Today, I was very excited to hear that my friend Jana which I recently photographed, is going to meet 2 known Toronto modeling agencies which expressed their interest in her. She had ton of questions for me… I started thinking about all the other girls and women I sent to Toronto agencies as well and helped them kick off their modeling journey… All this made me sit down and write this very long “Toronto modeling guide“ which will hopefully benefit to some women and parents of young girls which would like to start but simply don’t know what to do about that. I did receive many emails in past and in present from my past clients or people asking me for help. That is why I decided to write this Toronto modeling guide.
Why are they asking me? Well, I used to work as a model 16 years (currently taking a break since I am Mom of 2 young children) and I am planning on returning to it once my both kids attend school full time. Yes, there is no age limit to modeling… you heard me right. I never forget my acting agent’s words: “I cannot wait for the day you hit 40, you will then finally start making money for me”! I did acting for few years as well which was absolutely fun and loved it! I worked briefly as a modeling agent in MTSC Toronto… which I didn’t like that much….:) (you will read why later on) and I am successfully working as a photographer past 8 years which is my true passion. My work has been published all over the world… as a model and photographer.
Just few shots from my modeling career.: (Runway work, American Playboy Cover and Sears Lingerie Catalogue)
Let’s get rolling… here is the Toronto modeling guide. Some of you might agree with me, some of you not… take whatever you need from it and all I will say is “break a leg”….:) Oh yeah, and English is my second language so please ignore my grammar skills. I am doing my best I can. Toronto modeling guide.
Toronto modeling guide
– I want to do modeling but I don’t have a portfolio. What to do?: You can attend one of the agencies’ open calls which generally happens on Tuesday or Wednesday. (each agency is different, just call them and ask when it is) You don’t need to bring anything…just show up… If you have that super stunning look which is right now in demand, agency will send you to their own photographer to do what is called “model testing”.
OR you can try different route. Modeling is exactly the same thing as having your own business. The way you present yourself will reflect on you. Better way starting is getting at lest one good headshot and one good photo of your full body for your portfolio. You really don’t need many photos to start with. I always suggest to shoot at least 2 looks. If you are newbie which never posed in front of the camera, you will most likely be very stiff and a bit nervous. First look will probably be little bit stiff, second look will be more relaxed… at least I am seeing this from taking photos of various people which never did modeling before.
What to wear in your photos? I get this question all the time when someone is booking modeling portfolio session with me. One look should be very simple where agents clearly see your body type. Something like black leggings and top, or black silhouette dress will do. Second one can be either more casual or more classy. It all depends on what type of modeling you want to do. Are you young between 16 and 19 and want to do high fashion? Are you commercial type of person? Are you fitness model? Are you lingerie, swimwear model? To get a closer look at what should be warn during photo session take a look at some Toronto modeling agencies’ websites, browse their modeling portfolios and study what those models are wearing. Stay with simple tones, no busy pattern or loud colors. You should be seen first… then the outfit. The same thing applies to makeup. Ask for simple natural makeup. Agents want to see how you look like and how camera reads you…… not how your makeup looks like and guessing how you really look like behind all that makeup of yours. Once you have your test images in your hands, you are ready to go find an appropriate agent for you.
If you have the right type of images in your portfolio, your chances that you sign with a good agency right away will increase. When I came to Canada at 18 years of age, I brought my modeling portfolio from Europe. I went to see Elite where I met Elmer Olsen. He told me straight up that with that kind of portfolio I won’t get any work and he wasn’t interested in signing me. Well… I’ve waited few years, worked with different agencies and came back to Elmer Olsen. After seeing my new well established portfolio with North American feel, he signed me up in seconds. I was smiling in the elevator on the way to the car. He didn’t remember me… but I did remember the moment I’ve met him first time….:) It is just matter of time. You have to build your portfolio, start somewhere small and then build up as you go. Just like any business. This is your Toronto modeling guide.
– Which agency should I go with?: Here is a very interesting question. Many parents email me confused, they don’t know where to sign up their teens. It is not about finding an agency with good or bad reputation. It is about finding an agency which will work for your type and get you work. I’ve met many models telling me all proudly: “I am with such and such agency”… OK… and how many jobs did you get from them this year? “Actually, only 1 job this year and I had 3 auditions in total” and it was already November. You can try to be in a “top and biggest” agency in town but if you are just a name on the list, not getting work, is it worth it? I have been represented by many agencies in my modeling years… to name a few: Elmer Olsen, Next, Giovanni, Metropolitan in Paris (France) and small agency Broadbelt and Fonte. Do you know which one was the best one? Small agency Broadbelt and Fonte in Toronto. I was working 5 days a week steady. They had roughly 60 models at the time, making sure they all worked. That was the best agency for me. I wasn’t a high fashion type model. I am a commercial type. I did mostly lingerie and swimsuit modeling back then.
– Which agency is right for you then? Go to see few agencies and get opinions from them. Listen to what they have to say. If they say no, ask them: “Which agency do you recommend me? What type of modeling you think I should do? Do I need to improve anything or change anything in my look…. (hair color, cut as an example).” Once you find an agency which will want to sign you, talk to the agent some more. Is the agent honest, are you feeling he/she is sincere… not all promises type of thing? I personally like an agent which tells me good things and also tells me bad things without any hesitation. Such as “Warren Beatty from AAB Talent” told me: “Do you know what is a negative thing about you?” I said… “my accent?” He said: “I am glad you know it. Your accent will limit you in some acting roles.” Until this day, I think he was the best acting agent for me. Once I return to acting, I will knock on his agency’s door hoping to take me back….:) I don’t like agents which do too much of a sweet talk. Those never gave me work.
Don’t forget that interview works both ways. You are interviewing a modeling agent trying to find the right one for you and they are doing the same thing with you. They are in it to make money. They want people which have the right look for them, are reliable, sincere, don’t have an attitude, and will represent them well. I’ve had a pleasure to work as a modeling agent. I’ve met some awesome models. I’ve met some male models which drove me nuts with their attitudes. They thought they are superstars and treated me like I was a slave. Guess what? I didn’t book them again. In fact, I’ve placed their photos under the table so I didn’t even have to look at them again. Oh boy, was I running away from working as modeling agent. It is not easy to deal with some models.
Bottom line, come for an interview with little or no makeup, wear something tight so agents can see your body. Not too sexy though, they are not interested in seeing your underwear through too short of a skirt. Something classy, simple and tight to show waist line and body shape. Bring portfolio, be yourself, be healthy confident and listen to what he/she has to say. Toronto modeling guide.
Here is list of Toronto modeling agencies: