Modeling in Japan 101: After the Shoot

September 11th, 2013By Category: Arts & Entertainment


So… you’ve done the legwork:

  • You’ve got great headshots
  • You’ve put together a decent portfolio site
  • You’ve registered with the agencies
  • You’re got your audition wrap down

You’re starting to book work. Congrats! But what are you doing at the end of each shoot? Just saying Kaythanksbye, grabbing your yens and rolling out the door?

Slow down there, Zoolander. If you want to build connections and become part of the local network, this is exactly how not to do it. Here are some tips to help you get your name and face out there, and make some of the coolest, quirkiest, and most interesting friends ever.

Magnum? I shouldn't even be talking about it right now.

Magnum? I shouldn’t even be talking about it right now.

Moo Cards

I wrote about a while ago, and the advice still holds true, especially in Japan. Meishei are important in any kind of business you do here, but they’re often overlooked in the modeling industry. You can create custom photo cards (a different image on every card, up to 100!) and choose all kinds of font and color options. The quality is fantastic and they’re super cheap. You should have your name in both English and in Japanese and keep the info down to just your name, website,

Here are mine. I use the mini-card, because anything tiny is automatically cute. It’s a law of physics.

People always dig these, and they make a professional and stylish impression. I have to also say: Moo isn’t paying me for this endorsement… I just really dig these cards. You can get them at


Get Theirs Too, and Use Them (duh)

Make sure you get cards from the photographer, makeup artists, producers, and your fellow actors/models if they have them. If not, get their Facebook or at the very least, their email addresses. Thank each person with an individual email a few days later and offer to help/collaborate on future projects. Keep tabs on their ongoing projects via social media. Offer to help with free or trade projects. Find reasons to collaborate… even if it’s a quick test shoot or modeling for a makeup workshop. People remember when you go out of your way for them, and showing genuine interest in their creative endeavors keeps you at the top of the list.

Be Beyond Cool

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Print modeling and commercial work is not about you. It’s not about looks, or talent, or even personality. It’s about how well you fit the part that will sell the product or tell the story.

Tips on Being Awesome:

I wrote about on-set etiquette a while back, but here are some extra tips.

Wardrobe will likely ask you to bring clothes. Bring everything you have that fits the requirements. Yes, schlepping a bag of clothes an hour to set is a pain, but it’s part of the job. Get used to it!

Makeup might ask you to take pre-shots so they can see what you really look like. Usually cell-selfies are fine, but it’s good to have unedited photos of yourself with no makeup and no hair done so they know what they’re working with.

Take your nail polish off and make sure your hands look presentable. In my experience, they’ve been shot 80% of the time, either holding product, touching product, or interacting with a fellow talent.

Say yes to everything. You want me to hold a book in the air for a hour? No problem. You want me to smile at a baby all day? No problem. You want me to say “It’s delicious!” to camera 100 times with different stress and intonation? No problem. Bitch to your friends later about any tiring monotony, but not to the director and definitely not to the client. If they say “Wow you must be tired, that looked tough!” Just smile and say “Nah—it was a snap!” Sometimes the CD might not even know exactly what they want. Be flexible and let them test ideas on you.

Remember: you’re not Zoolander. You’re a working actor or model, a marketing tool, a living prop. It’s your job to do whatever it takes to give the creative directors what they need to tell the story. If you network consistently, your opportunities grow and you have way more fun doing something you already love. Break a leg!

Author of this article

Cynthia Popper

Writer/model/actor by day, English teacher by night. When she’s not stalking beauty trends or giving model advice on her blog, she can usually be found in the Shimokita thrift shops or eating more than a reasonable amount of green tea Galbo minis.

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