We’ve been asked a few times how we choose our cover model for Sircus Magazine. It is not an easy task. Every single time is difficult when dealing with what we consider to be the best professional and amateur models throughout the Pacific NW. It’s never going to become easy either. However, there are a few things we do on every issue to help guide us in terms of importance. You may be surprised at this level of importance we place of each thing but it's easy to know if you're on track for cover. Here's how...
1. Ability: this is by far one of the most important determinants is choosing the cover model. Not totally excluding all other factors to follow, how well the model performed before, during and after the casting, shooting and interview process is the key. Getting the looks, the theme, the posing, the expressiveness, the style, the genre and overall class of what we were trying to capture is the key to everything. Now, how hard or easy was is to get to that point is what we use to determine overall ability. But nothing matters like results. Did we get what we need? Does it fit the theme? Can we market it? Can we use it to promote the model and the periodical? If you were apart of this last issue then you know the importance we placed on the thoroughness of your casting replies. We often mix professionalism with ability. But that's our thing. Results is by far the most important determinant for us is choosing the cover model. Those results stemmed from realized ability.
6. Communicable: This is just as important after the shoot as it is during or before the shoot. For us details matter. If you have been to our shoots then you know we undergo huge time and expense bringing a model in. When you aren't communicating before, during and after a shoot then it makes of nervous about your ability, results and your motives. We see you as a person first but also an investment. For a time, we're partners and working to develop your look and ultimately add to your notoriety and portfolio. We have to have details before after and during our project. We need to trust that you know your date, the time of the shoot and what is expected of you. There is no such thing as over communicating with us. The more we hear from you the more we know you’ll show which also means the more time and resources we’re willing to invest in your look(s). That always equates to more images, more looks, and more options and a much much higher likelihood the model will make cover. If you’re not easy to read or communicate with on set then it will be difficult getting the looks we need to publish or at least limit how much we get. But if we’re sitting around during our cover selection panel meeting discussing who was easiest to work with and communicate with before, during and after the shoot the cover model selection process will undoubtedly be clouded by the fact the the model did not reply to emails, texts, or phone calls in a timely manner if at all before or after.
2. Attractiveness: a touchy subject for sure but let’s be honest; Looks Matter. But it’s not about who looks best because if it was everyone would make front cover. Everyone we’ve decided to ever photograph is beautiful. But beauty doesn’t necessarily mean someone has a great personality, was easy to work with or communicable. Beauty also doesn’t mean a model had ability. We’ve seen it several times when models skate by on stereotypical physical beauty but every single image looks the same as the last which denotes inexperience and/or an inability to adapt to different looks. It’s an easy trap to fall in to. Besides, attractiveness is such a subjective thing. Despite being of huge importance if a model doesn’t suit the market or the style of our magazine brand, then it’s simply ineffective, a waste of time and resources for this particular project and best suited for a side project without consideration being given to publishing.
3. Marketability: Is it our Brand? This one of our first question. How well does the model look, act and perform like our Brand? Can he or she be marketed alongside the magazine? The models are pre-selected based on several factors chief among them is marketability. Despite how much we love photography and would love to do it for pure fun, how well a model appeals to the public in general when considering the target market and theme of the issue is extremely important. Even after all the shoots and processing is done we revisit every single model's portfolio, assess overall effectiveness, look, their communication details with us, style, and current portfolio and compare all these factors to choose the cover model.
4. Personality: How well you interact with the team is just as important and how the images turned out. If our makeup artist says you questioned every stroke of color then that denotes either inexperience or a failure to get along with people. If you have a negative disposition about everything then it will likely manifest itself visibly. These things aren’t always made known during casting but may come up during the shoot. A confrontational personality type doesn’t bode well for our reputation if we are a magazine about talent. Being on the cover is not too unlike an endorsement even though we can’t control what happens after our shoot or interview. We’ve seen several types of demeanors: the models that are distracted easily and seem somewhere, the seemingly disinterested model, the easily excitable model, the I’ll do anything to get the shot model, the let’s try this hanging from a tree model, or even the very dry seemingly bored model, the arrogant divas, the quiet, the loud, the bullies and the I’ve been modeling for years and no one can tell me how types, the I know how to do this already with the I’ve been published before so this is no big deal types of attitudes. Whatever the type we’ve likely seen it or heard it but it will and does effect the photo shoot and the cover spot pic.
5. Dedication: Is the model playing pretend or is this a real go at being a model or becoming a model. Quite frankly, if someone just isn’t genuinely interested then nor are we. Why adorn the front page with someone playing around or not really serious when it can be placed with someone who is working at modeling? This can sometimes be difficult for us to determine upon first meeting someone. However, with personality and communication issues we’re usually able to determine who is and who is not trying to make it and who is and who is not serious. We would much rather give that cover spot to someone passionate about their gifts, someone truly wanting to make a go of it or someone active. A lack of dedication can also reveal itself in the model’s current portfolio. Is the port somewhat scattered without any real direction, genre or improvements? Is it a hodgepodge of randomness of selfies mixed with professional images? This could indicate either a new model or a non-dedicated one. Again, if it’s the former then it’s not a deal breaker. But if it’s the latter it could indicate an unfocused person.
7. Popularity: How well is the model promoting themselves? Do they have a Facebook account or a website or other means of promoting themselves. Are they well known or unknown. Years ago, larger and more popular periodicals made the decision to put celebs and socially iconic individuals on the cover despite the magazine being more about fashion and beauty (clearly the spot for a model). They did this because of the popularity of the person would bode well for the marketability and sales of the magazine itself. They took advantage of already marketed popularized people for their front covers. Furthermore, contemporary pop culture dynamics became more cross genre in that actors and actresses became fashion and beauty icons, while some models became celebrities in their own rights. So how well that model promotes himself or herself, how much of a following they have or are trying to get directly effects the marketability of the periodical. If that model isn’t doing well promoting themselves then having them on your cover just really doesn’t matter.
So in conclusion, what do you think we’re looking for in a cover model? I’d say an naturally stylish, attractive, confident but not arrogantly so - driven person that is highly communicable with an agreeable disposition genuinely interested in furthering their skillset and seeking new opportunities.