So I am doing a casting for publication right now and there are a few tips I feel I could share with models about when and if you are ready to submit for a casting, and why it can hurt your career to submit to castings you are either not right for or not yet ready for.
Some things you should be aware of in any casting situation:
1. The person doing the casting is likely looking through dozens to hundreds of responses. This means they most of the time do not have time to think of you as a human being, they only have time to think yes or no.
2. The casting call is only the first step, after the first go through your images will be sent onward and upward. You might have 2-30 people looking at your book and deciding if you are the person they want.
3. in the event of a group shoot, or a shoot involving several models the models must also look good together as a group
4. Castings can be stressful situations for the person doing the castings. Please understand and do not make yourself an easy target for the frustration.
5. If something goes wrong on set, if you cause a problem or are unable to perform the person who will get fired/in trouble is the casting person. They are responsible for everything you do.
Every casting can ruin the person doing the castings career. I lost a lot of work do to a very unprofessional hair stylist who submarined an entire shoot. If you are not professional they WILL lose clients. That means they cannot take a chance on someone, they have to know they can count on the person being cast.
6. you are unlikely to ever ever get cast without professional photos to show, or a very very good agency that is willing to vouch for you. Even with an agency, we can't book what we can't see.
Without showing professional fashion photos I CANT hire you on an editorial fashion shoot. Not for a professional job. You don't have the ability to show you can do the job.
A professional shoot is very stressful for everyone involved, however if everyone knows what they are doing that stress is lessened.
I can't put a $1500 dress, that has been pulled from the Cooper building, on a model who doesn't understand the consequences of throwing that dress on the floor when she is changing.
I can't have a shot with three people, where one of them, the baby model, is looking at the camera when she shouldn't be.
Professional shoots show that you know how to treat wardrobe, behave when in make-up and hair, and you know how to take direction. Without that experience, usually gained by doing paid tests with industry professionals, you could best case scenario look lost and confused in the photos, worst case scenario cause serious damage to borrowed wardrobe and make me pay the consequences.
On an editorial shoot we need to know you can handle yourself, and taking a chance is not an option when money, jobs, and reputation are on the line.
Some Do's and Don'ts
DO read the casting carefully and only respond if you fit all the requirements
DO give the correct information at the time of first contact
DO Respond in the manner requested. If the casting person sends you through to the next round and request you send information to their email address, do not write the information in a PM on MM
DON'T respond to multiple castings by the same person within a 1-2 month period. Odds are if you weren't right for the first selection for the shoot they were doing three days ago, you still aren't right for this new shoot.
DON'T ask for clarification on why you weren't selected
DON'T have only 4 photos and expect to ever get cast. You want to have at least 10 professional looking shoots before applying to a casting
DON'T argue with the person saying no
DON'T submit for a casting and then be unavailable to do the shoot. For me personally I will block your profile and NEVER work with a model who does this
DON'T ask for information that you can find easily by examining either the casting or the web site of the person doing the casting
Some explanations on commonly used terms in castings
EXPERIENCED: When a person says they are looking for an experienced models they are really saying several things.
1. not just experienced but experienced in the type of casting that is being done
2. experienced is also code for dependable, beautiful, a known quantity.
3. you should have photos similar to the project being proposed. If it is a beauty shoot, you need to have beauty photos, if it is a fetish shoot you need to have fetish photos.
FASHION: when we say fashion we mean fashion. Glamour models shouldn't apply for a fashion shoot, even if you have fashion stats. Only apply to castings that you are right for and have the book for.
BOOK: Your book is your portfolio online or offline.
Your book can not include images that you don't have, please don't confuse images you are getting from photo shoots with images you already have in your book.
PLUS SIZE: Plus size models are a very specific term, just because you are larger and want to model does not make you a plus size model. This term is used almost exclusively in fashion and beauty castings. It means you have all the stats of a fashion or beauty model, but are a larger sized woman. Typically a plus size is between the sizes of 8-12 depending on the casting. Lane Bryant uses size 12 models in its ads even though the store is size 14 and above.
COMMERCIAL: A commercial model usually has the same stats as a fashion model but is either too wholesome or is getting older. They still are usually 5 foot 8 inches or taller, and are still usually a size 6 or smaller.
Some personal thoughts
* Don't submit for fashion if your portfolio is mainly glamour. They are two different animals, and a glamour model can many times have trouble adjusting to fashion. More then that i have to be able to "see" you in the role you are applying for, don't assume my imagination will fill in the blanks
* Don't submit to a casting if your photos are mainly from before mid 2009. How can know that if you look like your photos or if you have changed. There are also other important reasons for NOT hiring a model with an older book
An older book means a lack of something. You aren't creating anything new. Is this because you have been busy with other career choices, or are you difficult to work with and so are not getting hired multiple times? Do you not look like your photos and so only put up images that make you look a "certain way?" WHY don't you have anything that is recent and good?
* Don't submit to a casting if you have been on this site for 4 months and still only have myspace photos. In fact don't submit to a casting if you don't have great photos. This is your first impression, make it good.
* I believe a "just in case" response or a "what the hell might as well try response" can hurt you. It annoys me when people who know they aren't right are submitting and that annoyance can translate into me remembering the person when other castings come up and having a bad reaction to them.
* No tagging my portfolio with "Hope you choose me," type things. Just no.
* Don't ask me to take a chance on you you know you can do it. I treat this like any other life changing activity. Would you ask me to "take a chance" on a surgeon because they know they can do the procedure?
* Your avatar matters more then anything else. Don't have an avatar that is horizontal. Don't have one that is full length photo of you. Your avatar needs to make a striking impression, and it should be (with some exceptions) a beauty or fashion head shot if you are trying to be a beauty or fashion model.
* Don't try and have a conversation with me on why i said no. Don't get upset. This is business and i am just trying to get a shoot together.
* Don't ever use race as an excuse. If you weren't cast it could be race, but it is most likely that you don't have the book, experience, or attitude for the shoot. The single LARGEST factor that models I turn down have in common is NOT having the experience necessary to be booked.
*With me, once i am submitting to my editor you better be available if booked. MANY models feel that being placed "on hold" doesn't mean they shouldn't actively continue to look for jobs. What I can tell you is for myself, and every person i personally know in the industry, once you are placed on hold you are essentially not available for work. If you don't want to be placed on hold state so clearly, because if you book another gig while on hold for approval from my editor and are unable to do the job you submitted for you are blacklisted from ever working on one of my projects.
* Yes many models never do pay a photographer for photos. The majority of those models are either
a. art models
b. glamour models
c. fashion models with an agency who have done shoots through the agency connections.
The fact is the single best way to get a portfolio that shows experience in shooting fashion or beauty is to pay a photographer(s) to help you create that portfolio. Most photographers who have the work you want when you are starting out do not work for trade with new models. If you expect to someday get paid to model you shouldn't expect to get to that point with no monetary output of your own.