Tools of the Trade (blog post 10/19/2010)

A trumpet player needs a trumpet. A ballerina needs shoes. A basketball player needs a ball. None of these people could do what they do without these items. Could you imagine a musician performing without an instrument or a ballerina dancing en pointe without her toe shoes or a basketball game without a ball? They wouldn’t be very successful performances, that’s for sure.

Just as musicians, dancers and athletes need their respective tools, so do models and actors. Models need pictures and actors need headshots and a resume. A model intending to really model needs a portfolio with a variety of pictures–professional pictures–portraying different moods, poses and seasons. All representing the type of model he or she is, whether commercial, fashion or both. For a beginning model, that very first photo shoot with a professional photographer is critical. It shows the agency and clients that he/she has been through a full shoot, knows what it is like to be in front of the camera, and can take direction. Shooting with a friend or family member that “knows how to take pictures” in order to save a dime or two is not recommended and can actually be detrimental to your chances of booking a job. A basketball player would not play with a volleyball or a trumpet player would not play with a homemade trumpet. They know the proper tools are essential and of great value to their success. A model’s photos are no different. Her portfolio and comp cards are her tools of her trade.

Actors have required tools as well. Actors need headshots and a resume. They can have a variety of headshots that represent the type of actor they are. A nice soft smile or serious look for theatrical, perhaps, and a big smile for commercial. If you are a character actor, a headshot with some personality could certainly help you get the call back. Stapled to the back of the appropriate headshot is an updated resume listing all the actor’s performance experience as well as training and special skills. Don’t ever undermine the importance of training. Sometimes, it can be as important, if not more, than the list of experience (especially if you are a new actor). Even seasoned, famous actors still train. It shows you are working to perfect your craft. Acting is an art and a skill. Like the basketball player, trumpet player, and ballerina, it takes training, and lots of it, to keep the skills sharp and honed.

It doesn’t matter what field you choose; athlete, performer, model, actor, businessman, the same rule applies: if you want to be taken seriously and be good at what you do, then you have to have the tools of the trade and the skills to back it up. If you plan to enter a profession, do your homework, learn from those in it, and never undermine the education necessary to perfect it. You want to be remembered for your professionalism and talent, not as the one that left everyone asking “Are you kidding me? Is this guy for real?”