I will now take you behind the scenes of a modeling agency! The important division of every agency is scouting and booking. The main work of modeling agencies is to build up a high-class network of photographers, magazines, models, scouts and clients, but also to discover new faces!
Quest Author: Stephan M. Czaja / CM Models (Head Booker) from ‘The Model Book’
Behind the scenes of modeling agencies worldwide
For me, every morning starts in the Cafè or office. Besides me, there is the first Cappuccino and I check all the emails and sort the information from yesterday and new enquiries. My job is model management. As a model agent, I communicate with clients, and work on conditions and contracts or plan travels for models. After a while, you know every model by detail. I have spent quite some time with much of them, from their first casting to model coaching to first test shoots, jobs, their first campaign. To see how models grow in the first months and years and with our help improve is fascinating me!
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Your modeling agency is your most important partner from day one. With their mix of personal and partly exclusive contacts and a highly professional network and the own model selection, agencies are the intersection of commercial clients and models. If you as a new model are being represented by a renowned agency, your chances are quite high to get bigger jobs even at the beginning. Many employees of commercial agencies, production companies or photographers always have a look at the webpages of agencies and look out for new models.
Booking enquiry: Your way to success as a model
How does a booking enquiry look? Many model enquiries will result from personal contacts of the agency, which have been acquired by trusted work within time. These clients will call your agent mostly directly and ask for proposal for productions. However, many enquiries also result from clients, who looked at the webpage on the internet and found the agency by browsing through the internet. No matter if personal contacts or agency webpages, most enquiries will be at the office via email. Emails are the main mean of communication. You will also write lots of emails as a model. Lots of gathered information can be presented with that mean in a sorted way. Therefore, clients mainly send enquiries via email. They can write all the information in a structured way, like details about location, date or attachments like dispositions, pdf files, flight bookings, tickets, pictures, and videos – and all of that is quickly available.
If a booking enquiry has been received, it usually contains the frame details of the photoshoot or commercial pictures. It also includes the exact (or less detailed) picture of how the model should look like. All statements vary. Some clients have a clear image of their model, others only provide information like height, clothing size, skin tone and hair colour.
Modeling agencies and agents filter the good jobs from the not so well-paid ones by their experience. Which means, they calculate the payment and compare to what is provided and compare it to the media output (the usage) of the shoot or video shoot. Is that job profitable? Are buyouts (usage rights) already included? Is the client good for your career or your portfolio? Will that job help you book more? After all these considerations, the shooting information will be summed up. The selection will be done by the booker himself/herself and he/she will decide who fits the job and who not. The selected models will then receive the enquiry.
If conditions don’t fit before the job, the agent will consult the client in order to negotiate the payment. Many models only calculate the working hours on jobs, but there is a lot more! In reality, you will present your face for a one-year campaign for 365 days. Every single day you will represent the brand with your look. Therefore, agents don’t only consider the single working day but also usage rights!
Selection criteria: Competition all the time
The selection criteria differ from job to job and from new faces to professional models. Whilst new faces will be booked for “smaller“ jobs, only professional models will be considered for bigger ones. The experienced model has an advantage here, which he/she will only get by high quality images in the book, talent and experience, and will then get the booking. In other words, clients directly ask for a certain model (direct booking) and not for a selection.
Agencies respond to mails asap and provide pictures if needed.
If an agency needs pictures for an enquiry asap, for example hand snaps for a new beauty campaign, they immediately take these snaps. Replies will be straightforward and without many questions. This part of acting professionally is what you have to provide from day one! You have to be like that: easy going, not complicated, fast and always on call. Why? Because your chances of getting jobs will be higher!
Modeling agencies, agents and their clients have a wide selection within new faces. If an agent receives an enquiry, he/she feels pretty much like you: the faster he/she replies and makes suggestions, the higher the chances that the client will make a positive decision. If a person is being booked by a commercial agency or photographer, he/she will think about that production while searching for a model. If an agency sends proposal early, the producer will already think about it. If he/she likes a model, he/she will start planning with that face. The chances are high that after all the planning and thoughts put into, he/she will decide in your favour – therefore – being as fast as possible is everything!
Being reachable? This means jobs!
That is also very important for you. Like I just said, particularly with new faces, clients and agencies have a big selection. New faces are coming in all the time. Every year there is a new generation. If an agent asks for fifteen models for a job and ten reply within the first hour, the suggestions will be sent to the client immediately. If you wait till the next day to reply, you will most likely not be considered.
