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Plus Size Modeling: Free Online Seminar

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Leslie Delano shares with you the tips and tricks of a successful photo shoot and working with photographers!
People always ask me what I look for in a model? The face, to me, is the most important thing. Whether the model is size 2 or 22, there are certain people whose faces the camera just loves. If you constantly get told, "WOW, you look so fabulous in pictures," you could probably be a print model. However, if people tell you you are prettier in person, you could probably do shows, etc., but not necessarily do print. There is also commercial print if you are a good type--business woman, mom, Dr--this type of work is not as glamorous but pays VERY well.

Plus size modeling is still modeling -- you are there to sell clothes -- make them look good. So you should be in good shape and toned for your size. I also look for someone who comes alive and has a lot of energy. Enthusiasm makes my job a lot easier, and your pictures better.

What to expect when working with a photographer:
Photographers all have different working styles, but I can tell you what I'm like to work with. I try to give models as many looks as possible, because you need that in your book, so we'll usually do a mix of location and studio. Living in LA, traffic is a big factor, timewise, so careful planning is helpful -- this means letting the photographer know ahead of time, if possible, what looks you want -- beach, urban, studio, etc. I tell people to allow the full day for 3-4 rolls, because hair and makeup changes take a lot of time, as well as travel time, wardrobe pulling, etc.

It also helps to bring magazine tears of things you would like to copy. Keep a loose leaf binder of photos you like and bring them to your shoot. That way we both know what you want. And be realistic -- if you want to do a Sports Illustrated type shot, know that I can shoot the style of the shot, but not necessarily make you look like Giselle. You'd be surprised how many prospective models don't differentiate between the photography and the model in an ad. Pick pictures for their style, not the model.


What to prepare - I have a long list of things that I like models to do.

  • Body preparation -- Your face, hair and body are your calling cards, so they have to be up to spec. This means -- no roots showing, no split ends, no tan lines, no zits, no errant body hairs -- get thee to a salon and get it all removed, including facial fuzz, mustaches, the whole bit. We all know women are more than the sum of their parts but modeling is a parts business so make sure those parts are smooth, hair free, clean and shiny!
  • Hygiene -- Come to the shoot with clean hair and no makeup.
  • Diet -- And lay off the salt, carbs and alcohol a couple of days prior to the shoot -- plus size does not mean water retaining sea cow, which is certainly what I am if I go out for Mexican and then go on camera!
  • Posing -- Practice in front of the mirror, or better yet with a digital camera and a timer. This is essential as you will learn your face (most people's isn't even), which expressions work, body angles that are flattering, etc.
  • Payment -- Make sure you can pay the photographer, make-up person and stylist in cash -- we have all seen too many bounced checks, and while we know YOU would never do that, we insist on cash!
  • Snacks -- Bring snacks, water and a straw so once your lips are done you don't mess it all up slurping from a water bottle.
  • Clothes -- there is a reason the job "stylist" was invented. These wonderful people have the ability to pick clothes that you would never be caught dead in on the street but make your pictures look like you did a spread in Vogue. I try to insist prospective models use a stylist -- they will shop with you and pull outfits together, then be on set to make sure those outfits look flawless in the shot. Clothes are a HUGE part of the picture and most of us buy things we think make us look thinner (black ), or we can't sit down in (that's what pins are for on set) which don't photograph well at all. If you truly can't afford a stylist, take an issue of Grace to the store with you and try to replicate the outfits you see in there, including the shoes.
  • Shoes -- thin heels!! no clunky shoes -- they don't shoot well! If you can't afford Jimmy Choo than go to Target and buy knock offs that you just use for shoots (ie, no scuffed up shoes, please)
  • Undergarments -- Nude thongs, bodyshapers, bras and hose -- paisley undies are very lovely until you get handed a pair of white capris.

What aspiring models should look for in a photographer and photo contract:
Look at their pics -- whether via website or books, also, ask around. I end up shooting for models again and again as time progresses because they know me and like my work -- that's the kind of person you want to shoot with, someone who has good word of mouth. Don't let price be a deterrent -- the ones that charge what seems a lot are often very very good and deserve it -- remember, your pictures are what get you work -- period. Ask other models and agents who they recommend.

It's also important to have good chemistry -- I think it is easier for me having been a model and being a woman -- models feel very comfortable with me -- plus I'm extremely silly and don't take myself that seriously -- this is fun, you know? If you feel a bad vibe off a photographer, get out of there. You can bring someone with you if you want, but make sure that someone is not a kid -- kids are a no no at shoots, too distracting. However, the person you bring should know that if you are shooting with me, I will most likely put them to work :-)

What are proofs Proofs are either sheets or 4x6 prints or slides, depending on what the photographer used. You and your agent look at these and decide which ones you want to blow up for your book.

What is a test shoot There are two kinds of testing -- one for the model's benefit, mainly; and one for the photographer's benefit. Model tests are when the model pays a photographer to shoot pictures for her book. While the photographer may use the pics as well, for self promotion, the main goal of these tests is to get the models useable images.

Sometimes I want to try out something -- a film stock, location, make-up artist -- then I will "test" a model, which means the model does not pay me for the shoot but is not guaranteed a "useable" shot, either -- it might be too artsy or even not come out that great at all. So think of those kinds of tests as good practice.

There is a third combo in here, when you get a starter photographer. He or she will shoot model pics, including ones the model wants, for free or splitting costs of film, so he or she can practice and build their own book. I did this when I was starting out. Here you really have a range -- you could, as a model, work with the next Bruce Weber for free, or you could work with someone not so great. As long as it's a safe environment, and you've got the time to play, I recommend you get as much camera time as you can!

What you can do as the talent? Just have fun with it -- it is hard to solely support yourself as a plus size model, so if you want to pursue it, do your homework-- there are a lot of good resources on the web, plusmodels.com, this site -- learn all you can and have fun with it!



Photographer Leslie Delano brings a wealth of expertise to the industry! She knows the ins and out of the modeling biz since she is not only a talented photographer, but has spent many years in both Chicago and NY in front of the camera as a straight size model. Since 2001, Leslie has taken her talents behind the camera and shoots models for the top agencies in LA -- Brand, Wilhelmina, Otto, Click, Next and is also the signature photographer for the Kiyonna Klothing line.

This talented Diva is also a screenwriter, director and makeup artist. Her scripts include: 'Alien Space Avenger,' 'Headgames' and 'Deadly Lessons.' Her directing credits include: 'Deadly Lessons' and 'Why Robert--a documentary about actor Robert Downey's Jr's fan club.' She has worked in Special FX make-up for horror movies including: Class of Nuke'em High.

Leslie is currently working on her first novel!

Visit Leslie's Websites:
www.mindspring.com/~modelmuse
www.mindspring.com/~delanophoto

 
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