Working with your agency (or, the Model-Agent Model)

The Model-Agency Relationship

The relationship between a model and her agency might be the single-most important factor in a model’s success. To be more than just another face on the board, you will, to some extent, need to inspire your agency to promote you to clients. Unfortunately, many models aren’t really sure what the agency-model relationship should look like, and don’t understand how important forming a good relationship with her booker can be.

Of course, agencies can function slightly differently and each may have different ideas of what the agent-model relationship should look like. Use the following as a guideline and talk with your agent regarding specific expectations.

Am I meeting expectations? Are there any changes I could make to be more successful? Should I do another test? Should I do a new card? Should I look at finding representation in other markets? What are clients currently looking for and what kind of response am I getting?

No surprises!

Agents hate surprises… unless you are quickly stopping by to drop off a batch of cookies or a bottle of wine. Avoiding surprises will go a long way with your agency.

Unavailable? Book out in advance.

If you are going to be unavailable to work or go on a casting for a day or more, be sure to notify your agent so they can book you out. By booking out, you are letting your agency know in advance that you will be unavailable for any jobs or castings that come around during that period. This will hopefully avoid scheduling conflicts for your agency and their clients.  Yes, I had a model turn down a booking because she was going to prom. While I totally get that prom is important, having to tell a client (who could potentially be a repeat client) that a model is now suddenly unavailable puts an agency in an awkward spot.

The drop-in or social call

In general, the fashion industry is very chummy on the surface and an agent can seem like your new best friend. It’s not uncommon to hear lots terms of endearments used (babe, sweetie) and you may be the recipient of hugs and air kisses. However, your agent is not your friend and because of this, don’t swing by looking to hang out and chat. If you expect time and attention, call ahead. An agency is a business and work hours are typically insanely busy. Of course, if you just need to drop off a voucher, no advance notice is necessary.  That said, don’t be surprised if you intend to just drop something off and get pulled in for new polaroids or a conversation.

Changes in appearance

First of all, any change in appearance should get prior approval from your agency. I don’t care if it’s adding bangs, getting highlights, or piercing your nose – talk to your agent prior to altering anything that will impact how you look. Hair cut (anything more than a standard trim),  a new hair color, changes in weight or size, cosmetic procedures, tattoos, visible body or facial piercings… basically, anything that makes you look different from your comp card or alters your size/measurements should get cleared prior to proceeding.  As simple as getting subtle highlights might sound, if you are known for your glossy black hair and show up to a client with caramel highlights, it could be a true issue.

Now, if you have changed your appearance and did not get clearance, you must let your agency know ASAP.  If the change was drastic enough (yes, bangs can be drastic), they will most likely want to do new polaroids so clients have an up to date idea of how you look. Clients don’t like surprises and neither do agencies.

On that note, please be careful with sun exposure. Now, I love the sun so I won’t give you the premature aging/skin cancer speech, but what I will warn you about is how a tan can change your look. If your card shows you as an ivory-skinned blonde and you show up to a bridal shoot with a sun burn and freckles, it’s a problem. Secondly, unless you’ve been on a nude beach or in a tanning bed you will probably have tan lines which are hard to cover (and cost valuable time in Photoshop to fix).

Being late

This shouldn’t even need to be addressed, but you should never be late for any casting, booking, or appointment. Always assume that you will

  • hit heavy traffic,
  • get lost, and
  • not be able to find parking.

Use your smart phone’s traffic app; it’s why you have it, no? You can also utilize traffic cam web sites to plan your route. Mapping services like Bing and Google can help you make sure you know how to get where you are going. If you are going to be unavoidably late, call your booker as soon as possible.

Even worse than being late? Not showing at all. “I forgot” is never an excuse. If you have a busy life and find it difficult to remember appointments, buy a calendar and use it. Also, have a note pad and pen with you so you can take down details whenever you talk to your agency. If there is a casting or a booking, request that they email the details to you.

Advice for all models

Bookers are sometimes puzzled when gorgeous models aren’t booked regularly. The reality is that most successful models aren’t only stunning, but they have outstanding personalities, too. Shoots are long, hard days and no client wants to spend their day with a model that has an attitude problem or who isn’t friendly and outgoing. The more engaging and interesting you are, the more likely you are to be booked again by a client.

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