Professional Head Shots by Matt Timmons: Albuquerque & Santa Fe, New Mexico.



As a currently working SAG-AFTRA film and television actor myself, I'm continuously interacting with casting directors and stay well-informed on what they are looking for in actor/talent head shots.  I'm also well known and remain recommended by all of the SAG-AFTRA franchised talent agencies in New Mexico for headshot photography for the past 10 years.  Most importantly, I make your headshot session about you.  I don't do any cookie-cutter type service; I will work with you and your agent to get the results you are looking for in terms of role placement and call-ins.  I do very customized work and also know the ins-and-outs of the New Mexico film and television business.  Many of my clients have gone on to book roles in major films and TV series' and still use my headshots for their promotion.

Here's a basic break down of what my sessions offer:

  • Fully customizable session according to what's most important to you.  No amateur/cookie-cutter style photography. 
  • 2 Hours of either studio or outdoor/natural light photography, your choice.
  • 3 looks (clothing changes and background/scene changes).
  • Very fast turnaround: Your proofs will be available within 2 business-days of the shoot date via private, online proofing. 
  • 3 finished and sensibly retouched, fully printable high-res photo files sent to you within one week of proof selection.
  • Lifetime license for unlimited use for your promotion as a professional actor.
  • My work is guaranteed to meet and most likely will exceed your expectations.  I tend to over-deliver.
  • Fully tax deductible expense!

If you want to see for yourself a sample of professional actors who've commission me to shoot their head shots on a reoccurring basis, just check out my head shot page and see what roles my clients have played in major film and television productions by clicking on their photo and hovering your mouse over it.  




Personal Project: Tintype Process with Tony Gambino


Sometimes I like to do something creative and explore new ideas with fun and interesting subjects.  A couple of months back I called a fellow photographer friend (who's a master at shooting weddings, check out his website here) and asked if he'd like to let me shoot some portraits of him with gritty, aged tintype processing to the final prints.  He agreed and we met up for a couple of hours to just have a bit of fun and see what we come up with.  It's great to work with interesting and visually-inspiring people who are artists themselves.  Tony was also gracious enough to shoot some head shots of me, one of which is my bio picture.  Here's the results of my tintype process study.  


H&M Comes to Albuquerque!


Opening Thursday, November 13th at noon in the Coronado Mall, H&M finally arrives in Albuquerque.  The significance of this (to me at least) is that more and more fashionable businesses are starting to find a market in Albuquerque and I for one welcome their ingress.  H&M has become a staple in the fashion world by combining the world-class appeal of top fashion supermodels and photographers in it's advertising along with chic and stylish garments with insanely-low prices.  It's a perfect storm of image and affordability.  At just about any time one can open an issue of Vogue or look up at a giant billboard in Times Square to see a photo of Beyoncè wearing a bikini on an exotic beach with a simple "Bikini: $9.99" inscribed on the ad.  Not many labels can combine the advertising firepower of top fashion houses with actual great-looking apparel at prices similar to outlet stores, but H&M have figured out how to do it.  They even have top fashion designers such as Versace and Alexander Wang designing garments exclusively for the H&M label.  I for one fully support the methodology of this effective advertising and I've seen how it works since I began my career as a fashion photographer.  

So I'm happy to welcome H&M to Albuquerque and I'm sure the city will start to look a little more stylish as the months pass.  I know I'll be a headed in for some updated wardrobe as the seasons change and who knows, maybe some of their fresh designs will make it onto the pages of the editorials I shoot, as they have in the past. ;-)  

*Post script- I wasn't paid by H&M to say any of this but I wish I had been.


On News Stands Nationally This Month: My 10-Page Spread, 'Sojourner' in FSHN Magazine


Check out my editorial titled, 'Sojourner' in this month's issue of FSHN magazine available in all Barnes & Noble stores across the U.S.  We shot in Santa Fe, New Mexico featuring labels brought in from Los Angeles such as Guess, Sam Edelman and Burberry.  Thanks to our model, Marissa from LA Models and makeup by Miranda Qualls, hair by Amber DeJesus as well as the team for getting a lot done in a short time.  You can see an online version of the spread starting on page 56 here.  Also I've posted some behind-the-scenes shots in the On Set page.  Feedback in the comments appreciated!


