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Plus Size Model Marketing: The Way We Were…, 4/01/2007
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 client's desk. 

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 the lens." 

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, too. 

 
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