Read an Excerpt
Break into Modeling For Under $20
By Judy Goss
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2008 Judy Goss
All rights reserved.
Strategic Marketing Is the Key
My whole philosophy on breaking into the modeling industry is based on a "target marketing" concept. There are endless geographical markets for you to explore, depending on where you live or where you are willing to move. Within those markets are hundreds of agencies, with thousands of agents working in those agencies, as well as managers and scouts, all of them looking for the next great face. You don't need to market yourself to all of those agencies; that would be a waste of time. More often than not, anyone looking to sign a model to an agency (such as an agent, a manager, or a scout) has a particular geographical area to search, or they simply live in the area where they work. So if they are being specific, why not you?
You will need to narrow down that search by figuring out specifically where you should be knocking on doors, and whom you should be trying to get to know for your kind of look as a model. It's certainly a much more efficient way to enter into the business as opposed to blindly sending pictures in to an agency, where the photos would probably get lost in the shuffle, sent to the wrong division, or thrown away without even being looked at. There is a definite strategy to not only reaching agents all over the world but also modifying your search so you are focused on agencies that are appropriate for your type of look.
The first chapter is divided into three parts to make the preparation process more understandable. I will briefly describe each part and then go into detail about how you will be utilizing each one.
1. categories of modeling
2. model identification
Teaching you the categories of modeling helps you start the process of "target marketing" yourself to the agencies, by narrowing down your scope. These categories are the way agencies are arranged, and in order to focus in on which division in an agency you should be aiming for specifically, you need to know about how the agencies are organized internally. Random mailings and mass e-mails to nonspecific divisions within agencies are a shot in the dark (at a tiny target).
The descriptions of the category titles are very specific and do not vary much from agency to agency. Some of the smaller agencies may not have as many divisions as others though. Please read these descriptions carefully, and get to know the way agencies are set up firsthand. Remember, knowledge is power! That's why you are reading this book in the first place — I have the answers that will help you break into the modeling industry.
Model identification is just that — identifying yourself as a certain type of model from the categories listed in this chapter. This will help you be even more specific in your search for an agency. You should "know" yourself inside and out, meaning: body type, personality, goals, and dreams. I am going to lead you on a "search for self" to make sure you are on the right track, and even more sure that you are trekking toward the appropriate goal when you start marketing yourself. A big mistake that potential models make is selling themselves to the wrong people! Finding the correct contacts for your type is easy, if you have the honesty to recognize what type you really are.
Finally, part three emphasizes the importance of fitness and eating a healthy diet. A lot of people think that models starve themselves to get skinny, but if you are savvy to the basics of nutrition, you will find that keeping fit is easier than you once thought. And by the way, being too skinny is not so in vogue anymore.
Categories of Modeling
The following categories are standard for all modeling agencies. There are a few agencies that will house all of these categories, which are usually called "divisions," but many agencies specialize in just a few of them, or sometimes only one. These categories are how the agencies split up their models and the models' agents (sometimes called "bookers" in the industry) to focus in on one particular type of modeling. As there are specific types of models, there are also specialized agents as well as model managers to mold a certain type of model's career. Pay close attention to the categories I list for you, because at the end of this segment I am going to have you pick one or two that you fall into.
I list the categories first by their name, and then next to the name I list what agencies (from my experience) often call this category within their company. These titles vary from agency to agency, and I certainly do not cover all of them. If you spot the term "board," it's just another word for "division" within an agency. Agencies often say they represent models on their different "boards." You can define this term as the corporate world does, "supervisory group," but you will find that in the modeling world the lingo tends to be more simplified than that. My theory for the reason behind the use of the term "board" instead of "division" is that in modeling agencies the old-fashioned "board" (as in wooden "board") was the circular desk that agents sat at to book the models, and before the days of computer technology, the paper charts of the models were in the middle on a lazy Susan so everyone could reach them. Pretty simple, right? As you learn the terms, you will see that nothing is too difficult to understand, and everyone tends to make things easy for new models entering the industry.
