Being a freelance model isn't easy. Without the protection and pampering of a modeling agency, freelancers are responsible for every aspect of their career. Unfortunately, this increases their odds for running into shady individuals and scammers.
It is vital that anyone hoping to pursue a freelance modeling career learn the importance of doing their homework on anyone they plan on working with. This includes photographers, casting directors, makeup artists, etc. There are different ways to go about this.
If you come across a post for a modeling gig and there really isn't a lot of information available, this is the time to go into detective mode. Submit yourself according to the instructions (if there are any specific ones given) and in your submission, don't be afraid to ask basic questions that the post itself didn't answer for you. This could include questions such as:
"Is there a link to the photographer's portfolio that I could look at?"
"What is the name of the company/brand/client that the project is being cast for?"
Sometimes the person in charge of the casting will be able to provide you with this info and sometimes they may not. I've submitted to gigs where they weren't allowed to release the name of the company/brand/client unless you were officially hired for the project, due to confidentiality matters. So don't be too suspicious if the person you submit to tells you they can't volunteer that kind of information unless you get booked. BUT at a minimum, they should be able to tell you the name of the photographer and/or give you a link where you can check out their portfolio.
Below are some ways that I currently do my homework on potential clients, which helps me decide whether or not I am interested in working with them:
- Google. I mainly do Google searches whenever I submit to a casting on Craigslist that mentions the name of the company or a person associated with the project. Sometimes results come up and sometimes they don't. Obviously, depending on what results pop up, I may or may not decide to send a submission email. If the Craigslist post contains a non-CL email address, I'll Google that and see what comes up. This has allowed me to find out which projects are likely scams--a few times the email address I've researched will show online results where the person that posted the project on CL will have also posted on various other casting sites and/or on Craigslist in other cities and even other states. Most times, that's a sign that the project being cast probably isn't legit.
- Check The Website. Anytime a website URL is included in a modeling gig post, definitely use it! Unless it's for a well known client or photographer that you're already familiar with, it's in all freelance models' best interest to visit the website for a glimpse as to who they could potentially be working with. There have been many times when I went to a website that was in a casting and I would change my mind about sending in my pictures and info because I didn't care for the quality of the photographer's work or based on the product/clothing, I knew I wouldn't be the right fit.
- Read Their Profile. This method applies to models looking for work on sites like Model Mayhem. Unlike Craigslist, these social networking sites aren't buried in anonymity. Use that to your advantage. For example, when I see a casting on Model Mayhem that is posted by a photographer, not only will I look at his/her profile to see his/her portfolio of work, I'll also read the "About Me" stuff on the page, if there is anything written there. Sometimes I'll be impressed by what they write and other times I'll be turned off by the way they come across through their words (cocky, snobbish, foul-mouthed, etc.). Social networking sites are all about learning who other people are so don't be afraid to see what a member is all about, especially if that's who you'll be working with if you're hired.