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Agency

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In today’s digital age of bustling notifications and likes, it’s easy to be caught up in the never ending feed of events, gatherings, and opportunities which seem to be abundant all around us. It has never been easier to invite people to “like” your Facebook page dedicated to your online Origami Alpaca business, or to create an event and send out a mass invite to all your friends to get together for Charlie Chinchilla’s First Birthday…

Insta made and Insta broken, plans pop up all around us and we instantly commit to all of them and none of them at the same time…And yet, there is a high probability that our destiny may default to a game of perpetual Netflix & Chill.

More than ever, the simple asset of being reliable has increased in value. This does not mean that you should always have a loaded calendar of events at all times and attend every single one. It actually means the exact opposite: You must learn to become self aware of the commitments you make. Make fewer commitments, and honor the commitments you have made. I promise you, this will lead to increased personal satisfaction and success. It will bring you closer to your real friends, real interests, and real purpose. You will be regarded as a RELIABLE person–and guess what:

YOU WILL BE INVITED TO MORE EVENTS AND OPPORTUNITIES OF HIGHER PERSONAL VALUE.

Woah…crazy.

Take The Agency Perspective:

I will often hire newly signed talent for entry level promotional or spokes modeling positions. While some of the people I hire do not take the job seriously because it simply does not pay much, the wise talent utilize the opportunity to hone their social con

fidence, communication,  and sales skills. If they are reliable, have great follow up and communication, and do a great job, they automatically become memorable for all of the right reasons. The next time I have a promotional event that pays $35 an hour, these are the people I will offer the position to first.

Being an Agency Talent (or successful freelancer) requires a heightened level of personal responsibility. There are many reasons clients choose to scout talent from an agency: they expect professionalism in all senses.  Consistency is imperative. Continue to value all opportunities, no matter how big or how small. Committing to an event and then backing out at the last minute can make the person who invited (or hired) you not only view you as unreliable, but can also make them feel as though you do not value the event or opportunity they have offered you…which isn’t exactly the best way for you to be remembered.

In any competitive industry, be sure that you stand out for the RIGHT reasons. A great way to start is to have a keen sense of personal responsibility right from the start.

🙃

Whether you are signed with a modeling agency or are a freelance model, here are the top 5 materials you will need to work as a professional model:

Composites

Also known as “Comp Cards”, these 4X6 inch cards that feature a head shot or upper body shot on the front, and three to four additional photos of the model on the back. You will want to think of your comp card as a modeling business card; it is what you will take with you to any modeling/runway auditions, in addition to giving them to the photographers you work with. Your comp card should showcase yourself in various outfits and looks. Do your best to showcase as many different styles as possible to show off versatility across different model markets. (See “Top 10 Photo Shoot Outfit Themes) Make sure that the front of the comp card showcases your natural look–no dramatic makeup or overly done up hair; present yourself as a blank slate to the potential client. Remember, you’re not exactly modeling yet, so keep your outfits simple and leave cute animals and babies out of your photos… The focus should be on you and your natural complexion. I recommend ordering your comp cards here.

Measurements

Measurements, statistics, stats–whatever you want to call them–are vital to your knowledge as a model. Make sure that you memorize all of your own current measurements in inches. You will be asked to list your stats for any modeling job, so it is critical that you know them and know how to take them. (They will also be featured on your comp card.) Keep a fabric measuring tape in your modeling bag.

Women will need to know the following measurements : 

Bust/Chest  

This measurement is different from your bra size; it is the measurement around the fullest part of the chest (over the nipple, to be exact). Do not list your bra size instead of this measurement.

Natural Waist

This is the measurement around your waist, or the smallest/thinnest part around you. Although this is usually just above the belly button, it is slightly higher or lower for some people.

Hip

Take the measuring tape and wrap it all the way around the widest/fullest part of your butt. This is your hip measurement.

In addition to these measurements, you will need to know your exact height in inches, shoe size, and all clothing sizes.

Men will need to know the following measurements:

  • Chest: Measurement around the fullest part of the chest
  • Waist: Measurement around the smallest part of the waist
  • Inseam: Pant length (crotch seam down to the floor)

Portfolio

Ah, the classic 9X12 inch modeling portfolio. While not completely extinct, this is definitely something any serious model should obtain as more photos are accumulated. Fill your portfolio with professional photos from trade shoots (or Trade For Prints/TFPs), fashion shows, or any publications. Do not put every photo from your last photo shoot in this book; similarly to the comp card, we are going for a variety of outfits, looks, and locations. It is better to have fewer, excellent photos than a bunch of average ones. Remember, when it comes to portfolios, you are as strong as your weakest photo! Take your portfolio to agency interviews, talent expos, and auditions.

