Monday, September 1, 2008
The Real Next Top Model
Finding the next supermodel is the result of diligent work and plenty of model tests. It’s about much more than just a TV show.
Make Sure It’s Your Gut That’s Speaking To You
Having a nose for potential modeling talent is one thing; having a crush on a beautiful person and disguising it as talent scouting is something else. You’ll be shocked by this, but there are a lot of people out there who use the “you could be a model” carrot to get dates. If you want a career as a fashion photographer, don’t use your profession as a tool to hit on people. Bad reputations travel at light speed through this industry.
If you want to take someone on a date, ask them; then shoot pictures of them for free after your first kiss. Don’t hide behind some grand promise of a modeling career to get to know a person romantically, because if that person goes on to a huge career as a model, I promise you that she’ll tell the funny story about “the photographer who started my career by trying to get in my pants” at every opportunity.
What Do You Do When You Think You’re Right?
So you’ve been shooting for a few years and you feel your instinct for discovering a new model is pretty viable. What do you do when you come across the perfect girl?
Miss Turlington told me about her experience: “I was taking a lesson with my horse trainer after school one day, and a photographer named Denny Cody was taking stock photos at the stable in southern Florida, where my family lived for a few years. He watched my sister and I for a while and then asked our mother for permission to take our photos at a later date. My older sister was excited, but I had yet to read a fashion magazine and was therefore both less interested and more uncomfortable posing in front of a camera. I was 14, with braces, but was tall for my age—five feet, eight—and still growing. I still can’t imagine that Denny could have known what I would become, where my career would take me. I’m so overly made up and awkward in those first photos that I can barely see myself in them now.”
Many of the best models begin work when they’re young, often in their teens. At these ages, the parents should be making the decisions for their child, so it’s the parents you need to address. If you think you’ve found a girl with real potential, follow these protocols so you’ll be thought of as a decent human being and not a creepy, lurking stalker with a camera.
• Don’t approach the girl; approach the parents of the girl. Offer your photography business card and explain why you’ve been leering at their child for the last 10 minutes. Having a camera around your neck is helpful. But it’s not wise to take a picture of a young girl until you get permission. No matter how innocent your intentions, pointing a lens at an ingénue from a distance makes you look like a stalker.
• Don’t expect to shoot pictures that day. Give the parents a few days to check out you and your work. Wait for them to call you, and then arrange a model test for a future date.
• Suggest an agency for them to go to. If it’s an agency that you work with regularly, that’s all the better.
Adds Miss Turlington, “I’d recommend first that the photographer ask to speak to the parent of a young model and be prepared to offer a business card with a website so that the model and her parents can see that you’re both legitimate and professional. Generally speaking, I think that attractive people are used to being approached and may not be as apprehensive of such attention, but those with more unusual looks may be understandably wary.”
Lastly, keep in mind that this business isn’t for everyone. No matter how perfect you a think a girl is, if she and her parents decide the fashion industry isn’t right for them, leave it alone.