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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Easy Ways to Tell If a Modeling Agency is Worth Looking Into

This blog post was inspired by Kathleen's question. Kathleen wrote:

Hi Dania. I would like to ask how to know if the modelling agency is a good one? Thanks


Although what Kathleen is asking about is similar to a post I just did ("How to Tell If a Modeling Agency is Big"), this entry has more to do with modeling agencies in general and not just the top ones, which will be more relevant to the larger demographic of unsigned models.

The Internet has helped make modeling agencies much more accessible to people doing research on the industry, especially those seeking agency representation but it has also made it easier for scammers to mislead people. To avoid any mishaps, all models looking for an agent should pay attention to the following factors, which will help you distinguish a "good" agency that could be the perfect fit for you and one that you may want to stay away from.

- They have an official website that is fully operational and updated. While fancy Flash animated sites are pretty impressive, not all agencies have sites of this caliber. As long as the site they do have isn't super amateurish in appearance, that is a good sign that they're serious about promoting themselves online. Additionally, it's best if they don't have a bunch of outdated pages or ones that are "Under Construction." If they're new, that's one thing but if the company's been around for a few years and they still haven't updated certain sections, it's not a good sign.

- They state on their website that they don't charge upfront fees. Anytime you see this on an agency site, it's a great thing because there'll be no unpleasant surprises. It's also a winner if they mention that they are not a school but are, in fact, a legit and fully operational modeling/talent agency.

- They have examples (either in office or on the site) of previous work they've gotten their models. Examples include tearsheets and/or links to campaigns. This shows that they do book work for the models they've signed.

- They have a list of clients on their website. This isn't always on agency websites but it helps if such information is publicly available. In addition to showing they've active in the industry, it gives unsigned models an idea of what types of projects they receive (local, national, international, etc.).

- During the interview or casting call, you get a good vibe from them. Sometimes it's good to trust your gut once you've stepped into an agency' office. Not all models match well with agencies but if the people you interact with seem genuine, positive and excited to talk to you, those are signs that they'll be pleasant to work with, should you get offered a contract.

- They don't try to pressure you into signing the contract. Any legit agency will want you to understand what you'll be signing. Allowing you to take the contract home to review gives you the chance to make sure you really want to sign with them and understand what you'll be responsible for and vice-versa.

- They're more than happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have and don't get irritated or put off getting information to you in a timely manner.

- They offer both non-exclusive as well as exclusive contracts. Not all agencies offer both but if they do, it gives models a bit more of a choice.

- They're okay with letting you find your own photographers to create your portfolio, especially if cost is a concern for you. If the agency doesn't want to cover the expense of getting your headshot, comp/zed card and portfolio test shoot done, it's helpful if they don't force you to use a photographer of their choosing. Just make sure to pick a photographer whose quality of work the agency will accept.

- If they're not affiliated with a modeling school or convention. In my opinion, I wouldn't deal with an agency that heavily promotes such businesses on their official website, blog, etc. Be on the lookout for the logos of schools and conventions being placed on the agency websites as well. Agencies that have a relationship with any of these businesses are more than likely going to try and sneak in fees of some kind (whether upfront or otherwise) or make you sign up for training/events, that are more about recruiting people to get extra money in their pockets instead of focusing on signing exceptional models they know they can book work for. Unfortunately, some modeling agencies find loopholes in the rules and regs and exploit them for additional profit.

- If you know someone signed to the agency you're interested in (or who was signed to them in the past). Nothing beats getting a personal testimonial/reference. This is the quickest way to learn the inside scoop on how a particular agency operates. However, take into account that each model's experience varies and isn't always the same. Get more than one person's story, if possible, for more accurate results.

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