Agency representation for models
For a proper, full-time, well-paying career in modelling you need an agent. An agent finds you work and negotiates your fees. Many top models have been discovered by a spotter in the streets or hit luck from submitting a snapshot to a top agency. Pure chance.
Top model agencies
The information under this heading is correct at the time of writing. Agencies’ requirements and submission guidelines change over time. Elite Model Management, for instance, one of the most famous agencies, allows you to submit photos through their website. So does Storm Models. Their scouts will look at them for a few seconds. Elite make it clear that you do not have to spend a lot of money on photographs – if they take you on, their own photographers will shoot you and it won’t cost you a penny. The same is true for all good agencies.
To find out who all the hot agencies are, buy a stack of fashion magazines and scan the credits that appear with fashion editorials. Very often, the agency that supplied the models will be mentioned. Armed with a name, it is child’s play to find contact details on the Internet.
Top model agencies – the list
This is not a definitive list and not all top agencies are included here – use this list as a starting point on your travels into the world of modelling.
Elite Model Management (Offices worldwide)
Success Model Management (Paris)
Q Management (New York, Los Angeles)
DNA Model Management (New York)
Ford Models (New York)
IMG Models (New York, Paris, London, Milan)
Wilhelmina Models (New York, Miami, Los Angeles)
Women Model Management (New York, Paris, Milan)
Models 1 Agency (London)
Select Model Management (London)
Storm Model Agency (London)
Not so top agencies
The bulk of agencies cannot compete with the likes of Elite, Storm and Q. If you have identified a suitable target, telephone them and ask for their submission requirements. Do not e-mail; use the telephone. This will give you valuable information on how professional they appear to be. You may or you may not be expected to show a portfolio (also called a book).
Strictly speaking, your agency should produce your portfolio for you and you should not be expected to pay for it, but it is a grey area with smaller agencies. Some model scams originate from criminals posing as model agencies. Remember that model agencies pick and choose their models. If you are promised to get in no matter what, it is at best a useless website, at worst a modelling scam. Therefore, most important of all, before you approach an agency, read about modelling scams.
Freelance models or agency-independent models
A freelance model, sometimes also called an agency-independent model, is not signed up with an agency and will advertise her services to potential clients, usually photographers, directly.
As a freelance model, you will probably not find work in the fashion industry or with the glossy magazines but exceptions have been known. You are also not restricted by any requirements that normally apply to models. Requirements for agency-independent models are totally flexible and only depend on what the photographer has in mind. Obviously, demand for certain looks, shapes, sizes and age groups varies.
Work can be anything from portfolio work to artistic work, clothed or nude, pro photographers and amateurs, and increasingly for stock photography. This type of work falls into paid work and for time, and can be an opportunity for models, who do not make it with one of the large agencies or who want to pursue modelling as a part-time career. If you want to become a freelance model, you will need some kind of portfolio.
To advertise yourself to photographers, you can place adverts in some of the photography magazines aimed at amateur photographers, you can send out comp cards to professional photographers or you can use the Internet. You may have your own website or you may show your portfolio on one of the reputable modelling sites.