This page is dedicated to models of all experience levels. Most experienced models learn the following information sooner or later but it is here now so please take advantage of it. This information is important. We will be adding information and answering questions on this page so please check back often.






Of the millions of young, bright, attractive people who want to get into modeling, only a small percentage find any success at it. Why is that? Simply because they don't possess all of the following key elements of a successful model.
  1. Determination. Many young models fail to reach their potential simply because they don't have enough drive and desire to overcome the inevitable slumps and setbacks they encounter. They simply quit.

  2. Professional Attitude. Modeling is a business, pure and simple. It can be great fun, but professional photographers, art directors, casting directors, and videographers are in the business of creating images for a profit. Their time is money, and so is yours. Treat these professionals as you would expect to be treated when it comes to time. Don't waste their time by not being punctual or ready to work at the scheduled start time. The most beautiful model in the world will run out of work if she constantly wastes people's time by being late, (or not showing at all), or by not being prepared to work.

  3. Good Work Ethic. Experienced models know that there is not a steady stream of work at all times. By being aggressive with your self promotion and focusing on continually marketing your skills, you can create more work opportunities. When work opportunities arise, be prepared to do your best.

  4. Imagination. Use your unique look and thoughts to create something that makes you special. There are a million pretty faces out there, but if you offer a unique look or attitude, you can create a demand for your services. Be creative when you put your portfolio together and use your best shots for your promotional materials. Collaborate with your photographers to come up with something really special that just screams who you are.

  5. Networking Skills. All good business people create networks of clients that are constantly growing. Models are no different. You need to find ways to reach potential clients and generate more work and more clients from referrals and other network techniques. Of the clients you work with, ask them for referrals to other opportunities for you. And if a client was referred to you, always let them know who referred them. The common networking rule of thumb is that for every satisfied client you have they, in turn, will tell 2-5 others about you, but for every dissatisfied client, 10 potential new clients will hear the bad news. Never burn your bridges with clients. You may not want to work with them any more, and that is fine, but never, never be rude or unprofessional. It only harms yourself. Always make it a goal to either work a number of times with a client or get referrals to others from them. Work makes work in this business.

  6. Discipline. Be prepared for work. Develop the discipline to keep your valuable assets, (smile, face, figure, or what ever else you model), in good shape. Have your portfolio ready when you get a go-see, (interview or test shoot), and have your promotional materials, (headshots, zed cards, and resumes), ready for any potential interview or marketing opportunity. This chance may not come around again. Have the discipline to be a go-getter, not a wanabe.

  7. Persistence. Successful models are made, not born. They work at all aspects of what they do and they do not stop because of a few setbacks. They are determined to accomplish a goal and they are not easily stopped by petty excuses or fears of the unknown.

  8. A Plan of Action. Successful models have a direction, a plan of action. They set goals for their portfolio, their resume, their network of potential clients and the part of the market they want to work in, and they plan a way to achieve those goals.

  9. Looks. I put this category last because it is usually not the reason most potential models fail. A successful model does have good looks but more importantly, they use those looks to differentiate themselves from all the other models out there. They create a look all their own and that's what makes them valuable and marketable.



Before you go looking for a photographer, figure out what you want from them. Are you looking to add some shots to your portfolio, or are you looking to get some experience in front of the camera, or are you looking for a high paying assignment? What you want from a photographer determines who you approach and how.

  1. Photo Clubs. Area photographer's clubs are a great way to get experience in front of a camera. Most of the clubs I am aware of have a member or committee in charge of finding models. These clubs normally pay a small fee (and sometimes prints from the participating photographers) to the models that they hire for their club or organized group shoots. The clubs I am aware of vary in what types of subject matter they shoot ranging from simple portraits to glamour to artistic nudes. They are a great way to get the experience necessary to overcome being camera shy. Many of these clubs are willing to refer dependable models to their membership for individual shoots as well as the group shoots.

