Professional modeling gives students an inside look at the industry

While most students are obtaining traditional jobs some student have made a living modeling professionally for companies.


Jordin Harris

As he stands on a replicated set of a photoshoot, senior Tripp Starr poses with his hands in his pockets and glances to his side.

By Steven Curto, Mill Valley High School

After performing in a show at the University of Kansas during his freshman year, senior Tripp Star met his modeling agent who was in the audience of the show. The agent approached Star after the show and told him that they had high hopes for his future career in the entertainment and modeling industry and wanted him to sign to the talent agency they worked for.

With the agent’s advice to sign to their agency, Star went in for an interview with other employees of the agency and two days after his interview they sent him information about doing a commercial.

“The process of getting an agent was surprisingly easy. All I did was go in for an interview and audition, and about two days later she already sent me information for a commercial, which I booked about a week later,” Star said.

Star and the agent have been working together for the past five years. Over the years his agent has booked him six modeling shoots as well as expanded his interest with acting by also booking him several acting gigs, which they typically schedule in the spring or summertime.

To start getting booked, Star needed to take headshots. Headshots take roughly an hour to an hour and a half and can take four to seven days for the photographer to email the finished pictures. His first headshots were taken by an old piano and did not turn out very well. Despite the photos, Star was still able to book gigs and after a while, he retook his pictures with another professional photographer.

“The first headshots I took were dingy and by an old piano,” Star said. “After all I still got booked for things so I received lots of mercy. About a couple of months later I got new headshots taken by a more professional photographer and it made things a lot better.”

Similar to Star, freshman Carter Harvey also works for a talent agency, Talent Unlimited, and has done shoots in Kansas City since he tries to book shoots that are local.

“I got into modeling when my KC talent agent sent my picture in for the Lee jeans shoot,” Harvey said. “I have an agent here in KC that tries to get me to work locally, commercials, modeling, and acting.”

Harvey really enjoys modeling because it allows him to make a lucrative sum of money in a short period of time and has allowed him to meet new people from all over the country.

“I like modeling because you can make a nice paycheck for a short amount of work,” Harvey said. “I also enjoy meeting different people, at my last modeling shoot I met people from New York and Los Angles.”

Making money is a large aspect of modeling as Star has been paid for each shoot he’s worked on which can range from profitable shoots such as a Frio Lay campaign he worked on as well as a less lucrative shoot he did for a photographers portfolio.

“The most lucrative shoot I’ve ever done would probably be Frito Lay and the less lucrative would have to be a shoot I did for a photographer’s portfolio,” Star said. “The difference between the two would have that Frito Lay is more established than the photographer.”

Although these shoots can be a money making venture some take long amounts of time to complete, such as a campaign Star did for Payless that lasted 12 hours.

“The longest shoot I’ve worked on would have to be the shoot I did for Payless. I was there from nine in the morning till nine at night,” Star said. “What made it long was that we had a personal session, group session, filmed for social media, and filmed for a television commercial.”

Although Star thoroughly enjoys modeling he does not want to pursue it as a career and thinks that large aspects of modeling such as satisfying the employer are very stressful.

“The most stressful part about modeling is pleasing the employer,” Star said.  “If you do a good job then the employer will not only boast about you but will continue to bring you back, but if you do a poor job then the worst could happen.”

This story was originally published on The JagWire/Jag Yearbook/MVTV on December 31, 2019.