Five mistakes New (and existing) Models make

December 24, 2012

Last week we discussed five mistakes new and some existing photographers make. This week let’s discuss models and the mistakes they make.

These posts aren’t to single anyone out or try to change the way someone does business, but here to educate, inspire and cause you to think about your profession as a profession.

5.) Don’t register a business:

MANY models are operating in a capacity that doesn’t make sense to me. While I won’t say they’re operating illegally-although some are, those that don’t have a business registered are operating in a way that’s…well…silly. Everyone at some point in their career want’s to get paid even if it’s reimbursement for gas to and from the session. If you don’t want to get paid today, you will at SOME point in your career, trust me on it. When you accept money for services rendered you are required to pay taxes on it. Not to mention by having a registered business you can write off a lot of things that you would normally buy; makeup, clothing, gas, food the day of shoot and even gym memberships! Yes! It’s all things that are tax deductible and ready to be written off! Don’t believe me? Talk to an accountant and find out for yourself. Also, if you accept $600.00 or more in payments from ANYONE that is a business or for services, you are required to report that and pay taxes to the government.

4.) Not knowing your genre:

Lots of young models want to take the modeling world by storm. I appreciate that and feed off it, but at the same time you have to be realistic with what you can do and the genres you can do them with in. If you haven’t read my “So you want to be a model” segment, take a moment to do so. It has honest info on the genres suited for height and weight. A photographer that says “Let’s shoot fashion” to someone that is not 5’8″ is doing the model a great disservice as that model will sadly and at this point in time, ever work as a real fashion model. Some new models will fire back with “But Kate Moss is 5’6″!” To that I will say let’s take a BRIEF look at Ms. Moss; She was signed when she was 14years of age. At the time of her signing (1988), she was then tall for a 14year old so everyone expected her to reach “model” height. By the time it was obvious she wasn’t to grow to model height, her career had taken off and you can’t really undo millions of dollars of print work. So they had to decide, poop or get off the pot. They decided to finish up and if you’ll notice, there hasn’t been a under 5’8″ Supermodel since! Am I saying it will never happen again? No of course not, but I’ll be greatly surprised if it does.

3.) Not knowing a good photo:

Next to a boyfriend, a big model career killer is the inability to distinguish between a good and bad photo. Most models forget or don’t know that this is an industry of selling your likeness. Clients will book based off the looks you can give them. Can you look like a crack head if doing a DARE shoot? Can you look comfortable in layers upon layers of clothing? Can you look good with little to no clothing at all? These are all things clients are going to be looking at. They will need to know you can pull off the look they need with little to no direction from them. This all starts with the images you put in your book be it paper or digital, to show them. You are only as good as your worst shot and sadly you will only be remembered for your worst shot. Do you like conceptual work? great! but is it good for your book? most likely no. You will need to take time to learn the industry in where you work or want to work and go from there. You will need to learn the difference between properly exposed and under or over exposed photos. White balanced or not. Aesthetically pleasing? For example there is a Photographer out East who has a LOT of fashion advice for young models, yet he’s told me he can’t get any of the models work cause the agencies don’t like his work. How can someone with so much “information” sell his stuff to young girls when no legitimate agencies will give his images a first look? You will need to learn what works in your genre as well as the step above where you want to work. Modeling is more than being pretty, it’s a business.

2.) Being controlled:

New models are so interested in becoming a model that they listen to what a photographer will tell them. The problem with this? often times the photographer is looking to control the model if they realize it or not! Every city and state has a select group of photographers a photographer wouldn’t recommend. This could be out of jealousy, hate or even knowing the photographer isn’t any good and can hurt the model’s budding career. The model doesn’t know which way the photographer is coming from but knows the photographer tells him or her that they have the models best interest at heart and as a result, the young model accepts the photographers word as gold. The thing models need to ask themselves is simple; is this guy a photographer or agent? An agent secures work, a photographer produces images that will secure work for the model. Most legit photographers have ZERO desire to manage a career because they’re having a difficult enough time managing their own!

1.) Asking for pay too soon:

Not only do some ask for pay with two shoots under their belts, or because they shoot nude, but they don’t have a business registered and can’t do more than the myspace ducklips pose  or pose the photographer taught them two seconds ago! I have a legal and registered business, if I pay anyone $600.00 or more per calendar year I am required to report that to taxes and send you a 1099. Do you think I’m going to risk my business for you? Exactly! If a client is going to pay then they are obligated to report it as they get deductions from that as well. Before you reach a status of pay you should know yourself and your body inside and out. You should know what looks good on you, what poses work and have a “name” for yourself. Everyone and anyone can ask for and get paid, but usually the person that has the most “worth” is the one to dictate. What determines worth? the parties that are working together. Find a good photographer that is local to you and work with him or her but do not let them make career based decisions for you. Nothing turns a client off more than seeing all bathroom shot images in your portfolio and them reading an email with your rates. Photographers gossip more than models!

Those are the key things, let’s review a few worthy mentions:

Excessive tattoos:

While I understand it is the cool thing to get a ton of tattoos, it’s your way of expressing yourself, if you’re thinking about becoming a model you  have to wonder what tattoos will do for your career? Sadly I would love to say the industry has grown and small things such as looks, weight, height and tattoos don’t matter but when you pick up Vogue, Elle, etc, how many tattered models do you see? Why? Because clients don’t want the model to take away from there product at all. A model is there to accentuate the article not distract. Think of L’oreal or Cover Girl or Maybelline and tell me how many models have sleeves? or tat’s on their neck or face? Take a look at CK or DKNY ads and tell me how many models have sleeves or excessive tattoos? There are a few CK ads that have had fake tattoos drawn on them, but sadly, real tattoos for anything other than glamour (Suicide Girls/God’s Girls) has not yet been accepted main stream.

Commitment:

To be a model and a successful model requires one to be dedicated and committed to the business. This isn’t something that you wake up one day or because the guys at the night club or worse yet, a photographer who really wants to shoot you tells you, you can do and be successful. This takes a fair amount of time and commitment and tons of door knocking and pavement pounding. If you’re unwilling to do these things, this for sure isn’t t he career for you.

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