Photo credit: Antonio Annobile
The look I wanted to give the weatherman as I was trudging down 23rd St yesterday in sneakers during the First Official Snow of Winter 2018/19. Really I should’ve been scowling at myself in a mirror cause that was just bad planning
Photo by Antonio Annobile
Shot by Pippa Holliday
Right after I graduated college, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. All I wanted to do was move to New York City and become a model like I’d always dreamed of, but how? It felt like there was so much money, time, and work between my dreams and I.
Now, here I am, with all these experiences that tell me I’ve accomplished some semblance of my dream, and with an equal amount telling me I’ve fallen short and nothing has been good enough.
But if I could go back in time and show my then-self what my present reality looks like, he would be so relieved to know all the hard work was worth something. So, my challenge today is trusting that every tomorrow is leading me to this same experience. If my former self knew the successes he’d experience – would that relieve some anxiety? Can I adopt that same energy into my present-day life, knowing everything is going to work out?
The only problem is, the human mind quickly adapts to new things, and that whole “grass is green on the other side” saying is totally true. So, how can I hold my future dreams at the forefront of my mind, yet allow myself to be deeply connected with My Now today? Because as much hope as tomorrow can provide, it is still not guaranteed, so how can I make My Today the best it can possibly be?
I choose to allow myself to simply Be today. With all the work ahead and all the distance I still have from my new goals, it’s OK to Be. It’s OK to enjoy. It’s OK to take a break. Everything is going to work out, and if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t.
Acceptance is my elixir.
On the evening of March 28th, I was doing the usual: sitting around watching Netflix, drinking some tea, pretty much straight-up chillaxing. Then I received an email from a casting director:
I’ve received emails like these tons of times. There was another huge magazine cover job a few months before that was looking for a “Hippe Jesus type,” and I submitted and heard nothing, so I didn’t expect much…
Long story short, by 5pm the next day I confirmed the booking. As you can see, the rate for this job was definitely not going to make me rich. That’s the way editorial modeling is: pretty much any magazine cover you see or editorial you see run in a national magazine — unless it’s a celebrity — the model was paid $100-$400 dollars tops for the day. So, the main purpose of the job for my modeling career wasn’t about the money, it was about gaining more Career Capital, i.e. more marketable shots to add to my book, which will help me book more jobs down the line, hopefully for large brands with day rates 10X+ higher than this job.
It’s very rare to get a breakdown of the shotlist like this before a job, but I was grateful to have it. Basically, I was going to get one recognizable shot from this job, and the rest would be Parts’ tearsheets.
Arriving on set that day, I was excited to work with the photographer, who I’d shot one of my very first jobs with years ago. The makeup artist was amazing, and so was the client. I was the only model booked that day, so it was just me and the team.
The shots we were going for were… (keep in mind, this is a men’s grooming editorial for natural products, so the main goal is to sell products)…
(ps- had to shave my armpits for this one…)
(as you can see from the original shot list, this concept changed to have my hair up rather than down)
Face masks (hero shot):
I had these face masks on for about 45 minutes, so my face was a-tinglin’!
The Reality of the Situation
This job was between me and over 100 other guys, and according to the GQ Photo Producer on set, they narrowed it down to 20 guys, then selected me. Which isn’t to say “I’m so good, look at me,” since I’ve been “on hold” for hundreds of jobs that I didn’t book. I got lucky and the stars aligned.
I will make $110 for the 8 hours I was on set that day. That’s my net profit after my agent takes their percentage. And I’m writing this post 5 months later and still haven’t received the check, which is pretty normal for magazine work. I shot an 8-page editorial (a parts job, ie, just for shoes and watches) for British GQ and — I’m not kidding — was paid exactly one calendar year later to the date.
A lot of my friends thought I became rich from this job! That definitely is not the case! If I didn’t have my Survival Job as a Real Estate Agent, I would not be able to live my dream as a male model in New York City. Period.
Walking into Barnes & Noble a few months later, picking up the magazine, and seeing myself in it was a surreal experience. I was in shock for about 2 weeks.
I mean, we’re talking about a small town Vermont kid who had a monthly subscription to GQ Magazine when he was a child, who now holds the same magazine in his hand with himself in it. Talk about full circle.
Check out the final tear sheets from the magazine:
So, that’s that! A dream came true and now I can say I’ve been in GQ Magazine, woohoo! I booked this job at 30 year’s old, so anyone reading this with a dream that people tell you you’re too old to follow, tell them to shove it. I know 30 isn’t old, but I had a lot of people tell me I would never have a career after 25, so this experience was honestly magical.
