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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Our Advice For Talent in the Modeling & Fashion Industries

We often get asked for advice on modeling, breaking into the industry and about what agencies to work with.  Being a model can be a very fun and rewarding career, just make sure to protect yourself when you’re getting started.  If we haven’t covered your questions here, make sure to leave a comment or tweet us @CEMManagement and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.  Want to leave a comment? We'd love to discuss our article with you. Please feel free to do so in the comment section.

Here is our top ten list of things new and experienced models should know:

1.      Ask around!  This is our number one rule when selecting an agency to work with. Reputation matters. If you hear negative things over and over and over again, they are probably true. Stay away from bad apples.  Each city has a few “top dogs” as far as agencies go, shoot to work these established agencies and stay away from the up and comers.

2.     Control your image.  Make sure that both you and your agency are putting your best foot forward. Only use professional images approved by yourself and your agency, to promote yourself. Keep your social media images on Twitter and Facebook professional as well. Keep the “candid” digital camera shots OFF your social network pages. Clients and future clients won’t appreciate them.

3.      Arrange any paychecks upfront. Make sure your booking agent for a gig or your agency has a clear payment plan for paychecks and commissions. Don’t be afraid to ask for the schedule. If they have a history of not paying talent, paying late, or making talent “ask” to be paid, RUN AWAY!  Too many times models get hired and then have to wait months, even years to get paid.  Establish your boundaries upfront, in writing (E-mails work) and keep copies of all payroll related communications.

4.      Refuse to be underpaid.  Do not work for anyone, agencies or brands that under pay you. YOU ARE VALUABLE! Let them fight to pay you what you’re worth. If you’re that good, trust me, they’ll fight to pay you more if they know you are serious and worth it.
5.      Ask for the contract. Be weary of agencies that don’t give you an exclusive contract; they might not offer you one so they can take advantage of you. Read any contract you sign, read the fine print, and ask questions until you understand what you are signing.  Get copies immediately. 

6.      Contracts can also work in your favor. Many agencies have all kinds of errors in their contracts, don’t point them out, just let them roll. Later on, the discrepancies of dates, missing signatures, etc. can actually work in your favor in case of a dispute.  We’ve heard horror stories of lots of agencies “threatening” their models with bogus contracts.  If you have any discrepencies, consult with a well known lawyer.

7.      Ask questions. If you have found anyone from booking agents, accounting, HR, etc. being dishonest, DON’T WORK FOR THEM! No matter how bad you want the booking it’s not worth it.  Run the other way, and then report your experience honestly to your nearest Better Business organization.3. Be weary of agencies that don't give you an exclusive contract, they just want to take advantage of you!!!

4. ASK QUESTIONS! If they are dishonest, DON'T DO BUSINESS WITH THEM! No matter how bad you want the booking!
  There is nothing that will sour your experience faster than dishonest people, trust us!

8.     Know what you want!  When working with Photographers, Brands, Agencies, or anyone in the industry, know what you want and clearly communicate that to them. Make sure to get any special considerations in writing and don’t hesitate to ask for it. They will understand and should gladly oblige your requests.  It is NOT unusual to require booking agents and agencies to provide transportation reimbursements, parking reimbursement and “costume” allowance if you have to purchase special uniform pieces for a booking. If an agent or agency will not provide basic reimbursements, decline the booking, those costs add up and if you’re new you shouldn’t have to spend so much to get started.

9.      Get social.  We definitely encourage models to get active on social media. Checking out an agencies social media campaign history is important. See how well they promote and support their current models. If they don’t seem very supportive, work with someone who is. A great agency gives consistent, open, and frequent praise to their top talent.
10.  Find a mentor.  Whether you are new to the industry, or a seasoned veteran, we can all use a little guidance. Find a mentor who is experienced and is at the top of the industry and can give you advice as you need it. Once you identify who the best mentor for you would be, don’t be afraid to ask!  Most veteran or former models and agents would probably be honored to be asked to mentor you.


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  2. As a photographer I would say I prefer to work with professional people, professional modeling is not required. Just professionalism in general :)