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Casting Calls: The Do’s and Don’ts

It’s do or die time! The casting call is the gateway to your next print or runway modeling job, and you want to get everything right. Don’t fret! Here are some tips to help make sure you score at your next casting call. Some of these helpful hints may seem more obvious than others, but they are all designed to help you make an incredible impression on potential bookers and casting agents.

So let’s get started!

Dress for success. Choose the most flattering outfit in your wardrobe. Just because you might be tall and thin, doesn’t mean there aren’t outfits that make you look less than perfect. Find the tasteful, gorgeous outfit that showcases you at your very best!

Simplify your hair and makeup. You only have a few moments to make an impact at a casting call, so well-done hair and face is crucial. But be careful not to offend your audience with heavy amounts of makeup or a wild hairstyle that just plain overwhelms your look. Keep it simple.

Keep your hands at your sides. Try not to fiddle with your hands or cross your arms – both actions send a guarded, less positive message about who you are and your willingness to work. Don’t put your hands behind your back. It is an additional sign of insecurity and communicates the fact that you don’t know what to do with your hands.

Stand tall, stand correctly. Keep your weight on your back foot and point your other foot forward. This not only gives you a more positive, upbeat body style, but a leaner silhouette as well.

Arrive confident and ready to work. Booking agents respond very well to polite people who are willing to go the extra mile. Always communicate a friendly, upbeat persona – from the moment you walk in the door until the time the booker says “thanks, we’ll call you.”

Make sure everything is legitimate. When you arrive at your casting call, if you suspect that things are not quite what they seem, then listen to your head and get out of there! If people ask you for money or want to put you in a compromising position that makes you uncomfortable, then leave immediately.

Don’t take rejection to heart. If you get passed up for a shoot or a runway show, it’s not because you aren’t gorgeous, it’s because you don’t fit the type that they required for this one particular shoot. Keep your head up, say “thank you” and maintain professionalism as you walk off.

Don’t be intimidated. You are going to see a lot of pretty faces and beautiful bodies at every casting call. Don’t start to focus inward and become obsessed with how you stack up against these other individuals. The more you believe in yourself, the more attractive you become to those in charge. Self-confidence, just as much as beauty, makes you the TOTAL PACKAGE!

How to become a model (in an online world)

There was a time when being discovered as a model meant lining up at audition after audition waiting for your big break. Now, with the web playing host to modeling agencies, model talent searches and online modeling communities, and professional photographers it has become much easier for models to promote themselves and book more modeling work. Here are few things every model should know about getting online and getting discovered!

Promoting yourself online

When it comes to taking the reins of your modeling career and promoting yourself to the world, there’s really no greater tool than the web. Model-slash-everything types such as Tila Tequila have used MySpace, FaceBook and other social networking sites to create a buzz about themselves in the online world. And aspiring models can do the same just as effectively. Post your information on top social networking sites. Get your head shots in there and include your resume and all the information you can about what makes you special (and what makes you unique). Take it even further. Start a blog about your modeling experiences. Build a CompCard and Profile on coachmodels.com. It’s all a part of a new kind of self-promotion. Why wait to be discovered when you can do it yourself? Sit down and spend an hour or two a day working it in front of your computer and before you know it, you’ll be a known commodity all over cyberspace (and more importantly, in the real world as well)!

Casting calls from the comfort of your own home

A wide variety of online modeling agencies now allow models to post their headshots and resumes online. Casting agents then simply visit the site, search for the type of model they need for the job and voila, a star is born! Aspiring models looking to increase auditions should plant their head shots firmly on several of these sites. For best results, spend some time on the major modeling sites such as onemodelplace.com or exploretalent.com. Pay special attention to the parts of the country best represented on each of the sites – and choose the ones that seem to service your area the best.

Getting perfect headshots

Before the advent of digital photography, headshots were the domain of only a select group of professionals with the proper lighting, shooting and developing equipment. And although working with a professional is still the preferred method of obtaining picture-perfect headshots, more and more aspiring models are turning to home digital photography for their most important calling card.

