Tools of the Trade

model photo

Print model: You will need to have a portfolio and a composite (or comp) card. A portfolio is a book of photos of you. Many different photographers must take these photos on many different days. Your portfolio takes months to build up and is never completed because you are always changing and getting better and therefore you are always shooting with different photographers recommended by your agency.

There are many photographes in the world that will try to sell you a portfolio" for several hundred dollars. Be weary, do not do it! You will most likely have to pay for your first shooting (which is called a testing because you are testing your ability to be a model). This first testing may cost anywhere from $100 to $400, depending upon what you are getting. If the photographer is shooting 4-6 rolls of film (color and/or bw), and provide a makeup artist, and a stylist (someone who brings clothes for you to wear) then the higher amount of $400 and maybe a little more is acceptable. If you are hiring your own makeup artist and bringing your own clothes then the lower amounts of $100- $250 is the range.

Your agency should know the best photographers for the best price; some get photographers to do group rates to help the new model. You should never do your first or even your second testing without a makeup artist. Once you have learned to do your own make up for photography then maybe you can do it yourself. Many photographers don't even allow seasoned professional models to do their own makeup. A makeup artist can really change your look for the better.

So once you have done your first testing you must let your agency select the appropriate photos to be enlarged for you book, which is another name for your portfolio. Then your agency will recommend the next photographer for you to test with and this is how your portfolio is built. Each testing photographer at the beginning of your career will shoot 3-4 different looks. Once your portfolio has 6-8 photos in it then your testings may become more focused and you may only shoot one look per testing but it will be styled to the most minute detail.

This process of testing again and again may cost more than that photographer, but this process of testing again and again is the professional way to go. As you continue to test you will be learning new things each time and grow into a good or maybe even great model.

Now on to your composite...A composite or card is generally a 6"x 8" card that has 5 photos on it as well as you stats, name, size, measurements, hair and eye color and any special talents like, dancer, good hands, all sports. Your agency will select the photos, which will appear on your card and will arrange for printing 200-500 copies. You will need to pay for this. If it is a color card you can expect to pay $225- $500.

Your card is what the agency sends out to prospective clients for you. You will also bring your card and your book with you to every go-see (which is an interview) and you will show the client your book but you will give them your card to remember you by. The client will call your agency to let you know if you got the booking.

Runway model

You will NOT need a portfolio because the runway client does not care how you look in photographs. The runway client is only interested in 3 things 1, how you look in person; are you thin and toned, is your skin beautiful, are your nails well groomed. #2 do you fit the clothes and carry them well, and #3 do you move well on the runway, are you graceful and confident. It is important to arrive at the go-see looking terrific.

You should have your hair and makeup done, as you were about to do a fashion show. Be sure to wear hosiery and a neutral colored bra, as you will most likely asked to try on at least one outfit. After you have the outfit on, come out of the dressing room and begin to model the outfit for the client, keep moving and make smooth turns.

The client will see if the clothes fit and that you can move with the grace of a runway model. Many times the client will conduct a group go-see, where many models will be interviewed at the same time. These can be very nerve wracking as not only are you walking in front of your potential client but you are also walking in front of your competition, the other models.

The only way to learn how to move on the runway is to ask your agency to teach you or for us to recommend a good runway teacher. Once you have learned the basic moves you need to practice, practice, and practice. If possible practice in front of a mirror.

Suggestion: Ask your agency to put you into fashion shows even if you do them for free. Go to a local clothing store and offer your services, tell them you are starting a modeling career and that you would love to model for them in their fashion shows for free. The only way you can become a professional runway model is to put yourself on the runway as much as you can. Watch other models and mimic their moves and style.

You do not need a portfolio to be a runway model but you do need a composite card. If you are going to be just a runway model then you can make a comp card by doing one testing and then have your agency help you pick out the best shots. It is recommended that you have at least one full-length shot of you walking towards the camera wearing a skirt so the client can see how you walk and that you have nice legs.

You need a comp card to present yourself as a runway model so that you have something to leave behind with the client after the go-see. The client needs to know all your sizes, like height, size, measurements, bra size and shoe size. Your comp card is the professional way to remind the client as to who you are. Most runways shows last 20-40 minutes, however, the models must arrive at least one half hour before the show and they are hair and makeup ready. After the show you should assist in hanging up your clothes and then you are free to leave.

There is also a form of runway modeling that is called informal modeling. Informal modeling is walking around a store wearing different outfits and you are usually carrying a small sign with the designers name on it. As you move around the store you stop customers and inform them of the outfit you are wearing and in which department they can find it. This pays $150- $300 per show and usually these informals last 3 hours.

To become a busy runway model you need to be the right size, have the right looks, move extremely well and be a real pro. By this I mean, you need to have a great shoe bag which contains all the basic shoes that your clients require, as the models usually wear their own shoes, a variety of hosiery and undergarments, basic costume jewelry and hair accessories.

TV model

You do not need a portfolio or a composite. The clients are more concerned with how you look on video and how well you can speak. The one tool you need to be a TV actor/model is an 8x10 headshot. This is a black and white photograph of just your head and shoulders. Your hair should be worn down and styled in your normal fashion; your makeup should be simple and natural.

If you want to be an actor for TV commercials you should contact any casting companies in your area and ask if they conduct any acting seminars or workshops. By attending a seminar you will have the opportunity for these casting directors to see how you are on camera. Then ask your agency to send you out on any and all casting calls that you might be right for. Ask your agency to recommend a photographer who specializes in actors headshots.

Once you have the shot you will need to make 25-50 copies. Your name will appear on the front. On the back is your agency name, your height, size, hair color, eye color and special talents you may have. Along with any acting schools/seminars you have attended and your acting resume(what TV commercials you have done, industrial videos, drama productions etc). There is a union for TV actors called AFTRA/SAG, once you have done one union commercial you must join the union. This is costly and you should seek the advice of your agency.

Promotional model

You do not need a portfolio, a composite or a headshot. The client who hires you for a promotional job doesn't care how you look in a photograph or on video. This client is looking for models that are attractive and enthusiastic and like to talk to people. As a promotional model you may be giving out samples of shampoo, soft drinks, candy bars or soap. You may be dressed as a costume character or wearing khakis and a t-shirt provided by the client. This promotional work takes place on the weekends, in the evenings and even during regular work hours.

 

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