What is a model agency?
A professional agency that will network and build up a substantial client list of companies that are looking for models to advertise and promote their goods or services. Therefore, signing with an agency means that they will do the legwork for you. They will put you forward for castings for modelling roles, and if the client thinks you are right for the shoot, then they will book you in.
The traditional way for a model to find work is through a Model Agency. Modelling agencies usually sign a model to their books if they feel that they can match them with work.
Find a trustworthy agency
The model agency will then take a cut of your pay once the shoot is complete as a finders fee, this is called their commission. It is crucial to find an agency that is trustworthy and only deducts the correct amount of money. Also, ensure that the establishment is actively seeking work for you to avoid being forced into advances and essentially debt.
Rarely do agencies ask for a fee to sign up yet if they do ensure that you investigate further before handing over any cash. Do not naively part with a large sum before uncovering what the money is actual paying for. Many scam artists easily disguise themselves as agents taking advantage of innocent hopefuls. Never pay a large fee without researching the agency and their credentials.
Read the contract
Always read the contract thoroughly – even the small print. Ensure that you understand each section and what you are agreeing to. Never blindly sign the legal document without being confident of the details.
Do not be too shy or intimated to ask the agent questions. If you do not fully understand any area of the contract or what is asked of you please raise each point. A trustworthy, professional agent will easily be able to clarify any concerns. If the agent is uncomfortable, unsure or vague they may not be the right agency for you.
Agencies populate the whole of the UK yet London is the central hub where most reside. Larger cities such as Manchester and Birmingham do compete with the capital but London remains the focus for the fashion community that continues to evolve in the vibrant, fast moving city.
Here is a great video made by Cassie Matthews with some great tips an tricks.
There are many different types of model agency in the UK
High Fashion Agencies
These agencies provide models for the fashion catwalks and fashion magazines. They have very rigid requirements for the models they take on in terms of height, looks and ability in front of the camera and on the runway. High fashion agencies will usually scout their models and will work with new faces to create and build a portfolio which they will pay off in addition to the commission that they take from the work that they find you.
Commercial model agencies provide models for advertising campaigns. Companies will often want an individual to be the face of their service or to be photographed using their product. The adverts then may appear on billboards, leaflets, in magazines or online. There are no minimum height requirements or a typical look that agencies will be looking for when signing a commercial model, they will just be looking for models that they believe that they will confidently be able to match with future castings.
Catalogue agencies match their models with clients looking for someone to advertise their latest clothing range. This may then appear in a physical paper catalogue or on their online shop. Like commercial models, there is no specific look or minimum height for catalogue modelling. They also just want to be confident that the models they sign will be what their clients will be looking for from season to season.
A promotional agency will not just be looking for pretty faces, they want confidence, personality and energy. As a promotional model, you will be will be the face or one of a few faces representing a brand’s latest brand or endorsing their advertising campaign, this could involve giving out samples, attending trade shows and creating a buzz at events.
Children and teens are represented by agencies who specialise in their age range. Their connections are linked to brands and designers who cater to the young audience. Parents are very much involved in the process working with the agency to ensure their child is safe and secure in the industry.
Here is a very useful infographic we put together to illustrate the types of modelling agencies,
So you have an amazing portfolio, how do you get noticed by a model agency?
There are two main ways that an agency finds their models. The first and most traditional is to be “scouted” this means to be spotted by a professional model scout who is employed by a model agency to find their new faces. This is how high fashion agencies traditionally work, however, do not pin all your hopes on being scouted at a cafe, shopping mall or bus stop. As you may already know, Kate Moss was famously spotted at JFK airport, Gisele Bundchen caught the eye of a scout at a mall in Brazil and Karlie Kloss was noticed at a charity fashion show.
Very few are scouted on the spot so do not be disillusioned by top models stories – luck has a huge part to play. Also, be cautious when approached randomly. It is important to verify their identity before agreeing to meet. Reputable scouts will ask for your parents to get in contact rather than asking the teen model directly.
Being in the right place at the right time plays a big part in the discovery of models. Many agencies actually post on social media declaring the events their scouts will be attending. Festivals and gigs are a popular destination for agencies to seek talent. Following social media could be a more strategic way of scouts finding you.
So, realistically if you haven’t yet been discovered by an agent – be productive and go to them. Find agencies online and discover how to apply following their instructions carefully. Take time to fill out your application ensuring that no mistakes are made. Usually, your details including statistics and photographs are needed to complete the application.
If after a couple of weeks your application hasn’t received a response, do not be afraid to follow up with a polite email. Simply ask if they have received your application and if they have made a decision.
If you prefer face to face interaction and an immediate response, a walk-in session may be more suited. Their website should have details of the times the agents are available to view potential talent. It is important to be natural and yourself in relation to your looks and personality. Do not wear heavy make-up as this will be a negative distraction. Typically, the agents will take some shots and ask you to demonstrate your model walk so make sure that you are prepared.
Do not contact via social media
Agencies prefer not to communicate via social media platforms as it is not a direct approach. Keep it formal by either emailing, phoning or face to face. Social media profiles are fantastic to showcase your talent yet keep messaging to a minimal opting for more professional channels.
Approach different agencies
Keep your options open and apply to a varied selection of agencies. All look for different things as there is no set formula. Do not be disheartened at rejection as agencies may have a specific client in mind, which you are not suited to at this time.
New faces department
To remain fresh and up to date agencies have a specialist department for new faces. The team have a trained eye for potential and how to nurture new talent. For emerging models, it is great news that agencies are constantly on the look out for models to sign.
But what is an agency looking for?
Of course, agencies will be looking for the physical requirements suited to their niche yet an enthusiastic personality is also highly important; a charming, charismatic persona is very welcomed. Teamed with a drive and passion for the industry agents want to be impressed and interested in what you have to say. They are looking for a model who is dynamic with long-term potential.
Instagram gives you a voice as a model so use it! Write compelling captions with images that show the real you. Do not make a side account especially for modelling as agents like to witness your natural, daily life rather than a staged set of photographs. Agents now have a trained eye for scouring Instagram accounts for new talent. With hashtags like #WLYG (We Love Your Genes) a number of potential leads for agents has increased due to the platform. Therefore, consider what you are trying to portray before uploading to Instagram.
Do your research
If you do not fit the criteria of a high fashion agency, which very few of us do, then you will be looking for a commercial, catalogue or promotional agency. To apply to these agencies you will need to visit their websites and apply online.
Be warned that if you Google model agencies chances are that it will not only bring up professional agencies but also casting directories, hosting sites, companies that are trying to sell you images or model training so make sure you do your research before applying.
What happens next
If your application for the agency is successful you will be invited to a meeting to discuss further. The agent will sit with the parents and model to explain the industry and the process of becoming a model. Agencies like to clarify that it is not a simple transition from Instagram to the runway yet a development that allows for you to learn about the business gaining valuable experience.
How can UK Models help you get noticed by an agency?
UK Models are here to help anyone looking to break into modelling, whether you are a parent looking to get your child started or you taking the first steps to finding out if you may have what it takes.
We are here to take the confusion out of how to get started by providing advice support and even practical help in building your professional portfolio.
Register with us today to see if you show potential and make use of our professional support service.