If you know someone who is a digital camera expert, have them take your headshots using a high-pixel camera. Then, remember to take more shots than you think you will need, so that you have plenty of choices when it comes down to selecting the perfect headshot. The beauty of using digital photos for your headshots is that you can take as many pictures as you want at no real additional cost.

If you choose to work with a professional photographer for your headshots, many modeling sites give you a chance to find top photographers in your area. The best thing about these listings is that they provide an opportunity to see the actual portfolios of professional photographers – and get a good feel if they are going to be a match for you.

Finally, with the tremendous number of opportunities for models online, come new opportunities for scam artists and potential predators as well. Much like in the off-line world, there’s safety in numbers. Check out comment boards and other sources to verify the credentials of any site (or individual) that offers services to help aspiring models.

Types of Modeling

OK, to quote Derek Zoolander, you’re totally great-looking. So now what? Being a model means a lot more than just standing around looking beautiful. To be happy and successful in your chosen career, you need to find the specific type of modeling that’s right for you.

If you are going to make it as a model, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the following types of modeling work:

Runway Modeling

Without a doubt, high fashion runway modeling is one the most glamorous (and rigorous) types of modeling. Runway models generally possess a very particular body type (long legs, fierce walk) and have developed their own signature style of “working the catwalk”. While you’re likely to see crossover with other types of modeling, the runway model is a truly unique animal. Runway models begin their careers at local fashion shows – with the best of the best moving on to international events such as Fashion Week in New York - where models can earn thousands of dollars per runway event.

Quick tip for success: Watch footage of the greats! Take some time every day to watch footage of top models walking the runway. Study how they carry themselves. Use their established styles to help craft a walk that is unique and your own.

Commercial Print Modeling

If you have ever seen a 600+ page issue of Vogue, you have a good idea of why there is a constant demand for fashion print models. Simply put, there’s almost no limit to the number of apparel companies spending large amounts of money on their print advertising campaigns. Successful print models not only master a variety of looks, but also have a wide range of emotions and body positions that can call up on a moment’s notice as the job dictates. Print models are able to evoke strong emotions in two dimensions because of these skills.

Quick tip for success: A great portfolio goes a long way in the commercial print realm. Models who have a selection of beautiful and unique photographs at the ready are most likely to wow the client and get the job. Be sure and fill your book with photos that go beyond the standard head shot. Show your creativity!

Commercial Catalog Modeling

Catalog marketing affords the greatest opportunities for models of different heights and sizes. Since every store or clothing line appeals to a different demographic, the standards set by the rest of the modeling world are a bit more relaxed here. You still need to look and feel great, but there is a little less emphasis on the concept of perfection.

Quick tip for success: When creating a portfolio, base your chosen shots on powerful, effective catalog photography. Grab a stack of the best catalogs available. Then cut out the shots that you would like to create. Your portfolio should represent a “best of” compilation of shots in a variety of clothing styles and poses.

Swimsuit Models

Female swimsuit models are less likely to be the small-sized types that generally have success on the runway. In the swimsuit modeling world there is a greater emphasis on a woman’s curves – with physical fitness being of the utmost importance. Men’s swimsuit models are also asked to be in prime physical condition. Toned muscles and tight stomachs are the order of the day for men hoping to get the best available work as a swimsuit model. Many swimsuit models employ a personal trainer to stay in top condition throughout the year.

Quick tip for success: Show your dedication to the swimsuit modeling category. If you REALLY want to book swimsuit work, then create a portfolio with only swimwear-related photographs. This will show the potential client that you are not simply “dabbling” in this end of the business – but truly want to “own” the category.

How to get your foot in the door at a modeling agency

Breaking into the modeling business starts by gaining entrance into the heart of the industry – your friendly neighborhood modeling agency. But what’s the best way to get your foot in the door? Every aspiring model has a different method for success, but here’s a quick look at the top ways you can get noticed by modeling agencies large and small, local and worldwide.

