The Runway Diva Says. . . Is an online advice column for aspiring models. As a 20 year veteran of the fashion industry as a plus sized model, I have found in my travels that most aspiring models, no matter their size, don't have a clue of the tools needed to become a successful model. Hopefully, I can help make their journey a little easier. Please Email me your questions to ORIGRUNWAYDIVA@aol.com

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Model Behavior - How to Submit Your Photos Online or Via Mail

A good part of my day consists of going through mail and online submissions from aspiring models. Aside from the basic information (Name, Address, Contact Information), there are very specific questions that are asked on an Online or Mail in Submission form. This information is as crucial to our decision to go forward in the meeting process as a photo is, yet it is the number one thing that aspiring models tend to OMIT from the forms when they submit.



There is usually a page on the site that tells you the TYPE of photos that you should submit as well. I simply don’t understand why models are so lax about the online submission form because there is no expiration date on it nor is there a specific time period in which you need to have it completed – you can submit online 24/7. So you have the time you need to get it right. Below is a list of common mistakes that most aspiring models make when submitting photographs online as well as tips to help you avoid the pitfalls of the submission process.

Your “Stats”

The information that is omitted most often is your statistics, more commonly known as your “stats”. On the submission form your Stats are typically your height, weight, bust, waist and hip measurements. I have covered the basics on getting started MANY times in this column, so I will assume that you already KNOW there’s a basic height requirement necessary to even get you through the doors of a modeling agency. Omitting the fact that you are only 5’2” on the submission form won’t help you slip through the cracks, it will only annoy us when you walk through the doors and we see INSTANTLY that you are not tall enough (even with your heels ON).

INSIDER TIP #1 – Your bust measurement is NOT the same thing as your bra size. Go get properly fitted for a bra, then write the bust measurement down and keep It somewhere in your files. You will be asked this information whenever you go on a casting. It’s important to know your measurements – ALL of them.

I must ask you aspiring models an important question now:

How lazy are you if you don’t take the time to fill out this form properly?

There is no reason to rush this process. Not knowing the information is absolutely, positively NO EXCUSE, because your measurements are with you EVERY DAY for the taking. Take the time to buy a measuring tape ($3-4 dollars at most), if you don’t already have one, call a friend (if you happen to be alone) and have them come over and help you take some proper measurements for yourself. Even if the measurements are “off a little” it will put us in the ball park in figuring out what your body really looks like. I recently received an online submission from a chick who must have thought she was being er…clever… by putting her height (6’0”) on the form and nothing else. You know that form got automatically deleted right? Oh yeah, and don’t bother fudging your measurements because they are not to your liking at the moment. If you stretch the truth about your measurements and we call you in for an interview and you don’t look anywhere CLOSE to what you put on your form…well let’s just say, you have already started off on the wrong foot by not being honest. Not good for building a business relationship.

INSIDER TIP #2 – Take the time to fill in the information on the submission form both accurately and completely. We are not going to call you back and ask you for the missing information. Where does an incomplete form go? In the “YOU ARE NOT SERIOUS” file and that goes right in the trash.

Your Photographs

Let’s say you’ve taken the above steps and gotten all the information needed to complete the form. All that’s left to do is to attach a couple of photographs right? Wrong…I would say that this would be the perfect time for you to read the form again and understand what type of photos the agent or producer is asking for before you go ahead an upload your photos. Most agencies don’t expect you to submit “professional” photographs. It’s nice if you have them (good ones of course) but if you don’t you can have a friend take some shots of you with a digital or disposable camera. Polaroid’s are fine here too. Most agencies will ask for TWO CURRENT photos, one a headshot and the other a full body shot.

A lot of agencies will ask for photos of a specific size as well. Both pictures should be clear enough that we can get a good idea of what you look like. Keep the clothing simple as well, a nice crisp shirt/blouse and a pair of jeans that fit you well is a good start. If you are sending photos in the mail, ALL of the enclosed photographs should have your name and contact information on the back of the photos.

Your headshots should be clear enough that we can see what your features look like with out having to guess and your body shots should not be so far away that we can’t make out anything (yes, people do submit photos like this – from like 50 feet away – go figure). You don’t have to spend extra money getting them retouched but if you know you were having serious issues with your skin or you had a huge, angry pimple in the center of your forehead when you took the picture – stop playing and take another when your skin has cleared up.