I will then list the demographic (age, etc.) and physical requirements (measurements), then a brief explanation of what that particular type of modeling is about. I go into further detail about all of these types of modeling later on in the book from a broader perspective, but for now, concentrate only on the category requirements. I also added sample model composites from select agencies that you may not have heard of but are still very good. These composites give you a glimpse of what you will eventually need to have as a working model. A "composite" is similar in its purpose to a business card, but with pictures. Measurements and your agency's contact information are on the back, although I mostly show only the front of these composites here. These composites have been chosen to show you the broad expanse that the modeling industry covers, as well as how diverse the selection of models can be. The composites are usually on card stock paper and vary slightly in size, but you will get the idea.
The categories for which I have not shown composites (runway, fit, and kids) were too extensive for me to begin to pick an example of that category. The two categories of runway and fit vary a lot from market to market, as far as the typical "look" of this category. Some fit models don't even have composites! The child modeling category, as you can imagine, encompasses endless possibilities of children from the age of a few months to eighteen years old.
The first seven categories are for women, the next four for men, and the last one is for children of both genders. I made sure to put the important points that I have to make about each division in both the male and female versions. Please read all of the descriptions for your gender, because I may mention something in one of them that pertains to everyone. After you are done reviewing all the categories thoroughly, I will teach you the remaining two parts of the preparation process.
Note: To reach any of the following modeling agencies or photographers, use their Web site and/or contact information listed in the back of this book. I purposely did not include composites from any of the larger agencies (like Ford, Elite, Next, IMG, etc.) because I felt that those agencies are easier to find when searching for modeling agencies on the Internet, and I wanted to expose you to other great agencies around the world.
WOMEN: HIGH FASHION NEW FACES (OR DEVELOPMENT BOARD)
Height: 5'8"–6' tall
Dress size: 0–6
Good skin and teeth
Measurements: 32AA–36B or C (bust), 22–26 inches (waist), 32–35.5 inches (hips) — very few high-fashion models these days get away with 36-inch hips
This is the high-end category for women and has very strict standards. If your measurements are even half an inch greater than any of these measurements, wait until they are within these criteria, or pick another category immediately. These women book the highest-profile magazines, advertising, campaigns, couture and high-end runway shows, and upscale catalogs.
The use of the term "high-fashion" as opposed to just "fashion" in the category title is the difference between young, trendy, and up-and-coming potential superstar models, and everyone else. The designers and magazines (often called "editorials"), as well as the stylists, hair and makeup artists, and photographers who work with these models are strictly of a higher-end caliber. The focus of the high-fashion modeling world is couture fashion, high-end campaigns, and the highly coveted cosmetic contract. A major cosmetic contract is the best paid job that you can get in the industry, as well as the most noteworthy, and it frequently adds up to several million dollars for only one or a few days of work at a time.
The high-fashion new-faces category only has room for a small percentage of people, and an even smaller portion actually make enough money to live comfortably. Just because you meet the qualifications listed here, there's no guarantee you will be able to model in that category. It only means that you have passed the most basic requirements to be in this category. If you fall within these criteria, great! You have passed the first step to possibly becoming a high-fashion model.
The next hurdle is finding that indescribable "look." If you have all of the requirements but not that "look" the agents talk about when a girl first walks into a room, then it does not matter if you fall within the criteria listed above. Agents have tried over and over again to describe that "look" or "feeling" they get when they see a model they would like to represent for possible superstardom. The only comparison I can think of is that it's kind of like when you see someone you have a crush on, and it seems to take your breath away for a moment. You just "feel it" when you see someone that is desirable, and instinct takes over. Models are looked at in much the same way by an agency, which is why personality is so important. As Ms. Samersova said in the introduction of this book, it's the "spirit" of a girl who walks in the room that counts the most in the end. You will hear me say repeatedly throughout this book that first impressions count, but that so-called feeling (if modeling agents get it about you) will be shot down if you do not fall within this category's physical requirements right from the start.
