Ellen Sirot is a model in New York City, but she's not the type of model you're probably thinking of. When Sirot is booked for a modeling job, only one part of her appears in the advertisement or commercial: her hands.
Sirot is a hand model, which means she makes a living modeling her hands for print ads and TV commercials. Seeker Stories interviewed Sirot to find out what it's really like to be a hand model.
Hand modeling is a very competitive industry. Sirot could get a call at any moment for an audition, so she must keep the skin on her hands flawless and her fingernails perfectly manicured at all times. She often wears gloves outside to protect her hands from the elements and she gets regular manicures to keep her nails nice and polished.
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"Hand modeling is incredibly competitive so that means if I have a papercut and the next hand model doesn't have a papercut and they don't have to pay the expense of having it photoshopped, they're not going to choose me, so I always just have to be perfect," she told Seeker.
Hand modeling is part of the larger world of 'parts modeling,' where models are booked for a specific part on their body. Besides hand modeling, there are legs, feet, and even lips models. They can be called in to audition for any advertising campaign that features the part they specialize in.
For fashion or beauty shoots, hand models with longer nails and more delicate hands tend to get booked, while food and cleaning product commercials require hands that are practical but still attractive. According to Forbes, "Premiere parts models earn around $1,000 a day for TV commercials, and between $2,000-$5,000 a day for print work."
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Sirot notes that there are differences in hand modeling for print versus commercials. For print, a hand model must be able to look very graceful while holding the product. TV commercials are all about doing the correct movement and then recreating it time and time again until the director has enough takes.
Now that she's been hand modeling for a number of years, Sirot actually created a technique around the business that she teaches to other aspiring hand models. "There was never someone to teach me and I'm really glad that I can teach other people this very unique thing," she told Seeker.
Lucky for hand models, most get to work much longer than full-body models because their hands typically age more slowly than the rest of them. Sirot said she feels confident she could continue her hand modeling career well into her 90's if she wanted to.
-- Molly Fosco