"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Saturday, February 28, 2009

How to Get Free Headshots

We're all trying to save our money. Well, except for certain bank execs who still fly corporate jets (or so I've been told) instead of airlines, but hey.

So when our agent or manager calls us and says, "You need new headshots," we immediately all panic. That's $300-$700! And that's not including the reproductions ($85/100 per look!) or the cost to upload them on the acting websites at $10-20/pop. It's a lot of money. A lot of money we don't have.

Which brings me to Craig's List. Ah, Craig's List. I love you. How you've helped me.

I found out about ModelMayhem.com through my beloved CL. Model Mayhem is basically a myspace filled with photographers, makeup artists and you, the actress/model! It's an online network filled with people who need and want to build their portfolios. All TFP (trade for print) or TFCD (trade for compact disc).

You fill out a profile, upload some of your pictures, and then voila! You're ready to scout the photogs! They are all looking to do editorial/fashion, etc, so if you're a 5'9 blonde size 0 Amazon, you're in luck. They'll be all over you like a casting director on a couch. If you're not that lucky (which, well, I'm not either) you're still in luck! Be creative with what you got and it will still be mutually beneficial. I get a lot of fun character stuff this way. I did a "nerdy prom girl" with one photog and a "girl in a feather boa" with another. Next, I want to do a Pinocchio shoot, simply because I have the fake nose and want to do something fun with it.

I am constantly reading magazines, and whenever I find a pose, or makeup, or a shoot style or theme that I really like, in my folder it goes. There is nothing more annoying than a model who doesn't know what type of shoot she wants to do. But let's say that all you need are headshots. The photographer you shoot with will work it out so that you both benefit from the exchange. The photographer could ask you to pose walking on the beach with his dog so that he can build his "lifestyle" port. That's great. Then he'll shoot your headshots. And since we live in a digital age, you'll get your disk either when you leave or a few days later.

There are lots of lady photographers too, and almost all of the male ones will allow you an 'escort' to accompany you so you don't feel intimidated or scared. You're a young hot model- they get it. So do what you need to in order to feel comfortable. Otherwise you'll just look uncomfortable and scared in all your shots. A waste of time for you both.

And if you're not in LA, no worries! Model Mayhem is global. You can be in Skokie or Kalamazoo, and there are photographers who want to take your picture for free. You don't even have to be an actress or a model. You can just be a bored housewife, ready for an adventure. Make yourself feel beautiful!


  1. And after you have abused the services of a photographer, don't be surprised when the someone does the same to you. This is a stupid posting and does nothing to help the culture in the industry. Photographers know a lot of people, they see many actors and actresses, speak to casting directors, agents, directors, agencies and it's a VERY small world.

    1. Hi Jenny, I think you might be confused. No one is abusing anyone. When a new photographer or a more experienced photographer with a specific shoot idea wants to build their portfolio, there's nothing wrong in taking photos with a new model on a Trade for Prints or Trade for CD deal. Both parties are entering into the same agreement - that neither one will be paid in order to build their portfolios.

      This is a symbiotic relationship, one that has existed for years because it works well. Every professional started at the beginning.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. I just want to say if you are using this sight be careful. Some people have been tricked on this website and raped. I am sorry for bringing negative light to your page Lira Kellerman, I just feel as if this is necessary to say. If you would like to know more about what happened you could look at this link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2014/09/18/modeling-website-didnt-warn-users-rapists-were-preying-on-them/ or you can search model mayhem rape case on google and many articles will show up.

    1. Unfortunately, Anon, people can get tricked and have horrible things done to them from any social media website. I do think there are things that can help protect oneself - only shoot with female photographers, bring a friend with you, etc. I still believe Model Mayhem is a great place to build a book, but thank you for the very important reminder that we must be careful whenever we agree to meet anyone online.

  3. I thought this was a great article. I had no idea this website existed and as an artist, networking is key. So thank you for showing me a new networking tool! :)

  4. Jesus christ some of the commentors on here lololol man...


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