INSIDER TIP #3 – When choosing clothing to wear in your photographs, remember to be mindful of fabrics that are not forgiving to a few excess pounds. It would be a good idea to avoid choosing fabrics like Lycra and/or spandex, (particularly in shirts and tops) which have a tendency to cling exactly where we DON’T want it to. The same thing applies to wearing T-Shirts and/or other clothing with profanity laced slogans.

Poses - This is where things become hysterically funny to me. I think that some of you all have really been overdosing on “Top Model” because some of the crazy things you do in your photos simply astound me. If I get another picture of a chick that looks like she’s “smelling her armpits” or “sitting in a chair looking like she’s on the toilet” (ala the old Candies’ ads) in her photos…I swear I’m gonna scream!! The same thing applies to these new poses where models have their hands on their waists, shoulders and chest pushed forward but both their feet are pointed inwardly (think: extreme pigeon toes). Now I know that often times this can be a very high fashion look for some but unfortunately not everyone can pull this particular pose off and if not done correctly, you can come off looking quite crazy.

INSIDER TIP #4 – K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) rules definitely apply here (and NO, I am not calling anyone stupid). Don’t over think your photos. The pictures that you submit should not be too “posed” (ala “Mannequin modeling”) but you DO want to do things that look natural but still manage to convey life and energy in your photos.

Group Photos – Now I would think that common sense would kick in at the moment you pull out that picture of you (that YOU look really good in) & your friends at the bar on Pride Weekend, holding beers and playing pool and say to you “Don’t even THINK of sending this picture to an agency as a submission photo”. But I guarantee you it happens ALL the time. First of all, I am NOT going to take the time to figure out which of the women in the photograph is YOU. Secondly, we KNOW immediately that you are not serious about a career as a plus sized model if you submit a photo like this for consideration.

Too Dark/Too Light/Blurred Photos – I received an online submission recently from a chick whose skin tone was the color of dark chocolate, she had on a burgundy colored velvet dress AND she was positioned against a navy blue colored velvet fabric. She may have been quite beautiful but I couldn’t see a thing in that photo, the whole thing just looked really dark to me. And then there are photos that are overexposed or so overly lit that all of your features get washed out. Submitting a photograph that is blurred or out of focus is just plain lazy. And what does that say to us class? YOU ARE NOT SERIOUS!

Photos taken with your camera phone – This appears to be another new trend with younger aspiring plus models. I receive a lot of photos from young girls & women who think it’s cute to send me a photo that they took of themselves, in the mirror with their camera phone. Most pictures taken from a camera phone are low quality photos, usually slightly out of focus and they don’t get better if you enlarge them. This type of picture would probably look great on your MySpace page but it is NOT suitable for an online or mail in submission form. Don’t do it.

Too Much or Not Enough Makeup – Most of the submissions that we receive don’t make the cut because the aspiring models either have a TON of make up on, obscuring their true features or they flip the script completely and decide to wear no makeup at all, usually scaring the hell out of us.

INSIDER TIP #5 – Shoot for the “middle of the road” when it comes to makeup, use a light hand and apply a little foundation or powder to even out your skin tone, along with a little mascara and a neutral lipstick/gloss….that’s all you really need…then get in front of the camera and “WORK IT!”

Excessive Facial Hair – You would THINK that most aspiring models would already know that you should remove excessive hair BEFORE you take the photo…But I am adding this to this list of “no-no’s” because I SEE IT ALL THE TIME!!!! This includes (but is not limited to) Groucho Marx Eyebrows, Yosemite Sam Moustaches, Goatees, Beards & Mutton Chop Sideburns. Let’s be serious here, you already KNOW that a major agency is not going to look at you if you walk into their offices with all that hair – the same thing applies to the on-line submission. Go shave, pluck, wax your brows, see a professional, if necessary and get that taken care of BEFORE you take your photos.

Colored Contact Lenses & Sunglasses – Personally, I LOVE colored contacts…I actually have worn them quite a bit throughout my career. But usually when I am working, I wear clear lenses. Some of the new lenses can look quite natural but most are obviously artificial. My suggestion here is to submit photographs WITHOUT the contacts because we want to see what you REALLY look like. Does it make sense to WRITE your eye color as “brown” on the submission form and then SUBMIT photographs of you with ‘violet” colored lenses on? One more thing…don’t even THINK of wearing those “Cat Eyes” contacts in your photos. Sunglasses? I don’t care if they ARE Moschino or D&G, we can’t see your eyes – and that’s not a good thing. Don’t do it to yourself.

