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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Finding Modeling Gigs

There are many modeling agencies that serve different markets. They have different clientele, and they know what kind of look may be appropriate for their clients. Generally, you can easily submit your model application via e-mail or regular US mail. Some agencies will only accept applications via snail mail. In your model application, you will have to provide your basic information, stats, and ways to contact you. Most agencies these days will require you to send them Polaroids along with your application. They will ask for full body shots and close-ups without makeup. If you have professional photographs, they may be accepted, however, do not hurry to a photographer and do not pay hundreds of dollars to develop a portfolio. And by any means, do not send retouched photographs. Most agencies these days prefer to see what you really look like and not glamour shots of you. If they determine that you have a marketable look for their client, they will invest into your portfolio once you sign a contract. Modeling agencies have lists of photographers that they hire, and those photographers know exactly what each particular agency is looking for in building a model portfolio.

Open Calls are another sure way to determine if you have what it takes to be represented by an agency. Most top agencies conduct open calls on a regular basis. Open calls schedule is usually posted on each agency’s website. When attending an open call, you do not need to be dressed up or have professional makeup done. If you have any tear sheets or a modeling resume, it is good to bring it to an open call as well. A legitimate model agency will never charge you any up-front cost. They make money when a client hires you and not when you are hired by the agency. Be weary if an agency asks you for money to begin representation whether it is for portfolio development, processing costs, or any other costs they may claim you need to cover. There are many illegitimate agencies that try to capitalize on aspiring models. Be especially cautious if you are 4’5, 160 lbs, whom they promise fame and fortune and an immediate Victoria’s Secret contract.

If you do not live in NY, Los Angeles or other model-friendly markets of the country, you may consider signing up with a local model agency. There are smaller agencies that do not have a worldwide exposure, but that will more likely offer you the opportunity to get into the industry. If they are interested in your look and think that they can successfully market you to their clients, they will offer you a contact. Read carefully your contract and be sure you understand its terms. If the contract says the agency is representing you exclusively, that means that you will be legally obligated to obtain modeling jobs only through that agency. Upon signing a contract to represent you, the agency will refer you to a photographer that they work with to start building your portfolio. You may end up paying the photographer directly for putting together your portfolio and comp cards, especially if your agency is a small business. Smaller agencies are often called “mother agencies”. They are your first link to a larger agency. “Mother agency” will guide you through the beginning stages of your modeling career in the hopes that they will be able to re-sell you to a larger agency.


If you have determined that you may want to try Commercial or Stock photography, you may consider signing up with a website where you can host your modeling portfolio, network with other people in the industry and perhaps get some jobs. There are many different modeling communities on the web that offer members slightly varied benefits. Some of them have strong connections in the industry and model agencies’ scouts browse their pages frequently. Some offer advice, support and networking opportunities, but little to no work.

The social networking sites are a lot of fun. They have many followers. Industry social networks allow newbies to meet other models, photographers, makeup artists and stylists. They are a good place to start building your industry connections, get in front of the camera, learn from others in the industry modeling tips and tricks, exchange opinions, get referrals and check references. You may get advice on how to sign up with an agency, how to find a reputable one, how to not get ripped off and how to not get in trouble. You may get useful tips from professional photographers on how to pose to get a great shot, what you need to work on to improve your skills, and many more. You can find photographers who will collaborate on getting images for your portfolio for free.

However, from my experience with those, because they are closed communities which only industry professionals frequent, I can suggest that if you want to be paid for your modeling time and efforts, you need to look for opportunities elsewhere. Even though many professional models and photographers join sites like those, the job opportunities rarely present themselves.

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