Get Signed FAQs
Do I need a big modeling portfolio to get signed?
No, you do not. It's a myth propagated by people who make money off them. If starting out, fashion agencies want to see you, or simple digital images of you without makeup or retouching. If they feel you need a bigger book (which you very well may) they will help you get the types of images you need. Please also read the section: "Will an agency ask me for money?"
How much experience do I need to get signed?
Experience, especially the wrong type can work against you. Fashion agencies love young, inexperienced talent with no baggage and if you have the ingredients to be a fashion model, they'll bring them out in you. On the other hand, commercial modeling agencies do want skills, but generally prefer talent that isn't recognizable. Not having experience will slow you down from booking work with the agency, but they'll help you with that.
How tall do I need to be to get signed?
Fashion agencies need talent that is 5'9" (5'8' in smaller markets) to 6'0" at the tallest. There are occasional exceptions for those a bit taller than the max, but if you are 5'7", you are not going to be a fashion model. The good news is that commercial agencies don't require you to be as tall, and promotional agencies can take all sizes.
Can you explain the different types of agencies?
If you look towards the top of the page, you'll see a link in the paragraph that starts with "A common mistake.." that will give you a thorough explanation :)
Why do you offer shoots for models if a modeling portfolio isn't helpful?
We didn't say it isn't helpful, we say it's not required, and also that a big one is unnecessary. We also say you shouldn't spend too much on pictures. There are pictures that help, and some that hurt too. The important thing is to be careful about any pictures you take (especially if you sign a release) and to understand you have options if you cannot afford professional photography.
What about open calls?
Some agencies have open calls where you show up with your book (your modeling portfolio) where they can see and meet you first hand. This is usually the most effective way to get signed. You may think you can put a better foot forward with pictures, but they're going to meet you before signing you anyway. If you do not have a book, go in anyway - especially if you are young and starting out.
Will an agency ask me for money?
Legitimate agencies don't have fees for signing with them. However, they may require you to pay for your own comp cards, and sometimes pictures. This can be a really grey area as many illegitimate agencies make a profit off selling you images for your modeling portfolio and never get you work. Watch for agencies that ask you to pay them for the photo-shoot, or those that insist on just one or two photographers. Bigger agencies may actually front the money for you for these things and later deduct them from your earnings.That is perfectly legitimate. Watch for sign up fees or fees to be on their website. As a general rule, if they make you suspicious it probably means you need to be very careful.
How do I know if an agency is a scam?
That's the million dollar question. Ask around, Google them. Here are some safe national names: Click, Elite, Ford, Next and IMG. There are some big names (not those we've listed) that license their names to affiliate agencies that play under a different set of rules which creates another grey area. There are also some regional agencies that are just as strong as the national agencies in their area, for example LA Models in Los Angeles and about a half dozen in New York. Be careful, especially if asked for any money!
Nudity and agencies.
There's very little nudity in professional modeling unless you include adult modeling in that definition. You won't be asked if you will pose nude by any legitimate mainline agency, in fact, experience posing nude, especially if published may cause them to pass. One the the most difficult roads to cross is from having a past as an adult model (including posing for otherwise legitimate publications such as Playboy), and then trying to get signed by a mainline agency. In our opinion: Stay way from nudity.
Are agencies exclusive?
Some are, and some aren't. Most any agency will require you to be exclusive in their area and genre. For fashion models there of course are also "mother agencies" These are usually agencies in smaller markets that help you get started and then get seen by larger agencies. To be a mother agency you need to have an exclusive contract with your talent, something that all talent needs to be careful of. We'll probably post a lengthy explanation to all this is our blog sometime soon.
Someone said agencies aren't worth it because they take a commission!
That's incorrect. A legitimate agency makes most their income off of commissions and it can be more than what they deduct from your pay. Often times they also surcharge the billings which is also legitimate. We've heard models say "I don't have an agency because I'd rather get my work myself and keep all the money". Anyone that says that is either stupid, or covering for the fact that they have been unable to get signed by a legitimate agency.
What about modeling schools?
This is another subject that could make a great, and long article. You can learn some skills, but for the most part, most (if not all) modeling schools (as well as conventions) are a waste of money. They will all have a few success stories, but that's because of the sheer volume of talent that goes through the doors. If you have the ingredients, you can get signed as a fashion model with a digital picture, or open call. One exception can be commercial modeling which takes skills and developed talent. You can get those is college through the theater or drama department and get further educated at the same time.
I think what I need is a manager, not an agency.
First, do not mix the terms "modeling agency" and "model management company" thinking they are different. Those are legal definitions for companies that almost always do the same thing. But agents and managers can be quite different. In a nutshell, an agent gets you work and a manger manages it. A typical scenario for a young model is to be with an agency (or model management company) and have a parent manage you. After all, no one will ever watch over you as well as a parent or close relative. However, just like their are many scam agencies, there are many "managers" who are not out for your best interest. Unless you are a huge earner, most legitimate agencies will provide everything you need from a management standpoint.