I've Got Issues: September Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, ELLE, etc. Have Arrived!


Now with handy carrying case to lug the 1700+ pages of fashion along with you!  I'm very pleased to see Vogue featuring actual models on the cover; it almost makes up for the Kimye blunder earlier in the year.  Inside each issue is a feast for the eyes with the new ads from all the top labels along with the editorial content.  I'm also impressed with the new Ralph Lauren line for winter featuring complete white-on-white thick layers with no separation whatsoever.  Great photography, great styling, great models.  Between all the issues, there's enough content to enjoy a winter hibernation until Spring.


Crew Spotlight: Pro Makeup Artists Are Essential.


I'm been a believer in the lasting photographer's adage that, "A photographer is only as good as his weakest crew member."  True that it is paramount to have the right team when constructing complex images for top-quality fashion and beauty work in an industry where a photographer is only as good as their last photo.  To survive is one thing, to succeed is another.  Success is a very illusive endeavor that requires both high quality and lots of luck.  But if the quality isn't in one's work, one better hope they have a large supply of luck.  

Kevin Hees preps Elite model Noel in New York.

Kevin Hees preps Elite model Noel in New York.

I bring attention to one of the key members of any good fashion photography team: the Makeup Artist.  I emphasize "artist" because a true "MUA" is so much more than a makeup applicator- the MUA is arguably the most critical  team member a photographer should hire for a shoot with possible room for exception for a good first assistant and a great model.  

I've been fortunate enough to work with and around some top-level MUA's including my roommate in New York who is the Creative Director for Kevyn Aucoin Cosmetics, Kevin Hees.  I've also had the pleasure of working on numerous shoots with Conrad Sanchez who spent nine years with Chanel and I quickly learned the difference between a true makeup artist and someone who just applies the makeup.  A true makeup artist can interpret a mood board, understand the creative direction that the photographer and CD or AD wish to achieve and correlate that to the model's particular facial structure and features.  A talented MUA can cover all the bases; from light, beautifully clean makeup to complex, powerful, hard-edge and near-theatrical editorial looks.  A great MUA will contribute a refined, professional statement with the makeup in the photograph rather than an obtrusive, amateur design and tacky application.  A photographer needs to know they can rely on their makeup artist to deliver the makeup design that best fits the creative direction.  For me, it's such a great feeling when the model comes out of hair and makeup looking better than what I had in mind.  Makeup artists with talent and vision are true artists and rightfully deserve their title.

There are sometimes elements on any given shoot that may not look right according to plan and the team can figure out ways to work around it.  Stylists can strategically clip clothes that are too big for the model, assistants can adjust light to favor the scene, photographers can even trick an inexperienced model into getting a "lucky shot" when they can't model at all.  But there's no workaround for bad makeup.  Bad makeup will ruin the shoot, period.  The only possible way to save the shoot is to fix the makeup in Photoshop- but that's an enormous  hassle to retouch bad makeup in post.  It's a far better action to hire the right MUA for the job in the first place.


Pro MUA's like Justin Paul in NYC bring everything they need.

Pro MUA's like Justin Paul in NYC bring everything they need.

