by Industry Liason, Catherine Schuller
The widespread use of online promotion and marketing tools has become
ever popular and accepted as a viable way to "get yourself out there"
and provide an opportunity to gain exposure and "be seen." As in
any sort of packaging and presentation genre, the end doesn't always
justify the means, and gaining valuable forays must be done properly
and professionally, just as it was in the "old days" when I first began
plus-size modeling in the 80's with Plus Models and then with Ford in
New York City.
During that era of the newly burgeoning area of "special size
modeling", the model was expected to do testing and experiment with
photographers who would try their hand at shooting the full gal and
attempt to interpret her as a fashion icon in her own right.
Building one's hard copy portfolio or "book" and having a great comp
card was just about the only way to develop promotional tools of the
trade. Every once in a while, someone would come up with a
calendar idea, or a coffee mug or a campaign, but for the most part a
model was expected to have three portfolios at the ready...one for the
agency, one for herself and one to be 'out there' in the field on a
Sometimes half of my paycheck for the week would be eaten up in Federal
Express charges to get my 8 lb. book sent across the country or just up
the street. That portfolio was the visual representation in
cibachrome print (C print) photo form of how the model and the camera
melded. The portfolio and leave behind comp showed the client how
the model photographed and displayed her "look showing versatility,
beauty style and just how photogenic she was and how she could "work
There were a handful of reputable photographers whom everyone tested
with...they would deliver consistent results, if not cookie cutter
renditions, of every model whom the agency wanted to have
photographed. The agency in turn also created a "head sheet"
which mostly consisted of the "best of" test and tear sheet (work from
catalogues or circulars) shots that showed all the models in all the
divisions on the agency's current roster and who were represented
(signed) by them.
The model and agent would sit together and
would select the "best of" photos for that head sheet. Another
fee was charged for inclusion in that book and it included "mailing" it
to a client list of thousands and thousands of clients...so with the
tests, the blowing up of shots, and the head sheet (sometime comp cards
were included with that fee)...the amount of cash outlay was
outrageous. And this would have to be redone every year!!!
The model would be asked to be on this "head sheet" as a privilege,