modeling myths and misconceptions

There is a vast abundance of modeling information on the internet - some of which is valuable but most of it is contradictory. Additionally, over the years certain myths have developed - many of which are still being actively perpetuated by companies with a financial interest in their continued existence.

Other myths and misconceptions are based upon practices that were instituted many years ago, but no longer work and more have arisen from simple misunderstandings.

One of the areas where beginners experience the most confusion has to do with what kind of photos they will need to get started and/or to work on a regular basis.

Myth: "All I need to get started is a Polaroid or a snapshot."

Reality: Although a Polaroid or a snapshot (as in photo above left) might get you in the door to be seen by an agency, better pictures (as in photo above right) will eventually be needed - and they will almost always be at your own expense.

Myth: "If an agency wants me, they will pay for everything I need to get started."

Reality: Contrary to popular myth and lots of wishful thinking, only a very small handful of agencies will occasionally advance money to models and only to those models that have signed long term exclusive contracts with them plus the model will be required to sign some sort of loan agreement plus the model will be required to pay that money back at some point - plus interest - so all models end up paying for their materials one way or another.

Someone told you that Donald Trump stands in front of Trump Towers every day handing out $100 bills and free photo shoots to every aspiring model that walks down Fifth Avenue - and you believed them?

IF you are a very tall, very skinny teenage girl and IF you get picked up by one of the top 10 agencies in the world and IF you are willing to sign a long-term exclusive contract with them and IF you are ready, willing and able to move to New York City on a moments notice and live there on your own - then MAYBE your agency will advance you money for test shots then deduct it from your first paying job or two.

If you are NOT the aforementioned very tall, very skinny teenage girl - ready and willing to do all of the above - you will need to cover your own costs to get started as no one is going to do it for you.

Myth: "I have a friend that has a friend that will be able to take suitable pictures for me to get started."

Reality: Many new models make the career killing mistake of going on castings with amateur looking photos taken by well meaning family members or friends.

A certain quality and/or energy level in photos is expected - and most friends and amateur photographers simply do not know how to help pose or direct new models to assure that they will come across with a strong, professional look.

Wedding photographers, school photographers, portrait photographers, "photo day" photographers, student photographers and "pin up" photographers usually can NOT produce the proper results.

Believing the myth that someone will actually hire you for real work off of amateur photos or a couple of blurry snapshots is also wishful thinking - and going on castings with such photos will only serve to brand you as an amateur, making it very difficult for anyone to take you seriously.

Do not make this mistake and do not listen to half-baked advice, rumors or gossip from other moms you run into on castings as half of them have no idea what they are talking about and the other half may be deliberately trying to sabotage you.

If you expect to work on a regular basis, you need to visually prove that you can look like a real model.

"photo day" modeling school photo
professional photo

"Yes," this is the same girl in both photos and "No," she did not lose weight between photo shoots. The right pose, the right lighting, professional makeup, camera angle, background selection and lens selection can make a huge difference.

Agents are perfectly willing to look at snapshots and even Polaroids - as they figure, "What the heck, if the person looks good in a snapshot - imagine what they might look like with professional makeup, good lighting, etc."

IF you manage to get past the receptionist of an actual talent buyer however (someone that can actually make a hiring decision) he or she may not be so patient with you if you walk in with junk photos.

Fact is, the majority of them will not appreciate you wasting their time and they will put a big X through your name after you leave.

(If you don't think this is true, volunteer to assist with a few castings and see for yourself.)

"A 'test shoot' is a photo session to enable the model to get suitable pictures for his/her portfolio. It is essential for a model to build a stong book - so you have to test, test, test and test some more." - Model Talent Bible

These two magazine editors look at pictures of aspiring models every day.

Which of these two girls do you think will be taken more seriously?

You will also need to have a comp with a few strong pictures on it, typically one picture on the front and four or more on the back.

Why do you need a strong card? If you go on a casting and you don't have a card to leave behind, interviewers (casting directors, production coordinators, etc.) are not going to take you seriously and very likely they won't even remember you were there an hour later, much less the next day. (Don't worry, however, as inexpensive 'temporary' cards can be made.)

When business is booming agents MIGHT send you out on interviews with a few snapshots and/or without a card, but when business is slow - guess who will be the last person to be sent out on castings and guess who will be the first person to get dropped from their roster altogether? That's right, if you don't have strong materials, it will be YOU.

Another word of caution: TFP is the #1 source of model related horror stories.

There are thousands of TFP (Trade For Pictures) offers on the net, most of which are made by amateur photographers with little or no skill. And, with rare exception, TFP is the province of amateurs and a complete waste of time - a classic case of the blind leading the blind. In fact, the term TFP is seldom used in professional circles except perhaps to make jokes about it.

If you are interested in picking up bad habits and you would like to have a bunch of amateur snapshots in silly, awkward poses in bad hair and bad make up - then TFP will certainly accomplish that for you.

As bad as all that may sound, however, this is not the worst thing that can happen.

It's amazing how grown up models - and even parents -who scoff at the idea of a "free lunch" and hang up on telemarketers who offer a "free vacation" will never ask, "What's the catch?" when some stranger offers a "free photo shoot."

The catch is, the majority of TFP offers are made by so-called "photographers" looking for "dates" and/or "content" for adult sites - and their "something for nothing" offer is simply a way to lure you in.

If you are gullible enough to fall for it, you will probably never hear from the "photographer" again and it is very unlikely you will ever receive any prints or CD's as promised and - even if you do - showing these images will do you more harm than good.

The good news is... there are excellent, moderately priced photographers out there that can make you look like a real model.

Never forget: nothing is free and the so-called "free stuff" will invariably turn out to be the most costly - in wasted time, lost jobs and ruined careers. 

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There are thousands of fake modeling and talent agencies and a relatively small handfull of real ones - especially in the state of Florida - so feel free to e mail and we will try to point you in the right direction.

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