Something I hear constantly from models is how no one wants to pay the models they work, and how if they want to be a model, they have to pay for clothes, pay for makeup, pay for hair, and pay for a lot of other things. “Why won’t people pay me to do my modelling work? ” If you are looking for work as an art model or nude model, then these probably won’t apply to you as your target market is completely different. I will also assume that you meet the physical requirements for that specific brand, too, because failing to meet those requirements, they will drop you from consideration faster than you can imagine and the interviewer will often make a note that you can’t follow directions and harming your chances after that casting call, too.
The answer to why people won’t pay you is fairly simple and comes down to a few things that almost every casting call I have been in has done to some extent. We look at how each model who attended fits the brand and its reputation. Why? Because your face and person become the brand for who ever it is that you will be modeling. Every casting call works by elimination. What can we find that we don’t like about you as a model? Either the first or second strike, and you are eliminated from consideration for that work. Remember that these are people who pay a model to work, often in the form of a yearly contract. Before you go on a casting call, always look for the type of person they have hired in the past and what kinds of images are out there for them. Are they represented or amateurs? What kinds of styles have they done in the past and have there been any clues to what they are looking for now?
The number one pet peeve that I hear is the glamour image or over photoshopped image book. I am sure you know the type of photo session we are talking about. Often, the models are given some form of alcohol and the person is pampered while their hair and makeup are being done. From our perspective, these are personal portraiture images and not something that should go in a model’s book representing what they can do. With the number of wanna be models who are out there, all it takes is a quick look at the images and we can usually eliminate about 90% of the people who showed up for the casting call just on this alone. If you want to be a paid model, you have to be selling a product or service — looking pretty and Photoshopped doesn’t quite do it for this type of modeling. We don’t care how pretty you look as a model, but you MUST be able to sell the company’s product or service. Looking pretty doesn’t sell anything.
You may have noticed that I also said “over photoshopped” images in the preceding paragraph. Those are images that a professional can look at and determine that the image doesn’t represent the model who is there? How? We look for areas that people don’t know how to edit properly – things like places where there should be lines on the model yet there aren’t, texture to the skin, texture stretch, things that are blurred without a good reason, etc. You would be amazed at the number of images that are over photoshopped. Sometimes these are issues where the photographer just processes the images in a very automated way, and the result shows this. If a photographer gives you images back in less than a few days, then there is a high probability that this is what is going on. I would say a good number of the images that are over Photoshopped are the ones from these sexy, glamour type photoshoots. Go to an agency or casting call with images like this, and it is the quickest way to get your images filed in the round filing cabinet at the door and you won’t be considered again.
The next thing that will only leave a very few models being considered is the images that are nudes and in lingerie that the model has done. This also includes shots where panties weren’t intended to be shown, but were plainly visible. Remember what I said about brand, and that YOU as the model will become that brands representative. What you have out there is what will impact that brand. If you want to work for a paying designer, they have VERY strict rules for who and what represents their brand. For example, a designer who I used to work with prior to him moving to another city used to double check with a few photographers about the work that specific models have done and the reputation they have with the photographers that they had worked. In other words, it isn’t JUST THE IMAGES that we find taken of the model, but also the reputations of the photographers that you have worked and the potential images that may exists that could damage the reputation of the brand. No one will even consider you to represent a brand if the organizations marketing group thinks that you, as a model, will hurt their brand. Remember, it isn’t what you think but rather what they think? How does this sort of thing happen? It could be the easy money from doing nudes and lingerie, it could be the promise of more “paid work” if you do them, and it could also be the “I did you something worth value, so now you need to do something worth value for me” proposition from unscrupulous photographers. Know it is a slippery slope if you do nudes, and you really need to keep the lingerie images tasteful and appropriate to be a fashion model.
The next way that models are eliminated that comes up are tattoos, yes, tattoos. If the model has a lot of them and they are obnoxious and distract from the message the model must convey, the model is dropped from consideration. Not all organizations do this, but the solid majority still do this. If you have tattoos and they can’t be covered up easily with just a little bit of makeup, then your tattoos will be something that is discussed. The easiest way to figure out if this matters is to look at previous models who have represented that specific brand, and looking to see if they have any tattoos.
Finally, the people who consider you for paid work often take a look at what they can find out there on you out on the Internet. This means that everything you say and post can be seen and looked at by potential clients. If you have a lot of bar images with alcohol, chances are that you won’t be considered for a family type of client. On the other hand, if you have a lot of drama and harsh words tweeted on Twitter, then you can be sure that they won’t consider you because they don’t want someone so filled with drama and haven’t a clue what you will say about their brand. You need to keep an eye on what you post and how people around you see what you do post.
You may think this article is detrimental to you as a model, but I am being honest and I hope you look at yourself in the same way. Again, if you are just an art model, most of this won’t apply. But, if you are going for fashion, you need to know that this is how casting calls go down.
What do you need? What should be in your book? At the front, or close to it, there should be plain images with no makeup on at all and wearing a plain outfit. These are the number one type of image that EVERYONE in the fashion industry requests. They are so popular that the industry refers to them as “Polaroids”. These images give the casting directors what they have to work with if they choose you. Yes, skin damage and acne damage will show up. This is why this type of image is important and why you must take care of your skin. I try to stress to models that this type of image will get you MORE WORK than the most fabulous editorial that you are in. Of the models who use these images, all have commented that their interviews have always mentioned that they want to see more images like the “Polaroid” or that this is what they want to see along with “tear sheets” of work you have already done that has been published. If it isn’t published as an advertisement or editorial, then it isn’t considered a tear sheet. The next thing you need are minimal makeup head shots that show off your best features of your face without makeup. Your hair shouldn’t be covering the front of your face in these images, but can be styled. Next, you should have some simple full body shots. Make sure that the casting wants to see at least one of these images in a two piece bathing suit or not before you get there. You will be embarrassed if you were supposed to have the other image in your book and it is the wrong one. Next, you will want FASHION portraits. If you don’t know what one of these are, learn it. Again, they show what you can do with makeup and hair styling, but more importantly, how you connect with the camera and how comfortable you are in front of the camera. Again, it is important that these images aren’t over photoshopped.
Depending on your target market, you may have lingerie, suggestive, and implied nude images in your book. Keep in mind that there are specific definitions for each of these types of images, and you need to make sure you use the right one (the fashion one). The images must be a fashion type image and be tasteful. Images that you would find in a men’s magazine aren’t what they are looking for here. If you don’t know how a fashion image differs from a men’s magazine image, then learn. This is important. You need to have these shot by photographers with an impeccable reputation and who know what is acceptable and not. Having a photographer with a reputation for pornographic art or unacceptable images will cause this type of image to reflect poorly on you – you would have been better off not having this type of image in your book. Tread lightly, keep it tasteful, and if you don’t have any of these images, you have nothing to worry about.
This should explain what you need to know and why you aren’t getting paid.