Swansong

As some of you may have noticed, I haven't posted in a while...I know a swansong is meant to come before the death and not after, but I just logged into my twitter and hotmail and had so many lovely messages that I felt that I should really put something on here.

You guys rock. There's a chance that a friend may be taking this over and will be the new Model Bitch, but this is my last post. I wish most of you well - the ones that give a fuck, and want to produce things of beauty (or at least intended ugliness, something that expresses what you are, or what you feel, or something about the human condition). To the rest of you - it's so tempting at this point to make a 'do not recommend' list and leave it at that...I think I can resist that temptation, but you're not really fooling anybody, and models talk. 

I loved writing this blog. I loved modelling and the entire world of it. I loved people reading this and sending me messages - whether they agreed or not. While I thought I might have been jaded or cynical towards the industry when I started, I did want to affect some small change and educate people (entertain them too). I didn't stop writing because I ran out of things to say, but rather because I didn't really want to say them any more - the people that read this blog, that were gracious enough to add it to their facebook, to tweet it and tell other people to read it, you already 'got it', and thank you so much for your support - I'm staggered that it got so much, and that there are still hundreds of people a day visiting Model Bitch. Unfortunately, the people that don't get it are getting more and more prevalent on modeling sites as popular and decent photographers and models either move away from them to other mediums, or just stop altogether. It's sad to see our little communities falling apart, and there isn't a single thing that is contributing to it, and I'm not bitch enough to think I have all the answers. I don't want to write for those people - there's no point. I'd love to change their views, I'd love them to just get the fuck out of an industry/hobby that I adore, but that's not going to happen. I get my inspiration from forums, from newbies asking questions and from general curiosity and, I'll admit, absurdity - there's less and less of this around. I do hope it's just a temporary blip, and something even better will rise out of the ashes in a new form. And I believe it will.


As for other adventures, I'm looking at cameras on eBay as I type this...

The best piece of modeling business advice you'll read here.

Ok, I lied, there are 2 pieces of information. 2 for the price of 1, because I've been slacking.

1) Get a notebook

I don't mean open a new .doc on your laptop, or find the back of a receipt somewhere to take notes - I mean go out and buy a fucking notebook. With pages. Make sure it's portable (i.e. it's not massive or ridiculous) and make sure you like it - it's your new best friend.

You're going to write in everything you earn, and everything you spend modeling. You're going to have your rates in the front of it and your levels. You're not only going to use it to help you figure out profit, help you with your taxes and keep track of your life - it'll help you figure out whether or not your modeling is a reasonable business to take full-time.

Profit:
This one's fairly easy. Just write in what you get paid per job, and what you spend per job (travel, props, accomodation etc.). The amazing thing about modeling is, while you can make a good amount of money, it's also very easy to piss away money without realising it. A lot of models I know are broke, despite working a lot and charging a lot. Also write in 'extravagent' purchases (define that as anything you buy at your day rate or more). Just keep track of your money. You can never have enough, and more often than not you won't have any when you really need it if you don't keep an eye on it.

Taxes:
I would advise keeping this stuff in a spreadsheet, but it's always good to have a back up because computers fuck up. If you have every job and all your expenses in hard format too, it just means that you're not going to be crying and smacking your head against a wall come s-a time.


Life
Modeling can take over your life - I'm sure regular readers will have read enough from ex-models to understand that. If your notebook is filled with ££££ and stuff you need to bring, that isn't necessarily a good thing. Schedule time out, remember to see your family and friends and non-modeling people. Remember to set days aside to have time to yourself, just to do whatever you like doing. Don't let modeling take things from you that you're not willing to give.

Viability
So...you have lots of interest, lots of shoots and you hate your day job. Or you're a student and the idea of working full-time for someone else doesn't appeal. Or you just want to be a model. Well, sit down and work it out.