Social Media

Even more important than any physical portfolio or comp card is your social media presence. ESPECIALLY INSTAGRAM. Now is the time to up your gram game to give yourself more exposure and network on a local, national, or even global scale. Treat your first 9-12 Instagram posts like you would your portfolio. Make sure that you include or tag your agency in your Bio, and include your agent’s email address. This will direct potential clients or photographers to your agent–and if they are legit–they will reach out to your agent directly, with a personal introduction and model inquiry, instead of DMing you with a bunch of emojis inviting you to ‘become a Brand Ambassador’. Agents are great at negotiating rates with potential clients on your behalf, in addition to weeding out less than desirable projects with suspicious or inexperienced prospects…

Website/Online Portfolio

By now you have established yourself as a model and have had a number of photo shoots under your belt. It is time to create your own digital space for your work that gives potential clients, agencies, and photographers a place to learn more about you, view your photos and contact you (or your agent) directly. If you are with an agency, or thinking about agency representation, the agency will usually have its own modeling web database that they will have you create your own account on. This is a HUGE advantage because traffic will already be directed to your page under your agent’s name. (It will not be your sole responsibility to drive web traffic to your site).  Read, “Should I Get an Agent?”

If you are an unsigned or freelance talent looking to start a website for your work, I would  encourage you to invest in a secure domain that is http accredited right from the start. (You won’t be able to go back and change this later!) Your hard work is worth protecting, so security should be a top priority.  I recommend WordPress for servicing your site.  They are secure and have so many modern web templates to choose from. (They even have layout options specifically for digital modeling portfolios!!) 

Final notes

Make sure that your usernames are the same across all of your social media platforms. This is a mistake that I made early on…my Instagram username is positivelife5489.  Also, be sure to add your new website link in the website portion of your Instagram page to help drive traffic to your website!

Have a question or a helpful tip?? Comment below to join the conversation!

Need a little inspiration for your next photo shoot? I’ve put together a list of top photo shoot ideas that are perfect for comp cards!

#1: Athletic/Sports

Athletic looks are a go too look for so many reasons! There are so many different options when it comes to Athletic themed photo shoots: Running, Yoga, Hiking, Sports, etc. If you plan on doing a sports theme, be sure that you do not wear a jersey/uniform that displays a team or a logo. (Dress for practice, not the game!) Hit the tennis or basketball court, or down the street for a run. Yoga mats look nice at a park or a beach, and also work well in a studio setting.

#2: Casual Season (Fall/winter/summer/spring)

Think in seasons! A fitted sweater with leggings and heeled boots will photograph really well, just as a sundress with some color popping sandals! While these looks work in studio, take your casual look out doors for a more realistic effect. Autumn is a great time of year to walk through the park and capture the liveliness of the season.

#3: Business casual/Professional

Grab your blazer and your briefcase and hit the corporate streets of a nearby city. Whether you’re waiting at the train station or walking out of an office building, a photographer with the right angle can make even Milwaukee look like New York City. I recently did a shoot with Omniverse Media outside the Chase Building in Downtown Milwaukee. The reflection of the blue windows gave the shots so much depth. 

#4: Occupational  

Whether you are behind the bar serving up the best Brandy Old Fashioned, or a doctor about to treat patients, here is an opportunity to collect photos that will make you “look the part”. Get creative! Especially if you are trying to land extra work in local film projects, an occupational look will help you obtain the photos you (or your agent) needs to submit for applicable projects.

#5: Beach

Have some fun in the sun and show off your bod on the beach! Walk along the shore with the waves gently brushing over your feet, or throw a beach ball up in the air and see how many times you can set it in a row! Wear a swimsuit with bold color to really make the photo pop.

#6: Formal 

Arrive in style to the nearest 5 star hotel in a luxurious maroon gown with a dramatic train. Lay the train of the dress down the stairs, while you pose elegantly at the bottom of the staircase. While you may not be there as the top model leading the fashion gala event, you will definitely make people think that you are! Just be sure to call or email the management to ask permission to shoot before you show up looking like a celebrity–they may need to call in extra security staff!

#7: Vintage

Pinup bikinis, swing dresses, or a polka dot playsuit is perfect for a 1950’s summer look. Head down to your vintage ice cream parlor (Leon’s! In Milwaukee!!) or the roller skate rink for the cutest vintage vibes. Ask grandma if she can borrow you a pearl necklace or some statement earrings…or better yet–take her thrift shopping with you! There are some seriously cute thrift shops on Kinnickinnic street in Bayview!

#8: City Street/Urban Vibes

Distressed denim and converse never looked so good against a brick wall.  Add some dimension and texture to your look by incorporating mesh/cutout tops, or patterned tights to pop through the tears in the jeans. Tip: This is the perfect opportunity to wear a sassy graphic tee!

#9: Student/Young Professional (Coffee shop)

The next time you sit down to sip your latte at your favorite coffee shop, grab your favorite photographer to catch you in the moment! As you are vigorously typing your blog post on your mac, you will score some awesome studious shots. Plus, your glasses really do look cute on you.

