Monday, December 6, 2010

my comment to Jezebel's article on agencies and modes and pay.

Jezebel's article on what models get paid caught my eye.

So, here is my comment to Jezebel's article on agencies and modes and pay.

First, of course, I am shorter than most models, my road has not been a fashion model's road. I've work with agencies in NYC, but I've built my own career and tear sheets, experience and portfolio from the ground up. I don't work with fashion agencies, I work with commercial print modeling agencies. My world is more hands-on, and it more based on my own will to want to model and creating my path.

When it comes to pay and working with agencies it is typical waiting 60-90 days to be paid for a modeling job. And the agency gets 20% of your booking rate, which is normal. If you make $1000 the agency gets 20% and your check will read $800. And like a freelance writer, you do work as an independent contractor when it comes to taxes.

Also my world of modeling is more of a self-investment for the model.  I recently wrote a blog post about the financial investment invovles with being a self-made model, aka commercial print model.  Most print models working non-exclusive with agencies put back into their pursuits almost every penny they gain from their jobs and they also have other means of income. Models in my world pay for their own comp cards ($150, pay for their portfolios $100, pay for their own prints for their portfolios ($100) they are not housed (rent), the upkeep, beauty products, hair products, manicures, shoes, clothing, etc, and their career is not crafted by the agency. The model crafts it. What the model puts in the model gets. Instead it is a process of building your relationship with the agencies and getting in the door with agencies to work with them often is based on the work you've done ahead of time that proves you are professional, --this proof can be within striving to create great and marketable modeling photos, comp cards, and even gaining your own experience that tells that agency you are a good model to work with. Most print models and shorter models work non-exclusively with more than one agency, and each agency is a piece of their modeling pursuits (also being your own model marketer is becoming more and more the thing, models that are established often can even book their own work with aspiring brands and some magazines, especially with more brands out there and magazines).  Also here is insight on the differences between fashion and print models, which is good to know.

My journey has been unconventional; I gained my first magazine tearsheets on my own actually. I mail photo editors my photos and comp cards; I've reached out to photographers that work with magazines I wanted to be in, I built my network of accessories designers, hair stylists, locations to shoot at, all which I could bring to a shoot or offer for a shoot, and it helped me work with more established photographers. I strived to be more than a model, but someone who was hands-on with showing I care about creating great shots, I could pull some clothing or accessories for a shoot, I had ideas, I had a location we could shoot at. Being a part of it. I’ve strived to improve my photos and focus on my assets. There is a difference between “being discovered” and “discovering yourself.”

Discovering yourself, has been my life.

Let’s talk about magazine work and tearsheets. Magazine work pays $150-250 usually, I might have received a check for $300 but I can’t remember 100%. Magazine work is does for the credibility factor, magazine work looks nice in a portfolio, it can lead to campaign work which pays thousands. I’ve been paid thousands just to wear shoes, for a campaign!

As the shortest working model in NYC having tearsheets, showing I could model well, is what allowed me to work with agencies and later book campaign and catalog and commercial work, --and despite being petite I've used my "parts"-hands, legs, feet, body to work with brands such as Easy Spirit campaign, Marshalls, Victoria's Secret, Macy's and others.

Without the tearsheets it would have been tougher to work with the agencies. I know this because I mailed the agencies before the tearsheets and didn’t hear from them, but once I had some experience, tearsheets, the agencies were more interested in working with me.

When it comes to collecting your work, proof of the job, in regards to the Jezebel article, most models in my world are not charged for the agency buying magazines that they are in, models in my world keep an eye out on when the editorial featuring them in a magazine comes out, we keep checking the news stands when we walk by. When the issue is out we then purchase the magazine ourselves, carry them home, we rip out the tearsheet put it in our portfolio or add it to our next batch of comp cards, which we pay for and print and then distribute to the agencies we work with. I often tell my agencies after I buy  the magazine, scan it, and make it a jpg, "hey here's a tearsheet from ___ magazine."  The agency hasn't typically told me, "Hey, your tearsheet came out this month."

When it comes to collecting your work, you should know before you attend the booking the month the editorial will be coming out, -the agency should tell you, or you should ask, and even on the job I've confirmed with the art director when the image will appear, what issue, what month, and where. A couple times I've heard two different things, so it is best to confirm with your agency and the photographer and art director or editor if you can. Or else you might not get an opportunity to get the tearsheet after all or find your images after the shoot in print. Magazine work pays less than campaign work but to get the campaign work having tearsheets is a good idea.

I've worked as a print model in NYC for many years and for a shorter girl the relationship with the agency is different than fashion, it's come down to being self-made, having a business and marketing mindset, keeping track over the jobs you've done the rate you are receiving, there is more to manage than just eye cream and your pretty face. And understanding at the end of the day there is possibility to get great work, make some great money, work with great agencies (and there ARE good, professional agencies out there), but if you are shorter, and want to model, and are hoping you can survive just on modeling or think your only hat to wear is looking into the camera lens, remember there is more involved and it is not always an easy life.

Aim high and strive,
~Isobella

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