The Dry Call

The adage “there’s safety in numbers” may apply to many walks of life, but modeling is not one of them. When you send your heads shots into an agency unsolicited, you are joining the thousands of other aspiring models who have chosen the same point of entry. The potential problem with the dry call is that no matter how great you look, your head shot is likely to get lost in the shuffle. And that shuffle is likely being overseen by the overworked, cynical intern – not the dream-maker who sits in the corner office of the agency. While there ARE dry call success stories, don’t expect a call 3-5 business days after your head shots hit the mail.

Pros: Cost-effective, allows you blanket many agencies at once, you’re limited only by your postage budget.

Cons: The volume of dry calls a modeling agency receives in a given day makes it hard to stand out from the crowd.

The Walk In

Nothing says, “I’m ready to work” like showing up at a modeling agency is glorious 3-D. Walk In appointments give you a chance to show your portfolio to booking agents, be interviewed and just generally strut your stuff. Walk-ins must be scheduled in advance over the phone. When you arrive at the agency, always be dressed professionally and maintain a positive mental attitude. This is your chance to shine beyond your photos – take full advantage of it.

Pros: A one-on-one opportunity to make an impression on modeling professionals. Unlike the open call, you probably won’t have to wait in line with hundreds of other respondents.

Cons: Much like the dry call, you can never be sure that the results of the walk in won’t end up in the world’s largest backroom filing cabinet. Still, the fact that the agency has had a chance to see you in person and experience your personality gives you a leg up!

The Open Call

Firmly planting yourself into the good graces of a modeling agency means being there when they want you (and not just when you decided it was a good time to drop them a line). And that is where the open call comes into play. An open call refers to that special time when an agency places an ad looking for talent. The process is simple: you show up – they love you – you become famous! OK, maybe it’s not that simple, but the open call generally produces the most success because you as a model are filling a need at the agency. When you do a dry call or a walk in, you may be great, but there’s no way to gauge the hiring climate at the agency. With an open call, you’re there because they want you there!

Pros: The open call is a signal that the agency in question is looking for new talent. There’s no better time to get your foot in the door.

Cons: You’re not going to be the only one who reads the modeling agency’s ad. Be prepared to spend a large portion of the day waiting to be seen by the right people.

Modeling Scams

Modeling and talent agencies have the power to transform a total unknown into a world-famous star. Millions of people flock to their doors, answer their ads and send them photos every year – all at the hope of getting signed, getting work and getting famous. And that is why the climate in the world of aspiring models is so ideal for top rate scam artists.

Modeling and talent scam artists will take your money, crush your dreams and not lose a minute of sleep over it. They are always a few steps ahead of the law, and have refined their trade to sharp point.

Here are some of the most common scams currently found in the modeling industry. If you feel you’ve been a victim of any of these scams or double-dealings, contact law enforcement immediately!

1. Legitimate modeling agencies never use small newspaper classified ads to find talent. If you’re learning about a “top Hollywood agency” in the local Penny Saver, you can be sure you won’t find the girls from The Hills interning there. Think about it. There’s an abundance of talent approaching real agencies every day – why would they need to find more via a $25, 100 word print ad?

2. You should never have to pay a dime of your own money to be represented. Real modeling and talent agencies do not charge their models for representation. An agency will (obviously!) take their cut when you get booked, but will never ask for your hard earned cash up front. If they do, run far away (then contact the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org)

3. Beware the photographer hard-sell! Many unscrupulous agencies will push you towards their “recommended” photographer. Oh they’ll make him sound great – as if not working with him means you aren’t even serious about success. But don’t be fooled! Chances are, the photographer is kicking back money to the so-called agency – which is illegal! Pick your own photographer and forget about the agency that’s pushing the hard sell on you.

4. There’s no such thing as a guarantee (no matter how great you look). Many less-than-up front agencies with give aspiring models an iron-clad guarantee that they will get work and make money. NO AGENCY can promise such a thing. Whether or not you get booked for a job depends upon a variety of factors that no entity can control. Look into an agency’s past successes and then make a judgment about whether or not you want to move forward.

5. Don’t go nude. One of the most potentially dangerous situations an aspiring model can encounter, is a photographer that pressures individuals to pose naked during their first shoot. This kind of behavior should set off warning bells very quickly. Many times, these so-called professionals will claim that they want to create a bond between themselves and their subject. And going nude will do the trick. Baloney! Never, ever do anything of this nature if you don’t feel comfortable or have received personal references or recommendations about the photographer.

