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Wednesday, 12 May 2010 06:40
Common Misconceptions in the Modeling Industry
compiled by: Kelli Kickham
(in her own words and those of various sources on the web)

1. You get what you pay for.

This isn't necessarily false, it's just not necessarily true either. I could charge you $200 to do your make-up for a shoot. If I suck, it won't help you. If an awesome MUA thinks they need your look in their portfolio, they may do trade and give you better results. Likewise, paying $5,000 for a camera doesn't mean you are a better photographer than someone who paid $1,000. It means you have a more expensive camera and you may be able to utilize its awesomeness if you have the skills to match up.

2. If I am larger than the average model, I am a plus-sized model.

Just like mainstream fashion modeling, plus-sized modeling has requirements.

3. You're only able to model fashion because you are tall / skinny / young / etc.

There are all sorts of requirements to being a model. Sometimes people just have one, like being very tall, but they know someone. But even if you are a size 0 and 5'10, if you don't have the look, you aren't likely to get booked.

4. You shouldn't work for TF because real models/ photographers/ MUAs don't work for free.

More than one problem with this one. If you decide to trade with someone, it means you re getting something in return, which means the word "free" doesn't apply. If you give me a fridge in exchange for me giving you a couch, I did not get a free fridge. Also, "real" models, photographers, and MUAs often trade, though there are real ones who choose not to.

5. Nude Modeling is a gold mine of money.

Nude models work very hard at what they do, like any other genre of modeling. Just because you take your clothes off does not mean that you are suddenly going to become rich and in demand. Art modeling is a lot of hard work.

6. Modeling has got to be the easiest job ever, because all you really have to do is stand there and look pretty.

If that's what modeling was, there would be a lot more successful models. It takes talent and effort. However, there are rare cases where random girls do get picked up off of the street simply because of their look. This is not the norm.

7. Models who are agency signed make lots of money.

A lot of people think that once they get an agency (or if they would ever be able to get signed), their careers will automatically explode and they will automatically start booking top campaigns. While this has happened to many models who are agency signed, it is by no means the norm.

8. If you're too short for a modeling agency, take acting classes and sign with a talent agency.

Acting isn't a fall-back for models that don't fit the requirements. And while a talent agency might be an option for a shorter model looking to get signed, it still largely relies on looks and marketability. Taking acting classes might not increase your marketability, especially if your look isn't one the agency needs anyway.

9. Alternative modeling is an easy choice for those who don't fit fashion requirements.

Alt modeling is a lot more than just buying a corset top from Hot Topic and painting your nails black. There's a lot of hard work and investment that goes into it, and generally, like fetish modeling, it’s a lifestyle choice rather than just something you do for money.

10. It doesn't matter what I really look like because Photoshop will fix it.

Everyone gets a pimple now and then, but if your face looks like a double pepperoni pizza dripping with extra cheese, you won't get many job offers. If you rely on the magic of pixel manipulation to shave 20 pounds, you need to lose weight. Gisele gets away with a tattoo on her wrist because she's Gisele. You're not Gisele. If you're inked, you may be limited in who will hire you.

11. If something seems really good, it's a scam.

Do your research. People sometimes lose great opportunities when they take for granted that they are being scammed before checking up on the offer.

For more on scams, see these articles:

Is It A Scam?

Outright Scams

12. If I have the looks and the talent and I am offered something good, it's because I am unique and worth it.

Maybe. But it could be a scam. Just like #11, do your homework.

13. If I am afraid to go to a shoot, I should bring an escort.

If you feel the need to bring an escort to a shoot, by all means find people who will comply. However, if you feel unsafe going to a shoot, do not bring someone and put the both of you into a dangerous situation. Instead, pass on the shoot.

For more on safety, see these articles:

What is Due Diligence in the Internet Modeling and Photography Environment?

Safety in Internet Modeling

14. I have a great look and talent in my genre, so it doesn't matter how I act.

There are situations where you may be able to get away with this. However, if you are booking work online (through MM) or in any other close-knit community, then expect that your reputation will get out eventually, and it will hurt you.

15. I have a great personality and am a hard worker, so my looks don't matter.

Sadly, this is modeling, and looks are very important. You don't have to be conventionally pretty. You don't have to be tall. You don't have to be anything, really, but if there isn't something about you that grabs attention (intense beauty, distinct uniqueness, jaw-dropping figure), then all the personality in the world will not make a career for you.

16. Everything I hear on internet modeling sites is true.

If you want to be a model, learn how to take care of yourself. People lie. People tell you that you don't have a chance when you do, that you do have a chance when you don't, and tell you things about an industry they have never been involved in. Check all your facts before you buy into a belief. Reading this thread? You should be double-checking everything here, too. And, of course, correct me if I'm wrong.

17. No one is naturally that tall and that thin.

False. Just because something isn't natural for you does not mean it isn't natural for someone else. Many models are very healthy and work hard to stay as such.

18. All models are naturally tall and thin.

To an extent, all fashion models have to be naturally tall and thin. However, there are problems in the fashion industry with eating disorders. Tread carefully. Agencies aren't likely to care whether you are healthy or not, they just want you to have the look that pays. If you aren't naturally the right size, it just isn't worth it.

19. The modeling industry is honest.

Go look at an agencies Web site. Do you see that girl who is 5'10 and 33-23-34? It is not unlikely that she is truly 5'9 and 34-24-35. A model may be promoted as 23 when she is really 28. The industry is not an honest one. Learn this quickly.

