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How Do Models Get Signed to a Model Agency?

  • Melissa Keen
  • 4187 Views

We often get asked how models get signed to a model agency. If you are not one of the lucky few who bump into a model scout whilst out shopping or at the airport, the following information will be of great help to you.

But first, let us explain what an agency is and what the term ‘signed’ actually means.

What is a Model Agency?

A model agency is a company that represents a group of models. They are in contact with brands and industry professionals (photographers, designers, stylists etc.) and try to match a model to each industry’s needs.

The model agency promotes models on their books and aims to find regular, suitable work for them. They run on a commission basis (taking a percentage of the model’s earnings) and will organise the model’s pay, contracts and any other details.

Building a strong portfolio is a great way to show a model agency your potential. Here at UK Models, we can help you create a series of professional images that will help when applying to model agencies. Register today! 

The term ‘signed’ refers to the process in which a model agency accepts a model onto their books. A model is either “scouted” (picked by an agency worker) or the model applies to the agency themself. They will have to attend an interview (known as a ‘casting call’ or a ‘go-see’).

A model can choose to go freelance and represent themself, however it is usually in the model’s best interest to get signed. This is because they are far more likely to get work through an agency. It will also save them a lot of time as the agency will find work for the model, rather than the model having to find work for themself.

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How to Get Signed by a Modelling Agency

Definitions out of the way, here are our tips for getting signed to a model agency.

Have a Great Portfolio

Having a professional, high-quality and full portfolio is vital. This is because your portfolio acts as a visual CV and allows an agency to instantly see your style and potential without having to waste time and money by conducting their own photoshoot.

Your portfolio should contain a variety of pictures in different scenarios and outfits (this will show the agency that you’re not just a one-trick pony) and it must show off your personality. Shots should include full-length and close-ups.

We recommend putting professional pictures in your portfolio along with any you have taken yourself, and make sure to regularly update it. Having a portfolio is not an industry requirement, but it will help you stand out from the crowd.

If you would like more information about portfolios, pop us a line via our application form (that you can find on our website) and a member of our team will talk you through it.

Use Instagram

Make sure you upload your professional photographs (and any other high-quality images of yourself) to your social media profiles. Agents do an Instagram model search to find new talent.

The number of followers and amount of image engagement is also really important as brands also search for accounts to find models to promote designs and products. Instagram modelling has grown considerably in the last few years and is something to take seriously and spend time nurturing.

Post a variety of photos of your professional and personal life to create an interesting balance that followers crave to see in their news feed. Networking online is such an important part of growing followers. Liking, following and commenting will raise your profile and attract model scouts on Instagram. Make sure that you stay safe when working with people online. Spend time to find out if they are legitimate before continuing.

Remember to be cautious about what you post. Don’t post anything too controversial; you are aiming to be a positive role model and you may turn away brands if many people disagree with you.

Take a look at top models such as Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid and how they manage their Instagram account.

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Choosing Your Modelling Style

Decide what style of modelling you want to pursue. Are you looking to work as a catalogue model (working in high street fashion, finding yourself regular contracts, not becoming particularly well-known but being admired for your natural features), commercial modelling (the same as catalogue but acting skills are required too), a fitness model (for muscular/toned men and women), glamour (you must be 18 years of age or over) high-fashion (catwalk and editorial modelling, although this is incredibly hard to break into) classic or child modelling?

UK Models are able to advise you on which your face, body and personality will suit best. They can guide you in the right direction of relevant agencies. By going to an agency that doesn’t specialise in your chosen area, you are decreasing your chances of being accepted.

Research Modelling Agencies

If you turn up to an agency having done a little background research, you will automatically be taken far more seriously than a model that hasn’t. Whilst researching, see what each specific agency wants from their models. Do they have height or weight requirements, for example? Do they expect you to style your hair in a specific way for auditions? Do they want you to wear lots, or little, make-up? Nearly all agencies will have a do’s and don’ts list they will expect you to adhere to.

What Do Model Scouts Look For?

Apply Appropriately

Some agencies will only accept written letters in the post, whilst others will only accept applications via their website. Research your agency’s preferred method and act accordingly.

Make a Good First Impression

Do not be late and do not be shy. Although models aren’t required to turn up in a shirt and tie, it’s important to wear clothes that flatter your figure; nothing too baggy and too distracting. A simple white t-shirt and fitted jeans usually works well. Ensure whatever you wear is clean and pressed. Remember to take nude underwear with you (in case they ask you to try on some outfits), and ladies should also take a pair of heels.

You should also take some water and snacks in case you have to wait a while.

Be Attentive and Passionate

Your personality is just as important as your looks. Agencies want to sign girls and guys with personality who work hard, take direction well and are polite.

Remember to be kind to everyone you meet – you never know who will remember you and who could help open doors of opportunity for you in the future.

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How Long Does It Take to Hear Back from Modelling Agencies?

When a modelling agency is interested, they will contact you via phone or email. However, you do have to be patient as agents are extremely busy. Remember application forms will not be viewed immediately and they therefore may take a couple of weeks to get back to you.

In some cases, a reply maybe not land in your inbox at all if you are unsuccessful. However, if you attend an open call at both top model agencies and commercial ones you will receive feedback within seconds. The face-to-face interaction is quick and to the point.

If you are rejected, do not give up! All models receive knock-backs at some point – even supermodels. Don’t take it personally if you are not the right fit; re-apply in a few months, and keep applying to other agencies.

Questions to Ask a Modelling Agency Before Signing

The excitement may take over when you are accepted by a top modelling agency. However, it is important not to get too carried away and ask a few questions before saying yes.

  • Ask for a contract and read every last detail – even the small print. If you do not understand everything, ask them. If you do not agree with anything, do not sign.
  • Does the modelling agency pay for travel? It has been known for this expense to be taken out of a model’s pay, leaving models with very little. Ensure you ask before committing to anything.
  • When do models get paid and what percentage does the agency take?
  • How does the system work i.e. offers of jobs?
  • Explain your terms. For example, if you do not want to model nude, make sure this is in your contract. To ensure that the jobs they offer are in the right industry for you, be honest and open about anything you are uncomfortable with.

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Posted by Melissa Keen

Melissa's experience in the beauty and fashion world as a writer and blogger spans over five years. Her other interests include reading, yoga and music.