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Educational Consumer Tips

Modeling & Talent Agencies

Author: Better Business Bureau
Published:

This report is general in nature and is not intended as a reliability report on any company, service or product.

Many people compete for a few openings.  Few people possess the unique combination of physical qualities and camera-friendly features to be top models.  Of those who do find success, only a fraction ascends to the most elite level of the industry to command large salaries. Beware of any agency that requires you to pay for classes, that conducts unprofessional or compromising photo sessions, or that requires you to use a certain photographer. Some agencies only produce directories which they distribute.  These agencies typically require you to pay to be in their directories.  They do not guarantee you will get any modeling work.

Before committing to an agency, do some research. Although there are exceptions to the rule, be wary of warning signs that a company may not be legitimate, including:

*Non-specific ads in help-wanted sections of newspapers such as: "Wanted: Male/Female with no experience."

*Pictures of famous models on company business cards or office walls that deceptively suggest the company represents or has ties to those models.

*Excessive guarantees. Modeling agencies are not employers; they represent clients and try to get them work, but they should not claim to guarantee placement.

*Advance or registration fees. If an agency has to charge a fee upfront, be wary: there may not be enough money to support the business.

*Pressure to leave a deposit or sign a contract immediately. Legitimate companies should have no problem allowing a potential client to take the contract home to think about it.

*High-pressure sales tactics for photographs. Non-reputable managers may try to pressure clients into having photographs taken immediately through a specific photographer who may require payment in full before the work is completed. Though eventually all models must create a portfolio, remember that reputable firms are trained to recognize potential models and will likely accept photographs taken at home while a model is getting started.

Agencies that actually place models are considered employment agencies.  They must be licensed by the L&I: A-261 - Employment Agency Law which regulates theatrical or entertainment agencies.

Before signing an agreement, read it carefully and understand what the company offers.  Ask about its success rate and ask for references.  Verify all claims made by the agency and make sure any oral promises are included in the written agreement.

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