NOTE: THIS IS A HYPOTHETICAL DEPICTION OF A SCENARIO MANY NEW MODELS, WHO I HAVE SPOKEN TO, GO THROUGH. IT IN NO WAY DEPICTS MY FULL THOUGHTS ON THE INDUSTRY AS A WHOLE. IF IT DOESN'T APPLY TO YOU, THEN IT DOESN'T APPLY TO YOU.
As a fashion designer, I have seen it literally a thousand times! A young woman is told she is cute and should start modeling. She's asked if she has a ModelMayhem account. She creates one and suddenly dozens of photographers are asking about doing "TFP" shoots! Wow! The photographers are full of compliments and she has a nice body and should show it off! It turns out she does have nice body and does show it off. If she's lucky she's traveling locally and nationally to do shoots. She's making $50-$75 an hour. But as cute as she is, she's not a supermodel. Her height is somewhere between 5'2" and 5'10"...."with heels on". Even still, she's placing dozens of gorgeous pictures on Facebook, old boyfriends are telling her she's the one that got away. She has an organizer full of appointments for flashing lights of all kinds: castings, go-sees, fashion shows, photoshoots and she loves it! She decides "this is it, this is what I want to do". Then out of nowhere it hits, the Valley of Despair. A year or two later after countless glamour shoots, promises from designers and photographers and 1200 Facebook "likes" she hits a glass ceiling. There are fewer photographers calling...fewer and fewer paid gigs, even fewer tear sheets from respectable publications, and more and more people want her to do nudes. The dream seems like it's shrinking away. What to do??
As we all know, modeling and fashion are insatiable experiences. The more we have...the more we want. If you're considering taking modeling seriously you need to learn your craft and the monetization of the industry. Chances are, if you're not represented by an agency, don't have a great manager and/or several photographer friends who keep publishing you - then you're less of a model and more of a muse. It doesn't matter your age, how beautiful you are, your height or weight. There is paid work out there for every type. But if you envision yourself on the covers of Vogue or Vanity Fair you need to stimulate people beyond your physical beauty. You need to be professional, memorable and unique. Your presence needs to be as warm as the summer sun and you need to provide the best product possible. As a model, you're bringing other people's dreams and fantasies to life. When you do that well, they will be bring yours to life.
Lastly, be honest with yourself. If you can't find good representation it's either because you are not looking hard enough or you are not marketable enough. If you're finding that people are not paying to work with you more than once (supermodels are made by repeat clients) you need to know why. You need to ask them honestly and be prepared for the answer. Without repeat "paid" work you'll have a hard time making a life for yourself.
If you're a muse and your beauty, body, hair or personality inspire people. Then be the best muse you can be and don't shortchange "real life" in pursuit of modeling. If you plan on modeling professionally, then by the definition of professional you need to be paid. If people aren't buying what you're selling -- then reconsider; maybe you're less of a model and more of a muse. Chances are if you're in the Valley of Despair and your modeling career isn't not taking off after a couple of years, you're going down the wrong path.
For what it's worth.
Dec 12 12 02:43 pm Link
Brooklyn, New York, US
It amazes me how some people only see things in their perspective. There is more to modeling than fashion or agency modeling. I know a LOT of models that make a full time living and have been doing it for years. Several have been full time for almost 10 years.
Dec 12 12 02:53 pm Link
Washington, District of Columbia, US
have trained several models in make-up artistry... they found it to be an excellent transitional exit strategy from modeling which has a finite tenure...
no worries here, no problem...
Dec 12 12 03:53 pm Link
Washington, District of Columbia, US
Marc Wayne Intimates wrote:
I really think that overall that some Models (that you are referring to) do not know really what it takes to succeed. I do not think they have realistic expectation of the industry and of themselves. I do like your Muse vs. Professional angle. However do not denigrate Testing/TFP arrangements, even Supermodels do Tests (either agency directed or self realization) the issue is when to test and the frequency of testing.
Dec 12 12 07:30 pm Link
All great points, obviously in our business we work with lots of models who make livings out of it. Their careers, sustainability, joys...speak for themselves. But this writing deals with the other extreme. It's a reality check "button" for some but not meant to be limiting for anyone. -Marc Wayne
Dec 14 12 09:41 am Link
I agree. One my favorite stories is when Oprah cried when she was told she wasn't cut out out to be a news reporter which forced her transition into day-time TV. Peaks and valleys are part of the process. I also agree fully that immersion is key. If you don't have the passion to study your craft you should question the craft.
Dec 14 12 10:08 am Link
MUA is an excellent transition!
Dec 14 12 10:09 am Link
Jeff Fiore wrote:
Jeff, this is my perspective but also my experience. I'm on the business side of this as you likely are and I'm very aware of the scope of modeling. I've cast and referred models from everything to foot models, promo models and fashion to art modeling and character/story board modeling. We use fit models who are of every size and shape. But it's safe to say that the majority of models, when they first start out, dream of being fashion models and VS models. Some of those are struggling and they don't know why. I talk to them weekly. They are who this post is written for.
