Tuesday, March 30, 2010
WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?
That’s right, I know the title is rude. So what? Don’t look over your shoulder, don’t look at the model to the left of you and don’t look at the model to the right. I am talking to you. Have I got your attention? Good.
Every single time I decide to do one of these “in your face” blogs, it usually stems from something deep inside of me that’s been simmering for a long time on a very low fire. Each and everyday of my professional existence, I am bombarded by models with the same questions over and over again. Do I have what it takes? (Usually a resounding no) Can I make it as a model? (Anyone can be a model – look at the fat chick that holds the Pine Sol bottle – she’s a model [an actual paid model]). But the stellar remark that gets me every time is when one of them have the audacity to say “I am going to be the supermodel.”
Are you really? Do you really have what it takes to be a supermodel? Names like Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Christy Turlington, Agyness Deyn, Jessica White, Natalia Vodianova, Raquel Zimmerman, Gisele Bundchen, Jon Kortajarena, Tyson Beckford, Gabriel Aubrey, Andre Van Noord, Tyson Ballou - hell even the current ones like Sean Opry, Rob Evans, David Agbodji, Corey Baptiste and the list is endless. You have that certain jene se quois to stand in such an elite line up and demand the money they demand? Well, let’s get down to business.
I am going to lower the bar for the moment. Let’s not even take SUPERMODEL status. Let’s just be an honest to god working model. That means at LEAST 75% of your annual income is generate solely through modeling. You go out there shoot after shoot, hoofing it from casting to casting. Being turned down job after job. Going to the gym, eating right, sleeping right, just to get up and do it all over again, because the agency is trying to make money off of your superior DNA.
Agent? What agent? You’re not signed? OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH, you’re one of those. Those are the types of models that I like the most. Usually (and I am using the term loosely) this type of model is a person with above average looks, better than most body, had a couple of photo shoots under their belt, because someone told them that they could be a model. They go out into the world after a couple of photo shoots and want to start making money for their time, or thinking photographers should pay them to shoot them. What the fuck for? What are you bringing to the table that tons and tons of models before you (and most certainly after you) can’t bring to the table? What is it about you that makes you the “it” model of the moment? The model that is not signed usually and can’t get the campaigns. What is it about you? (Hence the title of this blog).
Models only seem to know about a handful of agencies (and trust me ladies and gentlemen, there are HUNDREDS of agencies out there)… The ones that are usually tossed around are Ford, Elite, Wilhemina, DNA, IMG, etc and the unsigned model has that lofty idea that they are going to walk into one of those agencies and the bookers are going to fall at their feet and offer them the illustrious contract in which they think they deserve. Guess what, models. It RARELY happens. These agencies are inundated with thousands upon thousands of modeling hopefuls that they turn down, so to think that in the possible SLIM chance you’re going to be that one is highly unlikely. Impossible? No. But highly improbable.
The reason this blog came into fruition, an unsigned black male model I shot came to me talking about he wants to be with Ford, Elite or DNA. I had to stop him in mid-sentence and look at him. First off, they think just because they’re signed with Ford, or Elite or DNA they are going to start raking in the money. So I humored him. I brought up DNA Model Management’s website. Just so he can see the roster. On the website, there were two black male models. Only two. Let me put it to you like this: only two obviously black models. So I turned to him and said, “DNA? Really? I can guarantee you a month ago, you didn’t even know who hell DNA Model Management was. Somebody filled your head with a bunch of blue chip agencies, you wiggled your ass in front of a couple of photographers and now you think you can enter that world. Guess what? You’re handsome, yes, but did you take a look at their board to see if you (a) have what it takes and (b) compete with the two STUNNINGLY beautiful black models that they already have?” Models, again, do your homework. Not all agencies are a good fit for you and vice versa. Pay attention to what they are looking for (if you went to Silver Model Management, for example, you would KNOW they wanted muscled out bodies, so if you were 6’2, 150 editorially built, why in the world would you go there?) If you look at a roster, you will see some sort of common denominator amongst models (it could be body type, it could be facial structure, it could be age, it could be national origin). You have to see if you can fit your peg into their hole. I know its wonderful to think big and lofty and you’re going to be “the one” to break the mold. I applaud you in that aspect, however, when you are applying to some of these agencies, they are looking at you in a money making capacity. If you’re unable to make them money, they are unable to do anything for you.
