In the search for an agency, technology can be your best friend. However, typing in ‘modelling agency’ into any search engine will result in you getting more information than you can handle, and much of it, indiscriminate and irrelevant to the type of career you want.
Start off by researching models you admire. Find out who represents them – this is a good starting point to ensure you only make contact with legitimate agencies. Do your homework, find out who the top agencies are and visit creditable sites like www.models.com to see which agencies hire models that most closely represent your look. Success in modelling is all about marketing, and doing it with insight and intelligence. Try to imagine your own look in an existing market – where would you place it? High fashion, commercial, plus-size, sports and athletic modelling – it’s a big modelling world out there. Having an awareness of where you might fit in is crucial.
Don’t be afraid to contact the bigger agency names. Yes, they are inundated with photos every day, but each one of these is checked to see if that person has modelling potential. Don’t assume that you’re better off trying just the smaller agencies. Be ambitious for yourself, contact every relevant agency, but be prepared for knockbacks. They come with the territory, and this point in your career is just the beginning. Try not to take rejection personally, because it rarely is. It’s just business.
Modelling may seem like an artistic pursuit, but the fact is for everybody concerned, it is a money-making venture. Think ahead: formulate, plan and plot your course of action, even if it’s only week by week.
Enthusiasm is infectious, and showing agencies that you have a ‘game plan’ can be the thing that tips the decision in your favour. If you’re really serious about becoming a model, make fashion your business. Read the trade publications (Vogue, W, Elle, Nylon, Harper’s Bazaar). Study who is out there, and why they keep getting re-hired. What are they doing that’s right? It’s rarely down to dumb genetic luck. The very best models get to the top because they are fearless about pursuing their goals. If you are really passionate about a career in fashion, let it show.
When you’ve found an agency that captures your interest, look closely at their website. Many model agencies have very specific means of application. Some like you to send in a couple of photos in the mail: usually one head-shot and a full-length body shot. Others prefer you to upload a recent photo of yourself onto an online form, plus your personal details such as age and height. Others hold regular Open Days where would-be models are invited to attend an appointment with a booker to assess their suitability.
Open Days are becoming increasingly rare, with limits on time and resources to carry them out. If the agency you’ve found specifies a particular date and time, stick to it. Don’t assume that the booker will still be free to see you half an hour after the set time has elapsed.
Treat an Open Day appointment like a prospective go-see, only this time the agency is the client. Be friendly, attentive and polite. Mounting a charm offensive won’t hurt your chances one bit, and shows you understand what kind of behaviour would be required at a real life go-see.
Go prepared and present yourself as a model: your hair pulled back, clean, moisturised skin and no make-up. When picking clothes, it pays to go simpler. A vest and a decent pair of jeans are classics for a reason. Don’t make the rookie mistake of piling on every fashionable item in your wardrobe. An agent isn’t interested in admiring your fashion mojo: they just want to see potential.
Whatever the outcome of approaching an agency ‘in person’, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. This can provide invaluable insight in helping you find a model agency sooner rather than later. Learning what you do wrong can really help you in the long-term. Mistakes can be corrected, but a know-it-all attitude? That’s not so easy to fix.
The key thing to understand about finding an agency is that to find success, a multi-angled form of attack is advisable. There are the lucky souls who get snapped up by the first agency they approach, but the reality is that for most people, it takes a little more work.
To get the result you want, it pays to cover your bases. After all, if you were job-hunting, no sane person would download their CV onto a recruitment website, sit back and wait for the phone calls to come pouring in. As with most things in life, if something’s worth having, it’s worth that extra effort to get it.
New technology: online model agencies
One angle you may not have considered is online model agency. They are steadily growing in profile, and while never a guarantee of securing work, it is definitely worthwhile exploring this option.
When looking for representation, it is important to know that the role of an online modelling agency is very different to that of a traditional agency. The main role of an online modelling agency is to primarily house electronic portfolios. They provide online space for you to display your photos on the internet.
The agency will offer a basic portfolio space on their website for little or no cost, and if you want something a bit more advanced, be prepared to pay an additional fee for running costs. This is a legitimate expense, as the more involved a person’s e-portfolio becomes, the more space and upkeep it requires.
The benefit of using this type of agency is that your work can be viewed by interested parties from around the world, thus maximising your earning potential. But online modelling agencies do not offer any of the other services routinely featured by more traditional agencies – do not confuse the two, or risk disappointment.
However, there are some similarities to bear in mind when shopping for an online agency. As with normal agencies, NEVER sign up to any agency that promises you work. No agency, however prolific, can guarantee a model work. The industry is notoriously fast-paced, and work fluctuates at all levels.
When choosing an online agency, look at the e-portfolios of other models on the website. Do their photos suggest that this model aspires to be in the same sector as you? Always try to match yourself to an agency’s existing book of models – you are far more likely to get work this way than trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole. Also, if the agency seems clearly focused, in terms of what is offers prospective clients, this is also good news as a client will be more inclined to scout the better-developed sites for talent than the ones that are clumsily managed.
When selecting portfolio shots, keep in mind what constitutes a portfolio shot. Beware any e-portfolios with models posing with parasols or staring winsomely off-camera. This is the calling card of a makeover shoot, and as such is completely unsuitable for a professional portfolio. Whatever the cost of the shoot, a soft-focus glamour shot of you wrapped in a feather boa is unlikely to win over any client. Models Connect offers specific advice on the difference between portfolio and makeover photos. If in doubt, keep your fledgling portfolio shots simple, direct and uncluttered. No parasols necessary.
Keeping your expectations in line is another thing to remember when posting your shots to an online agency. As a method of securing work, it can be a long shot, but something worth doing if you are serious about securing a foothold in the industry. The more methods you try, the higher the likelihood of securing a response will be.
Where Models Connect can help
Models Connect can also assist you with your search. The website (www.modelsconnect.net) functions as a halfway house between a virtual agency and the ‘real’ world. It houses e-portfolios like an online agency would, but where Models Connect differs, is that it can offer a level of service including advice, tips and most importantly, the potential for booking jobs with its selection of clients.
To get the best results from Models Connect, you can sign up to have an online profile that can only be viewed by Models Connect’s base of vetted and approved clients, but you can also access your account and forward your details onto other agencies or interested parties, and manage your own career.
Where Models Connect’s main strength lies in how it can connect you to a body of clients, who are actively searching for new faces, for a wide variety of projects. Upon signing up, you will be assigned your own booker, who will ensure that if you’re suitable for a potential job, that client will be made aware of you.
Combining your search for an agency using the latest technology and exploring more traditional routes is the best means of achieving your goal. Think proactively, and this will translate into action, which shows potential agencies and clients that you are serious about building a career in the fashion industry.
Approach your search for an agency with intelligence: plan and strategise. Needing, at the very least, a Plan B in the modelling world is absolutely essential. Do your research, be aware of scams (see Models Connect for advice on how to avoid scams), remain alert to opportunities and keep an open mind. Your future could be closer than you think.