Modeling can be a very rewarding and an enjoyable full- or part-time job. Many models work part time around other jobs, while others are able to work as a full-time model. A select few reach the top with the earnings to match. However, there are quite a few scams that are designed to catch the unwary or potential models who do not know the industry. This page has information to help you avoid the most common modeling scams.
There are many types of modeling jobs, from fashion (i.e., catalogs) to catwalk, and lingerie and clothed glamour seen in magazines such as FHM or Maxim. Beyond that there are many categories of nude and adult modeling. We only shoot fashion and glamour photography.
You need to want to be a model and be committed to achieving it! It might sound obvious but it is amazing how many prospective models realize they can't do a shoot for many weeks and then give up. Having the right look and figure is also important, but without determination you will not succeed. If you want to be a model, then you should always be professional in your attitude. If you provide a phone number or email address, you should always return contact promptly.
Different types of modeling do have different requirements. Fashion, in particular catwalk, have more specific requirements for size and you need to be at least 5'8" to be suitable. If you are under 5'8" it will be extremely difficult for you to model full time for fashion work. The requirements for glamour modeling are far more relaxed; primarily just a figure that is proportionate.
It is very flattering to be told that an agency wants to sign you onto their books but before you part with your money do a few checks. First, check whether they are actually an agency. Many will state in their small print that they are not an agency and do not find models work but this may not be obvious from the front pages of their website.
If you are under 5'8" tall and are told that you are ideal for fashion work then be very cautious as they will almost certainly want a fee. Fashion models tend to be over this height and if an agency thinks they can get work for you, they will not charge fees. Suggest that the agency take their fees from the first work that they get you - it is very unlikely that they will do so. If an agency wants to sign you, there should be no fee to pay upfront regardless of whether this is quoted as a charge to appear on their website or for printing of comp cards. A good agency should make their money from commission as a result of getting you work.
If an agency is making their money from fees paid by models to be on their books there is no incentive for them to try to get any work and therefore earn their commission. Agencies that are signing hundreds of models per day cannot possibly have work for all of them. Many websites that appear to be agencies are only portfolio hosting sites if you read the small print carefully. Alba Models website has useful information about genuine agencies.
A common answer you may find is no;
There are some key shots that you need as a model so potential clients know what you look like. These include a clear headshot and full height picture. If looking for lingerie and glamour work then include a bikini or lingerie photo.
Yes! You may be told that an agency only needs amateur photos to judge your potential as a model. This may be true but these days much promotion of glamour models is done outside of agencies on the web with online portfolio hosting sites where the best quality portfolio shots will give you an advantage. Your portfolio should show a variety of poses in the different styles of modeling you are looking to do, but be sure to include a clear head face shot and full length shot to show your figure.
An agency can help get work and represent you for potential modeling jobs required by clients. However, with the internet, a large number of glamour or nude models now are able to work freelance with their own websites or portfolio hosting sites to generate leads for work. If you are only looking for fashion modeling work it is highly unlikely that you could earn a sufficient living without agency representation.
You may also find that you are offered Free Time for Prints (TFP/TFCD) shoots which will not cost you other than your time and travel. These are only worthwhile if the photographer knows what they are doing. There is no point wasting time on a shoot if a photographer has no idea how to take, light and compose a photo and is purely using you for training as the results will not be of use for a portfolio. A model portfolio test shoot or time for prints shoot is where a model or potential model attends a shoot with a photographer or studio without having to pay a fee and may receive pictures to use for their portfolio. Although often described as Time for Prints (TFP) it is far more common now for images to be supplied on CD which allows easy use for web portfolios and is therefore known as TFCD (Time for CD). All images taken at a TFP/TFCD/test shoot are still the copyright of the photographer and must not be used or sold without their permission including submission to magazine competitions.
A photographer can test out new lighting setups that can't be done on a commercial shoot as the client may have specific requirements for pictures. It also allows photographers to discover new models and enhance their portfolios with more creative images. There is always a demand for new models and test shoots can help them begin. However, there is also a risk that the photographer has no idea what he is doing and just wants a model for free to practice taking photos. It is essential that you check examples of their work to ensure it is suitable.
You should always check the quality of work by photographers offering test/TFP shoots and ensure that they offer te types of modeling you are interested in.
We need models for commercial work at our studio and always require new faces for shoots. Portfolio test shoots allow us to find new models that we can then book for future shoots at the studio. We are particularly interested in local models from Western North Carolina.
There is no specific look for glamour modeling so let us be the judge of whether you are suitable. Some models who initially thought they didn't have the right look have turned out to be some of the best models.
