Questions & Answers
The Modeling Advice.com web site is full information on modeling.
But, after three years of answering emails, there are some questions
that keep coming up. The following are some of those questions.
How do I get started in Modeling?
What are the height and size requirements
for a high fashion model?
Are there jobs for models who specialize
in just parts of the body?
How much do models make?
Can a modeling agency tell just from
a snap shot if I have what it takes to be a model?
Are modeling conventions and searches
a good place to start a modeling career or are they a total rip-off?
Why is everyone giving different
advice on modeling?
What do you know about Emodels now
Options Talent now Trans Continental Talent now Wilhelmina Scouting
How do I get started in Modeling?
There is no single path to follow for getting started. Different
models have found success through different routes. If you want
to become a doctor, for example, there is a set course of schooling,
experience, and testing to follow. But for a career in modeling,
there is no clear path. Some of the ways that I know models have
gotten started in the past are listed below. Although it is by
no means an exhaustive list, it might help you launch your career
Front Door - Go to the Source
The bulk of the work in modeling is booked through modeling
agencies. So, literally, go to the front door of the modeling
agency. This is the number one way for a wannabe model to start.
You will have to do some research. First, find out where the
modeling agency door is, whether locally or in some big city.
Second, determine that it is not a scam
agency. The Modeling Advice site has links to a list of modeling agencies and information
on how to check out an agency (The Agency).
You can also approach a modeling agency through their open call,
by scheduling an interview, or by submitting a cover letter and
photographs. Give them a call or email them and ask how they
want new talent to contact them. There is no reason to try another
way of getting started until
Some models get started because they have an in. You
hear stories of someone who has a friend who models and goes
to a photo shoot with them and is then "discovered"
by the photographer. Or maybe someone has an aunt who modeled
or runs an agency and helped him or her get started. Others might
work in a related field and one day finds them working not beside
the camera but in front of it. In smaller markets child models
are most often used because they are an art director's, buyer's,
or photographer's child. Knowing someone in the business can
help you get started in a modeling career.
Modeling agencies are constantly looking for new talent. This
is especially true in fashion modeling. This segment of modeling
is composed mostly of young models. By the time a model is 30,
his or her career is over. There is always a need to find the
next generation of models. Modeling agency personnel (owner,
booker), photographers, art directors, and of course the "model
scouts" are the ones who are out there looking. Some agencies
are large enough to employ an individual whose sole job is to
look for that next generation of new talent or to fill the new
needs of a client. Unfortunately, rip-off organizations, web
space salespeople, and scoundrels often use the term "model
scout", so you should be suspicious of those calling themselves
model scouts. But there are many stories of models being discovered
at the mall, on the beach, or in some other public place. If
you hope to start your career in modeling by waiting for the
fates to smile on you, you must plan on spending a lot of time
hanging in out in public places.
Some models do work their way into modeling (I have also heard
models say that modeling is hard work and all models work their
way into the business). These models track down test
shoots and put together their comp
cards and portfolios. They study and practice being a model
by working on their expressions, posing,
runway walking, hair styling, makeup, working
in front of a camera, and learning how the business works.
These models may work freelance or have nonexclusive contracts
with a number of modeling agencies. In smaller regional markets,
where agencies do not have the resources to develop new talent,
an agency might not work with a model until they have developed
their skills and marketing materials. If you enjoy the process
of modeling and doing good work, then all of the time and expense
that go into this process can be its own reward. If you plan
to earn a living at modeling, i.e. as a career, you should be
sure you meet the basic physical and aptitude requirements for
the type of model you want
to become before you invest your time and money into the process.
If you want to be a high fashion model but do not have the size or look requirements, no amount
of hard work will make you a career model.
Try to Buy Success
There is a whole industry built around this approach to getting
started in modeling. Very few career models, however, actually
succeed through this avenue. This area includes many of the modeling
schools, modeling camps, model searches, internet listing services,
modeling contests, modeling conventions, and pageants. This is
not to say that these activities can't be interesting, educational,
and fun. But most of these organizations will take on and take
money from almost anyone who wants to be a model. This leads
to a very low percentage of career models that actually come
from these activities. Most of these organizations survive by
playing on one's dreams, ignorance, and pocket book and not by
finding and developing top modeling talent. But in spite of this,
sometimes someone does make it and this is what these organizations
feature in their sales pitches and videos.
What are the height and size
requirements for a high fashion model?
This is the burning question. The general guidelines for women
are height 5'9" to 6', around size 6, 34B-24-34, and 14-21
years of age (more details). For
men the guidelines are height around 6' (a couple of inches over
or under), size 40R. Are there exceptions to this? You bet. Is
it fair? No. Are there petite sizes and plus sizes? Yes. Do commercial,
glamour, acting, or smaller markets care anything about these
sizes? Not much. Only if you want to work high fashion in the
major markets like New York are these numbers important.
