What Is a Model Agency?

  • Amy Bebbington
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If you’re interested in becoming a model and you’ve been researching the various ways of finding work, you may have come across the term ‘modelling agency’.  In short, this is a model company that represents a whole range of models from guys to girls, adults to children to fitness and plus sized faces. Most agencies tend to specialise in one particular area.

The Model Database

Depending on how successful a modelling agency is depends on how many models that they represent, but each one normally represents a few hundred with larger modelling agencies representing a few thousand. Each agency aims to create a model database (which customers can search through to find models to meet their requirements) thus providing outside businesses with thousands of model options in one easy to search through place. Model agencies generally make their money by taking a percentage of a model’s project fee if the model is successful in finding work.

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What Are the Advantages?

The advantage of being represented by an agency is that their aim is to find you work; they note your unique features, circumstances and your personality qualities and then they market you to relevant companies that they think are appropriate for your style and look. In short, they do a lot of the ‘paperwork’ side of modelling for you.

Getting Signed to an Agency

You may recognise the names Storm, Elite, FordIMGFMPremier and Select from your research; these are all internationally famed model agency London. Most models dream of being signed to one of these but let us confirm – you can still become a successful working model without having one of these as your agency.

In order to be represented by an agency, first you must get signed. ‘Signed’ is the industry term that refers to a modelling agency officially agreeing to represent a model. There are a number of ways to introduce yourself to potential agencies; if you’re incredibly lucky you may be scouted (spotted) by an agency scout and then be invited to attend their offices, or, more than likely, you will approach modelling agencies yourself.

The Portfolio

To approach a modelling agency you do not need to create and build a professional portfolio, however having high quality images may be an advantage. It can help you to stand out from others as it will allow potential agencies to get a good idea of your look, modelling versatility and your presence in front of the camera. UK Models specialise in creating high-end, industry appropriate portfolios for models so if this is something you don’t yet have, you can log on to our website now and fill in a quick online application form to start the process off.

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If a modelling agency is impressed with your portfolio they may take some Polaroid shots of you and then they will provide you with all of the relevant information, literature and forms in order for you to sign up with them. Therefore, it is extremely worthwhile if you pay for a portfolio as a way to boost your career. The entire process of legally signing with an agency will be explained to you in great detail by a member of the agency team – please make sure you ask any questions that you may have and don’t feel embarrassed about taking an adult, friend or family member with you.

UK Models Can Help!

Here at UK Models we pride ourselves on our model support service. Although we are not an agency we have fourteen years of industry experience. This has allowed us to work with thousands of aspiring models to help them achieve their career goals. Our aim is to guide them through their first steps of entering the modelling world. We supply them with a portfolio that matches the exact requirements of the industry.

During our relationship with each model we offer a photo shoot experience, a selection of tailored portfolio outcomes and continued support for a duration of twelve months. Although we do not work in conjunction with any model agencies we are able to advise you on the good and bad ones, how to approach agencies professionally, and ultimately, the best ways of finding work. We cannot guarantee that you will find modelling jobs. However, we can most certainly guide you through the process of starting your modelling career. This includes advising you when it comes to being signed by an agency.

What Agency Is the Best?

The industry is saturated with agencies all claiming to be able to turn model potential into the next big thing. However, it is vital that young hopefuls stay level headed before gullibly believing every word that modelling agents say. The flattery and excitement cloud even the most sensible of characters with the possibility of  becoming a high fashion professional model. The desperation can lead to dangerous situations or handing out a huge sum of cash with little in return. It is a time to be smart and cautious when deciding which agency is the best for you.

Unfortunately, there is no set formula to determine which organisation is the best. They all claim to be yet it is up to the model to be head strong and find a legit establishment that is trustworthy and has their best interests at heart. Never sign a contract unless you fully understand every aspect.

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Will a Modelling Agency Accept Me?

When you meet with an agency they will ask a lot of questions to assess your suitability to the company. As well as judging your looks and statistics, they may ask you about why you want to be a model and the type of modelling you wish to enter. Of course, you are hoping that they will sign you to their books straight away. However, remember this meeting is just as much about you as it is them. Take this opportunity to ask questions and get to know the agency much better. Don’t be hasty yet be vigilant and cautious!

What to Look for in a Modelling Agency?

As an aspiring model looking for their big break it can be a daunting experience. Trying to suss out how the industry works is very confusing. Take your time to research the agencies that you are applying to.

  • Check the size of the agency – this is just as important as their reputation. A large company with endless models on their books means more competition to land modelling work. A new model may be more suited to a smaller agency who will be able to focus on you.
  • Look in to the agencies clients. This research will provide a valuable insight into the type of markets they cover and the standard of the agency. A commercial model will be looking for an agency who has connections and links in this field.
  • Ask what types of roles they secure for their models. Their answer will determine if they can offer the jobs that you’re dreaming of. A high fashion model would prefer more runway, editorial work whereas a catalogue model will be seeking an agency who books more commercial roles.
  • Be up front and ask their commission rates straight away. With all the figures out in the open it will be easier to make the decision. I mean, it’s amazing to be asked to travel to New York for a shoot yet if your footing the bill for airfare and accommodation it might seem less appealing. Always check the small print when you sign a contract also.
  • A quick Google search may provide the information that you need. A model who has been scorned will more than likely take to social media to express their opinion. Do not believe everything they say. Take on board their views especially if there is a lot saying the same thing.

Is the Agency Legit?

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Many top models have spoken out about their treatment in the fashion industry with many agencies coming under fire. Late payments (if paid at all), false promises and sexual harassment are all too common in the modelling world; a reality that is being discussed more than ever and tainting an industry that so many young talent look up to in awe. It is up to the models themselves to distinguish the good from the bad. Be confident, business minded and not afraid to speak up when being mistreated.

It is the scam artists that that pose as either legit model agencies or friends of the agency that must be watched. When messaged on social media asking to Skype or pay a large sum of money please ignore. An easy way to expose the predators is to ring the agency directly. Simply ask if the individual works there. Many use well-known names to lure naïve hopefuls into a trap. The increase in social media allows for more ways to contact teens. Agencies such as Storm Model Management receive calls daily about scam agents; a figure that has risen from just once a week two years ago. In the UK last year 327 cases of scam recruiters was calculated for last year alone.

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Posted by Amy Bebbington

I express my love of fashion through writing, blogging and styling. My creative personality ensures that I produce unique and original work. I am a keen knitter and enthusiatic dancer.

  • Ireen

    thank you very much for this article, i find is very helpful as i am pursuing a career as a professional model.

    • Amy Bebbington

      Hi Ireen, thank you so much for your comment. Great to here you found the article helpful. Good luck! Thanks, Amy