Rotating Your Pictures – Oooh…THIS is a serious “pet peeve” of mine! I gotta pose the question again people: HOW LAZY ARE YOU IF YOU DON’T BOTHER TO TAKE THE 1-2 MINUTES IT TAKES TO ROTATE A PICTURE???? It only takes a second to “right-click” on a photo to rotate it so that it appears upright, yet I get submissions every day from women who don’t bother to do this and I will be honest, I am NOT going to wear my neck out, leaning to the left or right, trying to look at a picture that hasn’t been rotated. It just tells me: YOU ARE NOT SERIOUS. Your submission is going right in the trash. Next!

INSIDER TIP #6 – If you find that (for whatever reason) you are unable to rotate your photo – find another photo to send.

Sexually Provocative or Explicit Photos/Videos– Lately I have been getting a lot of questions from models who aspire to be “Pin Up Models”, now I am not sure of WHO started this trend but I DO know that it’s not the type of model that we handle. I know absolutely NOTHING about this aspect of the business therefore I am not interested in seeing photos of you in your thong, you in your bra and/or panties or you spread eagle on your couch/bed/kitchen table with your breasts out. If you are submitting to us, it means you have already checked our site and you understand the type of business we handle. Don’t send in these types of photographs, it’s not a good look.

INSIDER TIP #7 - The same rules applies for email address that are sexually explicit or have sexual connotations to them it’s just not a good look and some folks will call your character in to question for using one (seriously). Get a professional email address, it let’s potential clients know that you are serious about what you are doing. Use your “play” email addresses for play – NOT business.

Deer in the Headlights Syndrome – It is important to convey some sort of emotion in ANY photo that you submit. Unfortunately, for some of us it’s one of the hardest things to master as a model. Most aspiring models confuse a “doe-eyed” soft, pretty look with a “Deer in the Headlights” (a wide eyed blank expression) look, where you look like a deer in the path of an oncoming truck, frozen where it stands. I find that this look comes across most when aspiring new models take pictures of themselves with their camera phones. The only thing that will help you over come this is to get in front of that mirror and camera and practice, practice, practice!

Multiple Submissions – If you have submitted your photos and didn’t get a response (see below) please DON’T hit me up on MySpace with a 2-page letter and those same photographs. Don’t mail me a letter along with your composite card that has THE SAME PHOTOS you submitted and then sent to me on MySpace. DON’T hit me up from my website and then send me THE SAME PHOTOS WITH THE SAME LETTER that you submitted online, sent to me on MySpace and then sent via the mail!!!! It’s only going to annoy me and you will only get the same response with the same pictures.

INSIDER TIP #8 – If you’re going to continue to try submitting photos, a smart, focused and driven model will, if she’s serious about her business, wait a few months before submitting again, meanwhile continuing to test to get better photos for the next time. The more you test, the more comfortable you become in front of a camera and the better your pictures will be. However, if you have submitted to the same 5 agencies 30 times already, honey give it a rest…they are simply not interested in you – Move on.

What It Means When You Get No Response To Your Submission(s) – Simply put, if you don’t get a response to your submission, it means that the agent and/or producer was not interested in what you submitted period. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t good enough; it doesn’t mean that you are unattractive; it doesn’t mean that you don’t have what it takes. It just means that, THAT particular agent is not interested in what you offered.

The tips and suggestions I have offered here are in no way a guarantee that you will get a response from every agency you submit to. However, it will greatly increase your chances of getting noticed if you get it right the first time out. These rules can also be applied to contests, competitions or any other project that you are thinking of submitting yourself for. The best advice I can give to any aspiring model is to learn your business and learn it well. Agents like to be inspired as well and they salivate over a model who is knows what she’s doing and is and stays on top of her business. The online submission form is one of the first steps in your budding career. I have given you all of the tools you need to get it right, don’t stumble here.

Good luck!



Reprinted with an addendum from the July 08 issue of Plus Model Magazine

3 Comments:

At 11:25 PM, Blogger Adamgv said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12:28 AM, Blogger Morissa said...

this was very informative and funny! :)

 
At 11:14 AM, Blogger Leah said...

Great tips to aspiring models. This was clearly thought out and meant to help young men and women. I appreciate the time that went in to this.

Leah Waddill

 

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