Maybe it's the agency, or maybe it's YOU?
With reality TV model shows and buzz in the media only about the fashion side of the industry (hey, where's the buzz for the print models!?) it's easy to be confused over what it's really like to work with a modeling agency.
Because my awesome blog readers are mostly shorter girls who are aspiring models this post is based on working in the print modeling world. With high fashion agencies the agents work with a select, smaller amount of models they can tend to, but with print modeling it's each model for themselves.
Here are also posts on working non-exclusive and exclusive with an agency and the differences between print and fashion modeling. Know the difference! In print modeling you are able to work with more than one agency and the agencies work with MANY models, could be hundreds or thousands on file.
I was recently asked about how to find an agency that will work hard for them. That would be wonderful, but it's just the wrong mindset to have because typically that type of attention doesn't exist in print modeling.
You might get in the door with a print agency being a shorter girl, but a commercial print modeling agency, honestly, might not 'work hard for you' considering the expectations you might have. It's more like "What are YOU doing to make it easier for the agency to book you?"
If the agency wants to work with you then obviously they see the opportunity for you to book work is there. Thinking the agency is going to make your dreams come true, give you lots of attention and push for you to get work is something that might happen in a fantasy land but not during the day to day true life hustle of being a model.
First, how does the agency circle work:
Client asks agency to send them pics of the models that fit the job--->Agency submits their models that fit what the client is looking for----->If you've got what they are looking for then You are chosen and booked!
Typically at an agency the work comes in, an editor at a magazine or an art director or marketing professional lets the agency know what type of model they are looking for, the rate of the job ,etc., then the agency goes through their models on file and submits the best ones. Simple as that. They typically wouldn't be calling clients out of the blue and marketing you to them unless it's perhaps a high fashion agency that has a new girl they want to promote for Fashion Week. It's more like jobs come in and they use the models they have on file to submit to them.
So it's a demand thing. You might have a lot of personality, have a great look, and energy and be available but are you what the client is looking for? Understand the truth of things, you could be working with an agency for months or a year and only get a couple castings or go-sees or bookings. Accept how competitive the industy is and just by 'being with an agency' doesn't mean you are promised to get bookings all the time. I think of the agency as another marketing tool, a great one, but it doesn't mean your work to do is over. I'm big believer in being your best marketer.
It's a good idea to have a good relationship with your agency, update them with photos, make sure they understand all your assets and availability and keep in touch.
Here are some ways to improve your relationship with the agency/agent to help you book work or increase your odds of not missing an opportunity when it comes to being submitted for a job.
Update the agency with your photos often. Say every 2-4 months update your agency with new headshots and photos, new comp card, because maybe the agency likes your look but your photos are not working when they are submitting you to clients because they do not represent the best of you. Maybe the headshot is just okay and not your best. This lets the agency know you are serious and striving to improve and be a better model. Also make sure your photos represent the type of work you can realistically get, talk to your agency about this, and ask your agency "What type of photos would you like me to work on getting for you?" Your modeling photos are everything when it comes to booking work, so make sure the agency is able to market your assets with the right photos. If you change your hair color...get new photos. If your appearance has changed, get new photos. Keep your photos up to date. Yes, girl, this is work for you. I also believe it's best to manage your own photography.
Be honest about your availability. If you are not available during a certain day or week or will be traveling or are sick, let your agency know. Being available is so important. Time is money, and it's best if you have a flexible schedule. Some castings and go-sees and bookings are last minute, like that day or the next day so being available can also help you book work and your agency will be thankful for it and think highly of you of course because you are a go-to-always-available model. The agency wants to keep their relationship with the client and if you say your available but are not it can damper the agency's credibility and the agency will prob not want to work with you anymore.
Make sure the agency is aware of your abilities. Print modeling is about personality and also your other skills might pay off. Okay so the agency knows you have a marketable look but have you chatted with your agent about the type of work you want to get, can realistically get and any other skills or assets that can help you book work? Such as maybe you have nice hands, then you should ask if the agency books work for parts models too. Maybe you have a skill that might be used in a print ad or commercial, like rollerblading or gymnastics or playing an instrument.
Follow up about jobs and castings. After a booking follow up with your agency, tell them about the job, how it went and express your thanks for the opportunity. It can take 60-90 days to get paid for modeling jobs, depending, so you can also follow up and ask kindly about the check and when to expect it and make sure they have your correct mailing address.
Show off your work. Once you've booked a job you will hunt for the tearsheet, commercial, print ad, to collect prove of your work ( Remember on the job, say for a magazine or catalog, confirm with the client the month the images will be out because YOU will be hunting for it later. It's not like if you book a job yoru agency will scan the magazine stand for you. When you have gained experience send a copy, a scan, a jpeg of it to your agent. Celebrate your work and suggest they add it to their portfolio of your images online, also this is a way to circle around to your agency and say hello again if it's been a little while since you've gotten another booking.
As a print model you'll find yourself being your best cheerleader often, and while you use your best assets to book work you'll also become a great model marketer
Other posts on modeling and marketing:
Is the modeling agency a scam? Check it out here: http://www.bbb.org/