Time and time again, models send me photos for me to evaluate them. I see gang tats, tats covering more than 60 percent of their body surface (right up into the neck region [Ralph Lauren would LOVE that]), body piercings, eye brows with parts, long unkempt hair, du-rags, braids, gold fronts, bodies that are too short, too big, too skinny, bad skin, crooked teeth, slightly crossed eyed, ill body proportions the list can go on endlessly. However, you want IMG, DNA, Ford, Elite and Wilhemina to sign you? As my father would say “get the fuck outta here!”
This is a very competitive field ladies and gentlemen. And if you don’t have the goods you better (a) get out now or (b) get it together so you DO have the goods.
Here is a to do list.
1. Do you homework. Check out all types of agencies, you may be able to work your way up to one of the blue chips. Don’t frown upon a boutique agency you can learn a lot and they can mold you on the nature of the business.
2. You are a product. Take care of it accordingly. Modeling (unlike bodybuilding) is a year round job. Take care of your face, skin, hands, feet, body. Keep your drinking, drugging, smoking to a minimum. No one wants to see a tired, washed out model on their campaign or in front of a photographer’s lens.
3. Listen to those to can honestly help you. You will come across a lot of people telling you a lot of unnecessary information. The world is incredibly small. Do you homework. See if these people who say they can help you can honestly help you. If they are in positions to help you, that means they see potential. Don’t waste their time.
4. Study your craft. You should breathe, eat, sleep modeling. That is not only your job – it should be your LIFE. Find out who the “it” models are and find out why. Elevate your game. Study walks, magazines, campaigns, etc. Stay on the pulse of the industry.
5. Invest in your career. That can be getting a gym membership to paying a good photographer to photograph you, to working with a runway coach. A single picture can make the difference between booking a job and seeing the front door. A bad walk and you are laughed at. Talented photographers invest their time, energy and artistry to produce good quality images for your portfolio. So invest and invest wisely. Keep your book current and all photos should be “oh my God” status.
6. Speaking of photographers. Not everyone with a camera is necessarily a photographer, be careful who you decide to let photograph you. If they are not going to elevate your book, don’t waste your time. The true motto is this: Test up, don’t test down.
7. Watch who your friends are. This industry is very very small and the internet has made it even smaller. You have no idea who may know whom. So be careful about what you say and who you say it to. A simple dismissive conversation may come back to haunt you.
8. Build lasting relationships. Loyalty is a viable commodity in this industry. If you are developing lasting mutual relationships with bookers, agents, photographers, etc. keep them alive. You may be the next one for that campaign merely because you’re a friend of the right person. Most times it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
9. Be patient, be diligent, and be thick skinned. You will receive a lot of rejections in this industry. It is up to you to be strong. Every rejection is a learning process. Not every model is right for every job. A career is not made overnight. Don’t think you’re going to shoot on Monday and by Thursday you’re running to the bank to cash that Prada campaign check. It doesn’t work that way.
10. Be loyal. I cannot stress that enough. Thank those who took their time, money, energy, connections and knowledge to invest in you. Those who arrange photo shoots with photographers who would’ve turned you away. Those who pulled strings to have a booker meet with you. The people behind the scenes. Be loyal to the ones that believed in you, because when the chips are down (and trust me, there will be some dark times). Those will be the ones you can always rely on. Never shit on them, even as you grow and excel in your career, never forget where you came from.
Whew… Time to get back to photos. Until next time. Next up...
Brandon Espy - the Grown and Sexy Shoot
Posted by DALLAS J LOGAN at 9:08 AM