An Interview with McKenzie Sanders
I recently interviewed McKenzie Sanders who recently signed with Directions USA about the process she went through to getting started modeling, her experience so far, goals, etc.
You can follow McKenzie on Instagram @sandersmckenzie
McKenzie: You recently signed with Directions USA. Can you talk about the process you went through and how you became signed?
Definitely! I signed with Directions USA at the end of May of this year. I had wanted to get into modeling for the past year but honestly wasn’t very sure where to start aka with working with photographers and getting a portfolio started or to just go to an agency. I ended up emailing a local photographer, Erik Danielson, that Directions uses to figure out my best course of action as I had some friends who had shot with him and he recommended me to Directions. I submitted some basic digital shots to the agency and they contacted me to come in for an interview. I was offered a contract at that time! It all worked out perfectly!
What are your goals and where do you see yourself going in modeling and what steps are you taking to try and reach those goals?
I am hoping to be signed with a couple more agencies in the next couple of years before I finish college, most likely in Miami and NYC. I am hoping to spend next summer in one of the two places to begin working on this process! While North Carolina has great photographers it is not the hub of fashion photography and I’m just hoping to get out there a little more broadly!
What advice would you give someone interested in modeling?
Definitely go for it! I went straight through an agency but I know multiple girls now that started off working on a portfolio with photographers. I’d say to expect to get out what you put in as it is a business and that you’ll have to invest some time and money into beginning. Testing often is necessary to keep up your portfolio and to learn how to move in front of the camera. Take all the opportunities you can (its also a good way to get your name out there)! And lastly don’t expect trade shoots from all your photographers, its a professional job for them- if you do get offered a “free shoot” be forever gracious, word spreads quickly especially in a small group of models and photographers in the area!
How important is your portfolio and digitals? What type of shots do you think models should have in their portfolios to be successful?
Your porfolio and digitals are huge! You need the right shots and the right look to get booked on a job- which is the reason for all of this. Getting started with an agency- they will tell you exactly what they want in your portfolio to begin with. Outfit choices and shots should vary to display being versatile and easily able to work with. A lot of plain things with a JCrew vibe is what most agencies expect to be first in a portfolio then a range of playing with different types of imagery.
What do you think of modeling so far? Is anything different than you expected? If so, what?
I love modeling so far! Its been a completely new experience for me and really nothing like I expected. It is not what every one thinks- standing in front of a camera, smiling, and just being pretty. Pretty and perfect is boring and overrated and everyone in this business knows it. People want abstract and mood and models to know exactly how to turn their faces and bodies to make the shot work. It takes a lot of work and practice. Just like a photographer perfects his/her art, models have to perfect theirs!
Can you talk about an enjoyable photo shoot you were on? What made it enjoyable?
My two favorite photo shoots I’ve been on was first my second shoot with Ben Scott and then my shoot with Erik Danielson. With Ben we had shot once before and had been texting about ideas for this shoot. We went into the shoot with tons of ideas and things to try- being playful and spontaneous about shooting. We ended up getting a water hose outside and making awesome pictures with it. It was honestly just a great time with a high level of comfort in working outside the box. The second was with Erik Danielson. I met him the day of our first shoot and by the time I was leaving I felt like I’d known him for a long time instead of 3 hours. The comfort level a photographer and the model feel together is essential for a photo shoot to yield good results. Obviously you are making funny faces, jumping around, and doing abnormal things in front of a camera- you have to be able to laugh a little!