of men, women, teen boys, teen girls, children, fashion clients, commercial clients, human trafficking groups, pedophiles...and most importantly how the individual person feels about themselves.
What a great interview with Cindy Crawford. Worth the read if you're a fan!
Sadly, it's one of those articles that gets me "steamed"! Steamed that we work so hard for the industry to be more professional and respected AGAINST the very creative individuals in the CFDA that can change things for the "MUCH BETTER". This is the appropriate time in the industry to COLLABORATE. Change isn't happening fast enough for the current, young models travelling all over the world!
For those of you just learning about her career...she modeled when the size was 4-6. Check out her curves and "lines"!
...and WHY are we still seeing models being pushed down to ZERO. These girls are TALL!!!! It's pathetic that there's even Size ZERO (even DOUBLE ZERO) used as sample sizes!
Sorry, but there needs to be some mediation within the industry to raise that standard...even to a 2-4!!!
"Get a conscience, Designers! Please, Open your Eyes to what is being done to these young girls!...and stop acting like the art of fashion is more important than human lives!"