To earn £20,000pa (pre-tax) you need to be making £384.62 a week. That's in a normal job. Lets assume that we can write off the 2 weeks around Christmas/New Year, because you're not going to be working, so make that £400 (a nice round number). Lets assume you're a fairly experienced and good model, and you're charging £200 full day and about £120 half day, or £35 per hour. That sounds fairly awesome - you only need to either work 2 full days per week, or you need to do 3(ish) half days. But that's every single week - no holidays, no sickness, no 'off' weeks where you can't be bothered to hustle work. Assume you can do 1 studio day per month (reasonably, if you travel), so that's 7 more shoots a month to keep afloat on a fairly average salary. If you already have all of your weekends booked out, or you have regular bookings via sites etc, you could be in business.

But then you want to look at the current spend - what percentage of a job do you spend on travel? How much will you need to travel? How much business do you reasonably have in your area before all the photographers that were interested in shooting you have already shot you? These are issues that you don't need to consider in a 'normal' job, but something you seriously need to think about in modeling. If you're travelling a lot and spending about £50 per shoot on travel, that's 25% of your earnings. How are you going to make that up? That could end up costing you £5,000 per year! It's not sounding quite as easy now... you'll need to work more, but that'll possibly mean more travel, more expenses. Figure out your plan - will you tour regularly? Will you scout awesome locations locally? Can you shoot at home, and is that something photographers will want? Will you change your look regularly to get past photographers interested again? What's your USP and skill-set?

That's really simple shit, but it's something that some models just don't seem to think about when they decide to go full-time. They think shit like 'is my portfolio good enough' or 'have I done enough tfp', which is absolutely irrelevant. You could have the best portfolio in the world, but if you don't handle your money you'll be broke, so you'll need another job, and bye-bye full-time model. This is a way of thinking. It's a way of life.


2) Sort out your money

Yes, its a dollar. Get over it.

Keeping track of it is part of it, and knowing what you need to earn and setting targets for yourself (eg. I'll get 4 more shoots next month, I need to create relationships with 2 new studios this month for more studio days, I need to get in touch with x number of photographers etc etc.) Treat it like a business!

There's also the tedious crap that is taxation, and needing emergency money.

Taxes:
Take 20% of every job. Put it in a savings account. Each and every job you do. Don't just leave it in a jar somewhere - actually open a special account for this and put it there. That way, when tax time comes, you can just pay your taxes and forget about them. No pain, no monthly payments...just done. (Remember though, if you're earning more, you'll need to pay more!)

Emergency money:
You need to get your car MOTed, the pipe's burst and you need to replace a shitload of stuff in your flat, you need to move, you're having a slow month, whatever. Savings are key to a sound mind - it's good to have a buffer before 'fuck I'm homeless'. The bigger, the better. Put 10% of each job into a savings account that you just use 'for a rainy day'. Or even for something special. It's you're money - it's just good to have some set aside.

After you're sorted taxes and put away some money for emergencies, you're actually living off £14,000 a year, or £270 a week. Is that enough?

Disney Make Up

Just saw this today - ok, the photos just aren't good, but what a cool idea!

Focus on model: Moness

Beautiful face, beautiful body, great tattoos...what's not to love?

Things that you should really leave out of your portfolio

There are certain poses and angles that just look good, and certain shots that everyone should have in their portfolio. Such as a clean, natural model headshot - you need to show what your face looks like, it should have fairly basic (but still good) lighting. You should have a fairly neutral expression. Whenever I'm looking to commission an MUA, I also look for a similar shot - a flawless natural look is a lot harder to achieve than people realise, and I generally use it as a marker to find an MUA that knows their shit.

There are, however, a lot of travesties found on portfolios across the web. What's more, people actually see these and decide to copy the idea - now, I don't know whether it's irony and just an 'in' joke that I'm not in on, or maybe they see a shitty shot and think 'I can do that sooo much better' and then fail, I don't know. Either way, there are a lot of terrible and cliched ideas doing rounds that you will do well to avoid if you want a portfolio that looks even remotely professional. To help you out, here's a little list:

The feather lashes
Admit it, you've thought about it. I'll openly admit that I've done it (many many many years ago). It did not look good. It cannot look good. I know it looks fancy, and it looks like a quick way to get a beauty image, but there's a very good reason why we have eyelashes and not feathers.