Are there jobs for models who
specialize in just parts of the body?
Yes. It has been my experience that models that have photogenic
faces and bodies do not necessarily have photogenic hands and
feet. Hand models, for example, are difficult to find and frequently
a photographer uses one model for the face while another model's
hands may be reaching into the picture. Of course the photographer
makes it look like one person, but in fact there are two. Jewelry
photographers look for good hands, a nice neck, and photogenic
ears. As with hands, good ears are hard to find, as they must
have the right shape, with smooth skin, and pierced for only
one earring, not five. Paying jobs for modeling jewelry, however,
seldom come along. Body-parts models follow career paths similar
to regular models. If you are interested in this type of modeling,
be sure to read through the Modeling Advice section of this site.
How much do models make?
You hear about the fabulous big money that supermodels make,
but only a handful of models in the world ever achieve this kind
of income, which can be in the millions. Most models earn far
less, assuming they get any work at all. Modeling fees for markets
outside of New York, as a general rule will be in the same range
as a photographer's fees. For example, in Portland, Oregon, when I last checked, modeling agencies fees
were $150 an hour. As you move to larger markets fees for photographers
and models go up (one agency in New York was asking $250 per
hour). While you may not
have the income of an elite supermodel, you can make a good living
if you can find steady work. And that is a big "if".
Can a modeling agency tell
just from a snap shot if I have what it takes to be a model?
First the YES part. Reviewing snapshots of potential models
is a normal screening practice used by modeling agencies. You
send them a couple of snapshots of yourself, usually a head-and-shoulder
shot and a full-length body shot in a bathing suit or tight clothes.
Some say they can tell from these snapshots whether you have
what it takes for modeling.
You should send good, clear, properly exposed, properly composed
photographs in which you are properly positioned. They can use
these photos as a screening tool. This means that if there is
an opening for someone with your look, the agency will be interested
in meeting with you in person to see if, in fact, you look like
your picture. This does not necessarily mean that you have or
do not have what it takes to be a model. It just gets you an
interview and maybe on to a test shoot.
Now the NO part. Most would-be models send bad pictures, or
they may look great but they don't meet the agency's needs at
that moment, or the agent guessed wrong. Modeling agencies say,
"Don't spend money on getting photos taken; a Polaroid by
your friend is just fine." But when they talk about sending
in a simple snapshot, what they are really looking for is at
least an advanced amateur level of photography or a would-be
professional photographer level. Having taught photography for
a number of years, I know that most beginners have problems with
exposure, focus, and composition, let alone knowing how to position
models for their best look. You may not want to trust your career
to your best friend's ability as a photographer unless they meet
the advanced amateur criteria.
You should try sending your photos to several modeling agencies
to see if they are interested in you. One agency may be full
of blue-eyed blondes while another may have none and be in need
of one. It can be as simple as being in the right place at the
right time. For example, one agency or photographer may tell
a would-be model that he or she doesn't have what it takes; that
wannabe model then goes to another agency and becomes a star
model. I remember photographing a young 14-year-old whom I thought
just didn't have the classic beauty look and told her I doubted
if she would accomplish much in this field. Fortunately, she
did not listen to me. She started working out, kept up her modeling
and beauty work, switched over to the pageant side of things,
and became Miss Oregon.
The initial snapshot, interview, and test shot are just screening
processes to find those who would have an easier time in modeling.
A special few may still find some measure of success in modeling
by hard work and developing special talents. They may not become
superstars but they can find enjoyment and financial rewards
pursuing a modeling career.
Are modeling conventions
and searches a good place to start a modeling career or are they
a total rip-off?
I have never personally been to one of these events (nor are
any of them asking me to come and check them out) and I have
not seen any 60 Minutes type of journalistic investigation
on them. I have looked over their web sites and I have seen endless
chatrooms that call these events the biggest rip-offs out there.
I don't know of any top models that have come out of conventions
and searches, although I do know of one TV actress discovered
at IMTA. What I do know is that for the money some of these organizations
charge, you could fly to New York, stay for week, and do open
calls at every top agency in the city. Personally, I don't feel
that they are a very good investment. There are better ways to
One young model hopeful, Cheryl, emailed me and told me of
her experience with Model Search America (click
here to read her letter).
Here is a string of postings from the Modeling Advice bulletin
board (before its unfortunate demise) of a mother-and-daughter's
experiences with model searches (click here to read).
Another model convention/search organization you may want
to check out is ProScout.
Modelnews.com has posted some comments about ProScout for you
The International Modeling
and Talent Association (IMTA) puts on a big convention/search
twice a year in New York or Los Angeles. IMTA takes a different
approach by working through modeling schools to recruit for its
events. In reviewing their material and their members' sites,
I see this more as a modeling pageant. With pageants being on
the outs, IMTA is filling some of the void in the market. They
are also one of the most expensive.
