Getting signed to a modelling agency is the best way for an aspiring model to give themselves the best chances of success.
Read on to find out more about what a modelling agency is and, more importantly, how to join one.
What is a Modelling Agency?
A modelling agency is a company who signs models and helps them find work.
Brands usually go directly to an agency to find appropriate models for different campaigns and advertising opportunities.
Agencies can represent a certain type of model, for example catalogue, fitness or body-part, though the biggest and most popular agencies tend to sign high-fashion/catwalk models and sometimes have a sub-section for plus-size models.
Where Are Modelling Agencies?
Modelling agencies can be anywhere but the majority are in major cities like London, Paris and New York.
If you get past the application stage, you will have to visit the chosen agency in person for an interview, so remember this when you apply. Modelling requires a lot of travel generally so if you are unwilling or unable to travel, modelling might not be for you.
How Do I Choose a Modelling Agency?
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy – a modelling agency has to choose you. You can apply to as many agencies as you want as many times as you want, though the likelihood of being accepted straight away is low.
The more popular an agency is, the harder it will be to be noticed and accepted by them. Agencies receive thousands of applications each week and they can only have a select number of models signed with them. It is therefore worth remembering that all models face rejection as it is part of the business. Don’t be disheartened if you are not accepted immediately.
How Do I Apply to a Modelling Agency?
First, you must find some agencies that fit your criteria and represent your style of modelling. If you want to be a runway model, make sure you match the strict criteria set out by most high-fashion agencies. If you want to be a catalogue model, they may have a height preference but generally the rules are much more relaxed. This can be done online as all agencies have websites now.
Make sure to research the agencies thoroughly. Look at things like whether they represent different ethnicities, whether they have a kids sub-section, and whether they work with plus-size models. Look at their ethos of fairness and the type of brands they work with for a better idea of the type of models they are looking for.
Once you have selected your favourite agencies, you should find the application section of their website. The application will have a set list of questions that you must answer as accurately as possible. Questions will include your name, age, body measurements and shoe size.
You will also be asked to attach some photos of yourself. Choose these carefully as many agencies will decide whether they like you based purely off your potential from these photos. Choose some up-close beauty shots as well as some full-length body shots. If you have experience modelling, use some of these photos. If you are new to the business, choose your favourite photos from your modelling portfolio.
Agencies are always looking for new clients and fresh faces, but the industry is so competitive that is it incredibly difficult to be accepted straight away. If you are unsuccessful, you will not hear back from the agency. If you are, you will get either an e-mail or phone call inviting you to the next stage.
Your modelling portfolio is the number one tool that helps models get work. Your portfolio should contain p to 20 of your best modelling photos. They should be high-quality and around A4 size.
Experienced models will select their favourite shots and include them in their folder. However, if you are new to the industry and have yet to participate in any photoshoots, it’s a good idea to hire a photographer to take photos of you to include in your portfolio. Include outfit, hairstyle and make-up changes to show your range as a model.
I’ve Been Accepted – Now What?
If a modelling agency gets in contact and says they are interested, congratulations – you’ve got your foot in the door. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you have been automatically signed. You will now need to go to an in-person interview with the agency.
You will be invited to the agency headquarters where you will meet with a team of industry professionals who will judge whether or not they believe you will be a successful model. You will need to take your portfolio for them to look at and they may ask you to try on some outfits or show off your runway walk. Be friendly and polite and listen to everything they say – it may prove valuable advice.
You will probably hear there and then whether or not they are going to sign you. Be positive and don’t lose hope if you’re turned away. There are many reasons an agency may not wish to sign you; they may have a model who looks too much like you, or they may think you don’t look right for the brands they are currently working with. You never know when your look will come into fashion so don’t give up.
Unfortunately, there are many con agencies out there who like to try and take advantage of keen aspiring models. This is why it is so important to thoroughly research any modelling agency you come across online that you’ve never heard of.
The same goes for if an agency approaches you. You need to check with the official company website and double-check any details. Never ring a number or email an address sent to you over social media. Double-check on the official website for the authentic contact details to avoid being conned by strangers.
A real agency will never ask for money upfront. Agencies make money by taking a cut of their model’s earnings, not by asking for membership fees.
A legitimate agency will never ask you to send inappropriate images. They also do not tend to contact people via social media so if someone is messaging you and appears unprofessional the likelihood is that they are not legitimate.
Look out for obvious typing errors and inappropriate or unprofessional words like ‘babe’ and ‘hun’.
If in any doubt, never sign anything if you are unsure and do not give away your details to strangers.
How Can I Get Scouted?
You can’t plan to be scouted – it happens to a lucky few.
Being scouted is when an agency scout approaches people who they believe have modelling potential in public. It happens in random places like the airport or shopping centre – some models have even been spotted in Primark or McDonalds.
It’s about being in the right place at the right time and is impossible to predict. To improve your chances of being scouted, dress well and wear minimal but flattering make-up when out and about.
I Can’t Get Accepted to a Modelling Agency – Now What?
Don’t panic. Most models are rejected at first but you need to be resilient and stay positive.
Keep applying to agencies; you can apply to as many as you want, as much as you want. A good rule of thumb is to only apply to the same agency once every 6 months or so to avoid pestering and annoying them.
Social media, in particular Instagram, is a great tool for aspiring models to get noticed on. Use it regularly and post high-quality fashion shots to boost your exposure and increase your chances of getting noticed by an agency or brand.
Create contacts with everyone you meet. Even your make-up artists and hair stylists are worth befriending as you never know when they might tell you about a modelling job, or who they might know in the industry.