The belt bra
Beloved by GWCs and wannabe glamour models everywhere - why wear a bra when you can use a belt? That way, you can squish your boobs in and get lots of cleavage...and look like your mummy never finished teaching you how to dress yourself. Jodie Marsh did it - surely that's reason enough to avoid it forever?

Oops - how did that get stuck there?
You knew it was coming; the heel in thong. I want to know who the first person to do this was, and how on earth it 'happened'. I want to know why they didn't look at it and think 'that looks utterly shit, delete', and instead decided to proudly display it on their portfolio. I want to know why hundreds upon hundreds of others then decided to copy it. I want to know why models don't just say no. Ok, modeling is selling the ridiculous and contrived but come on!

Choo choo!
Didn't your parents ever tell you not to play on the train tracks? It wasn't because they feared for your safety - it was because they know that only about 0.1% of photographers can get anything approaching a decent photograph on them, and they wanted to save you the trouble.

Did someone die? 
Yes. I die a little bit inside whenever I see a 'goth' shoot - ie. a porky 'alt' model, with badly-applied make up standing on the resting place of the not-so-recently deceased. It's disrespectful, it's tacky and it looks shit.

Peek-a-boo
You know the pose - the one where the model lies on her back and spreads 'em, and the photographer shoots from below and the model looks into the shot through the little triangle made by her legs, and the photographer promises that no, you can't see your foo-foo. Scout's honour.

It's getting a little chilly - I'll just hold onto my tits
Handbras are almost as dumb as getting your shoe caught in your thong. Almost. If you want to do an implied topless shot then Think. It. Through. Don't just hold onto your tits. It looks ridiculous.

American Beauty
Ok, if you want to do this, please buy more than 2 roses. If you want to create a lush, rich image (even if it is horribly, horribly cliched) you will need hundreds of the bloody things. Otherwise, you've just sprinkled some petals on a vagina.

Avatar
If you don't have the budget that they had, you're not going to produce the results, Don't bother,

Lara Croft
If you don't have Angelina Jolie, you're not going to produce the results. Don't bother.

Lady Gaga
Just...why?

Angel wings
Ok, Victoria's Secret use them. You know what? If your models (or you) look like Victoria's Secret models, nobody will give a shit what you do - everyone will praise you and hope to god you sleep with them, or notice them, or slap them, or something. If you're not a Victoria's Secret model, or shooting one, people will notice the wings and wonder wtf. Especially if they're the cheap shitty ones from the local dress up shop.

Sitting on the toilet
Unless you're shooting for a scat website, this is not sexy. It is not interesting or alluring, and there is a single, notable exception to this rule. Otherwise, no. No no no no no.


Got any more?

People on modelling forums are stupid - stop asking them for advice

So you can't decide which photograph to choose from a set, or you think that there's something missing from your portfolio. Maybe an agency has some odd terms and conditions, or you want to know how a photographer achieved a particular technique - modeling forums are filled with photographers and models who can probably chip in some helpful advice.

But then there are the people who are about to be evicted from their house, or are considering getting a gastric band, or have a child that's joined the occult and sleeps upside down in the tree in the back garden - these are not things that you go to a modelling forum for. You will not get sound, helpful and knowledgeable advice on 90% of subjects - 1) because it's the internet and  2) because you're asking the wrong people.

Don't believe me? Here are some recent examples:

I haven't received my photos from a TF arrangement - what do I do? Send them an invoice for your time and take them to court! Drink their blooood! Ok, this will never ever work, and has never ever worked. This is something that asshats make up to say something that sounds important and dramatic. Nobody has ever done this, and the photos probably weren't worth the hassle. Just move on.