  2. Photography Classes at Local Colleges and Universities. Schools are a great source of young unpolished photographic talent. Many schools hire models for their photography classes and even if they don't, you can advertise yourself as a model to the class professor and ask if any students would be interested in trading your modeling time for prints for your portfolio. There is not much money available by approaching schools, but you can gain valuable experience and occasionally some good prints.

  3. Professional Photographers. Before you approach a professional photographer, be clear about what you want. Do you want to hire him/her to photograph you for your portfolio and work promotional materials? Do you want to introduce yourself as a model available to work on his/her upcoming projects?
    Some photographers like to have models stop by on a "go-see" to introduce themselves and drop off a zed card or other promotional piece. Prior to just stopping by, call first and find out if this photographer ever hires models for his/her projects. If so, make an appointment to meet them, and be on time. Many photographers who hire models keep an extensive file on available models. If your intent is to find work from this photographer, have your portfolio in good shape and have something to leave with them for future reference. If a photographer is impressed with your look and professionalism, you will be getting a call when a project comes up that you are suited for.
    If you are approaching a photographer to hire them to work for you on your portfolio, have a good idea of what you want and what you can afford. Remember, If at all possible, you don't want just one photographer to contribute every shot to your portfolio. Start with a roll or two from one photographer and go from there.
    Simply E-Mail Me to find out about the photography work I do for paying clients as well as for model's portfolios.



Your portfolio is your visual resume. Here are some tips about getting yours into shape.

  1. Presentation. Your portfolio should be organized and visually appealing. Loose photos, cut up contact sheets, loose slides, torn or bent photos, and a delapidated case are signs of a poor portfolio presentation. Just as an accountant wouldn't present his resume on a crumpled piece of paper, you shouldn't have a sloppy portfolio. Your portfolio represents you; make it a lasting, positive impression.

  2. Number of Photos. Your portfolio (or "book" as it is sometimes called) should have between 6 and 20 shots of you or work you are in. There should be a variety of poses and a combination of headshots, half body shots, and full body shots.

  3. Kinds of Photos. A high quality headshot is a must. After you get some experience, you should have a couple different headshots showing different hairstyles and makeup looks. Your book should also contain shots of you showing the kinds of work you want to do. If you want to be a swim wear model, have swim wear shots, not high fashion, in your book. Versatility is good but don't get caught up in trying to be everything. Stick to what you are suited for and are interested in.

  4. Sizes of Photos. Models should have 11x14 cases with either 8x10 or 11x14 photos. Actors should have 8x10 cases with 8x10 photos. Most serious models don't use 5x7's or smaller in their books.

  5. Tear Sheets. Experienced models put tear sheets (samples from the work they have done) in their books to show prospective clients; 1) that they have experience, and 2) that they have proven to be marketable for certain looks and uses. Inexperienced models have shots of themselves showing the types of work they are capable of and interested in doing.


  6. Other Marketing Tools. For your mailings, go-sees and any other meetings, you should have some sort of zed card or headshot to give to potential clients. Zed cards should have 1-4 of your best shots showing what you like most. You should always have a resume containing your contact information to give them as well. I have shot portfolio photos used for zed cards for several of models. If you are interested in getting a making card, E-Mail Me.



Exposure is getting information about you to potential clients letting them know what you have to offer and that you are available for modeling work. Here are different methods of getting exposure.

  1. Mailings. Models sometimes mail their promotional materials to prospective clients to generate work contacts.

  2. Cold Calling Photographers. Making an introductory call to a photographer to set up a go-see to introduce yourself can sometimes produce great results if you and your portfolio are prepared.

  3. Contacting Local Shops or Manufacturers. Contact local retailers or manufacturers of the types of clothing or products you would be interested in representing. (Lingerie stores, swim suit manufacturers, leather garment manufacturers, sportswear designers and so on.)

