Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Business or the Bullsh!t

Ahhh, back at the computer.  I took a class this summer!  That kept me b-u-s-y.  More on that in the future, but it’s over…and a few days later I had a septoplasty (that’s like, a nose job without the nose…but I had a really freaky septum that’s now a week post-op and is healing very well) so I’ve been a little preoccupied.  But here I am, Peroni beside me and the Real Housewives of NYC reunion on the TV…life is good.

I thought I’d start, actually, with a quote from a Housewife.  Dorinda, the newest NYC Housewife this year, told Sonja Morgan – while Sonja was in a babbling drunken stupor, what else is new – that “Money talks and wealth whispers.”  Let me set this up another way, as well, because I’m not talking at all about money, per se.  Here in CT there are plenty of colleges.  Let’s use two for my example.  One advertises everywhere: billboards, bus stops, on the radio, on television.  They are trying to build their brand and attract students and they shout it from the hilltops.  (I think their marketing is fantastic! …My buddy is their marketing director.)  For my contrasting example I’ll just say: Yale.

Do you see what I’m getting to here?  IN YOUR FACE versus subtlety.  Having to say it all versus speaking for itself.  You need to tell people versus…people just know.

I’m going back to a topic from the beginning of this blog journey, but I know I’m reaching more people now and I want to emphasize some points.  What a parent wants in an agent, I had asked (and answered) before.  I’m still basically addressing the same thing here, but I want to hit on a few things because there has been this ALL OUT WAR on the Backstage child modeling message board.  If you don’t read it, I would say…probably not the time to start.  If you’re going to have surgery and will be severely limited by your pain vs narcotic levels, maybe hit it up between sleeps because hopefully you will forget it all as though it never happened.  (Here's the link if you cannot stay away.)

I think this thing happens to many parents when they start looking for modeling agencies for their children.  Parents put agents up on pillars…like they are gods and goddesses to be pleased and may we bow down and offer up our child to you?  Please make my kid a model?  I’m guessing that if you have a kid in this business you have felt that way at least once.  Maybe it was for 30 seconds, but I’m guessing you felt it at least once.  It’s kind of like applying to schools or jobs – and I’ve said that before.  “I want YOU to want ME!”  You prepare for the big meeting…you make sure your child is clean and groomed to perfection.  But…guess what.  To the agent?  You’re the 2:30 appointment.  And you may be meeting with just one or maybe even five agents…and they see hundreds of you.  It’s like I’ve told students when they ask me a question about a point they lost on a homework three weeks ago – I graded a hundred and twenty of those; you looked at one.  Perspective.  Let’s create a healthy understanding of the role we play in each other’s lives and go from there.  The agent may or may not want to represent your kid.  Let me say that again.  The agent may or may not want to REPRESENT your kid.  Represent.  REPRESENT.  Represent in business negotiations.  Doing all the legwork to get your kid to castings and bookings and bookkeeping and maintaining professionalism and looking at photos and talking to casting directors and changing schedules and and and…doing business.

You want your agent to be a business person.  You will notice that I never mention my daughter’s agent and I never speak of specific agencies here.  That’s because all of the reputable agencies are great in different ways for different parents.  If my agency blew off the face of the earth tomorrow I would be honored to work with whichever of the major players that would offer my daughter representation.  The reason they are major players is that they have earned their street cred.  Two agencies I can think of are new (meaning less than three or so years, so that gives them away, sorry ladies) but they have POUNDED THE PAVEMENT to get full swing into the NYC market.  And how did they do it?  And the ones who have been around for longer?  They worked hard.  They maintained professionalism.  They stayed quiet when they needed to be quiet and they advocated hard and worked those phones when they needed to.  They found the right combination of real trust in casting directors and parents and the owners of their agencies (or maybe they ARE the owners of their agencies) and got it done.  Once the wheels got turning, they kept their noses to the grindstone and didn’t get off course.  They focused on the business and not the bullshit.  My assumption?  If you’re dealing with bullshit, you’re not dealing with casting directors, and that means you’re not booking my kid.  And that’s why I was very careful to give agents a fair shot when I answered what agents want from parents: parents need to not cause extraneous bullshit for agents.  Some agents love when the kids pop in to say hello.  Some don’t.  Some do if you call first.  Some agents work out of their homes in their PJs at 3:00 am.  Respect the life.  But if an agent is out there acting all crazy?  Who – CD, accounting department, photographer – wants to deal with him or her?  Maybe he or she can convince the parents (especially if the agent pays Google to sponsor the agency when parents search) but eventually…the business reflects the agent.