#10: Dinner/Date Night 

Find that little black cocktail dress and head down to a dinner patio on the Milwaukee river. (Rock Bottom is perfect!) Order your favorite entre and look out into the city lights. Choose a signature cocktail to sip–they have a great selection! The fairy lights along the patio will give you the perfect radiant glow.

Acquiring many different looks will improve your marketability to perspective clients. Clients love when they can visualize you in a particular role/part, so submitting applicable photos of yourself to your agent (or to the client directly, if you don’t have an agent) will greatly increase your likelihood of getting booked!

Have you done a photo shoot recently? What was the theme of your shoot? Let me know if the comments section:-)

So you’re all amped about your photo shoot–you should be. Photo shoots are super fun!! There are a few things you will want to consider when choosing outfits that you intend to use for your comp card. 

What’s a Comp Card??

If you are signed to any agency, you probably know all about Composites, or “Comp Cards”. You want to think of comp cards as your own mini portfolio, or a modeling business card. Comp cards can be used by your agent to pitch you to prospective clients, but they are also for your own personal use to take with you to modeling auditions and photo shoots. That said…

You want the focus on your comp card to go to YOU. You’re not modeling–yet. This is your opportunity to present yourself as a blank slate to the client or agency. While we want to incorporate a variety of styles in your comp (at least 3 different outfits), we still want the clients to be able to see your natural complexion.

MARKET

What is your geographical market? Is the area you live in rather conservative with an ‘Average Joe’ or ‘Girl next door’ kind of vibe? (Midwest!!!) Or, is it beach waves and surf vibes all the way? (L.A./Southern Cali) Maybe it’s a mixture of both, or incorporates some NYC high fashion elements.  Whatever your market is, you will want your comp card to reflect it so that your comp card is competitive in your local market. (Read: Great Outfit Themes for Comp Cards)

AGE BRACKET

Okay… Here is one that I see being broken all the time, so let me just say this: IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT AGE YOU ARE!!! There is work for pretty much every age out there, but when aspiring models try to dress or alter their look to appear older (or younger!!) it totally stifles their own marketability!! What DOES matter is that you make sure your comp card outfits/looks fit your marketable   age range. Frequently, an 11 or 12 year old girl will audition for agency representation with us and present me with photos of herself wearing Forever 21 mini dresses, crop tops, and stilettos…Two words: NOT. MARKETABLE!!!!

As an Agency Director, I can not pitch a pre-teen emulating an 18 year old to a client. I have also seen the opposite happen, with middle-aged women trying to dress like teenagers. Please trust me when I tell you: it isn’t’ marketable, and it will not get you anywhere. There’s a saying in the modeling industry and it goes like this: “Be the best 20 year old, 35 year old–50, or 75 year old you can be!!” You need to embody whatever age you are (at least in your comp card!). Every stage in life is a gift that brings us new found wisdom and refined perspective. Different perspectives are required for selling different products. There is a high level of psychology utilized in marketing.  If you are wise, you keep your comp card athstetic within your age range to ensure optimal marketability.

LOCATION

Where will you be shooting? In studio? Outdoors? The location is extremely important because it is going to set the vibe for the photo shoot. If you are shooting outdoors, make sure you know the visual vibe of the area. For example, if you are shooting in an urban setting against a brick wall or under a bridge, it would make sense to wear an outfit with a cool grungy kind of vibe–maybe one that even includes a pop of color.. However, you wouldn’t wear a floral sundress in this setting because it just wouldn’t make sense…

PATTERNS AND ACCESSORIES

The most important thing about a comp card is that the model’s natural beauty stands out. The worst thing you can do is distract the people looking at your comp card with excessive patterns/loud clothing, glittery embellishments, large logos, poorly fitted clothing, overly done up hair, giant accessories, dramatic makeup, or even small animals–there will be plenty of time for that later (when you are booked on set!). Please leave your puppy, or collection of garden gnomes at home. Keep it simple. Also, keep in mind that the lights are already going to make you look shiny–do not add glittery highlighting powder to your face! Make sure that you (or your stylist) has translucent face powder. A clean, matte finish is always the best for clean and professional headshots and comp cards.

POSING

Posing and on-camera movement takes time and practice. I will be writing a post outlining tips, do’s and don’ts about posing very soon! Be sure that your poses showcase the outfit in a good light. For example, you wouldn’t pose like a cheerleader when wearing an evening dress, and vice versa. Think of the emotion or feeling that your outfit is communicating, and do your best to express that idea in your body movement and facial expressions. Posing takes practice! Grab your friend with a camera and start working at it!

Read, What is Your Fashion Stating?

STATS

Your stats are a complete list of your most current measurements, which are printed on the comp card below your photos.(Read, Modeling Materials.) 

Remember, this guide is meant to provide you with insight to obtain awesome, competitive comp cards for yourself and for your agent to use to market you! Always ask your agent for their opinion of your photos prior to ordering your comp cards–they will know what looks and styles are the most marketable for you. 

Have any questions or tips you would like to share? Comment below!! Feel free to share any photo shoot stories you may have!

⭐️CYNTHIA