  4. Model Exposure Magazines. Although I have not run across any that are very successful, exposure magazines can provide some exposure to models. I wouldn't recommend spending much time or money with them. If they are free or provide good circulation to real clients at a small cost, they may be of some value.

  5. Agencies. Agencies can provide you with a number of assignments if your look is really in demand. There are a number of things that you should be wary of when contacting an agency.

    • What is their commission percentage? (10% to 25% is in the normal range.)
    • Is there a fee to be represented? (Legitimate agencies do not charge registration or sign up fees.)
    • Can you use your existing portfolio? (If an agency offers to represent you only if you pay their photographer a large sum of money to shoot you a new portfolio, RUN!!!)
    • Is the agency agreement exclusive? (Unless an agency is getting you enough work to keep you busy, never sign an exclusive representation contract.)
    • Will you still be able to find work on your own? (If not, don't sign with them.)
    • Is the agency licensed by the state you are in? (Different states have varying licensing requirements, check on the agency by contacting the licensing division in your state.)

  6. Managers. Some representatives come in the form of managers instead of agencies. They perform basically the same way as agencies in most cases, but are usually not governed the same way. Before signing with a manager, I recommend asking them for some referrals from their pool of models to get some feedback about the manager. Ask the same questions as you would an agency. And remember, never sign exclusively until you are getting a lot of work.

  7. Model Referral Services. Depending on the fees charged and how the referrals are structured, some referrals services can provide good contacts.
  8. Internet Model Services. The Internet has really expanded in the way it provides models with both exposure and work opportunities. There are many different pages of photographers who hire models. Also model referral pages on the net are open to having models publish their portfolios on the net. Some charge fees to cover their costs.



    "Hello Tom!  I wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed working with you.  I felt more comfortable with you than with any other photographer so far.  I really enjoyed the shoot last Saturday! I also appreciate all that you taught me.  I REALLY learned a lot.
    Thank you again...."

    "I just wanted to send you a little thank you note for sending me all the responses that come in off my page from your site. As you may or may not know, I have quite a few pages on many other sites. Out of all the pages that I have, I get the most responses off of your site. And, with as busy of a man that I know you are, you've been wonderful in promptly forwarding my messages to me. I wanted to thank you for the great job that you've done for me."

    "Hi Tom!
    I really want to thank you for all the referrals you've sent my way. I've done really well with them, and look forward to getting many more! Your web page really works, and you do wonderful photography as well."

    "Deat Tom,
    Thank you so much for the page you set up for me at your Web Site. Not only has the response that I have gotten been incredible, but the photographers I have been working with who have contacted me through your Web site have been upstanding, genuine and a real pleasure to work with.
    The photos you have taken in our sessions together have reflected your own professionalism, quality and eye for catching the perfect moment. These characteristics have come through in the thought put together when you established my pages. When I talk with photographers who have seen my pages, they rave at the beauty you have captured and are very impressed with the pictures you have taken and made available for them to have at their fingertips.
    Another beautiful feature of your Web site is that any photographer can see a sample portfolio prior to scheduling a shoot and know what kind of work the model is interested in.
    If you keep up this quality of photography and the Web page info and the way you make me feel when I work with you, I may have to start paying you for our sessions.
    Thanks for all your thought, planning, and your great work, most of all Tom, thanks for being a great person to work with! You are most sincere and a pleasure to work with!!!"

    This was sent by one of the models listed here to another model asking about me and my services.

    By all means work with Tom Mayes. He was my first photographer and his photos (and contacts) have opened doors for me. He also put together my comp card and has been very timely in responding to me when I have questions or concerns. I would suggest utilizing his photographic ability and his vast knowledge about this industry...he is one of my best resources. Good luck.




