Should You Sign With An Agency? A Post for Models
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a model that’s just starting out and wants some questions answered! In this post I answer your questions (via Instagram) and talk to a professional model about her experiences.
I have been in this industry for over 6 years and have worked with countless models in this time. I’ve heard all the stories! Some horror ones where models were exploited, and some good stories where the agencies have helped the models grow in their career.
In my opinion, I don’t think it’s necessary to join a modeling agency, especially not in Canberra. If you are passionate, make it your mission to become a successful model. Work with creative teams through TFP, network on socials, and make sure you’re in the loop. If your look ‘fits the brief’ a photographer or whoever is hiring won’t care if you are signed with an agency or not.
Model and actress, Courtney Martin says it best in our interview:
How long have you been modeling?
Are you currently with an agency or riding solo?
I’m currently freelancing.
Have you ever been signed to a modeling agency?
I have been signed with two Canberra based agencies during my modelling career.
What was that experience like?
My experience has been up and down. I have a lot of respect for both agencies I’ve worked with, but being in a small town, there isn’t a lot of work. I found being with an agency is harder to find work because I was competing with models within my own agency. I also found I missed out on paid work because people found the fees the agency were charging to be too high for such a small industry. There are pros and cons to being signed. I always recommend people do their research.
Would you recommend to new models to join an agency?
Do your research!! Make sure you don’t just take the first offer because it’s an agency. Ask questions, look around, look into their clients, who have they worked with? Do they get much work? Do they use a variety of their models or the same models all the time? Also look into the following:
Ask models within the agency what their experience is like.
Ask previous models from the agency what it is like.
Make sure you aren’t paying to join an agency.
Negotiate your terms. Some agents want a cut of jobs you are approached for that aren’t within your city. They shouldn’t be allowed a cut. Make sure you set boundaries and make sure that you are allowed to do creative/ TFP work! If you want to do a passion project there is nothing worse than an agent blocking you from it.
Be transparent with your agent, if you aren’t happy with the lack of work or how you are being represented say so! The relationship only works if you are being open and honest with them.
Any last tips you want to give?
Having an agent in a small town isn’t always the be all and end all. Most of the agents here have 30+ models and work in Canberra is slim. If you have the ability, join things like StarNow and theRightFit for commercial work in Sydney or Melbourne/ big commercial work for national campaigns etc. There is a cost involved if you want a premium account but I always recommend having a look as there is lots of work!
You can find Courtney and follow her modeling career here.
Q’s from you to me:
Can a model be signed if they don’t meet the height requirements? Where can we (outside of these restrictions) go?
Yes, definitely. I know models that are quite short but have a really distinct look and are able to book jobs and sign to an agency. If an agency that won’t accept you because of your height, do you really want to be booked with them? I’d say go solo, you won’t regret it!
I think the fashion industry is evolving for the better. Now more than ever, the diversity in models is growing!
I joined a modeling agency recently and was pressured into paying for headshots from their in-house photographer. Is this normal?
No, no, and no. RUN! Seriously though, get out if you can. It is never a good sign when the agency is obviously trying to make money off you because you don’t have a portfolio yet. They might offer “discounts” or try to tell you why it’s a good idea, but it really isn’t worth spending hundreds or sometimes thousands on otherwise sub par images!
And while we’re on the topic of money, you should NEVER pay to join an agency.
Also, please remember that modeling agencies don’t actually pay models. Clients pay models.
Agencies take a percentage of that for booking you.
Stay informed and look after yourself.