I wanted to share with you some of the highs and lows of striving as a shorter model and how some old school modeling marketing methods still work, even in this Internet age. I've been there and made those mistakes of thinking the Internet is the best place to start marketing yourself as a model, and I wrote about in raw detail in my modeling memoir Almost 5'4", and the crap I went through, wasted time, and overcoming those moments of doubt, thankfully before it got really terrible I learned from my mistakes and headed in a brighter direction but still....I really do hope you do not ever get scammed or find yourself in a sketchy situation. I wrote about my early pursuits honestly because I want you to skip the bullshit that can easily find you when you are young and trying to figure out how you fit in this modeling world. Striving as a model doesn't mean you have to associated with assholes and jerks, yes you will meet some, but you can rise above it during your own modeling journey.
I started pursuing modeling and become curious just as the Internet Age, emails, websites, social sites (mainly AOL) were getting to be an everyday social activity in our lives, which makes it sound like it would be easier, and the best way to market yourself, but I found the opposite. The Internet and these social media model sites seemed like the perfect place to show off myself and photos and introduce myself as a model but if I could go back in time and change things, I would have skipped that period all together. I sure learned what an asshole amateur photographer was and the mistakes of shooting with the wrong people. I had the wrong photos, totally unmarketable. The wrong mindset and didn't know where the door for me to enter was to work with modeling agencies and work with professionals. Tears and frustration later, after researching more, thinking to myself "there's got to be another way" and striving higher and aiming higher, wanting more, looking for it--- a photographer I had reached out to who had worked within the advertising world shared with me that models are all sizes and that high fashion wasn't everything, a light blub went on, and I started to think more seriously about what it was I had, and how I could turn it into something that could be used in ads and editorials in magazines. I had to stretch my mind, and be perceptive about how if I wasn't tall that didn't mean I was limited. I started to see that I could be more. And that there was more out there for me, if I wanted it.
Some people say you have to experience a scam to know a scam...and maybe that's true, but you can skip the scam all together by having the right mindset.
It took a re-do of my photos, it took a massive amount of research of the word print modeling. It took trial and error. About a thousand stamps and envelopes and comp cards made and then re-made over again, to finally see that although I was pint-size, I had something’s that could be marketable. I could see why a brand would want to hire me: my spunk, my smile, my personality, my great skin, my ambiguous look that could portray more than one ethnic background. I started to bring out the best of me in my photos and focus on what I did have and said FUCK YOU to the assholes who didn't see this in me or didn't know what I now knew. Modeling was about modeling products, it was about the marketing and advertising worlds, it was about selling an image or editorial story, appealing to a readership, appealing to a consumer, and being what they are looking for, for their ad campaign, editorial, product ad or project.
I started to be a marketer. Creating a better comp card. Working hard to create better and more marketable print modeling friendly photos, that had purpose. And accepting what I was and finding ways to use it to gain opportunities within print modeling by just being myself.
Being perceptive is so important. If you can accept what you aren't, and embrace what you are, you will be more likely to strive as a model, even if you are short.
It is so easy to get screwed and make mistakes, easier now than ever, and I encourage you to slow down and notice that some of the old school model marketing methods are the best ways to skip scams and prepare for your success.
1. So how does that agency find it's models?
In print modeling there are typically no open calls. Sometimes the website of the agency will say how to submit photos, usually they ask for a comp card or headshot. So I stress to you to have these things. A prepared model is less likely to get scammed. A so-called agency will encourage you to pay crazy amounts of money for a photo package, pay to be on their website, etc. And these are things to run away from. You can find better professional agencies out there, so focus on finding them. Print modeling agencies work with hundreds of models, they do not have time to scout talent and they are too busy for that, so you typically will need to be aggressive with postal mailing your photos to the agency, yes like Old School ways, with a stamp. Don't think your submission to that agency by email is the best thing, they get a million submissions...be more than just another chick sending her photos in, be prepared in a professional way, already skip the "pick me, pick me" and give them a reason to want to work with you already by being prepared with your model marketing tools.
2. I thought I could be a dumb model, what happened?
As a shorter girl striving to work as a model, you need to be smart and perceptive about the photos you need, the photographer you work with and a lot of times you are like your own manager, the engine behind your goals. So be prepared for massive amounts of research and do not rush into just shooting to shoot, only work with a photographer who knows with print modeling is, and always ask questions about photo rights and usage, cost, and all the details of the shoot ahead of time. Have a plan of the photos you want to get, rip out tearsheets and samples of the goal you have in mind for the shots. LEAD your goals, know what you need and even if it takes longer it is better to focus on getting the best marketable photos you need than wasting time winging it. Your face won't change that much in a few months or a year/s so don't rush into your model photo plans until you know the photos you need and you are working with a photographer who is on the same level. An aspiring model has to be a go-getter, a marketer, leading...to gain.
3. I have the photos and comp card (and an agency) but why isn't this working?
Maybe you've mailed your photos out to agencies, maybe you've met a couple, maybe you're working with a few non-exclusively, but that doesn't mean the phone will ring all day. I think the real way for a shorter girl to get ahead and get the work she wants to get is to think of her modeling pursuits as a small business, she is the business, and if you aren't willing to strive beyond waiting for the phone to ring, then you might be waiting a long time for opportunities. An aspiring model should be collecting and creating her own list of contacts, aspiring brands, editors, marketing professionals, those who hire models. Because while working non-exclusive with agencies, even if the phone isn't ringing, it doesn't mean you are waiting, you could be working. Networking is so important as an aspiring model, because having some experience can lead you to more work, being able to show your agencies "Hey, look, I've done this online catalog for this aspiring jewelry company," shows you are serious about your pursuits, already in motion, a model they should be marketing, and the work you've done can bring in more work. And inspire the agency to also market you more. Always be updating photos, agencies like that. And while you at it's a good idea to strive to get some of your own tearsheets that represent your goals as a model and show you are gliding towards your success.
Being self-made tough, it's a huge hustle, there are days you cry, bitch, wonder if this is worth it, look at your bank account and sigh with depression, and it is not an easy journey. But staying in game is so important, keeping your will to try, focusing on the future and learning from the past. Being prepared for your success really is about not waiting. There are scams on every corner, just waiting, there are some not so nice people in this industry, there is a lot to invest and the rewards can take time to gain, but they can be gained...you can find your opportunities by giving yourself a chance and striving to bring out the best of you. Aim to prove that your height isn't what is holding you back. It's not your age, it's not your measurements either. The only thing holding you back is you...now go get your ass moving in the direction you want to go, you can overcome the odds, put aside the rejection, and put on your take no shit hat and get anxious and excited for the research and prep work that is involved with crafting your own career.
Aim high and strive!