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Tips for Starting a Modeling Career Without Going Bankrupt

The Expense: Modeling Portfolio

Why You Need It: When you get signed to an agency, they won't be able to get you any work until you have a portfolio of professional images they can showcase. There are a few different ways this situation can be handled. Either the agency will cover the cost of putting together the test shoot, which they'll later take out of your bookings through their agency commission or they'll allow you to find your own photographers.

The Deal with Agencies & Test Shoots for Portfolio Building

How to Do It: If you get lucky enough to choose your own photographers to help put together your portfolio for your agent, you don't necessarily have to spend top dollar for this expense. Before shelling out any money, first look for professional photographers in your area that offer TF* shoots. TF* stands for "time for prints" or "time for CD". Basically, it translates to a free exchange of services between the model and photographer.

The Expense: Comp Cards

Why You Need It: Next to the portfolio, comp cards (also known as zed cards) are what agencies use to shop around their models to potential clients. This marketing piece contains different pictures of the model, as well as his/her stats, measurements and contact information for the agency.

How to Do It:

Instead of spending extra moolah to pay the photographer to print your comp cards for you or for the agency to do it, opt to take care of this part of the process yourself. There are tons of great online printing companies available that produce quality comp cards for a fraction of the cost. Do not go to Kinko's or your local drugstore's photo department!

The Expense: Wardrobe

Why You Need It: No model does anything without the right outfit. Casting calls and go sees often mean dressing up for the part. Test shoots for portfolio building or updating images means new clothes to add variety. Sometimes shoots require you to purchase new outfits that you may not already have in your closet. This can also include accessories, such as jewelry, sunglasses, shoes, etc.

How to Do It: Unless money isn't a factor and/or you have no problem continuing to add to your wardrobe, you can practice the age old secret within the modeling industry: keeping the tags on and returning the clothes the next day! Yes, this happens all the time. If you don't have the funds to spend on a ton of new clothes and/or accessories, do yourself a favor and keep the tags and receipts so that you can return the merchandise afterwards.

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