A model no-showed - what do I do? Send her an invoice - that'll show the heartless harlot bitch. And leave her a bad reference and a lit bag of poop on her doorstep. The bad reference is really the only reasonable piece of information here - the invoice and court shit is fantasy, again. Move on, and book better models.

I want to lose weight - how do I do it? Exercise is a myth, it won't help you lose weight, and it doesn't matter what you eat...just eat less. Utter. Shit. Clearly from someone fat. Usually accompanied by 'you don't need to lose weight' and 'you have great tits'.

Self defense tips (which weren't actually asked for): Scratch them, run away, scream! Or if that fails, hit them with your handbag and tell your mummy! It's actually pretty insulting to, oh, all women. You're weak and pathetic - all you can do is scream. 

Where do I get a portfolio? Try W H Smiths. Really? Have you ever seen a modelling portfolio section in there? You'd think that this question would be answered reasonably, since it is actually related to modelling - apparently not.

I need some relationship advice - any advice: Dump them and do nudes. And you wonder why so many people on these sites are single...


I'm sure you get the idea. If you have a medical issue, go to a doctor. If you think you have a legal issue, go to your solicitor. If you have an issue with your other half, speak to them...or your friends...or your mum...not a load of strangers online. If you want to lose weight, get a personal trainer. If you want to know basic questions about the modeling industry, search this blog. Seriously - a lot of people (less on MM but many on the other sites) don't know their ass from their elbow when it comes to agencies, portfolios or the actual modeling industry. Have fun on the forums, take advantage of the critiques because there are actually a few people who know their shit (usually the ones you think are being nasty), but don't run to the forums like they're your new mummy.

'Agency Standard': Odds are, if you're not signed to an agency, you're not agency standard...

Before the lovers' tiff broke out, this thread had a reasonable point, or at least the beginnings of it.

Every other modeling profile seems to say 'agency represented' or 'agency standard' - we're drowning in bullshit, which means that these terms mean less and less. Unfortunately, a lot of girls online aren't so hot on the objectivity (or eyesight) front, and can't reasonable assess whether they are or aren't agency standard. So here it is.


Agency standard: of a standard that will/is/would be signed by a major and legitimate agency.

But, as always, there are issues with this. I'm going to try to help to clarify some of them.

How can I tell if I'm agency standard?
Go to an agency website (check out my list if you don't know where to start) - are you the same build as the girls there? Do you have the same look? Do you have good skin and hair? Can you actually model? If you look like an agency model, then you're agency standard. If you're orange and 5'2'', you're not - even if Dodgy-Rodger's Agency signed you two years ago and took some pictures of you in your underwear for £280. If you are agency standard, it's probably worth looking into getting signed if you're not already. Basically, I don't think you should use this term if you're not signed. If you're agency standard, you're agency signed - it's pretty much that simple.

What agencies count?
There are some agencies that will fleece you and 'sign' literally anybody.  Basically, if your agency has never sent you on a casting or tossed you a scrap of work, they probably don't count.


What are agency standard and agency signed models doing online then?
Quite a few things actually:

Different genres
A model may be with a commercial or fashion agency, and want to work in genres that aren't catered for by agencies. I know models that just book, say, art work online and all other work via their agencies.

Extra work
Online may not have the same rates, but you can book consistent work or supplement when it's slow at the agency. I know a few models who got jittery at the beginning of the downturn and made online profiles because agency work was slowing down - a model from Elite worked the odd tutorial studio day (seriously...I've seen the photos), another model from Boss found out she was pretty good at the erotica stuff. Work is work at the end of the day - not many self-employed professionals are going to turn their nose at it when they're scratching for jobs.

Networking
There are some models and photographers on sites like MM (mainly MM actually...) who have never, and will never book a paid shoot online. They're just around for networking and shit and giggles, maybe with a bit of testing thrown in.