And of course, the most important rule of all….

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Use your common sense!!!

Models do SO read – a guide to essential reading for models

Joke if you like, but the well-read model is a successful model. Here are some absolute must-reads for anyone trying to move up in the business or aspiring models looking to gain a better, deeper understanding of their chosen career.

The Modeling Life (Donna Rubenstein)

The former editor of Seventeen offers real world advice that every aspiring model should absorb. From the day-to-day life of a model to getting started on a small budget, Ms. Rubenstein provides an insider’s look for those still on the outside. And if you doubt her pedigree, you might want to reconsider. Ms. Rubenstein has helped launch the careers of Tyra Banks, Kate Moss and Niki Taylor. Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women (Michael Gross) A historical look at the world of modeling – with every modeling scandal reported in vivid detail by the people who lived through them. OK, maybe not the best thing to bring in before your first shoot, but despite the catty nature of the book, there’s still plenty to entertain and horrify. Think of this book of scandals as a guide to what NOT to do with your career once you hit it big.

A Model’s Primer (Wilson and Edwards)

This is another great book for anyone looking to make it in the modeling industry, or rise to the next level in their modeling career. Written jointly by a top fashion photographer and former modeling agent, this book is like a step-by-step guide for getting your foot in the door at an agency. It also includes very helpful tips on how to avoid modeling scams that can derail your career before it even gets started.

The Wilhelmina Guide to Modeling (Natasha Esch)

Sometime it’s best to go right to the source for expert opinion. And who better to tell you how to break into the modeling game then Supermodel extraordinaire Natasha Esch. With an intelligent and surprisingly sensitive touch, Ms. Esch breaks it all down for the aspiring model with inspirational stories from the “inside”. A great mixture of memoir and useful advice.

How to Become a Successful Commercial Model: The Complete Modeling Handbook (Aaron Marcus)

This renowned commercial photographer provides a wealth of valuable information about how to make it in the competitive world of commercial modeling. The best thing about this book is that Mr. Marcus’ has taken the time to create a reference for ALL types of models. So if you’re not six-foot-two and rail thin, the author will still help guide you towards a successful career in print modeling. There something for almost everyone in this helpful book.

Vogue, W and Allure magazines

To stay on top of the modeling game, you’ve got to know what’s HOT. And these magazines are your pipeline to the newest looks and trends that agencies are booking. If you don’t already have them, then stock up! And if you’ve been buying them at the newsstand, then save yourself some serious money and subscribe. Added bonus: you’ll look great reading them poolside!;

Male Modeling 101: A Starter’s Guide to the Industry

While many of the principles that hold true for female models carry over into the realm of male modeling, there are some significant differences between the two industries. Male models generally start their careers later (in their 20’s) than women (in their teens) but have a greater opportunity to maintain longer careers. Men also tend to have fewer opportunities than women in modeling and tend to earn less money.

Because of these last two differences between the sexes, it is important to be well-informed before you enter the industry. Here are several tips and vital nuggets of information that every male model should know as he casts off into this highly competitive business.

Height and body requirements

If you are interested in doing runway or most editorial modeling work, there are some basic height and body types that are most sought after by booking agents and their clients. Generally, male models should fall into the following ranges:

• Height: 5’ 11” – 6’ 3”
• 38 – 40 inch chest
• 30 – 32 inch waist
• 32+ inch inside leg

While there are of course exceptions, these figures represent the “industry standard” and consequently book most of the work.

Age requirements

One of the most distinct differences between the male and female modeling industries is career longevity. Simply put, men can find work consistently well into their 40’s – while all but the most elite female models begin to see their stars dwindle much earlier. Men who stay fit and take good care of their skin can maintain a successful career for decades.

Preparing a Diverse Portfolio

Creating a book of photos that showcases you in a variety of fashions is absolutely crucial to your success as a male model. Sportswear, swimwear, and most importantly formal/business attire should all be well-represented in your “book”. The better your book, the more doors that will open up to you as you expand your modeling career.

