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The world of modeling appears to own incredible glamor. Every day, you imagine, you'll be plucked, tweezed and cleansed to perfection. Then your makeup artist will fuss over you for an hour while the stylist goes to work curling, teasing and fluffing. The fabulous couture ensemble goes on just before you strut onto the runway or step before a still camera. In truth, to become a model and have a lasting career means hard work, persistence, professionalism and for teens, perhaps a dose of patience. It also means keeping a level head and accepting that modeling is indeed a business.
Find a few clear, current photos of yourself. By no means should you go out and shoot with an expensive photographer. Agencies in Houston, according to Colette Cole of First Models and Talent Agency of the Woodlands, only want to know what you look like in a photograph. If the agency accepts you, it may instruct you on what kinds of photos to get for your portfolio. But when you are submitting photos to an agency to seek representation, no special lighting, clothing or makeup is required.
Get your photos to a Houston agency. Agency representation is important. Says Cole, "I wouldn't recommend trying to get into [modeling] on your own." In Houston, most agencies will let you send in photos via their websites or via email. In addition, agencies such as First Models routinely hold model search events to scout prospective new teen (as well as child and adult) models. If you are able to make it to such an event, you will at least be rewarded with immediate feedback. If you send your photos by mail or email, you may not get any word in response for some time, possibly weeks or months.
Sign an agency contract. If the Houston agency is impressed with you and your photos -- that is, if it feels it can make money from your image -- it will offer you a contract. An exclusive contract means you cannot find work as a model through any other agency. It also means if your agency does not get you many bookings, you will be stuck in neutral until the term of your contract runs out. Consequently, it is best not to sign a contract for a period of more than a year until you are sure the agency is able and willing to find you modeling assignments. That said, Erik Bechtol, Agency Manager of Page 713 in Houston, says teen fashion models may find themselves in a "hurry-up-and-wait" stage. While their bodies may suit the height requirements (at least 5-feet-7-inches for print and 5-feet-9-inches for runway work), their faces may still be quite childish. Generally speaking, Bechtol says, though some models can work in fashion from the age of 12 or 13, many do not start getting professional bookings until 14 or 15.
Go to go-sees. Just as actors have to audition to find jobs, models go on go-sees. Often, this means going to see a prospective client with your book in hand. A runway client may ask to see you walk -- not down a runway -- but merely from one corner of the room to the next. A commercial client may ask you to say hello to a video camera and then show off your profile. A catalog house might ask you to try on a few garments to see how your body type fits their pieces. A photographer might take a few digital images.
Get your first booking. You got a call from your agency and have been selected for a paid job. Your agency will tell you the who, what, when and where of the job. She will also let you know how long the job is expected to take and how much you will be paid. Some clients will ask that you arrive makeup-free. Bring your own makeup kit, pantyhose, and one or two pairs of shoes, at least. Be punctual, if not early, and make every effort to be charming and upbeat to everyone on the set.
Beware of agencies that insist you enroll in certain classes or workshops before they will represent you. A legit modeling agency makes money by taking commissions from the earnings of the models on their roster.
- Colette Cole; First Models and Talent Agency of the Woodlands; The Woodlands, Texas
- Erik Bechtol, Agency Manager; Page 713; Houston, Texas
D. Laverne O'Neal, an Ivy League graduate, published her first article in 1997. A former theater, dance and music critic for such publications as the "Oakland Tribune" and Gannett Newspapers, she started her Web-writing career during the dot-com heyday. O'Neal also translates and edits French and Spanish. Her strongest interests are the performing arts, design, food, health, personal finance and personal growth.