Thursday, June 12, 2008

Modeling tips: find a photographer

So you want to be a model? The first thing you’ll need to do is build a portfolio. But how will you build a portfolio without photographers? And how will you find photographers without a portfolio? Seems like there is no way out, but there is.

1st step: stay close
You probably know someone with a decent camera, who is able to take a decent picture. Could be anyone; your dad, an uncle, someone from school, a colleague, your neighbor. If you think hard enough, you can think of someone. It does not have to be a professional photographer, you just need a couple of portraits that go beyond a picture of yourself in the bathroom mirror or one made by your boyfriend with his cell phone. Likewise, don’t use your holiday snapshots (unless they are great pics of course)

2nd step: Join a community
Once you have three or four decent pictures, join a web community for photographers and models. Well known US-examples are and For my Dutch readers I recommend In these communities, photographers and models (often make-up artists and stylists too) find a platform to connect to each other. Don’t just sign up and wait for things to happen. The best thing to do is approach photographers yourself, and arrange TFP (Time for Print) or TFCD (Time for CD) shoots. Try to aim at photographers slightly above your own level. Aiming lower will not get you the pictures you need to improve, whereas aiming too high is likely to lead to disappointment.

By participating in a community, you will get to work with people you don’t know. That’s a nice thing, but it is also a risk. That’s why I prefer internet communities that require photo ID to sign up. This simple threshold scares away the real idiots, but it is no guarantee. See the earlier article on this subject for tips on how to stay out of trouble.

Once you have worked with four or five different photographers, think about creating your own website as an online portfolio. This will give you more room for exposure and make you look more like a professional model. You can link from your community account to the website, and may want to put the url on your comp card as well. Meanwhile, keep working on your portfolio through TFP/TFCD shoots, gradually aiming for better photographers. If you think of going professional, this is about the time when you should start to contact agencies. Don’t wait until they come and discover you, go out and discover them. Check the forums of the community you joined to find out which agencies are any good.

The alternative approach: Quickstart your career
There is a faster way to start. Instead of working your way up through TFP/TFCD shoots, you may want to invest in one or two shoots with very good photographers and make-up artists. This will give you a headstart when joining a community, allowing you to find better photographers willing to work with you on a TFP/TFCD basis. Once you join the community, start expanding your portfolio as fast as you can, so you’ll reach the point where you’ll start contacting agencies much sooner. This strategy may work for models that are very talented or already have some acting experience. For inexperienced models, it contains the risk that their inexperience shows in the pictures and the investment will be partly wasted. But then again, who is to reach anything without taking a risk or two?

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