  • Valid work experience.  A professional MUA can show a work history of being booked for diverse print jobs with high-quality photographers.  A good MUA will have a strong book, even if it's mostly test shoots.  The level of photography a makeup artist displays in their book is a good indicator of who wants to work with them.  When their work is displayed in great photos, it shows what level they are on in terms of their career as well as the level of creative professonals who hire them.  It shows they can do the job and that high-quality professionals rely on them.  A MUA who's experience is limited to only having done tons of weddings or only regularly work with amateur/hobbyist photographers isn't really up to par for the skilled nature of real fashion/editorial print work.  They inadvertently show they don't have the drive to be successful.
  • They bring all their own equipment.  I love it when I'm shooting on location and the MUA arrives with their own makeup chair and whatever they need to do their job.  There's been a few times when an MUA showed up with only a makeup bag and began asking me for tools such as a makeup chair, a mirror, a table, lights, extension cords, even a hair straightener.  I felt like asking the MUA if they brought some strobe lights I could use.  It's the same thing.  Photographers bring photo gear, MUA's bring makeup gear, period.  Really pro MUA's will have an assistant or intern to help them carry and setup their gear.  This is very intuitive since it's imprudent to expect the photographer's assistants to lug the MUA's gear.  The best makeup artists bring everything they may need and look after it themselves.
  • They pay close attention on set.  A real MUA knows that the most critical time to watch the makeup is during the shoot.  Smudge fixes, hairs sticking to lips or minor touchups are always something needing to be addressed while the shoot is in progress.  A makeup artist that applies the makeup then stands around playing with their phone during the shoot is one of the most obvious signs of an amateur.  A good MUA is present on set to correct unwanted flaws or to make adjustments during shooting.  This saves the photographer from shooting the next hundred frames only to find out later that those shots are unusable due to some problem that went unnoticed while shooting.  Believe me, it happens all the time.
  • Models (and everyone else) speak highly of them.  Great MUA's take proper care of the models by being careful around their eyes, making sure the model's aren't allergic to the products and by generally being pleasant and fun to work with.  Pro MUA's treat models and everyone as people, not as objects.  They want to be an integral part of the team and do their best to have the shoot go well.
  • They can approach anything asked of them with optimism and honest feedback.  The best MUA's not only know how to do perfect work, they can change it if asked to without taking it personal or getting upset.  They also can be a great creative asset by informing the photographer if a certain makeup look requested may not work with the model's facial features.  A good MUA won't falsely assure a photographer that a look will work if it may not, which can result in wasted time and a lot of frustration.  It's a team effort and the makeup artist is expected to be the expert advisor on the makeup while at the same time working toward the creative goal.
  • They stick to the creative plan.  This is possibly the most important factor in a makeup artist being invited back.  A MUA who agrees to apply a certain makeup look according to the creative direction, then goes off-script and applies something different is a detriment to the entire shoot.  There's nothing worse than setting up a shoot, agreeing to a mood board and then having the model come out of makeup looking nothing like what was expected and agreed upon.  There's probably no worse of a way to waste everyone's time, other than being late to the shoot.
  • They never, ever, show up late.  It should go without saying, but the best of the best MUA's are absolute professionals and will be at the appointed location prior to call time.  Many even arrive early so they can take their time to set up.  Great MUA's do what they can to make the day go easier for everyone else, so they can ensure that they will be invited back again and earn a great reputation.
  • They have awesome personalities.  This is important for anyone, but everyone loves a makeup artist that had their own identity and is fun to spend all day on set with or even hours on the road with when driving to a location.  For example, sometimes early morning call times can be a drag (especially for the models), but a makeup artist with a great personality can get the day started off right since they are often the first ones to start work.  Personality + performance is always in high demand.

Makeup artists are mission-critical to a successful outcome; they can make or break your shoot.  Don't be complacent when considering one- it matters.  Great MUA's are not a dime a dozen, so when you find one, keep them happy and they'll do the same for you.  They are worth every penny of their day rate.

MUA's like Kata Baron have to be ready to work in any environment.

MUA's like Kata Baron have to be ready to work in any environment.

MUA Hannah Morrow with her positive personality is always a model-favorite.

MUA Hannah Morrow with her positive personality is always a model-favorite.


New Work: Zink Magazine.


I did some work for Mark Pardo Salon & Spa a few months back and just had a couple of my favorites from the shoot featured on the website of one of my favorite New York fashion magazines, Zink.   Check out the feature on    

Here's a couple of behind the scenes shots.  I didn't take many since it was a busy day and the schedule was tight.  Had to keep my mind on what I was doing!  Many thanks to the Mark Pardo hair and makeup crew, the models and my assistant + digital tech Jess.  Great work, great day.


New Mexico Fashion Models


I recently spearheaded a new business endeavor that I felt was truly needed in the New Mexico fashion market.  I'm proud to be a part of the newest and most sincere New Mexico modeling agency and I'm very proud to be working with these wonderful and incredibly positive-sprited people.  These are the faces of the newest and most professionally dedicated New Mexico fashion models.  Please welcome to the New Mexico fashion market as well as the fashion industry, MTM Model Management.  


