Model Wisdom 101
In today’s age of social media and high resolution cell phone cameras, the terms ‘photographer’ and ‘model’ are used rather loosely compared to when I started modeling. I began my career as a Beauty Model and Makeup Artist around the same time. I would drive to South Beach, Miami from my home in West Palm Beach to test with photographers who had found me online, unaware of agents, releases or any of that business stuff that is a MUST KNOW if you are to be successful.
My growth experience in learning the business was less than graceful at times and even today, I hear stories similar to mine from long ago that could be and could’ve been avoided with a little direction from someone a bit more seasoned in the industry.
So whether you’re a newbie or just contemplating this beast, here are a few tips with a splash of wisdom to keep in mind:
- Get an agent. Agents are necessary to get you commercial work. Make sure the agency is SAG/Aftra. Remember that having an agent (who has your back) is a golden ticket to have and most importantly a business relationship. An agent is not a babysitter nor are they an end all be all to your career. While many opportunities do open through them, today’s DIY culture makes finding work on your own in any major market a piece of cake, if you’re hungry.
- Never pay an agency. There are ‘schools’ and ‘agencies’ out there that will try and charge you to be on their roster and that is BS. The only time I’ve ever had to pay an agent was when it was their percentage owed from work I through them and when I paid to have my image featured on the homepage after initially signing. And that was a one time fee that came out of the first gig I booked through them.
- Know your rights. Research the legalities of what photography and footage releases look like and mean. Even if I’m testing with a photographer I will have some kind of simple agreement filled out so everyone is on the same page with image usage, etc. I’ve lost count as to how many times I’ve shot with a photographer and they ended up not giving me the images or the ‘terms’ conveniently changed in retrospect, and there was nothing to refer back to. Hence, CYA (cover your ass).
- You are a brand. Act like it. Write out what your brand looks like in as many adjectives as possible and make sure your online presense lines up. The more angles you’re being sold from, whether through your own channels or through your agent, the better. You can always refer producers and photographers to go through your agent to represent and keep the flow going. It’s recommended!