Modeling ranks among the most glamorous careers. Not surprisingly, it is also one of the most difficult to break into. Adding to this burden are unscrupulous agents, scouts and managers who earn their living by cashing in on the dreams of aspiring models. Even when represented by legitimate agents or managers, it is often difficult for inexperienced models to support themselves on modeling alone.
Managers and Agents
Virtually all models work through agents or managers. Occasionally, models new to the field will obtain bookings on their own. This procedure is called free-lancing. However, most clients prefer to book models through a manager or an agent.
Modeling agencies are different from modeling managers. A modeling agency is like any other employment agency. It matches an employer with an appropriate candidate for an available job. Managers, on the other hand, maintain ongoing relationships with their clients, who, in this case, are models. They direct the model's career, including bookings and advice on appearance and portfolios.
Keep in mind that modeling is a difficult profession to break into. Therefore, if your are not accepted by several reputable managers and agents, you may want to reconsider your career choice.
Types of Modeling
There are several different kinds of modeling including high fashion, runway/showroom modeling, product or specialized modeling, and children's modeling.
1. High Fashion Modeling:
“High Fashion” modeling involves modeling designer clothes at fashion shows, and in magazines or newspapers. It may also include runaway, showroom product, or “specialized” modeling.
If you wish to do high fashion modeling, you should meet the following requirements:
Height: 5'9”- 6'
Weight: 110 to 130 lbs, from minimum to maximum height respectively
Eyes: must be widely spaced
Male Models: Height: 5'11” - 6'2”
Weight: 140 to 165 lbs, from minimum to maximum height, respectively
Suit Size: 39 - 40 regular to long
Shirt: 15 - 15 1/2 neck, 32-34 sleeve
Waist: 29” - 32”
Generally, the entire look of the body should be well proportioned. Legs should be long, especially the distance from the knee to the ground. With respect to posture, a model should carry her/himself gracefully. Skin must be clear of blemishes, scars and birthmarks. Prospective models should determine weather they meet these requirements.
2. Runway and Showroom Modeling:
The requirements for high fashion models apply to runway/showroom modeling. However, since ready-to-wear houses also hire models to show clothes to prospective buyers at the manufacturer's showroom, height and weight may vary depending on the type of apparel shown. For example, women under 5’ 3” may be hired to model petite fashions, while manufacturers of larger-size clothes will require a plus-size model.
3. Product or Specialized Modeling:
Some businesses may use photos of different parts of a model's body in ads for specialized products. For example, only hands for hand lotion commercials, legs for panty hose commercials, etc. Thus, the requirements previously described do not apply to product ads. However, be aware that most agencies use runway, showroom, or high fashion models for product ads, and choose these from their existing roster of models. Very few models build careers solely on specialized modeling.
4. Children's Modeling:
General appearance is the most important factor in children’s modeling. Parents may receive direct mail solicitations from model or talent agencies. Often, the child's name is obtained from hospital records, list brokers, or other sources. Such solicitations do not indicate that a child is suitable form modeling. . They may be no more than promotions for the service of a particular photographer. Check with you local BBB whenever you receive solicitations from unfamiliar firms.
Choosing The Right Representative
Virtually all successful models obtain jobs through modeling managers or agents. Since the right modeling agency or manager is crucial to a successful modeling career, be sure to research and interview them before signing any contracts. Sources for referrals can include friends, the telephone directory, or model/talent associations such as the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).
After you choose the representatives you wish to approach, check to determine whether you need to send photos first or if they have specified hours to meet with prospective clients face-to-face. If they require a photo, you can send snapshots or professionally done photos. Most reputable managers and agents will only request a snapshot before making an appointment. A typed resume should be attached to the photo and should include birth date, height, weight, clothing sizes, and hair and eye color. If they are interested in representing you, they will ask to see you, request more screening, or perhaps offer you a contract. If they are not interested in representing you, you should ask for their opinion of your chances within the modeling industry.
If you visit a manager’s or agent’s office as a walk-in, you may first be screened to determine whether you meet the basic requirements. If you do, you will be referred to an interviewer or the manager. If this person, in turn, determines that you have modeling potential, you will often be sent to a photographer for test shots. According to the head of one large reputable New York modeling agency, no legitimate manager or agent will charge a prospective model to have test shots taken. In fact, be wary of any modeling firm that requires you to purchase expensive portfolio photos from their recommended photographer before they will do business with you. The photographer, however, may require that you pay for the film and the cost of developing it. If the photos indicate that you have modeling potential, you may be invited to contract with the manager to represent you.
In general, find out as much as you can during the initial interview. For example, find out the commission rate and how it is paid. In addition, inquire if the manager or agent uses headsheets or publishes a modeling agency book, and how much the model will be charged for each. Make certain you understand the daily rate that the manager or agent charges the clients. Inquire about the length of time between the completion of a job assignment and receipt of your wages.
Once you have accepted a manager with whom you are comfortable, be prepared to make following investments:
Generally, reputable managers will deduct a 10% commission for television commercials from your wages after you have completed a job. For print ads, the manager will take a 15% to 20% commission. Some managers pay models shortly after the job is completed, but quite often the models must wait until the manger is paid by the client.
Warning signs of a Non-Reputable Modeling Manager or Agent
A non-reputable manager often:
How the Laws Protect You
No legitimate agency takes an advance fee, which is sometimes called a “registration fee” or a “consultation fee.” This practice is prohibited in the state of New York by New York General Business Law Section 396-n.
Personal managers, talent scouts, talent agents, or any person or firm associated with show business are prohibited from advertising that it has employment available, or is able to secure any employment when an advance fee is a condition to such employment. (New York Arts Cultural Affairs 37.07)
Modeling agencies are required to have a license issued by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. (N.Y. GBL Section 172). Licensed agencies are required to conspicuously post a notice concerning the agency's bond, the applicant's right to bring an action against the company, the required contents of a contract, and the fees involved. Model management firms are not required to be licensed. A modeling agency is prohibited from soliciting clients by means of false misleading representations or promises. (NY GBL Section 187). A modeling agency is also prohibited from advertising in newspapers or otherwise unless the advertising contains the company’s name and address as well as the word “agency.”
Modeling agencies are prohibited from requiring applicants to subscribe to any publication or incidental service or to contribute to the cost of the agency’s advertising.
Either party may easily terminate some modeling contracts, while other contracts bind the parties for a definite period of time. Be sure to understand all of the terms of the contract before signing.
Note that all oral promises and representations should be incorporated into the contract itself. Check the duration of the contract, and ask whether your manager will allow you to work for other agencies during the duration of your contact. This is known as exclusive or non-exclusive representation.
New York Law requires that modeling agency contracts contain the following information:
If You Have a Complaint
If you have a problem, it is important that you file a complaint. Not only can it help you obtain restitution, it will also give you the opportunity to warn others about problems they might encounter with this firm.