What is a Model Agency?
A modelling agency is a company that represents models and helps them find work.
Agencies work with brands directly and help them find the most suitable models for their campaigns, adverts and runways.
An agency has managers and casting directors who help find and sign the best models in the industry. Agencies will have hundreds of signed models on their “books”. When a brand works with an agency, they will go through these books together to find the right models for their requirements.
They usually categorise their models by age. Some agencies specialise in certain categories, for example plus-size, toddler or alternative modelling.
Why is Joining an Agency a Good Idea?
Being signed to an agency is a great idea for models because it helps them find work.
The fashion industry is a difficult industry to break into, and having the support and knowledge of a modelling agency is incredibly valuable.
It gives models the chance to concentrate on interviews (or ‘castings’) rather than having to struggle to find opportunities themselves.
Being signed to a prestigious agency will help put the model in front of big brands and boost their chances of success.
Do You Have to Pay to Join a Modelling Agency?
A legitimate agency will NEVER ask for money. They make money by taking a percentage of what you make from your modelling jobs. You should never have to pay for joining or membership, lessons or any other type of service with them.
How Do I Find a Model Agency?
There are many model agencies out there, and there will likely be more than one that is suitable for your requirements. Finding the right agency involves research, time and patience.
Set aside a few hours and Google agencies. You can search for your favourite models and find out who they are signed with for inspiration. Write a list of all the potential agencies you like the look of.
Next you need to thoroughly research each agency. Do they have limitations? Where are they based? Do you meet their requirements? Are their reviews positive? Do they treat their models well?
Once you have narrowed down your list, you can apply to all the remaining agencies. You don’t have to single out and apply to just one – you will likely be turned down initially as most models are (remember, these agencies will be receiving thousands of applicants weekly). Increase your chances of success by applying to all the relevant agencies.
How Do I Know Which Agencies Are Legitimate?
As well as never asking for money upfront (see above), a legitimate modelling agency will never ask you to do something you are uncomfortable with (like sending illicit photos).
A proper agency will also be more than happy to provide their official credentials. If you ask for information and they are reluctant to share them with you, consider this a red flag.
If you are approached by an “agency” online (particularly on social media), ensure you do as much research as possible to determine their validity. Find the companies website and ring the number you find there (never call a number they give you over social media). See if you can find reviews online, and always read the small print on contracts.
You should also read anything they say carefully. Is there spelling and grammar professional? Do they use odd words or phrases? Do they call you inappropriate and unprofessional terms like ‘babe’? Do they end messages with ‘xxx’? A legitimate agency will always strive to be professional and courteous, so these are all signs it may be a spam agency.
How Do I Apply to a Modelling Agency?
Applying to a modelling agency differs depending on who you’re applying to, but the process is pretty straightforward. There should be an online application form for you to fill out. Make sure you are as honest in this form as possible – there is no point lying about your measurements or height as it will be found out sooner or later.
Along with this application will be a section for you to upload photos. This is important – you want your photos to be of a high-quality so they stand out from the masses of other applicants.
Once you’ve filled out your form and attached your photos, you’re good to go – now you just have to wait for a response.
What Happens If They Say No?
If an agency is not interested in signing you up, they may send you a rejection email/letter, but most usually you just won’t hear back from them.
Don’t be disheartened – it is incredibly common for models to be rejected, especially when they’re first starting out. Make a note of what agency you applied to and when. Re-apply to the agency in 5 or 6 months – they may have spaces available, or they may change their mind about signing you up.
What Happens If They Say Yes?
If an agency is interested, they’ll get in contact either via phone, letter or e-mail. They will request a time and date to meet you in person for a casting.
A casting is a bit like an interview. They will want to judge your appearance in-person and possibly ask to see your walk (for any catwalk work). It is vital you make a good impression at this first casting as this is when they will decide whether or not to sign you.
It’s not just your looks they will be interested in. They will want to see what your personality and work ethos is like, too. Agencies love bright and enthusiastic models who are hard-working, listen well and have good energy. That doesn’t mean you won’t succeed if you’re shy, but it does mean you’ll have to work that extra bit harder to make an impression.
Dress appropriately in a flattering outfit that isn’t too overwhelming; a white t-shirt and fitted jeans combo is usually a good choice. Spend some time on your hair to make sure it’s flattering (remember, if you have good hair you may be asked to attend interviews for hair adverts). Wear make-up to hide redness, blemishes or eye bags, but don’t overdo it – they will want to see your natural beauty. Now is not the time for “full beat” make-up!
Always be polite to everyone you meet in the industry – you never know who will remember you and give you your next big break.
What Can I Do to Stand Out?
There are several things that might help you stand out.
- Practice. Practice everything – your walk, your posing, your facial expressions. Only by practising and becoming comfortable with modelling will you become good at it. Watch videos online for inspiration. Read magazines and try to emulate the poses you see. Get a friend to take photos of you (don’t rely on selfies – these photos will give you an unrealistic representation of what you will photograph like due to the angles).
- Create a professional portfolio. It’s a good idea to hire a photography company to take high-quality photos of you. Not only will this give you experience in a professional photoshoot setting, it will also give you some amazing photos to add to your portfolio.
- Show your range. Agencies are looking for someone who can do a plethora of jobs. Take beauty shots as well as full-body shots to show your flexibility.
- Do some practice shoots. Some companies may give you modelling work if you are after experience. Only do this if the experience will be genuinely beneficial and you can afford to do so – repeatedly doing work for free will cost you money and time that could be better spent at paying opportunities.
- Be flexible. Working in the modelling industry requires a lot of flexibility. You will need to be comfortable travelling a lot as jobs will be dotted all over the country (and some may even take you abroad).
- Be positive. You may be required to occasionally wear clothing you might not like. It is not your job as a model to pass judgement on the items you are working with – keep negative opinions to yourself and remember your job is to model the clothing, not like it.
- Be patient. You may have to wait for hours at a time at castings or photoshoots. Prepare in advance by bringing snacks and water and something to keep you entertained.