Friday, March 7, 2014

After talking with a new model the other day.

Image has nothing to do with the post, other than it's getting warmer out and it's nice to think about summer and ice being off the lakes. 

I was talking with a new model the other day and she was wondering if an agency that asked for money up front was a scam and a agency that didn't ask for money which was sending her to castings wasn't a scam. Up front, this sounds like a open and shut case right? Money up front means red flags, where as someone taking you on without charging is normal? Well, although this could have been the case years ago, things are changing now and we need to look into the situation a bit more.

This isn't meant to be the end all be all of advice, I'm sure I've said some of this before, and I'm sure others have said some of this before, and it all gets back to asking questions when talking with agencies.

This agency asked up front for money?

You really have to look at the agency, the amount of money, and ask questions to figure this out. Way back in the day it was usual to take costs out of the first few pay checks talent had (this is really boiled down) where as now either the pay checks are lower or it's more competitive or a number of things that have moved agencies to ask for some of these costs up front. If the cost seems reasonable, and the request reasonable, then it's reasonable to assume we're on the up and up.

This would be around $100 to get listed on a website (may have to pay someone to plug your name into the site) or a few hundred for the layout and printing of compcards. This is on top of any photo shoot you would pay for, and styling for that shoot. Yes, modeling has costs, and these costs are normal.

Now some agencies in town don't charge, some do, and it's just a matter of talking to them and understand where they are coming from. I'm not saying one way is better than the other, just to be aware that these costs can be normal.

These agencies haven't responded yet, but this one has. 

So, part of the reason we call models "models" is that everyone can't be one. They are a "model" or something or another. If models were normal people we would call them "normal people" and anyone can do it. I'm not an agent, I don't have my finger on the whole pulse of the market here as an agent would, so I'm not going to get into who could or couldn't be a model. Just that if you want to do it, then give it a shot and see what happens. No harm done, never know until you try sometimes, and who knows what would happen? The worst thing you can do is not try, then you never know for sure if you could or couldn't have done it.

On the flip side there are A LOT of agencies here and other places who will sign up people whom they know will never be successful, ask for money up front, and maybe send the person out on a few fluff castings. So, if you have tried with the major agencies here and none of them were interested, it's really not productive to find someone that will pick you up. Because, someone will, you will pay them, and you may not get any work. Again, although everyone can try, not everyone can be a model.

I'm not going to list off local agencies that I trust publicly, but I will answer any emails asking about them.

I talked to X agency and they are exclusive. 

Some agencies like models to be exclusive with them, some don't. I know models who are in both situations as well as models who are with a few different agencies. It just depends on how you feel about the agency and if you want to work with them. This is a situation where you would need to sit down with them, go over the details, ask a lot of questions, and go from there. The agency may be a great place for you, or it may hold you back from other castings or going with (for example) both a print agency and more of an acting agency.

What I don't feel is a good reason is not being able to do test shoots or shoots on your own. Part of the reason to having an agent is that they are there not only to get you work but also help you with your development. Part of helping you would be to setup or approve additional photo shoots. This isn't because they are control freaks and want to manage every part of your life, just that they may have specific looks in mind for their models and wouldn't want them doing shoots with every Tom Dick and Harry that has a camera. Not to mention they wouldn't want their models signing any old release that may be presented to them to do a test shoot.

Either way, it's best to talk to the agency about this, see why they are doing what they are doing, and then deciding which is best for you going forward.

Photoshoots are expensive, which is why I am trying to do tests. 

I get this sometimes, or models trying to "test up" and yes, sometimes they can be great ways to build a portfolio, however most of the time they are more of a waste of time. For example,  why spend a year testing when more or less the same results can be had by paying someone $300-500 and having the images back within a few weeks? Sure, it's a bit of money, but within the month you could either have updated images to show to your agency, or have a good start to your portfolio when you contact agencies for the first time. Either way you saved 11 months, which may be worth the money.

Also, some photographers who aren't that great charge a lot of money and give you images that aren't that great. So it's best to really look at their work, shop around, and pay someone that fits your vision as well as that can deliver the type and style of shots you're going to need.

I've said this before many times, but professional images aren't needed in order to be first picked up by an agency. Yes, as a photographer I would rather have you pay me =) at some point, but understand that expensive images aren't needed to start out. The same applies to tests. I feel it's a flag, maybe a red flag, if a photographer says how they can get you in agencies or get you work if you pay them or shoot with them - not saying that never happens, just normally not the way it works. Usually these photographers who say that shoot glamor/nudes or just bad images and are easy to spot.

I live a few hours away, but still want to be a model. 

In short, part of modeling is going to castings, many castings. You may or may not get the job when going to these castings, but you definitely won't get the job if you don't go to these castings. Now yes, agencies can understand if you have a job or if you're a student or if something comes up, but generally the point is to go to castings. If you can't go, and things just aren't going to work out, then it may be best to wait and try modeling when you're living closer or when you can afford to take that time - or try to make that time and make that extra commitment.

I haven't talked to my parents yet... 

I get this from time to time. So three things just off the top of my head. 1) Somehow you're going to need to go to castings, depending on age parents may need to be involved for that. 2) If you're under 18 a parent or guardian will need to sign anything that needs to be signed. 3) There may be requirements for a p/g to be on set along with 1 and 2.

So in short, yes, you will need to talk to your parents and yes they will need to be on board if you're going to model. No way around that until you're 18.

I read online that... 

So there are a number of places online that give advice, suggestions, and information. As with this blog, anyone can write anything and get it online and sometimes (although not like this blog) it becomes popular. Although I do feel getting a background in a topic is important, it's best to ask a lot of those questions in person.

Examples are... (off the top of my head)

  • Can I be a model? (This is why agencies have ways to submit images and contact them)
  • How will I be paid? (Again, best asked in person as each has their own way of doing it and it could different even from client to client)
  • I'm thinking of moving to a larger city in a few years? (There are a number of local agencies who have sent models out of state for work or have other contacts in larger cities)
  • What kind of photos do I need to start? (As a photographer I will freely admit and have always said that you don't need to pay someone before contacting agencies, their specific requirements will be on their sites) 

We are lucky that in our area here we have some agents and agencies that have been around for a number of years. They know what they are talking about and would be more than able to answer any questions. Remember, it's their job to get models jobs, and they really do know what's best for models careers both locally and nationally. 

Again, being a model isn't for everyone and just by it's definition can't be for everyone. That doesn't mean it's not worth a try, but just that there is more too it than looking amazing and friends saying you should model.

Andrew Thomas Evans |

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