A Simple Reason Many Photographers Retouch So Often.

Photo posted by Lorde to her Twitter account recently showing her skin retouched in the top photo and 'au naturale' in the bottom shot.

Photo posted by Lorde to her Twitter account recently showing her skin retouched in the top photo and 'au naturale' in the bottom shot.

Yesterday this tweet was posted by the music artist Lorde in which she herself didn't see the necessity in her photo being retouched and preferred to show a separate, unedited image along with her statement that, "Flaws are ok."   It inspired me to shed some light on what this epidemic of retouching, i.e. "Photoshopping" is really all about.  In the extremely competitive world of photography, photographers are doing everything they can to make their images stand out from their competition.  By retouching their images, photographers are not trying to make any sort of statement about facial blemishes, weight or other human "flaws".  They are not saying, "Lorde's face is ugly, I need to retouch it for the sake of society.".  In fact, photographers aren't retouching her or anyone else for the sake of their subjects at all.  Photographers retouch their images so that they can market them to as many media outlets as possible.  Those media outlets demand very high quality, "flawless" photos for their publication standards.

Every photographer wants the reputation of having the best images.  I, we, they, all want a reputation for our work to be heralded as the best, so to photo-editing software we turn.  It isn't because we necessarily want the people we photograph to be flawless, it's our photography we want to be flawless.  As if we magically have some sort of talent that makes whoever and whatever we shoot come out looking better than real life.  Well, photo editing software does that.  There are even programs, apps and even some cameras now that have face recognition software that can automatically retouch someone's face to flawless perfection.   Although the results usually aren't even human-looking and in fact quite often look ridicules.  That too will change as technology becomes more intelligent.  

In addition to every photographer's desire for their work to be regarded as the best and therefore hopefully acquire more jobs, there's also the notion that a celebrity being photographed might disapprove of images in which they look, well like they really do.  We've all heard the whining demands in the media of certain celebrities who require their photographs to be retouched to so-called perfection before being published in any magazine or on the web.  We certainly see that practice being over-endugled on most mainstream magazine covers.  In this case, Lorde has preferred the unedited image, but that's seldom the case.  Magazines are also in competition with each other to have the 'best looking' celebrity covers and photo editorials.  So the standard practice has become for most photographers that any un-retouched photograph submitted for publication will be an automatic rejection...and usually is.

So to clarify the reason behind all of the photo retouching going on in today's media, it's not that anyone feels that someone's flaws are to be erased for the sake of societies' approval, it's simply a matter of marketing and competition.  You as a consumer are more likely to select an apple with the most pristine and flawless appearance in the produce section.  Ergo, the same theory applies in the magazine section.  Every media company is just trying to climb above their competition by presenting the most-polished and flawless products.  So much so, that "flawless" has become the new "normal".


Billboard Time Lapse


Ever wanted to see how a billboard goes up?  One of my clients, Gertrude Zachary Jewelry, had a billboard that was torn and needed replacement.  Here's the job done in 1 minute!


Congrats to model pal Samantha Hoopes as the new face of GUESS!

Samantha Hoopes of Guess 2014 photographed by Yu Tsai.

Samantha Hoopes of Guess 2014 photographed by Yu Tsai.

It's always nice when you're flipping through the first few pages of a magazine like ELLE Italia and you come across a double page GUESS ad with a model you know and have photographed before.  "Hey, that looks like Samantha Hoopes!"  I thought,  so I had to send her a quick message and  receive her bubbly and excited reply confirming it.  Samantha has been featured in both the new GUESS Spring/Summer 2014 campaigns as well as their lingerie campaigns.  By her smoldering gaze she brings to their gorgeous photography, I'd say she's a perfect fit for the iconic brand.  She's still currently in my portfolio in the beauty, commercial and swim/lingerie categories.  I also booked her for the Gertrude Zachary 2012-13 holiday billboards that ran last year.  I was happy to hear from her that our photos we did together in New York are still used in her book that she carries with Elite LA and Select Management in London.   I requested her from Major Models New York and was very impressed with her when she first walked into my apartment in Manhattan to meet up for our shoot.  I'm even more impressed now.  It's evident that she's really making a strong presence and a definite connection in the industry judging by these new GUESS ads.  Rumor has it she's one of the new rookies in the upcoming 50th Anniversary Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition.   I suppose we'll find out on February 18th when the much-anticipated issue hits the stands worldwide.  Samantha was really fun and easy to work with and I look forward to another opportunity to work with her again.

