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Model Advice from Mark Curtis of Design Zero


Model Advice from Mark Curtis of Design Zero
- Questions & Answers

God only knows why, but I often get asked for career advice by models. So here’s my personal thoughts and comments on the subject!

I am new to this, what general advice can you give me?

Personally I avoid getting involved with the whole “industry thing” – basically on the commercial stuff I say “Thanks, but no thanks” to quite a bit and “When, where, how much” to everything else (and if I don’t get a sensible answer to all three I don’t take matters further)….

However, for models my own thoughts are as follows, just like the old movie says “If You Build It – They Will Come”.

When “starting out” there is no reason that any model cannot manage herself, there are hundreds of agencies in the UK but only a handful control the vast majority of the real professional paid work that is available.

Personally I believe that there is little point in approaching the heavyweight “major league” agencies directly – if they want you -they will find you. But if you want to, then go ahead and they are listed further on this guide.

So where do I begin?

Get a good photographer to do a shoot few shoots with you. Work on what you want, work out what you are good at and do shots that are specifically targeted to “sell” you to the agencies, and do shots which will “sell” you for paid work from photographers too.

When I am pleasing myself with shoots - I know all my stuff looks a bit dark and moody – but I am happy to shoot other far less stylised stuff, most other photographers are too!

The key to this, in my mind anyway– is to be sure that you trust the photographer that you are working with.

What areas do I need to cover to get a well balanced portfolio?

Obviously each model has their own limits and interests but typically a portfolio shoot for a model will include the following.

1. Headshots/Portrait
2. Fashion – Formal/Casual
3. Lingerie
4. Sheer/See through clothing/Implied/Semi Implied
5. Glamour/Topless
6. Art Nude

You can cover these pretty easily within a few shoots or on a full day with a good photographer who can work quickly. If you are looking to cover a lot of ground in a single day then talk to the photographer before and simply ensure each part of the shoot is kept short, with 1 or 2 changes or wardrobe, and small quick changes to make up – so it also makes you look like you’ve tonnes of work, with different people!

Once you do find a photographer you like, with me, what models find has worked well - is a model coming for an odd day or half day for the first three months that they are starting out (keeps the images fresh) and then shooting once every 6 months or so afterwards to top up while they get their industry contacts and other photographer contacts properly sorted.

Which agencies would you recommend I contact?

If you are interested in fashion work, these are the main model agencies I would recommend contacting:

Select Model Management - http://www.selectmodel.com 
IMG Models - http://www.imgmodels.com
Marilyn Agency - http://www.marilynagency.com 
Storm - http://www.stormmodels.com/index.html
IMM - http://www.immmodels.com/

Do read their instructions regarding applying to them carefully!

With regard to local/regional agencies in your area – I personally wouldn’t bother contacting any of them, let them find you and review any proposition they make to you with great care.

Little Red Dog - http://www.littlereddog.co.uk  - Cambridge based.
Supermodels - www.supermodeluk.com  – Lincolnshire Based
MWM - www.mwm-uk.com
Mackenzie Models - http://www.mackenziemodels.co.uk/

Certainly, you should never ever pay an agency to do your photos or create a portfolio. In addition, never ever pay to become listed with an agency.

What about listing myself on the internet?

If you are starting out, having your own website is not essential – and unless you are working as a model full time – a waste of your time and money. If you want your own site as a “vanity project” then go ahead, but you are better spending your time and effort (and a little bit of money) on listing yourself on the major model listings sites (see below).

With regard to model listing sites, these are listed below and I have marked the ones that are worth paying to become a member!

First priority:

www.netmodel.com  (worth paying)
www.onemodelplace.com  (worth paying)
www.starnow.com  (worth paying)

Second priority (optional!)


If you are interested in art nude work and above (!) then it may be worthwhile listing here:

http://www.be-seen-here.co.uk  (just join the forums and place an ad there)

Finally, Myspace is a favourite with many models too and I know many girls consider it extremely useful for their careers (personally I hate it!).

Do you have any advice when I am writing up my listing/bio on model sites?

The key to getting regular paid work is to let your “biography” or “blurb” (!) that these sites let you write about yourself cover the most important bits and hopefully keep all the rubbish correspondence to a minimum. I have done a fair few of these for models and seen the responses so my advice to get work with local photographers etc is:

1. State your limits clearly and exactly in the ad wording itself.
2. State whether you will do pro or amateur shoots (amateur stuff can earn you some easy money)
3. Keep it simple - charge a flat rate (not a tiered rate based on your “limits”) – keep it at about £30.00 an hour unless you are doing art nude/adult work (The current true market rate for solo adult work is £60 per hour and upwards).
4. Regularly update and change the images on a monthly basis on the “first priority sites” and every 3-6 months on the others.
5. To get the best out of free “galleries” or portfolios - always post images that are sized at around 300x300 and at 72dpi
6. If you do not wish to anything “unclothed” – but you do want to make money from your modelling work – always consider the “fetish” market – there’s always plenty of work for this to be had from the model listings sites - a great way to earn decent money.

Do you have any advice in dealing with correspondence regarding modelling work?

It’s critical you set up a new email address – my advice would be use hotmail or yahoo – use an id along the lines of yourname_ukmodel@domain.co.uk .

If you are going to place these listings – you will have to accept that you will get a lot of utter rubbish correspondence (!!!), and a fair few idiots creeping out of the woodwork in reply to your listing - regrettably it goes with the territory.

1. Keep your replies brief and professional.
2. Ignore any overseas work requests.
3. Ignore any agency representation correspondence
4. Never email any pics etc – just refer them to your site listings
5. Choose your TFP/TFCD offers carefully.

In addition, if you are simply in this to make money – remember – yep there may be an awful lot of talentless amateurs who contact you – remember though – their money is as good as anyone else’s. Do the shoot, pocket the wages and move on.

When dealing with the replies – my advice is as follows:

1. Always have in your mind the mantra - “When, Where and How Much?”
2. If you are not greedy, and set your fees at a sensible level. State the expenses element clearly – calculate it carefully and accurately.
3. With any enquiry for work if you are not given a date for the job on offer - always give the photographer say, three dates in the following few weeks or month (just make some up!!), then if you do not get a proper reply to these dates (e.g.: “sorry am busy but how about these dates?”) – Then they are most probably just timewasters -so ignore!
4. Always ignore “castings” offers. Once you get signed with decent agencies – they will identify any worthwhile castings for you. It’s a nightmare to get involved with these unless you have proper representation.
5. Always ignore agency “offers” unless it is from an agency that has been recommended to you. Most of the time these “scam” agencies will ask you to send shots, then tell you they are “no good”, then suddenly offer to do arrange a shoot for you, which you pay for – and end up getting charged hundreds of pounds. Big waste of time.
6. If you are looking to do work with “established” or “pro” photographers then always look at the photographers work online. Get links to their sites. Most pro photographers will rarely use hotmail, yahoo etc (although they may in the first instance – many keep these “free” addresses and bin them periodically change them to avoid Spam) but either way any pro photographer really should have their own website!

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