Feedback?  Thoughts?  Add a comment here, on my Facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or send me an email at thebizzymama@gmail.com …I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.  Say hello!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Shooting with Mary Kate Gutierrez

A couple weeks ago I decided that I needed a quick new headshot of my daughter because she is growing out her bangs and everything I have ready to use is very bang-o-centric.  My daughter’s print agency really only uses her tearsheets for submissions, so I send those along whenever I see them, but for on-camera, a recent headshot reflecting the kiddo’s current look is a must-have.  Casting directors are not too keen on getting kids who look nothing like their headshots!

I favor very natural photos, and I try to keep my eye out for emerging photographers or local photographers who may be offering a one-look mini-shoot at a reasonable price.  I’m pretty budget-conscious now (more on that in the future) but also want someone who knows the market so I get the look I need (in NYC, the more natural the better) so I asked around and found a great photographer who was available to meet up – even better – in two days.

Mary Kate Gutierrez has been building her photography portfolio over the past year in New York and Southern Connecticut.  A 2014 graduate of UCONN, she works full-time in advertising but pursues her love of photographing children as much as possible outside of work hours.  She hopes to parley that into a career pulling together the big picture of marketing kids’ fashion campaigns.  I’ve seen her work shooting for emerging designers as well as portfolio shoots for kids and some editorial work.  She credits her ability to work will with kids, parents and designers on her extensive sports background – she played competitive soccer, basketball AND lacrosse.  I would describe her style as clean, natural and fun.  She loves the opportunity to capture children as they really are – letting their personalities shine. 

With a rousing endorsement by a friend, I contacted Mary Kate on a Friday.  She had also been following me on social media, so when I messaged her we felt like old buddies – she’s very friendly and outgoing.  She suggested meeting up on Sunday morning, which was perfect, since she already had a shoot scheduled at Yale and I would be on my way to my dad’s for a family gathering nearby.  (I kind of live in the boondocks of northwestern CT, so New Haven is actually relatively handy for me in relation to NYC or NJ).  I asked for some wardrobe suggestions, and I grabbed a few dresses and some simple sandals and we were on our way.

When we met on our arranged street-corner, Mary Kate was ready to go.  It was a reeeeealllllly hot that day, but she showed up looking like quite the cool and casual photographer – cute clothes with a stylish vest and her hair pulled back.  She put my daughter at ease immediately (not that my daughter is uptight or anxious, but a fast connection is a great thing for a quick photoshoot).  We picked a dress, chatted a bit, and within a few minutes they were off and running, stopping here and there in the nooks and crannies of the collegiate neighborhood.

Mary Kate sent me all of the photos that night.  I loved the proofs and have settled on one to use as a headshot.  Most of all, I really enjoyed meeting her – she talks about her close-knit family (three brothers and a sister; all younger) and the high expectations her parents have for their academic achievement (each child pays his or her way through school as well).  Honestly, I left the shoot wanting to go have Sunday dinner at Mary Kate’s family’s house!

If you’re looking for some fresh photos with a really sweet and outgoing photographer, consider Mary Kate.  Full disclosure, I paid her full asking price and I did not receive any “favors” for the coverage in the blog here – this was totally my idea after the fact because I had such a great time with her and I wanted to spread the word.  She is “emerging” and not a full-time photographer, so her prices are quite reasonable yet she is no less professional than anyone I’ve worked with.  You’ll see a lot more of her work in the future – I’m sure!  You can follow her on Instagram at @marykategutierrez on facebook at MKG Photography or on the web at mkgphotog.com. 

I've included a few shots below...the first is the one I'm using for her on-camera headshot now; the second is the "serious face" she was sporting that morning; and the third is just a fun shot that I love.

Feedback?  Thoughts?  Add a comment here, on my Facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or send me an email at thebizzymama@gmail.com …I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.  Don’t forget to share the love by clicking RIGHT HERE…I want to become a top Mommy Blogger!