So please join me in congratulating Samantha Hoopes on her new venture to the forefront.  She's well on her way toward stunning the whole world with her all-American bombshell looks as well as her lovable personality and can-do work ethic.   Here's a few of my favorite outtakes and snapshots from us working together in New York.  Cheers, Sam!


Behind the Scenes: Michaela


Here's a few BTS shots from out shoot with Michaela from MTM Model Management.  She's only 15 and is already 5'10" with a stunning look and modeling versatility.  Big thanks to Armani Leon for makeup and Santiago Romero on hair.  Looking forward to the selects publishing soon but for now other looks of Michaela can be found at


Welcome to the New Site!


Hey I just wanted to welcome you all to my new website.  I decided since it was a new year, I'd rebuild my website with some mighty improvements.  First, all my photos are now displayed in huge, full-screen format so that the quality and detail can be seen.   With the smaller size photos I had before, I always lamented that so much effort goes into making high quality work, yet it gets lost in the small size displayed.  Not any more.  Now you can see every degree of work that goes into the final images.

Next is that my blog is now an "in house" part of the website.  It's just nicer to have the blog right here than having to click and be sent to a separate blog page that's not connected to my website as it was before.

And finally, you have the ability to view my work as large thumbnails or full-size just by clicking on the "Show Thumbnails" button on the bottom left of the site.

I hope you like the new digs as much as I do.  Thank you and enjoy your visit!



Really liking Max Factor's approach to cosmetic ads

Just a quick shout-out to Max Factor for publishing what I think is a proper-looking cosmetic skin care cream ad.  Featuring beautiful model Candice Swanepoel, the ad reflects a more natural-looking photo to promote what the skin cream does, rather than what Photoshop does.  As a digital artist myself and a fan of post-production poetic license, I'm also aware of the impossibilities that are being presented to mostly women and young girls showing beauty in advertising that is simply unachievable.  When I recently flipped through the pages of a current fashion magazine (I think it was British 'Elle'), I was pleasantly surprised to see a cosmetic ad with a gorgeous face, sans the usual amount of computer pixel replacement.  Kudos to Max Factor for a realistic and plausible image displaying what their skin care cream does and not leaving it up to the Photoshop artist.  This turn in the direction of truth in advertising makes me want to go out and buy the product myself, though I doubt it would help me get a date with Candice.  :-)


My new video, "NYC Tribute".

I recently finished editing one of my first videos that we shot in NYC.  It's sort of a vibe just showing the nightlife and some behind-the-scenes of the fashion shoots I do.  I edited the whole thing as well as wrote and recorded the music.  If you click on the outward-facing arrows at the bottom of the viewer it will display in sharp 720 HD.  Let me know what you think!

A Toast to Alexi Lubomirski and the Crew of Interminable Heroism.

Shout out to this guy (on the left) and some of the coolest/ hardest working/ best-looking people NYC has to call their own.  To Emily, Marian, Steph-bomb and Ryan, pleasure working with you ladies and gents.  Thank you for the experience and knowledge, I promise to use it wisely.  Looking forward to discovering yet another unguarded beer tap with you.


For those who aren't familiar with this ruggedly handsome photographer and this team's genius work (also available for weddings and bar mitzvahs!), please grab a cup of tea and sit back...



My "Top Five Things Models -or Anyone- Can Do To Get More Work"

I recently had a casting call for a print ad campaign and wanted to give some feedback to models who may have submitted or been called in, but could use some help on how to improve their next casting or opportunity to be selected for any project. This article is designed more for unrepresented aspiring models without professional agencies. Others looking to improve in the fashion world such as makeup artists, hair stylists and wardrobe stylists can also benefit from this post. If you're a legitimate agency represented model (not a small town scam agency represented model in which case you're screwed) then most of the info here will be handled by your booker. For those who are not represented, here's a first-hand experience look at how you can improve your success with photographers, companies and even real agencies. A lot of this is geared toward fashion modeling, so if you a are different type of model, then this info may not apply to you.

