How to choose a modeling agency: professionals and scammers

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There are two ways to enter the modelling business: you can come to the agency on your own and with the help of a scout.

A scout is a person who can meet you before your dream of a modeling career starts to come true. Statistically, 70% of top models were found by scouts by chance. Without these «gold diggers» (as they are called in the modelling business) Kate Moss would have remained a cigarette girl, while Chanel model and Karl Lagerfeld’s pet, Baptiste Giabiconi, would have worked in an aircraft factory.

Having met a scout and received a business card from him, you can consider yourself lucky — chances are more than great that a modeling agency will sign a contract with you. However, in the modeling business, as in any other, there are people who want to profit at someone else’s expense — in this case yours.

It’s not uncommon for young people to be approached on the street by scammers posing as scouts (fashion designers, agency directors/managers). However, if a car pulls up next to you and a man jumps out shouting «wait a second» or you see a «suspicious» man chasing a teenage girl, this is not a reason to sound the alarm. It could very well be the same Scout who travels the world and gives people the dream. How can you tell a real scout from an impostor? Not by their outward appearance! Girl Scouts can be men driving around in a taxi/Rolls-Royce like famous designer Hedi Slimane, who independently scouts for models (sometimes at night, looking in all the clubs and cafes) and calls it «boy safaris»; they can be women in killer high heels like the top scout of Select Models agency Sarah Leon, or cute anonymous girls with a Polaroid around her neck.

So:
1. A professional scout will never impose, promise you the moon and insist that you give them your address/phone number.
2. The name of the agency and all its details on the business card can easily be found in the Yellow Pages and on Google.

If you have decided to contact a modelling agency yourself, think hard and take your time: your future fate depends on your choice of agency. It’s crucial at the start of your career not to get sucked in by pseudo agencies that are all about sucking up money, as well as webcam and escort agencies (after such work you’ll never get a chance to model professionally).

Signs of a reliable model agency:
1. it has a permanent «registration» in yellowpages and other directories (don’t go with an agency that has been around for less than 3 months).
2. they have a huge database of models, including stars who have appeared in many commercials, on magazine covers, or who are known to you.
3) It will not force you to make an expensive portfolio or go to school for a fee (in America, agencies like Ford and Elite Model Management train their models for free).
4) They will not charge you a casting fee
5. They will not give any guarantees or promises to make you a superstar (simply because no self-respecting agency can be 100% sure of any budding model).

Remember: if you’re asked for money at the beginning of your modelling career it’s a sure sign that you’re dealing with scammers.

As of today, there are about 2,500 professional agencies in Russia. Each has its own specialisation, internal rules and priorities. How do I make the right choice?

Before contacting one of the agencies, ask yourself: what specialisation is appealing to you? (There’s a wide range of models from stand-up to catwalk.) Do you want to make it your career, or is it just a hobby? (If so, why not opt for a smaller agency with a lower workload and occasional work.)

There aren’t many big agencies out there and they’re all over the place: President Model Management, Point, Fresh Models, Modus Vivendis and others. The popularity of such agencies is directly proportional to their professionalism and client base.

A tip from the former model and founder of exploremodeling.com, Cristina DeHart: instead of top agencies where you risk losing your way among local stars, choose a less prestigious agency that is more interested in you. Over time, as your professionalism grows, you may be able to change to a bigger agency.

Choose several agencies (preferably at least five) where you would like to work and make an appointment with their representatives.

During your personal visit to the agency, pay attention to the details (the office where it is located, the atmosphere, the friendliness of the staff). Do not hesitate to ask questions (about regular clients, model workload, etc.).

Visit all the agencies on your list if possible, and weigh up the pros and cons and make your decision.