Unfortunately there is a whole industry that has been developed to take advantage of those who would like to become models. They are far removed from the world of actual professional modelling. This modelling scam and rip-off industry makes its money by alluding to or promising great careers in modelling, but first you have to pay them up front. It is alarming how many models are still forking out hundreds and thousands of pounds to scam modelling agencies for shots that won't get them anywhere. It can happen to anyone, it has happened to me.
I had no idea where to start in the modelling industry. A so-called agency, with very gorgeous offices, had took me in and told me I had a great look, but my images were not good enough. They recommended I take a portfolio package with one of their photographers. The images, they said, would guarantee jobs. To be sure, I went to a few more agents - who said the same thing. OK, I thought, I'll fork out the few hundred pounds for the shots.
Putting my trust in their hands, I paid my small fortune and had the shots done. They were useless. The agency was a scam that never gave me any jobs and the shots did not get me any work at all with other agents.
Warning signs of a scam, or a less than legitimate, or a poorly run agency. If you find any of these warning signs, it does not necessarily mean the business is a scam operation but be sure to ask a lot of questions, and be sure the business gives good answers. Always check references!
1. Advertising for models wanted
Scam agents are getting more and more cunning every year. If they have an ad on Gumtree, or in the Newspaper saying something like 'earn up to £1000 a day' - ignore it. Reputable modelling agents have their books brimming with girls, they won't be advertising for models. In actual fact, they scout for girls if that was the case, it is a very long process before you do get signed - competition is high.
2. Making you take photos with 'their' photographer
‘We are interested in you but you need to test shoot with our photographer…and it's going to cost you.’ Legitimate agencies will recommend photographers that you may go to on your own. You should be free to go to any photographer you choose. If the agency tells you that you must use their photographer, watch out. A twist on this theme is when the agency provides the photo session at no charge, then charges you a fee for a ‘professional’ makeup artist or for the ownership of the photos. You will need photos at some point but you should be free to shop around.
3. A long line of 'people new to London' in their offices
If you see a lot of foreign models, students new to the UK (especially in London) and other youngsters misfortunate enough to have been enticed by clever advertising. A reputable agent, will only see a limited few people a day, their foyer won't be brimming with girls and boys.
4. ‘We guarantee you work.’
Modelling agencies are not employers. They represent you and try to get work for you. Most of the time they don't know for sure what type of job will come in or what 'look' may be needed, thus there is no way a legitimate agency can guarantee you work. The best they can do is to give you an idea of their track record on placements. But remember that past performance is no guarantee of future performance.
5. Don't pay any fees to modelling agencies!
Any request for an upfront fee, even as little as £25 is a scam. These could be signing fees, advertising fees etc. If an agency has to charge money at the front end it means that there is not enough money at the back end. It also means that the agency probably does not have enough modelling work to be able to survive on commissions, and therefore, not enough work for a model to survive on either. Avoid it!
It is unfortunate that these scam agencies exist and unfortunately it is a thriving industry, I hope these few warning signs are helpful they may seem obvious and you may think ‘I’ll never fall for something like that’ but when your there in an agent’s office overwhelmed by pressure? Or excited of the possibilities thinking ‘maybe it will be different for me’, please go home, do your research and think just that little bit harder xxx