1. Be very timely in your response to those who contact you.

If someone whom you would like to work with reaches out to you, don't take days to return a communication with them. This sounds common sense enough, but you're be surprised at how many people have no sense of professionalism and readily prove it with flakiness. Nothing says "difficult to work with" more than someone who is slow to respond. People in the fashion world in particular are very busy, and by not responding quickly to them you are showing that you are careless and lazy. By the time you remember to return an email days later, the offer is no longer on the table. Don't use the "I don't always check my email or have time to reply" excuse, because it's not valid. I don't know anyone who doesn't check their email, private messages, voicemails, etc multiple times a day, and you always have time to return an email, it only takes a minute. Bottom line: You only get one first impression, use it wisely.

2. Have at least some sort of portfolio book to present your work.

Other than a new model meeting with an agency for the first time, in which a book is not needed, one of the first ways to identify yourself as a professional or at least pro-minded is by having a portfolio, otherwise known as your "book". A book is important because it shows that you are taking yourself seriously enough to place your best work in a book format where you can present it to someone in a professional context. A portfolio doesn't have to be expensive or large, it can be a regular artist portfolio bought at a local hobby or art store for a few bucks. The prints in them can even be printed with a home inkjet printer. In this digital age, a lot of people use their iPads, tablets, laptops or even smart phones to show our work (myself included). This is fine for impromptu situations where having your work on hand to show is convenient. However, I would never show up to an important scheduled meeting where I needed to impress a client or business contact without a portfolio book. If you go to a meeting and when asked to see your portfolio you proceed to set up your laptop and show your Facebook page, you've variably taken yourself out of contention as a professional. Bottom line: A book gives you and your work more validity.

3. Quality, never quantity.

I can't remember how many times I've been interested in working with a particular model or makeup artist and when I see their portfolio, it basically talks me out of working with them. A clue that it's a bad idea to work with someone is if they put every photo shoot or project they've ever done in their portfolio. A few good shots in your book can easily be overshadowed if the majority of your work is generic, boring or poorly done. It looks like you have a couple of lucky shots, but as a whole you are unusable. I've even heard people say "I don't really like these photos" to which I have to ask why they put them in their book. Your portfolio shouldn't be "the good, the bad and the ugly", it should only be the best examples of your work. Your book is your representation of what level you are on. Are you a beginner? Do you only work with the same amateur hobby photographers or are you shooting with really skilled and inventive artists? Your book communicates that. Don't advertise yourself as a skilled professional and then present a book that is full of badly produced, amateur work. It defines that you are as such. Bottom line: What's in your book directly communicates how professional you are.

4. Models, be for real.

There's nothing more obvious than someone who calls themselves a model but their photos show that they are more appropriately described as, "someone who needs photos to feel pretty". Real modeling is a business as well as an an art. Showing that you can have your picture taken doesn't do anything for showing that you are a legitimate model. Sure, it's important to do a lot of test shoots with (good) fashion photographers when you are starting out, but don't post up every amateur, boring shoot you do with the need for your friends to comment on how "stunning" you are. That's just showing desperation for acceptance. A real model doesn't need modeling to fill an empty void with compliments from endless amateur photos. If you want to be a model, show that you are for real in every way possible. Otherwise you will only be sought by other amateurs and you'll receive no interest from those who need good models for legitimate projects. Bottom line: Modeling is a skill, not a compliment.

