Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Brandon Lucas

Most often when people read my blog, it’s usually industry insiders who have knowledge about the business. So most often, I am just voicing opinions and concerns from fellow photographers (and others). I tend to give voice to the frustrations that we go through in everyday life, but today’s blog (the third one in two days) is honestly geared to those outside of the industry. It is for the people who really have no knowledge as to what it takes for a signing of a model to take place.

When a person (and when I use this term it will mean someone not affiliated with the industry) sees a billboard, a magazine campaign, etc. They are seeing the finished image to sell a product. They have no idea what it actually takes to get that image to the point that it is a giant billboard in Times Square.

People involved (in no particular order)
Casting Director
Art Director
Location Scout
Studio Heads
Fit Models
Model Scout
Corporate Entity
Textile Firms
Studio Booker
Photographer's Agent
Camera Rental
Light Rental
Camera Crew
Video Crew
Advertising Firm
Advertising Executive
Graphics Department
Printing Company
Billboard Company
Personal Trainer
Landlord (who owns the billboard)
Fashion Bloggers (who talk about the model)
Maintenance Crew (to put up the sign)
Lighting company (to light the sign)

And all of this is done in order to place a SINGLE SOLITARY IMAGE in Times Square. And all you see is the wonderful iconic photo in place. Each and every job title is a tiny, microscopic and important piece in the puzzle that is needed in order to make all of this happen. Remove any of the puzzle that is listed above and guess what? It won’t happen. I know it may come across a little melodramatic, but there is a hell of a lot that goes on in order to make an actual campaign happen.

But even before we get the model on the billboard, it all starts with getting a model signed and it all starts with the scouting. In this instance, the scout involved is California’s own Michael Maddox. He scouts models and instills in them the idea of being a model. If the “model” takes the bait, it is now Michael’s job to start to groom them. He educates them on what it takes to be a successful model. He may have to take interest in their grooming, in their oral hygiene, in their personal appearance. He may tell a model that they may need to lose weight, gain weight, put on muscle, how to walk, how to talk, take care of their skin, teeth, eyes, hair, etc. No one is walking out like Naomi Campbell right out the box. This may take MONTHS for him to prepare. Michael will then take digital polaroids and start creating a buzz about the model. After the model starts to develop into something he can then see which agency will be the best suit for the model (here comes the behind-the-scene discussions). Michael will go to the firing squad with top agencies around the United States and Europe. A particular model may not have the look for a particular area (California has a different “look” than New York, or Florida). If a model has to relocate, Michael will then start developing connections for the model in the foreseeable future if the model has to move. Michael will assist in housing, in job placement and in making professional connections in order that it is a smooth transition for a model. Now it is time to build a model’s portfolio and this is where I come into the picture.

Michael will send me candid snap shots of the model. He will ask me what I think. How the model should be shot, etc. After that is determined, if the model is not from New York, arrangements are made in order for the model to get here. In order to get more “bang for the buck” through Michael’s connections (or mine), we arrange other photoshoots with other established photographers while the model is here. In the interim we also try to set up appointments with various agencies. If the New York agencies are interested, I then make connections with them to show them finished images from the various shoot(s) that have been arranged.

I arrange photoshoots by pulling together teams of people (other photographers, stylists, makeup artists, locations, etc.) so when the model goes back to their place or origin, their book is complete and they are ready to walk in the door.

After all the photoshoots have been completed and Michael has received all the photographs, he meets with the model yet once again to now build their books (building of a book means putting their portfolio together to present to the agencies). While all this is going on, Michael is back to contacting the agencies with finished images of the model. He will even give the nay-sayers another call, because sometimes they don’t “see it” the first time and now 3-6 months may have passed and now they may see things differently. Michael may arrange a model to get with more than one agency for various reasons but in the end, if all is successful, and the model gets signed, then we all did our job.

It is a proven formula and it works every single time. So remember models:  It takes time and patience and it takes a successful team to make a successful model.


  1. As always I respectfully Thank You for the industry insight.

  2. As always thank you for the industry insight. ~George Robert

  3. Another insightful post. It's so easy to get short-sighted and forget that it takes a solid TEAM to build solid, lasting success in this (and any) industry. No *imagemaker's* an island.

  4. You know... Just reading this opens my eyes to alot. As I sat here I began thinking "wow" all these people are involved in "My" (Our) Success. We look at adds and say "Wow" but the Real "Wow" is realizing how many people left there finger print on your Success! As A model this gives me the drive to Not just Work Hard for me..but for the others working just as hard! Great Post! Bravo!

    -S. Floyd

  5. GREAT usual. Some naive models think everything is supposed to happen overnight and there are a few people involved. WRONG!!! I love how you broke that down. You indirectly point out there's no "I" in "Team." Keep spittin' that knowledge, D!

  6. Dallas, This is very true. To keep it real, I go through a lot of stress trying to help these models and that's why I try to teach them compassion and patience. If you have those two things, the gift will truly come somewhere down the line. People don't understand what other people go through in order to help them. That's why I remind the world that no one has to do anything for you. Models should concentrate on being grateful and thankful that they have someone to stand behind them. The business is real. And it is what it is. And a model has to make the best out of what it is. This is why I'm tough because a model has to get it. My philosophy is making sure that another man has food on his table. That's called success.