Mille Lewis International
Model and Talent Search is another model search company.
They operate in the South.
Many of the top New York modeling agencies handle their own
searches and model contests. Check out their individual web sites
Why is everyone giving different
advice on modeling?
Remember the story of the three blind men describing an elephant?
One man felt the trunk, another felt the tail, and the third
felt the leg. Each had a different description of what the elephant
was like. The modeling industry is the same way. The modeling
industry is big and has many specialty areas. What I have experienced
is quite different from what fashion photographer Richard Avedon
has experienced. And what he has experienced is quite different
from what glamour photographer Jeff Dumes has. And what we all
have experienced is quite different from what the modeling agencies
are going to tell you.
Another thing that leads to different views on the industry
is that we are all small business people, each one running his/her
own business in as many unique ways, and hopefully better than
the competition. This leads to a lot of different ideas about
how things work and how things should be done. It can also lead
to confusion and presents opportunities for con artists. Since
there is no set way to become a model, it leaves the door open
for the "expert" to "guarantee" to make you
a top model for only a small, non-refundable fee. Watch out and
try to educate yourself on the many areas of the modeling industry.
What do you know about Emodels
now Options Talent now Trans Continental Talent now Wilhelmina
Scouting Network now who knows?
I can't keep up with this group. They keep changing their
name and their antics. Emodels merged with Options Talent that
merged again to be become Trans Continental Entertainment Group,
Inc., and then changed its name to Trans Continental Talent,
Inc. Then it moved into an agreement with Wilhelmina to form
Wilhelmina Scouting Network. More changes have occurred since
this last. According to news reports they plan on continuing
to do business as usual. I have seen some postings where they
are calling themselves Transcontinental Talent.
The following information is what I have found on this changing
Options Talent, Inc. part of Options Talent Group is a publicly
traded company. All SEC fillings are available to the public.
The following is taken from Options Talent Groups Form 10-QSB
filed April 30, 2002:
"Options Talent, Inc. (formerly eModel, Inc., hereafter
"OTI"), was incorporated in Delaware on August 22,
2000 under the name eModel, Inc.com. OTI maintains a website
as a portal for the entertainment industry. Through a significant
scouting organization and an international franchise network,
OTI enrolls clients into a sophisticated database for a fee,
and provides them increased exposure to registered agencies and
other industry professionals seeking cost effective access to
various talent using the Internet. OTI also markets interactive
events to its database of clients and prospective clients to
showcase various talents to relevant industry professionals.
OTI intends to market additional products, advertising, and other
services to this emerging networked database of enrolled talent,
registered agencies, and other industry professionals.
OTI generates revenues from enrollment and maintenance
fees paid by clients posting profile information on the Company's
website (model revenue), through the sale of franchises to franchisees
(franchise revenue), to developers through the sale of specific
territorial marketing rights (developer revenue), through the
sale of interactive events to clients seeking to showcase their
talents before relevant industry professionals (event revenue),
and until January 2001 through amounts paid by field talent scouts
for the right to recruit clients (scout revenue). Model enrollment
revenues are recognized upon sale, as substantially all of the
services necessary to post client profile information on the
website is completed as part of the sales process, and there
exist no uncertainties surrounding collection as historically
all such sales have been made for cash or as credit card charges.
Initial and renewal franchise fees are fully recognized when
received, as there are no significant commitments or obligations
on the part of the Company to perform future services other than
the initial territory designation and to maintain the website.
Event revenues and associated event costs are recognized when
the event occurs. Advance collections and costs are deferred
accordingly and estimated revenue and cost accruals may be required
from time to time.
Franchise operations expenses include the direct and indirect
costs of personnel associated with franchise marketing, training
and support, and operation of remote corporate offices. Sales
and marketing cost include the direct and indirect costs of personnel
associated with model enrollment and maintenance revenues, including
assisting franchisees in the sales process where necessary. Scout
expenses include amounts paid to independent contractors for
enrollment referrals. Technical operations expenses include the
direct and indirect costs of personnel responsible for the design,
implementation, and support of the Company's database and website.
General and administrative expenses include direct and indirect
costs of personnel engaged in corporate executive management,
administration, finance, legal, and human resources, depreciation
expense and corporate headquarters facility charges."
For more information on Options Talent do a search on Google.com
for related sites and news reports.
For all aspects of modeling try to learn as much as possible
before investing your time or money.
If you are looking for online paid hosting of your model portfolio
there are hundreds of sites offering this service. Do a search
at Google.com to find them.
Two of the oldest paid sites are Models.com and Model Network.com. For free internet model
listing sites check out the Free
Model Listing page.