5. Direction is not just doing what you are told.

If you are doing a photo or video shoot or other project, chances are there is going to be someone giving direction. From a photography standpoint (and being that photo shoots are about 80% of what you will be doing), the photographer will direct you. All photographers are different; some like to micro-manage you and some will let you do more of your own thing. Speaking for myself and the lion's share of photographers out there, it's very frustrating when someone calls themselves a model and then has no clue how to actually model. Unless it's your first time or you are very new, no one wants to work with someone who has to be told every single thing to do when shooting. Models are booked for their look, but more importantly for their ability to have great presence on camera. Direction is an idea, a mood, or an improvement to make the shot better. Direction is not telling you exactly what limb to move, how to stand, what to do with your head, what to do with your eyes, what to do next, etc. That's "puppeteering", and it's extremely frustrating. Modeling is not showing up empty-headed and having the photographer do everything for you to make you look good. I've done shoots where I had to use every trick in the book to make a so-called model look good, to which they gladly accepted the credit that came afterwards. I'd love to show everyone the first 100 frames and the unedited shots, then we'd see how she really was.  Bottom line: Understand direction, but make it your own movements, expressions, etc. Be a model, not a mindless puppet.

Hope this is helpful and I'll check comments for questions or feedback. Until next time, always do your best!

Avoiding Scam Model Agencies Day 3: The Photo Scam- Can You Say "Cheese"?

December 20th, 2012 (Earth's last day!!) :-D  


When you walk into an agencies' door for the first time, what do you see?  Are you flooded with a visual sales pitch for the agency or is it an environment of business being conducted?  Let me explain.


When I walk into a small-time scam agency, the place is a sales pitch from the second I walk in the door.  The walls are plastered with big movie posters, framed magazine covers, glossy model photos and generally a lot of glitter and prestige.  It's obvious that it's a sales pitch, not a place of business.  There is nothing much going on and I feel overwhelmed by their "we're so successful" decor.   When the agent or representative greets you, they expresses a false sense of excitement for your visit.  The agent begins to tell you how glad they are you came to them, and they'll usually make sure to slip some passing line of BS about how they just got off the phone with the big-time fashion name or director who's looking for someone just like you.  They name-drop like crazy.  I mean according to them, every big name in the business is booking their models, and you're lucky you came by at the right time to sign up.  Every line out of their mouth, every sign, every false smile is based on making you feel as if though you've came to the right place.  Their biggest trick is putting stars in your eyes.  Once they've got you believing that you are on the verge of making it big, they have you.  Your checkbook practically flies out and writes itself to them.  Sometimes the chair you're sitting in is still warm from the person who just sat there before you arrived and fell for the same lies.


When I walk into a major agency like IMG Models in NYC, I'm somewhat greeted by a receptionist who is continuously on the phone transferring calls.  The walls are plain, sans for a logo on one wall, and all you see are bookers busy in front of computers with phones to ears, working.  Hard at work booking and promoting their models.  At a real agency, they are not glad to see you unless they know you.  It's all business.  To a real agency you might as well be a bum coming by asking for money.  You're lucky to even get a "hello".  It's more like, "Who are you here to see?  Do you have an appointment?  Who are you?"  In other words, they are a successful modeling agency, and they don't need to sell you on that fact.  Their reputation is enough.  The scam agency however, IS NOT a successful modeling agency, and that's why it is paramount that they make you believe that they are, otherwise their lies won't work.



So how does the various "talent agencies" actually rip people off?  Here's the most common ways that a scam agency stays in business.


So the agency has you hooked with all their BS that they told you about how you're just what they're looking for, but you don't have photos (or the ones you have "won't work"), and they can't get you started without photos immediately.   So they either:

a).  Hand you a piece of paper with their "Photo Shoot Packages" rates.  They tell you that they have an "in house photographer" and who better to shoot your photos than the agency?  So you pay them anywhere from $300 to $2500 for photos (based on what you can afford).  But what you don't know is, the agency hires an amateur photographer, gives him/her $50 for the photo shoot, and keeps the rest of the money for themselves.  I've had an agency even call me once and ask me if I'd do a shoot for a total of $300, for 25 girls ages 8-14 and they wanted multiple images, retouching and all the rights.  I found out they were charging the models' families over $1,000 each for their photos.  That's $24,700 profit for the "agency" in one day.  I declined to be a part of it, but they found someone else.  There's always a cheap photographer who doesn't do photography for a living that will do anything for cheap or free.  The photos were very disappointing from what I heard.

