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Model Agencies: Knowing Who To Trust

  • Claire Louise

Model agencies are often very important in a model’s career, however, with so many out there, it can be difficult to know what’s what. There are plenty of facts that it would be useful to know about modelling agencies, so we’re laying out a basic introduction!

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What Are They?

Essentially, a modelling agency is an organisation which helps male and female models to secure paid work in their field. They are always looking for new faces to join the agency. Many are based in large cities with a huge association with fashion. The likes of London, Los Angeles, New York and Paris are well known for their top model agencies. We’re talking Model Management, Storm Models, Viva Model Management, Select Model Management, IMG Models and Wilhelmina Models.

Model agencies take out the stress of finding modelling jobs, and they do all the hard legwork for you. They’ll book the shoots, sort out the billing, deal with the advertising agencies and fashion designers, and good model agencies will even train you up. Your agency should offer continuous support at every step and follow up after each casting or job.


What’s in It for Them?

Of course, as with all good things, nothing in this world is free! Model agencies make their money through commission, which will be set out in your contract. You should NEVER pay upfront to join a modelling agency or to be put on the books. This isn’t how it works, and that’s very sketchy indeed.

Certain services are chargeable (such as making a portfolio, essential for selection as a fashion model), however, paying to be showcased is not. If the agency likes you enough to sign you and have faith in you, that’s because they believe you’ll bring return on investment by booking regular jobs. That’s why finding the right model agency is important – there’s no use saying you’re on the books if you’re not actually working, which is why most model agencies are upfront about only taking people that meet their standards. It can seem brutal, but it works out best for both parties in the long run! Once signed up the booking team’s daily work load involves finding castings for professional models.


Sounds Great, Sign Me Up!

… Not so fast. Unfortunately, most talent agencies are incredibly exclusive, and most new talent are asked to join, rather than applying. Don’t be too discouraged though – whilst the top agencies only represent ‘supermodel’ types, plenty of other model agencies may well be looking for commercial models for their clients needs.

Take time to do research on the ones you want to apply for, and approach with professionalism and a great portfolio. Consider location, their contract terms, and their success rates before ever entering into anything. The contract is a major factor – do they want exclusivity? Do they want a huge cut? Most model agencies will really help you in your dreams, but just be careful not to go with the odd few who will not!


The Castings

The booking team at the agency will set up many castings for you to attend. You will have to go to a lot of these as a new face to the industry. Your first time may be daunting but after a few you will get the hang of it. Casting directors will determine whether you are the right fit in a couple of minutes. The lucky few get through each time. This could be you.

Learn to Deal with Rejection

If not, your agency will follow up with the casting directors as to why you were not lucky enough to be picked on this occasion. A clients needs are very specific and it could be down to something as little as your hair colour. A good model agency will try to find out (not always possible) and show continuous support throughout your modelling journey.

Choose Your Niche Wisely

Commercial models will find a lot more success by going to castings set up by brands within this sector. For example, Adidas will be looking for fitness models or celebs and Vogue Hommes will shoot top male models only.

What to Wear

At a casting it is important to wear a natural make-up look and a simple off-duty outfit. This could be a simple jeans and tee look. The casting directors need to see a natural version of yourself, not plastered in heavy make-up. For new faces and successful models, castings become part of your daily work load. Running between appointments in London or Paris is standard to secure those roles.

Always Be Reachable

Make sure you are always reachable as the booking team at the agency may ring you for a last minute meeting with a London brand. You may just fit the clients needs so it is worthwhile attending as many as possible. Sometimes you may be asked to travel to Europe to be seen by a designer. Female models have lots of opportunities and a designer in Spain may want to meet you. However, make sure that the expenses are paid for by the agency and you do not get left with the bill.

Good luck! What’s your experience with model agencies?

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