    WHAT IS A "ZED CARD" AND WHAT ARE THEY FOR? A Zed card is a promotional piece used by models to send to prospective clients. They range in size and layout, but the most common zed card has a good headshot on one side and 3-4 other pictures on the other side and is around 8"x5.5" or so. The photos can be b+w, color or a combination of the two. In the past, most zed cards were b+w, but now with such good laser printers, the color zeds are more common.
    Models (or their representatives) send out these cards to prospective clients to generate interest in the model or to make contact for a specific assignment. Most photographers keep a file of zeds sent by models as a database for future projects.

    HOW DO I CONTACT AN AGENCY? "I read your "Model Tips & Information" section of your website and have gained a little more insight, thank you. However, I'm in New York, I'm 32 and have never modeled before. I am not looking to be on the cover of Vogue but would like to finally try it since all my life people have told me that I look like a model and photograph very well. How do a choose an agency to even call for an interview? I am aware of the many scams of agencies but there are a lot of agencies in the city, do I just start calling and weeding through them?"

    Before you actually contact an agency, do your homework.

    Try contacting the SAG or AFTRA offices to get information about agencies. Some modeling agencies deal with these industry agencies. Also call the Better Business Bureau and see which agency(s) has complaints filed against them.
    If your state has a modeling agency license department, contact them and see who carries licenses (ask for a list) or ask for a list of who has had licenses revoked recently.

    If you have a look best suited to bikini/swimsuit modeling, focus your attention on agencies that have a strong presence in that industry. If you are a fashion type, head that direction and so on. Just as your portfolio should reflect what you have done/want to do, so should your agency. The majority of clients/contacts they have should mirror the kinds of work you want to do. This will help you with your target market group.

    Agencies are like Temporary Employment Agencies except they don't worry about your typing speed or dictation, they focus on your look. They charge both you and the client for their services. Being picked up by an agency is not the end-all solution. They just provide a more directed, concentrated market to approach with your look and talents, and they do the legwork in exchange for a commission.

    Instead of calling an agency for an interview, call to get "submission requirements". They will give you a format on what they require in a submission. Some agencies only start a process with semi-established models with experience and at least a partial portfolio. Others will see anyone, and the ones you should be afraid of are in this group.
    If you know about the scams, then you know not to walk in without at least a headshot and resume to an interview. If you have no pictures, and the agency sets you up with a photographer, be sure you ask for all the rates involved and if they have a list of photographer's available, instead of just one. Also ask if you can use other professional photographer's for a headshot/portfolio. Regardless, you will pay for your pictures one way or another either up front with photographers you hire, or photographers they set up for you to pay on the spot or if they say they will get pictures for you, the cost will be deducted from your future earnings. Agencies hate to gamble and they usually don't.

    My best advice would be to find out about the particulars of the modeling industry so that you can represent yourself for smaller gigs. How releases for stock and other photographers work. What kind of questions to ask. What rates to charge and so on.
    Get in touch with models on the net and ask some questions like how they got started and if they have agencies working for them.
    Once I felt like I was ready to deal with a photographer, or other contact, I would post a portfolio on the net in at least a few places. I would try to generate some work experience and create a decent list of credits. Remember, it's not so much who you work for when you are starting, it's how good the tearsheets look.
    After I got comfortable with dealing with assignments I set for myself, I would then contact an agency and see what they could do for me.



    ARE YOU INTERESTED IN FINDING OUT HOW TO MODEL FOR ME? I am always looking for models for one assignment or another, and I work with models for all sorts of photo styles from bikini to very erotic nudes. If you are a model or want to try modeling and you will be in the Northern California area (I am in Hayward), feel free to send me an email about yourself consisting of your stats, age, experience, the types of modeling you want to do, and where you are located. Please send a few sample images as well if you can. E-MAIL ME HERE TO FIND OUT IF WE CAN WORK TOGETHER.

    I currently need the following models for the erotic nude work I shoot for various clients.
    1) Young models (18-22)
    2) BBW models
    3) "Amateur" girl-next-door type models
    4) "Natural" models with lots of pubic hair
    5) Very Busty models
    6) Models that need content for their own sites

    See samples of Tom's Work in the Gallery
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