b).  The other way the scam agency sells you photos, is instead of shooting the photos themselves, they have a business buddy set up a photo business and the agency sends you to them to have your photos done.  They work a deal with each other to split the money somehow, but the scam is still the same.  They still hire a cheap $50 photographer, and keep the rest of your hundreds of dollars for themselves.  It just looks more legitimate because the agency will actually pretend to be doing the right thing by sending you to a "recommended photographer", but it's actually the same scam.  You're overcharged for cheesy, amateur photos, and the agency is behind the shady deal with their buddy.  Or boyfriend across the hall. :-)


Yes, they actually have a scam where they tell you that it's a "separate company" that runs their website otherwise you wouldn't have to pay.  Well, that's a lie.  They do it themselves, and keep your money.  If they didn't, then website management would fall under any business's normal operating expenses.  I was charged $150.00 by one of my former agencies and lied to the same way.  They did it annually for each person on their talent roster.  KA-CHING!


What a joke.  Let's see, how many professional, successful models in the industry today went to small town modeling school?  None.  Now how many girls that went to modeling school became successful models?  None.  These agencies are such effective liars that they can even subvert facts that would otherwise prompt people to ask, "Why should I pay you for your modeling school when it's never done anyone any good- ever??" When they try to teach you your "runway walk"- there is no one runway walk.  How you would walk for Karl Lagerfeld is different than how you would walk for Betsy Johnson.  Their runway coach will show you what they want during rehearsals (if there are any) or backstage before showtime.  It's not hard enough for their to be an entire school for it, much less taught by people with no experience.


So the agency makes an announcement that they are hosting a guest speaker, acting coach, photographer or someone that you should come to hear lecture to help your career.  But there is an "admission fee".  Well, guess who's going to be keeping the money?  Yup, your  agency that you are so loyal to.  Best yet, the guest speaker is some loser who's doing workshops for free or a small percentage.  They have no credits that you have ever heard of -or can find- or it's some hack who's real job is working in a cubicle but wants to make models think he/she's someone important.  They just make stuff up and try to sound like a big deal for an hour or so and you don't even know that you're listening to complete fodder.  And you paid for it.


So the agency calls you and says they have a big cool runway show for you!  But it doesn't pay anything, it's just "good exposure".  What that can mean is that your agent just isn't paying you for your work.  Yea they're just keeping all of your money for themselves.  An agency doesn't go into business to supply models to other businesses for free.  Chances are, your agent is charging the business that is putting on the runway show something like $200 per model.  You should be getting $180.00 after your agent takes out their %20 commission.  But the scam agent makes 100% when they lie to you and get you to do the job for free.  Legitimate models get good exposure AND 80% of the job fee.  The only time this ever may not apply is for charity shows.  But I have also seen an agency charge a charity for models and then not pay them because it was for "charity".  There are no limits to what these people thieves will do to take your money.  To this day I have never seen a model do a local runway show for "good exposure" and had any sort of career advancement come from it.


Every model agency knows that not everyone who walks in their door is model material.  Legitimate agencies just turn those people away, but scam agencies welcome them in with false praise and temptations of success.  If you're one of these people, not only is the agency going to put you through the ringer, but if they really think you're desperate, they sometimes will tell you that you have to go book your own model jobs for the agency to "prove" your worth to them.  Of course the real tall, pretty girls don't have to do this, they will be used other ways (agency advertising), but the shorter, 'ordinary' girls have to hit the streets finding clients for the agency.  Wow.  Now you're doing the agents' work for them- for free.  It's just their way of saying, "Hell no I don't think you can be a model, but I'll lie to you, take your money, and have you do my work for me.  Sucker."  I know a girl with a scam agency that did all her own promotion as a model- and her agency did NOTHING for her.  She booked all of her own jobs and her agent made her pay %20 to the agency anyway.  Why would a scam agency turn you away when they can use you for their own profit?  Oh yea, because they don't have those things called ethics or morals.

There are other ways that scam agencies swindle you and do nothing for you, but the underlying message here is that if you don't feel good about the way an agency is treating you, or if they are trying to sell you something, or if they sound like a used car salesman, or they generally don't seem to be showing you that they care about you, get out of there.   Tomorrow we finish this up with what you should expect from a real agency, as well as some extra tidbits of knowledge to arm yourself with as you look for the right people in this business, and they do exist. :-)