And yes, high-fashion agencies start looking for girls at the ages of twelve or thirteen years old. Don't cringe, Mom! She won't be packing her bags for Europe just yet. If a young girl is at or close to the minimum height at this age and has a great face, she will be considered as a potential high-fashion model, and the agency or manager that takes her on will wait until she is either mature enough to handle a photo shoot, tall enough to be the minimum height, or until the parents are ready to make a commitment one way or the other. If a girl is an inch or two shy of the five-eight minimum and she is not yet fifteen years old, then sometimes agencies or managers will want to sign her on anyway, with the belief that she will grow in the next year or two. More detailed advice for parents is written toward the end of this hook (along with the difference between managers and agents), but I will tell you here that anyone trying to pressure Mom or Dad into paying for anything (especially at that age) is not a legitimate representative of the modeling industry. There is no rush at that age for anything, and the girl and her parents should be treated with patience and a regard for her potential.
A model in this category could go years without making a profit, then all of a sudden — BAM! She hits it big and is the most wanted face in the world. Later on in this book I will explain both why this is so and the process a high-fashion new-faces model goes through. This category is also the most competitive, which you probably already realized.
If you are considering trying to break into this category, do your research! Read the high-fashion magazines, take note of who the photographers and models are in the fashion stories, watch Fashion Television and see how the models posture themselves, and log on to www.models.com for the latest news from modeling agencies around the world. Become a high-fashion model inside your head — visualize your career. Having a passion for what you do is most important, and to know a lot about the business you are getting into is always a great advantage when trying to sell yourself to others.
WOMEN: HIGH FASHION (ALSO MAIN FASHION OR HIGH BOARD)
Height: 5'8"–6' tall
Dress size: 0–6
Measurements: 32AA–36C (bust), 22–27 inches (waist), 32–36.5 inches (hips)
This category is for the more mature female who is in her twenties (who reads age eighteen to around thirty-five or so — you don't actually have to be twenty-nine years old to look twenty-nine) who is not a candidate for a new-faces division in a high-fashion modeling agency, because of age, or who has already tried the new-faces division and did not become a celebrity or a campaign girl. It is a more forgiving area than a new-faces division, because the requirements are a little broader. Don't get me wrong, it's still not easy to break into, but you have more of a chance with this one.
Agencies will look for new girls in this category who demonstrate a stronger, more confident look (like a girl who has a more mature face than most teenagers do), or if a model was in a new-faces division of a high-fashion agency already and is either older or is not getting as much work in new faces as they once were. This category also considers models if they have some experience behind them, either from another market, or in other types of modeling work. In New York, it is easier to break into the main fashion category if you have a portfolio that an agency has helped you to obtain and you come from a secondary market. A secondary market is a city that is smaller and has a different level of competition than a city such as New York or Los Angeles. Examples of secondary markets would be Chicago, Dallas, or Philadelphia. An agency in New York probably won't use one picture that is in your portfolio when you get to New York from a secondary market, but they will consider the experience an advantage. And of course, main fashion divisions will take on beginning models as well.
WOMEN: SOPHISTICATED FASHION (OR CLASSIC)
Height: 5'8"–6' tall
Dress size: 0–8
Age: 30 and up
This division is an offshoot of the women's main division, a category in which a female can be considered to be a "young mother" or at an age when she can advertise "wrinkle cream." This category can also include celebrities who are older campaign girls. I did not put specific measurements in the requirements this time, just dress sizes, because as a model gets older, the measurements become more forgiving.
Notice that the word "high" is not part of this category's name. It's a little confusing because "high-fashion" modeling agencies sometimes have other divisions that are not "high fashion." This doesn't necessarily mean these girls do not work with high-end designers. It means that the work they do is on a different level — and even though it's not such a high-profile division, females can still do very well financially here Sometimes a model in the high-fashion division (which is hither-profile work) is forced to accept a high-caliber job for very little or no money, just to get her face out to the public, or for the opportunity to work with a famous photographer or stylist. Models in general (especially high-fashion models) do not make a lot of money all of the time, respite what the media often insinuates.
Excerpted from Break into Modeling For Under $20 by Judy Goss. Copyright © 2008 Judy Goss. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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