Focus on hot topics for your portfolio

Men’s skin care and hair care products represent booming industries. And with that, comes additional opportunities for male models. Try and include good hair and close-up-facial shots in your book to appeal to these big-time markets. Be creative, and show that you’re on top of the hottest parts of the business. (If iPods are HUGE, then try to get a shot of you with an iPod, etc.)

Fitness Modeling

An industry-apart from fashion modeling, fitness modeling has become the genre of choice for many young, fit men looking for their big break. The fitness modeling industry differs from the fashion business in two distinct ways:

• Different body types – You can be “big and sculpted” in the fitness modeling industry and book plenty of gigs. That kind of size in the fashion industry may hold you back.
• Geography is not as important – Fashion models need to be near major fashion hubs (New York, Los Angeles, etc.) but fitness model jobs tend to be available all over the country (or at the very least, are scouted all over the country).

When pursuing a career in fitness modeling, remember to stay fit – but NEVER take it to the extreme. Never take steroids or other performance/appearance enhancing drugs that can have serious ramifications on your health.

How to break in to Modeling via Reality TV

With the recent Hollywood writers strike showing no signs of ending, orders for reality TV programming are higher than ever. That’s sure to signal the continued growth of one of the most popular reality genres, fashion modeling competitions.

Once a joke to many in the business, reality shows (those dealing with modeling or otherwise) have now become a very legitimate and serious method of gaining crucial exposure and entrance into the world of modeling.

Obviously, Tyra Banks currently rules the roost with her mainstay America’s Next Top Model, but other contenders such as America’s Most Smartest Model, an upcoming modeling series on Bravo, and others are popping up, giving the aspiring model additional opportunities to shine on the small screen.

And it’s worth noting that you don’t have to appear on a modeling/fashion reality show to raise your profile as a model. Beautiful men and women who have appeared on Survivor and The Real World have been able to wedge themselves into the industry thanks to the exposure they received on the shows.

When it comes to getting an audition for Reality TV, most people don’t know where to start. Here are some tips for finding and nailing that big spot.

Where to look

Check Craigslist

The mother of all sites (which features everything from a new house to vintage Ms. Pac Man machines available for sale) is also a hub of activity for reality TV. Producers posts ads in almost every major city looking for their next big stars.

Official Show Web Sites

Around the beginning of every season, a reality show will place audition information online for the next season. Check these sites often, as sometimes the window will close when applications get to be too heavy.

Watch the Show

Again, early in the season, many shows will show, on-screen, audition information for the next cycle. Keep an eagle-eye out for this information and jot it down!

Tips for being seen

This is going to sound like the biggest cliché in the world, but “BEING YOURSELF” is the key to success in the REALITY TV game. Look at it this way: how many tens of thousands of entry videos have the producers seen? Don’t you think that they can sniff out someone who is playing a part from a mile away? But if you’ve got natural charisma (and we know you do!) then your personality is going to shine through in your video.

Take a closer look at the shows you’re targeting

Perhaps you’ve begun to notice that shows look for types to fill certain roles within the cast (the shy one, the vixen, the religious one, etc.). We suggest that you study these roles to get an idea about the types of people that show likes to cast. HOWEVER, do not try and emulate these types in your video. You want to walk that fine line between understanding what the shows are looking for – but still bringing your unique personality to the table.

Follow directions to the letter

Every show has different rules and regulations for their applicants. Given the heavy volume of applications the producers will see, they are likely to throw out the ones that don’t conform in the name of time. If it says no more than two minutes long, be sure you’re in at 1:59. If it says do a song and dance, then get your favorite Broadway number ready!

Look your best

As an aspiring model, you know the importance of a STUNNING first impression. And your video needs to communicate that same WOW factor! Pick outfits, hair and makeup that really showcase the best in you. We’re walking that fine line again though – the one between trying too hard and letting your natural glamour shine through. If you are chosen for a modeling reality TV show, they are going to showcase you in all kinds of looks. Try and create a video that shows your versatility and you’ll have a leg up on the competition! Try quick shots of you in a bunch of cool, funky outfits and in different settings.