Dec 14 12 10:27 am Link
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
thats why the smart ones keep other options open such as schooling and non modelling careers
a similar thread could be started about aspiring fashion photographers
Dec 14 12 10:29 am Link
Salt Lake City, Utah, US
I think it's almost like professional sports. Take snowboarding for example. God, do I love to snowboard. When I first started I was a complete natural, And it felt natural too, like it was my calling. My boyfriend is sponsored and it pushed me to get more and more technical. It was really all that was on my mind, consuming me. But not in a bad way. I suffered some injuries and my progression began to level out. Then I came to realize that snowboarding, though it brings me incredible happiness - and even though I'm pretty advanced, especially compared to most people - will never get me a down payment for a house. It will never put gas in my tank. That doesn't mean I don't love it, don't still clap my hands together like a delighted child every time I look out the window and see snow falling - it just means everything's a bit more in perspective.
It is a lovely, lovely hobby that's a huge part of my life. But it is not my life.
I really enjoy thoughtful threads like this one.
Dec 15 12 11:02 pm Link
London, England, United Kingdom
This is a thread I needed! I started out modelling this year and have done some shoots since, but I want to take it to the next level, improve, get better photographers to work with, etc. But I'm stuck. I don't know where to begin, what to work on, how to reach out to people in the industry without making a complete fool of myself, etc. Anyone who can help me out a little?
Dec 16 12 03:42 am Link
Salt Lake City, Utah, US
This is why I work on developing multiple interests - I maintain a reality but also pursue my dreams as much as I can, like modelling. I am a pale ass, small tittied, fairly short little thing of a red head who has a thing for running around in underwear. Not a likely candidate for the next American Curves cover but I say f$%^ all y'all, I will still give it my all WHILE maintaining a healthy, productive, well rounded life. I'm in the military, I take college courses. I hold "normal" jobs, sometimes I do liquor and event promos. If I happen to get where I want to be in this industry, great! If I don't, no tears shed here. I still had (am having) a great time.
I still walk by the mirror and think I'm awesome and am happy with my life regardless of how successful I am in such an unreliable industry.
Dec 16 12 01:15 pm Link
Baltimore, Maryland, US
Been there myself. I just get in where I fit in and do promos to keep some money flowing. I still don't consider myself a model as of yet, but one who models from time to time.
Dec 16 12 04:18 pm Link
Houston, Texas, US
It seems that the fast start followed by fade is quite common for models, as new MM members are typically besieged with offers upon joining. Then often they burn out or have a bad experience and fade away.
For photographers, it's the opposite. We are typically not flooded with offers at first and have to work hard to ramp up. Then we reach the point where constant solicitation of models is no longer required, with word-of-mouth and casting calls keeping the schedule full.
However, not too many of us reach the point of having our phones constantly beeping and blinking unless popular models tag us on their Facebook images (My phone has alerted me several times an hour for several days after a single image tagging by a model with 10,000+ fans).
Dec 16 12 04:29 pm Link
Garry k wrote:
Gary, I agree 100%
Dec 17 12 05:46 am Link
I appreciate your thoughts very much, Alyssa.
Dec 17 12 05:54 am Link
Hi Liza, first I would say be patient with yourself. Your port is off to a good start! You have a unique look that not every photographer will be able to capture authentically in my opinion. Rule #1, no your self/your strengths and goals. Know if you're editorial or commercial, etc. Secondly, modeling is a game of inspiration and relationships. If you want to pursue it then be aggressive with approaching photographers, MUAs and stylists. Genuine flattery can go a long way to opening doors. But also practice. I think the face is the most important aspect to all fashion modeling. It's the hardest to fix in post production and provides the most story context for viewers to connect with. Try to see if the expressions in your pictures exude context and inspiration.
Dec 17 12 06:08 am Link
Syracuse, New York, US
I have transitioned. MUA/stylist to photographer. I modeled for about 2 seconds. I went the other way. ha ha
I still do makeup & styling but now its for my own shoots and not others, well sometimes if Im available for a paid gig. I dont ever TF makeup unless I can shoot it/concept id want to shoot. I just dont actively advertise/seek MUA work, I get referrals. Im my area you want money for MU(more consistently) you have to do bridal.
I did do some fun MU gigs this year, a documentary about Ronnie James Dio, also for the Air National Guard.
Dec 17 12 08:10 am Link
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Marc Wayne Intimates wrote:
For some people, working as a full-time nude model, with independent artists on personal projects - IS the dream. There is nothing about shooting nudes as a career option, or never having tearsheets, that should be equated with failure, or lack of modeling potential. I started shooting nudes 8 years ago, with NO intention of it ever being more than a hobby. I ended up working as an income-earning nude model for several years. When it did become a way to see the country, and pay my bills, I felt quite successful.
Dec 17 12 09:41 am Link
Muncie, Indiana, US
Dec 17 12 09:49 am Link
Shiva, while I agree with your general position, I feel like my comments are really being quoted out of context here. This post is a hypothetical story about a single particular model's journey. Again, based on models who I've met. Not a narrow point-of-view of all things modeling. I am a lingerie designer after all.
Dec 17 12 12:04 pm Link
Scarlett Renee wrote:
Scarlett that is a fierce response! Love it!!
Dec 17 12 05:14 pm Link