My Test Shoot Day With Candi Models

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Want to be a model?
Want to smile, pout and pose for the camera and get paid lots of money to do it?
Want to make it in one of the world’s toughest industries but don’t know where to start? Neither did I. So I did a very simple, never too overrated thing; I Googled.


Somewhere along the lines of Googling model agencies in Cardiff, I came across Candi Models. They make it quite clear on their website that they are not a modelling agency as such, more of a platform to get you noticed by one. You see, modelling to me is a platform in general. Yes, I would love to model and get paid lots of money whilst working hard and having fun, but my main career aim is to be a T.V/Radio Presenter and Journalist. So to climb a platform to get to another platform..? If I need be…


Their website over flows with information about the different areas in modelling such as commercial and fashion, (who knew there was a difference!?), how to look after your skin and even includes a very handy Modelling A-Z Glossary. By now I am impressed enough to click the ‘Register’ button at the top and send in simple details such as my name, address, age and send in a picture. No more than week later I get a call from a Renee, a worker for Candi Models.  He informed me that I had passed their selection process and was invited to do a free test shoot in Mint Brown Studios in London! He was very enthusiastic and complimentary of my photograph, saying that I have luscious lips and piercing eyes. As I was listening I was also worryingly scanning my brain, trying to remember which picture I sent in and hoped that when they met me the real thing would not be a disappointment! He filled me in on how the day would go, such as to bring 4-8 outfits, the date and time, which was booked for only around 2 weeks ahead. He also informed me that the day is valued at apparently £2000 with the professional photographer and hair and make-up artist… and I was to pay a £50 deposit to secure my day, which would then turn into a £160 fine if I were to book and then not turn up. He also informed me that this shoot was a test, and that if unsuccessful I could still purchase the pictures, but I would not be offered their services. Renee then asked me if I was definitely interested and wanted to do a test shoot and of course, I said yes. I had to pay the booking fee by card over the phone on the spot and was given a validation number to get my deposit back on the day. Or, he continued to inform me, the £50 deposit could go towards the cost of my first picture… as they are priced at £50 each, with package days available. Hmmm…I thought to myself…maybe this Test Shoot Day would turn out to be a little bit more expensive than I thought, since I still had my train ticket from Cardiff to London to buy yet.


There is one very important thing that you dear readers must remember about the world of modelling- You Never Pay An Agent/Agency Before They Have Got You Work. Any Modelling Agency Asking For Money Upfront, No Matter How Little It May Be, Is A Scam! Having being stung by this before when at fourteen I was offered a modelling contract by a company who wanted £100 upfront, before they had got me work, (luckily I had not paid it- thanks to Googles knowledge again!), I was weary. So I turned to – you guessed it – Google. I Googled Candi Models and I got very mixed views- some singing their praises, others obviously from people who had been turned down half way through the shoot and where not happy. But it was one article that stood out to me in particular, claiming that Candi Models was a scam and hinted that they were trying to pass themselves off as an agency when they weren’t and in fact all of what he said had been clearly stated either on the website or when I had spoken to a Candi Models worker. However, it was true about what he wrote regarding you in fact do not already need a portfolio for just applying to modelling agencies and no, a full portfolio is not shot in a day. Still weary, I got the number of Mint Brown Studios in London and inquired on the work that they did with Candi Models and also called Candi Models themselves and spoke to someone different this time and informed them of some of the details that I had read and they informed me that there is actually a law suit regarding his claims… Satisfied with what Candi Models and Mint Brown had had to say, along with my own curiosity, I decided to continue with my plan off attending the shoot.


I had been advised over the phone that although I am nineteen years of age and living as independently as I can on a student loan, to still bring a parent along. So with a day out in London available, as the Test Shoot began at 10.30 and would finish I was told around four, I decided to take my mother. This also meant that she had a day out in Cardiff as well where I took her to Build-A-Bear and she sat alongside eight years olds making her own bear, (she has an obsession with teddy bears), but that’s another story… Upon arriving to Mint Brown Studios, after getting lost a few time over, we were tired, hungry and grouchy but were met with friendly faces that soon lifted our ‘if-I-don’t-find-this-place-in-a-minute-I’m-going-home’ moods. The studio was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, with other offices and a café sharing the same block as it. There were two separate parts inside blocked off by black curtains, one with a white background, the other with a black one, where the Test Shoot would take place and where you got changed. Where I had my hair and make-up done was right next to their small office and in the open seating area. Two other people, a boy around my age and a young girl, also came for a test shoot the same day as me, but I was on first, which I was quite thankful for. The woman who did my hair and make-up was so lovely and genuine. She told me how she had moved from Poland to London so that she could do hair and make-up professionally, (I would attempt to spell her name, but I know it would not happen so very much apologies there). We laughed as we discussed how angry the people on the streets of London looked as they walked and how everybody always seemed to be in a rush to get somewhere, (why not just leave the house sooner instead of barging people out if the way in a hurry?!) She also told me how when she had done some modelling in the past, she had paid the photographer for the photos and had never received them nor saw the photographer again. I then went on to tell her how that happened to us when I represented Wales for Miss European in 2009 and the British photographer of the week had ran off with the pictures and no one had heard from him again or received anything, (and there was some really good pictures there too!) It is a sad thing that so many people try to use and manipulate the industry, praying on peoples wills to succeed and knowing that some would pay or do anything if they thought it would get them noticed… but instead it just gains the photographer or whoever the con artist is a very bad rep and fewer possible future clients.