20. The industry is full of liars, so they can lie for me.

Are you 5'8 instead of 5'9? Then sure, if everything else is awesome, you have a decent chance of them fudging your height. However, major exceptions are rare and should never be expected.

21. TF* ("Tests") with working photographers is about having fun.

GWC's like to hangout and talk to purdy girls at their shoots. Pictures are secondary. Working pros are doing a session to create new and exciting images for their book (and yours). Images are what matter. Creation matters. Time matters. While a TF* shoot is often a relaxed, interesting, and creative experience, the talent is there to WORK. Stay off of your phone - talk to mom, dad, your Beau, or your sister later. Stop chatting up the MUA for 30 minutes.... she needs to get your makeup on. Remember, have fun but WORK hard.

22. I can do my makeup fine, so I don't need a MUA.

Camera makeup is far different from daily makeup, or even from "sluttin' it up to hit the bars, yo" makeup. Cosmetics made with the camera in mind often contain (or don't contain) certain elements to make them flash-friendly, for one. Additionally, application may need to be heavier, contouring and highlighting may need to be different, and much, much more that you likely don't know if you just know how to "do your makeup".  Heck, the makeup you bought could even be the wrong shade! And let's not forget the magic MUAs can do when it comes to complex looks, creative beauty work, and special effects, all of which can make or break a shoot! Hiring a qualified, educated MUA who has the right tools and the right materials will be beyond worth it.

23. When I reach x level of experience, I can start to get paid.

You get paid when you have something that someone wants and is willing to pay for. It may be your look, it may be your guts (doing nudes in an avalanche or something equally ridiculous), it may be your posing ability. Some people catch on more quickly than others, and some maybe just aren't meant to do profitable modeling. But modeling for x years doesn't necessarily correlate with getting paid more. Same for photographers. If your work sucks, I don't care if your work has been sucking for 75 years, it still sucks, and I'm still not paying you.

24. I own the copyright because I'm the model.

Wrong. First, there are two basic types of rights, copyright and usage right. Outside the USA, your mileage may vary. In the USA, the photographer owns the copyright to any photo he creates. Yes, there are a few exceptions but they probably don't apply to your situation. Copyrights may be transferred to anyone, but that rarely happens. Usage rights may be granted to the model or someone else by the copyright owner and determine how an image may be used and for how long and for what cost if any. What the model does own is the right to use her likeness. When the model signs a release she is granting the right to use her likeness for the purpose stated in the release.

25. The hardest thing to do is to get into and Agency. Once I do that, I am golden.

Sorry girls, getting into an agency is easy. GETTING WORK once you are there is much harder and significantly more daunting. Oh, and if you don't get enough work, quickly, your booker will kick you to the curb to free up space on the board for a girl that will get work (and create revenue for the agency).

26. If I get into an agency, then I will do nude work for the right amount of money.

Most agencies I have talked to have asked whether or not I will do nudes. They don't want conversations about morals or cash flow. If you are on the list that doesn't do nudes, they won't contact you for a nude job no matter how much it pays. In the modeling industry, you are not irreplaceable. If you are on the list that doesn't do nudes, fur, or any other stipulations you may have, expect that you will have to work harder to continue being profitable for the agency.

27. My Agency loves me.

Your booker may love you today. He/she may think you are a nice person. They will return all your calls and really be a big help to you - as long as you keep earning... If you fail to book work... lots of work... your agent will soon forget about you. You are a commodity. You can be nice and friendly and warm and funny but, unless you can EARN money, you are not worth anything to your agency. Keep earning and they will always love you. Stop earning and you will find yourself at the curb. Your booker may be "friendly" but he is not your friend... he is a businessman first and your friend second. Never confuse that. You too should be a businessperson first and a model second. Take charge or your career and take charge of yourself.

28. Any reputable agency pays for everything... the model NEVER pays.

This is simply not true. Increasingly agencies - even legit ones - ask for up front fees for items like comp cards, web listings, etc. You will likely need to PAY (oh, the horror) for comp card images from Test photographers that the Agency recommends (but does not require). It is becoming increasingly common for agencies to get more money directly from you rather than wait to take it out of your earnings (as extra fees on top of their standard fee paid by the client). Models sent to another city by their mother agent will also have their travel costs, room, board, etc taken out of their earnings. What happens if you don't make enough to cover the fees? Well, life ain't free... you signed a contract... you still owe the agency the money. Scams are scams. Legit agencies are legit. Your job is to know the difference.... Hint: asking for money up front to pay for comps or Tests with unaffiliated photographers does not immediately mean "scam." Modeling is a business. Learn it.

29. I should always sign a model release because it is there to protect me.

Wrong, it's there to protect the photographer. You should often sign a model release because otherwise the photographer won't shoot with you, or because you are being paid to sign one for the agreed upon usages, or because you'd like the photographer to provide you with a usage agreement, or (best case) you and the photographer have discussed this issue, understand each other, and have come to an agreement satisfactory to both.

30. The reason people talk badly about my work is because they are jealous.

This, while possible, is very unlikely. First, even if your work is better than theirs, their opinions may not spawn from jealousy. Case in point: I don't do make-up. However, if I see an MUA who can't blend and uses horrid colors, I may still critique and be very right. Also, many who are very good at their craft may give you negative feedback. They are likely not jealous. If you still choose to assume people are jealous, please, for the love of God keep it to yourself. Otherwise you risk looking like a diva and automatically taking opportunities away from yourself. See #14.