Become A Fashion Model Through A Models Convention
As the mother of a fashion model, I know from experience how the IMTA Convention works. My daughter was basically "discovered" by a director of a modeling school when she was working behind the scenes at a local fashion show. She was told to audition for an upcoming models convention in Los Angeles.
IMTA is a modeling convention that brings together talented models, actors, singers and dancers with agents from across the world. The conventions are held twice a year, once in New York and once in Los Angeles. Auditions for these conventions take place through local modeling schools such as Aim, Barbizon School Of Modeling, IMD, Idiom, PMTS International, Take 2 Talent and John Robert Powers Modeling School.
Now, my daughter didn't have any experience with modeling whatsoever but she went to the audition. Apparently she had the right look - 5'9 and super thin (not to mention, cute as a bug!), so she made it! Then came the kicker - it was going to cost in the thousands to go! OUCH!!
Well, we researched as best we could. Heard mainly positive and a little negative and decided it would be her senior trip. She thought it was well worth it. We were hopeful but skeptical - it was possible it was all a scam...
Before going there was some pretty extensive training through the modeling and acting school where she auditioned. The modeling classes at Barbizon taught my daughter how to walk the runway and pose for the camera. All of the training she received, she was able to put on her modeling resume, which is important for getting modeling work. By the time training was done everyone was prepared for the convention and stocked with comp cards and modeling portfolios.
After going, I can tell you - it was for real. There were agents there from New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo and other places across the U.S. Before going, we were hoping my daughter would get at least one call back from an agent, she ended up with sixteen. This led to sixteen meetings over two days, leaving each agent with a comp card. She heard back from a few after arriving home and is now in New York signed with one of them.
To get to the point of seeing agents, the models first have to go through a series of competitions or walks throughout the week. There is a swimsuit runway competition, jeans runway, fashion runway, t.v beauty where they do a commercial, and a make-up application competition. My daughter even did an extra one for talk show host.
This week long convention can be grueling but it was an experience of a lifetime and had a great return - the beginning of a modeling career with a New York modeling agency.
Who Should Pursue Modeling
Before I go any further, I need to discuss who should pursue fashion modeling. It's true that fashion models are tall and thin but if you are starving yourself to become an unrealistic size, don't do it. Becoming unhealthy is definitely not worth it. Very few become top models and even those who do are not stick thin. A healthy body comes from good nutrition and excercise. If your body is meant to be a size four, celebrate that. There are many models working in New York at that size. Commercial models can be any size.
You should get into modeling for the enjoyment of fashion. You also need to have a thick skin - there will be plenty of rejection. With all of the competion, you just can't take it personally. Everyone is looking for a different look. Think of it as a secondary "job" and there won't be as much pressure. If you make it big, that will be just icing on the cake.
In New York - Now What?
So my daughter made it to New York - now what? It isn't instant stardom or a constant inflow of money. Days are spent going to castings in hopes of a big break. The competition is unreal. Just walking around New York you would think that everyone is a model.
Fall fashion week was a busy time with castings almost everyday. The fashion shows were a great experience. Alot of models post pictures of themselves on Model Mayhem, an online modeling website. You can get lots of photo shoots and shows booked off of this site. If you don't have an agent, this is a great way to get noticed. Even if you have an agent, it is a way to get extra jobs.
I should mention that to live in New York is expensive! The model agency had housing set up for my daughter and 5 other girls to share, which helped. If you were left on your own to find housing it may be overwhelming. Finding room mates is definitely a plus.
I would definitely recommend getting a part time job to get some steady income. Modeling jobs don't necessarily pay when a shoot is complete. Payment may not come until thirty days later. It can be hard to budget that way. My daughter found part time work rather quickly.
Contacting Agencies On Your Own
Fashion or Editorial Models:
If you are 5'9 or over and want to be a fashion model, the place to be is New York. This is the fashion meca and where you will find the most work. There are dozens of agencies in the city. If you don't want to pay out the money for a big convention, it could be to your advantage to pay a lesser amount and head to New York. Most of the agencies hold open calls, where you can show up at there posted time with your modeling portfolio or comp cards (even those may not be necessary) and have a meeting. An even less expensive option is too simply email your pictures. I always think it is better to see them in person though.
Top New York Modeling Agencies:
IMG Model Management - Open calls: Thurs. 10:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. ages 14 - 24 (women only)
304 Park Ave South
New York, NY 10010
Next Models NY - Open calls: Wed. 10:30 - 11:00 (women only)
15 Watts St.
New York, NY 10013
New York, NY 10012
Elite - open calls: Mon. 3 p.m.
404 Park Ave South
New York, NY 10016
Ford - 212-219-6500 call to find open call time for each division (men, women, children)
111 Fifth Ave
New York, NY 10003
1 Model Management
42 Bond St.
New York, NY 10012
Major Model Management - open calls: Wed. 3 - 4 p.m. (men and women)
419 Park Ave South
New York, NY 10016
New York Model Management - open calls: Thurs. 10:30 - 11:30 (women)
11:00 - 12:00 (men)
Fashion models can also get work doing commercial work, which can be lucrative. Commercial work is also a good option if you don't quite make the 5'9 height minimum that most editorial agencies require. There are some that will take promising talent at 5'8 though, so it is worth pursuing.
Since commercial work can be done almost anywhere, you have a few more options. Although, a big city would still be best.
Sign With A Local Model Agency
If it is not possible to get to New York for open calls, get signed with a local agency. A good agency will want to help develop your career. Their is also a benefit for them. They will become your "mother" agency and get a small percentage of the earnings you make when you expand to a larger market such as New York or even international markets. Plus, any experience you gain from the smaller markets will ultimately help you to build your resume.
Make sure you do research and get referrals on the agencies that are legitimate and well known for integrity in your area. There are plenty of scam agencies around to be aware of. You shouldn't have to pay a lot of money - other than for your portfolio pictures.