Mature Modeling Interview

Model Al Dixon Photo courtesy of Denise Carol Models and Talent

It's not difficult to enter the world of mature modeling, and we have some pointers for you. LoveToKnow Seniors interviewed Suzi Young-Gaines, owner of Denise Carol Models and Talent, a licensed agency in Jacksonville, Florida. Denise Carol established the agency in 1976, and Young-Gaines, a former model, purchased the company from her in 1997. The agency has clients throughout the U.S.

In this interview, Young-Gaines provides valuable insight into how an agency operates, what you can expect for rates, and just what a mature fashion model should look like.

Mature Modeling Interview

For those not familiar with how a modeling agency works, please give us a brief overview.

An agency represents models. Clients contact the agency requesting a certain look, age, sex, race or ability. The agency then shows the client who they have. In our case, we generally book from our website directly or send images via e-mail.

The client then makes their selections. The rates are negotiated as well as the usage. Availability of the model is checked. The model does the job. The client pays the agency, and then the agency pays the model the rate they were quoted, minus the agency's fee. My agency takes 20 percent of what is quoted to the model, which is a pretty standard rate.

Is there a demand for mature models? Please explain why.

Yes! Most of the work for mature models is called "lifestyle" which means it is a setting that a company's customers could see themselves in, and then want to purchase the product or services. For example, the target consumer is not going to believe a 22-year-old is really able to relate to pharmaceutical products.

Model Sheryl Anderson Photo courtesy of Denise Carol Models and Talent

How might mature models be used in various media?

My agency is primarily print due to our market. This means the images are used in regional and national magazines, a company or nonprofit's annual reports, billboards, brochures, on the Internet, and television.

Just How Pretty Do I Have to Be?

Many people think that in order to become a model, they must be exceedingly handsome or incredibly beautiful. Please share with us what mature modeling agents look for in prospective talent.

I look for someone who looks his or her age. Not someone who is 55 looking like he or she is 40. Yes, it's nice to look younger. However, there are not as many senior models out there as there are 30- and 40-year-olds. Obviously, models need to be attractive, but women don't need to be a size 4 and tall. Fit, in shape, and nice people are who I look for.

Photo courtesy of Denise Carol Models and Talent

Creating a Portfolio

What materials should someone have in order to present himself or herself for consideration in the field of mature modeling?

Once you are signed with an agency, they will most likely request you have a composite card, also known as a comp card, made with the agency's logo on it. Usually it has one photo on the front and anywhere between three and eight photos on the back. Comp cards are what we use to promote our talent to clients.

What types of photos should someone submit or have taken for submission? And approximately how much might professional photographs cost?

If a potential model already has photos, submit those. However, if you are just starting out, my opinion is that you should just send two snapshots, one from the waist up and one full-length, to an agency with your statistics (height, weight, measurements, etc) and contact information.

I suggest that you are the only person in the picture, and that you look natural. Don't send photos of yourself from a wedding or dressy affair. No heavy makeup. Just be yourself.

Photo courtesy of Denise Carol Models and Talent

Regarding professional photos and cost: There are so many photographers out there. There are also different levels of photographers' abilities to get the model what they need for the agency to promote them. If a licensed modeling agency wants to sign you and recommends a photographer, go with that one.

The bottom line is you want to have a great comp card and that starts with the photos. In our market, professional photo shoots run about $450 for three looks, which includes preparation of hair and makeup, and the model owns everything. I'm sure that varies depending on which city you're in.

Typical Mature Modeling Rates

Please give us a general breakdown of what a new model might expect for a fee.

Typical fees for our market for print are $125 an hour with a two-hour minimum; $400 for a half-day; and $800 for full day. Then remember to subtract the 20 percent agency fee, of course.

Additional Considerations

What other considerations should prospective mature models keep in mind?

  • Start out locally first. Be realistic about where you live and how much work is actually out there.
  • Communicate with your agency occasionally when you have not heard from them to let them know you are available and wanting to work if anything is coming up that you would be appropriate for.
  • Always be super nice to the booking agent and easy to work with. Do not be high maintenance. The agency is busy and is working on more than just the job you have been booked for.
Photo courtesy of Denise Carol Models and Talent

Any other advice you can share?

My biggest suggestion is to do your homework before you invest any money into a modeling agency. Call local advertising agencies and ask who they use as an agency. Check on the agency with the Better Business Bureau, or BBB. Even if the agency is not part of the BBB, the organization will be able to tell you if the agency has any complaints against them. You don't need to share all your investigation with the agency, but it will prevent you from getting taken for bad pictures or not getting paid for jobs.

Another suggestion: If an agency wants to sign you, be sure you have checked them out to be sure they are legitimate. For example, agencies in Florida have to have a license with the state. Find out what your state requires.

~Tracey L. Kelley

Mature Modeling Interview