A model release is a form that formalizes the details of a shoot between the model and photographer. If you want to be a model then you will normally be expected to sign a model release before or immediately after a photo shoot. We also always ask for a copy of ID such as driver's license or passport to ensure you are over 18. Much concern over model release forms seems to be misplaced as photographers are within their legal rights to use images from a shoot with or without a release form. If you are not happy about your photos being shown then modeling is probably not the right career for you!
Complete the on-line application or email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org along with a photograph. Applications received without a photograph will not be considered. The picture doesn't have to be professional quality but allows us to decide if you have a look is suitable.
More advice can be found here.
Unfortunately the modeling world and associated industries are full of traps and scams that can catch the unwary potential model. Please make sure you follow basic advice here and on sites such as model safety to avoid becoming a victim of a scam that could cost you money or risk your safety. We have met models who have sadly fallen for many of these scams. Please don't add to the list of people affected. I have listed photographer/agency as an interchangeable term below as I have now come across a number of so-called agencies that were just a front for a single photographer. You should also not assume that the person on email is who they say or even the same sex as the name they use. I have seen examples of emails answered by a female name that proved to be from a male photographer.
Unfortunately this type of email is a scam to get your details and then for you to cash a fake check for them. Well-known brands or agencies will not email potential models directly. This kind of fee is not the level that would be offered to anyone directly off the internet by email, it just doesn't happen like that. The scammers are taking advantage of people wanting to believe that they can make it and have been selected for their looks. The brands, email addresses and amounts may vary but the basis of the scam is the same. Agencies and well-known brands do NOT use yahoo or hotmail email addresses. If in doubt, contact the company directly to check if a message is genuine but do not reply to the message and above all DO NOT send any of your details or you will be bombarded with further scams.
If you are going to a shoot or meeting with a photographer or agency you should always have details of the contact address and landline phone number. Just because someone claims to be an agency does not mean that they actually are one. Don't arrange to meet in a location such as train station or street to then move on to a "studio." A genuine photographer or agency will have an address and landline phone to work from. A common comment is to avoid photographers using internet based email accounts such as Hotmail or Yahoo. However in my experience although these accounts can be set up anonymously they are also extremely useful when you are traveling and allow email to be picked up worldwide. I would recommend only considering this fact in conjunction with other information such as extremely poor pictures, no website or contact details available. For example someone using Hotmail with only a mobile phone number and no website would immediately ring alarm bells.
If you are new to modeling or meeting an unknown photographer/agency then it is advisable to take a friend with you. However, if you are being paid travel expenses for the shoot don't expect your chaperone to be paid for as well.
Check any agency or photographer's website and see examples of their work. Does it look professional and are the images of high quality? Most photographers now have websites to showcase their work. If a website address can't be provided you should ask why. Emailed examples of work should be treated with caution as they may not be genuine or produced by that individual. Also check that the photographer does the type of work you want to do - it is no use contacting a fashion photographer if you are looking to do glamour.
Don't meet in locations such as a train station or deserted building to then go onto a shoot unless you are very experienced. Make sure you have the actual address of the shoot location, ideally a studio along with full contact details for the photographer and take someone with you. For your first shoots it is far better to only work in a recognized studio with full street address provided in advance to avoid possible problems.
Some modeling websites such as StandOut Models/Models StandOut appear to be model agencies but are portfolio hosting sites. Their current list of pending work is over six months old which does not reflect well as this is their shop window. Some agencies will accept anyone who pays their fees and make their money from models joining their site. These fees may be shown as charges for Comp Cards but a genuine model agency will earn their money from commission by getting models work. Composite (comp) cards are have been replaced by websites and are not needed for most mainstream work. An agency taking on hundreds of people per day cannot possibly get sufficient work for them all. Even if an agency takes on 10 people per day (a very low estimate) that is 3,600 other people per year that you are competing with which gives an idea of the likely chances of getting work. A mainstream agency may have 30-40 key models on their books that are being placed for work. If an agency makes their money from models joining their books there is no incentive for them to find any work for the model. Most top agencies are very difficult to join so it is a real buzz to be told that an agency want to sign you. Unfortunately some scams prey on this and will accept anyone who is happy to pay to join which is the first warning sign that an agency is not genuine.
Ensure that the agency is genuine and has a track record. I have seen recent examples of a so-called agency site where content has been stolen from other sites (see comments from Banana Glamour on the illegal use of their content by Bluebell Models) and judge whether you would work with someone who acts in such a manner. You should judge the style and content of the website and consider whether it gives a professional impression to potential clients. If not then proceed with caution.
Just because someone claims to be a photographer or agency doesn't mean that they are - the internet makes it very easy to hide behind aliases.
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