Check out my video showing a glimpse of my experience on the day of the shoot, and when I went and picked up the magazine thereafter. Check out my Vlog about shooting GQ
Thank you, Universe, for this wonderful manifestation.
In the last few months, I’ve been blessed to have some pretty epic bookings: a 4-page Men’s Grooming Editorial in GQ Magazine — which featured a whole-page, full-face shot on pg. 20 of the June 2018 Comedy Issue — and campaigns for Descente, Asics, Lululemon and Kenneth Cole. You won’t see my face in all of them, though, as the majority of my modeling work is as a Parts Model.
In any case, you’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg of hard work I’ve put in for almost half of my lifetime (I began my Modeling Journey at 16 and am now 30).
A lot of people ask me the same question: “How do I become a model?” or “What advice do you have for getting into modeling?”
My first answer is almost always the same, which is “don’t get into it for the money.” Making money as a model sounds great, but there’s a lotttt of behind-the-scenes work that goes into a successful — or moderately successful (or even minimally successful, for that matter) — modeling career. Let’s dive in with my 5 Simple Tips to Start Working as a Model Today:
- Determine your Market.
Modeling isn’t all 6-foot + fashion Glamazons. There are other thriving markets, too, like Parts Modeling, Fit and Showroom Modeling, Lifestyle and Commercial Modeling, Fitness Modeling, Promotional Modeling, etc. Research some of these terms to find where you fit, so you can save yourself time and potential heartache by starting in the right sect of the industry. Also, determine if your main goal is to achieve recognizable exposure, or make money as a model, because they don’t always go hand-in-hand.
- Create a Model Mayhem profile.
Model Mayhem is where I began building my professional modeling portfolio when I was 18. You can create a profile, upload images, connect with photographers, and even book small jobs to acquire those golden tear sheets.
- Take some Polaroids.
If you are totally new to modeling and have never done a professional photo shoot before, take some simple Polaroids like the ones below to market yourself to photographers, agents, and potential clients. Another option is to simply pay a photographer, whose work you like, to do a professional photo shoot, but in my experience, I know that can be a pretty big financial commitment for beginning models. Use these photos below from professional model comp cards to guide you:
- Set up a Photoshoot with a Local Photographer.
Like I mentioned above, you can either pay a photographer of your choosing, or set up a Time for Print (TFP) shoot, which is an exchange shoot for portfolio images, which benefit both you and the photographer in getting future work. Model Mayhem is a great resource for that.
- Contact a Local Modeling Agency and see if you can come in for an Open Call.
Local Modeling Agencies can help you get paying work as a model. If they don’t like your look, however, don’t be discouraged, because the majority of working models today have heard tons of “no’s” to get to a “yes.”
“Every model has a different story. Some traveled the world and worked tons in their teen years, plateaued in their mid-20s, then started working up a storm again in their 30s. Others didn’t get big jobs until they were 45. And others hit it big as a child model and kept on going until they were 20, then moved out of the industry. Everyone’s career will look different, but you’ll never know unless you get started today with one small step today.”
OK, so I guess I’ll milk this while I maybe have a captive audience for like 3.5 seconds: IM IN GQ! I’ve been hustling in New York for 7 years and this comes just 3 days shy of my 7-year anniversary here in the city. I’m so grateful to the Universe for this supreme manifestation.
That being said, my choice to pursue a career as a professional model has challenged me in many ways: I’ve been criticized for not having the perfect 6-pack, turned down by top modeling agencies over and over again, gone on hundreds of hours of castings and not booked the job, spent countless hours working out, eating “right,” working with a dermatologist on my skin for years, etc, all to fall short of the “industry standard.” Thankfully, we are in a time where many models of all types are breaking through barriers. I’ve traveled around the world to shoot a major campaign only to be cut out after bragging to all my friends about it. This honestly was a lucky break because they were looking for a “hippie Jesus,” and apparently that’s my type? I’ll take it.
I didn’t give up. And there have been a lot of days, especially recently, where I’ve come really close to saying fuck it, I’m done, it’s not worth it. But in those moments I have to remember that modeling has brought me to New York City, created an opportunity for me to have an amazing career in real estate, made me tons of amazing friends, kept me physically fit and healthy, brought me to other countries, helped me pay off debt, gave me the validation I’ve always wanted, and helped tear down and rebuild my self esteem in a strange way.
Thank you to the amazing team:
Hair/Make Up: @jessica_o_
Prop Stylist: @bossgonecrazy