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How To Decide Which Type Of Agency To Join

Written By onci on Friday, October 15, 2010 | 3:07 PM

By: David St.John

There are purely just modeling agencies that only accept existing valuable models with tear sheets from the print work they have accomplished and there are those that a thousand wanna-bees a year flock to because their name is well known. Some can help you but most can not because they may already have too many qualified 5’8” size 00s with long necks and posing skills and runway skills. And no, you probably will not develop these skills by joining the agency. It takes either intense training or years of work by which time you may be too old for most gigs.
In Portland there are two types of web sites that you can be on for exposure;  (A) the one which will accept your existing head shot regardless of its quality; and (B) The site that requires uniformity of quality. Which one would you prefer to be on? Most agencies send you to their photographer or to a short list of referral photographers and you will never know whether they received a kick back or not. The minimal cost of such a photo shoot is usually $450 and can be $1200 just as easily.
Ask me if I know of a less expensive way to obtain high resolution photo shoots at less than $100. DSRegis001@gmail.com  It is my opinion that, while a good photographer is well worth his/her fee, you are being robbed much of the time when that fee is high and you don’t even really know how to pose yet.
There are also Model Management companies and these charge fees to be on their web site. These fees range from $180 to $300 and are not fees you should be paying. Web exposure benefits the agent as well and should be paid for by the agent in their efforts to advertise you.
There are also Talent/Modeling Agencies that book models, actors and model/actors in film, commercials, print and more.  This type of agency receives the inside scoop when they receive daily or weekly ‘breakdowns’ of paid gigs that the public never sees on craigslist. That list only gets the gig when there was too little time for the real agents to provide talent for the gig or the gig needed something rare like a 400 pound person or Italian speaking individual. Models that watch  craigslist will never get the best gigs or big money.
A smaller model/talent agency may be best in Portland. Find an owner/operated agency that is recognized by Casting Frontier and Now Casting databases as well as the casting community.

Independent models making great money do not exist in Portland. There are those that get work but it is not the big jobs. Too often the independent does not understand how to negotiate fees and sells out too low or stupidly signs a ‘buy out’.  All apparel companies work only with agencies and absolutely require agency branded composite cards and portfolios and most insist on professional training.
FREE PHOTO SHOOTS OR TFCD OR TFP. Remember Rule #1. The photographer owns the copyright. Know that rule.  Everyone in Portland owns a camera and many of them want to meet a cutie to have pose for their portfolio, not yours, theirs. That means leotards, semi nudes, angel wings, body paint, erotic shots and a whole myriad of crap not designed to yield a quality modeling book or portfolio.  Then, if you are lucky the photographer isn’t shooting with just the camera’s flash as his lighting and isn’t shooting on automatic. Later some will invoice you if you asked for anything not in their plans. 
What you do not know about megapixels, raw, jpeg, DPI, copyright law, stock photography, where your images may end up, pixel count, and releases may end your modeling career.
There are a few excellent photographers that can and will do it right. How will you know?  Ask your agent, that is what they are there for. Always get your trade photographer to sign a statement that they do not have the right to sell your images ever to anyone and get their real address on it. View their driver’s license.  If they offer you wine or any intoxicants just leave. Remember if you do exotic work on camera your future child may find you as an embarrassment when they discover your work. It can break up a family. Never let those you are dating talk you into tawdry deals so that you can give them your earnings.
Modeling and acting are businesses. Learn to make your own business decisions. Invest in your abilities and in quality photography.  Always insist upon paying photographers so you have rights. Hire only those that show you their FASHION shoots. That means no cut off feet, hands, heads, etc.. Too many are terrible at fashion shoots which are not the same as weddings.
When you get your images/pictures, if you ever do, do not put them on mayhem or a social site in hopes of paid gigs. These site are used mostly to find you to sell your something. No casting director, advertising agent or art director is going to these sites to view your photo, they just don’t have time. Get on an agency site that is free and NEVER pay to register on line for anything.

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