Your chances of getting the job will decline, and because of that you should always use your mobile phone as the most important mean of communication. That implies an email address, social networks and messenger services like WhatsApp or Facebook. Because you carry your mobile phone with you all the time, you will always be informed about latest mails from your agency! Even if you don’t get inquiries every hour, it makes sense to look at your phone from time to time, just in case you get something so that you can react quickly and get the best options.
Internal competition in your modeling agency
Your agency will honour it when you get back to them on time when receiving enquiries. In doing so, they can assure high standards towards their clients when it comes to providing the perfect model for their job. If an agency always takes too long, the client will not get back to them again. Same for models. If you always take too long to get back to them you might not receive enquiries or your contract may be terminated. Particularly as new faces the competition within the agency is quite high. The agency has their favourite models, which they know very well for months or even years. As a new model, even after being accepted, you are only a face of many. There will be new models coming in and some leaving! The agent knows that and so does the agency. Therefore, it is important for you to show high commitment from the very beginning – and to prove that you want to become a model.
For your agency, you should be reachable – ideally seven days a week. Even the team of the agency does not work during the regular working hours. Good agencies also work during the night or weekends, even on public holidays. If a model needs to be replaced or a new enquiry is received, they have to act quickly. If you are away or on holiday, inform them in advance and let them know – so that they can plan that you will not be available for a couple of time. In result, your booker knows that they have to consider this and that you might not be able to get back to them immediately. Best would be that you are also reachable during your holidays. As a model, you are responsible for yourself and hence for your success! If you don’t keep that in mind and take communication as not so important, it might happen very fast that someone else takes your spot.
Notice> Do you have an idea how many models apply at a good agency each day? If an agency reached a certain standing and status, which would be a high-class name for exclusive clients and jobs, hundreds of applications will be submitted by models each day. Every year, thousands of young girls and boys want to become models. As I said, the competition is high! Very high!
Who discovers new models? Model scouts do!
An agency or scout does the discovery of new models. He/She will then have a look at all applications via mail and keep an eye open for models on the street and actively look for new faces. Most of you know the stories of sudden discoveries. There are just some examples like curvy model Angelina Kirsch. She was discovered sitting in a Café in the middle of Rome. No matter if it’s at the gym, shopping mall or airport: model scouts will find models in all different locations as new faces for their clients! If you have been approached by a reliable agent of an agency, your sights are very good! There are lots of online applications and usually one out of hundred is getting the call and will be further considered. If you already passed that you might be successful.
What are scouts looking for in applications?
The focus within applications is mainly the height and your pictures. Are you a special kind of type? Would they have to invest a lot into your career? Do you have the perfect measurements? Professional models will have higher chances at jobs than new faces, because the agency won’t have to invest that much time into them. New faces need a lot of work – questions will have to be answered. First, shootings need to be organised, the book has to be built up, and coaching for posing and runway has to be done. Real work for an agency and investment of time, money and contacts.
Magazines and photographers for you model book
After the scouting of the model there will be the building up of the model! There will be specialists in a good agency just for that. They have contacts at important magazines and are in touch with good photographers. If you ever wondered how you will get into a magazine: magazines, in particular big ones, book the photographer directly. Which means in order to get these great pictures and make it into the magazine, or even be on the cover, you will have to be with an agency that has high class contact and works with these photographers. First though, you will have your first test shoot. As soon as your portfolio gets bigger, better photographers will work with you. Therefore, this part of work is so essential and people from the agency particularly work in that part of building-up your book. You want to know more about test shootings? Read this article about photographers and test shootings.
Modeling agencies: The longterm network
Within booking it all comes together: new pictures of the models, updating measurements, new tearsheets, clients and enquiries.
Model scouts and bookers in an agency do even more. They will network for their models on important venues and events, and coordinate the collaboration with foreign agencies.
They are in touch with models and partner agencies throughout the entire globe! Great agencies have partners on all continents, countries, and important cities of the world so that models can work internationally! Every bigger media or fashion capital will need new faces constantly. Therefore, partner agencies exchange models in between for the best markets. Models are able to build up their book and modeling agencies will always have new looks for their clients.
Quest Author: Stephan M. Czaja / CM Models (Head Booker) from ‘The Model Book’