The lovely Polish lady had done my hair and make-up so beautifully and I had picked up some tips along the way, such as apparently eyebrows must be darker than our hair colour. She did my make-up at approximately 10.30 and and it had stayed perfectly intact through the wind and rain of the London streets until I got home and took it off at midnight! She was also very patient with my overly-sensitive eyes that kept wanting to produce a flood whenever her hand came near them, (I absolutely loved the gel eyeliner she used and shall be buying some myself!) I then met the photographer Junior, who was also very lovely and I felt at ease with him – handy since I was soon to pose and act as comfortable as I can for him. He was quite young but had been working in the industry for quite a while and had photographed quite a few celebrities and said that Mint Brown is “One of the coolest studios I’ve worked at.” Being the poser that I am, I really genuinely enjoyed the shoot and just wished that it had lasted longer than the hour or so that it did – although you can get quite a few pictures done in that time! He helped me narrow down my outfit choices, (I had brought ten- better to be over prepared than underprepared!), to four, which then turned to five later as the shoot was going so well. I also learnt some of the lingo, such as what a soft box is. For those of you who don’t know, because I didn’t know until he told me, a soft box is the big wide cover over a flash head lamp which has a translucent front for the light to go through. The photographer directed me for some of the poses such as when to lie down and which ways to turn and I posed, smiled, and pouted, loving every bit of it and feeling more at comfortable than I thought I would after starting out quite nervous with fears of being rubbish and being sent home half way through going round in my head. There was also a random metal door in the studio which I did some posing up against, which made a nice change from the plain backgrounds, however I was told that some pictures would be on location which since they remained in the studio, never actually happened… Just to whoever thought that modelling is all standing there and smiling so easy; holding certain positions in heels whilst staring at bright lights trying not to blink or your sensitive eyes not to water again and wreck the lovely make-up is not as easy as it looks!

At the end of the shoot the photographer told me that I had done really well and I thanked him and went to go get changed as he selected the best pictures. My mother and I where then lead in to one of the two small offices where we spoke to a friendly enough, but not quite as welcoming as the people who we had previously met, man named Jay. He showed me all of the selected images on the computer and explained that I had passed the shoot and that apparently I am perfect for teen commercial modelling because at nineteen and can pass for about fourteen, (I took that one with a pinch of salt…). He also said that they were willing to set up a website for me and recommend my site and pictures to modelling agencies – for £3000. Now at £50 a photo, my mother and I had expected to get out our cheque books for this one, but £3000!? (Really!?) There were also smaller package deals for the likes of £2000 and the smallest being around 10 images and a site for £500. He then explained that this can be paid in monthly instalment, but being a university student who is currently in my overdraft, I knew that realistically I just could not afford it. It is arguable that the £500 deal may had been worth it, but if you don’t have the money then you don’t have the money. And in knowing many friends who can, and have, set up websites in the past and in making and designing this one myself which I could use to market myself, I begrudged paying £500, even if it was in instalments. I explained to the gentleman as plainly as I could that whether in instalments or not, I just could not afford it and his positive attitude altered suggesting that at nineteen I am getting old in the modelling industry and it was to be now or very unlikely. At my adamants, he turned to my mother who quite literally laughed at paying that price and asked him do people often and he admitted that yes usually it’s, “Daddy comes along…” What he did not quite seem to grasp when I was explaining to him that I only had £150 before my overdraft until my loan in April, (this was February), was that my daddy was not going to get out his cheque book for this one anytime soon. My mother then went on to explain that it had already cost her over £200 in rail tickets from North Wales to Cardiff to London and back again. However, his impatience to my mother and mines lack of money and enthusiasm to spend hundreds of pounds unfortunately annoyed me, which increased my stubbornness to hold my ground and say no. He then softened slightly and said that he wanted to help us since we had both come along way and we settles at a deal of £200 for 5 pictures, no website, which we paid £100 each for, (including my £50 deposit). This deal to me seemed quite fair in talking to friends who study photography and know of the industry. We then thanked everyone on the studio and left with my CD of 5 pictures, copyrighted to me, and had a fun day out in London where we saw Buckingham Palace, got continuously lost, and had squirrels run up our legs to steal our Ritz crackers.


All the fun of the rest of the day out in London aside, regarding the Test Shoot with Candi Models, I actually really enjoyed it and felt that I had started to gain a better understanding of the industry, had five great pictures to start a portfolio with and was also happy on a personal level that I had not caved into paying hundreds of money that I did not have – now that’s student saving skills!


So would I recommend Candi models..? Honestly; yes – if you have the money. 

Candi Models Website:

Mint Brown Studios Website:

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