What to Discuss with a Modeling Agency

By now, it’s extremely likely that you’ve read my last blog post, sought out a client, pitched a photo shoot, gotten approval, and begun your casting process. If you’re not quite there yet, I can wait a minute.

OK, great. Now that we’re on the same page, and you’ve dealt with your clients, here are three questions you should be asking the modeling agency–as well as some information you’ll need to confirm with them before the day of the shoot.

1. Can you provide Polaroids very recently taken, or digital pictures taken today, of the models in whom I’m interested?

This one is important because, like everyone else, models want to make the best impression. That means that, while they look great in those images you viewed on the agency’s website, the photos could have been taken months, or years, ago. The difference between the person you see in those photos and the person who shows up to your shoot could be as minor as “I can see her roots now,” or it could be as major as “he looks fifteen years older than in his portfolio.” I’ve seen models arrive looking as orange as an Oompa-Loompa due to fake tanning, or four sizes larger than was listed on the model card. Speaking of which…

2. Are those STILL his or her sizes?

This is similar to #1 above, and just as important. If you’re paying a wardrobe stylist to spend days choosing clothing options, that time will be wasted if the model shows up and doesn’t fit into any of the clothing. I’ve even seen a model whose SHOE size turned out to be different from what her model card stated, so ask for current sizes instead of the ideal ones listed on the model card or website.

 3. Can you do better?

Most agencies are flexible with their rates; they simply want to get as much as you’re willing to pay. If the agency quotes a rate for you, there’s nothing wrong with haggling to get the best deal. It’s part of the process.

After you’ve asked the modeling agency the above questions, be sure to clearly explain your expectations for the following:

1. Grooming.

Be specific if you expect the model to arrive with a recent manicure, or pedicure, or if you’d like the men to be clean-shaven. These are things that can’t always be done on the spot, so advance notice–especially if your look calls for stubble–is a must.

2. Brings.

“Brings” are, you guessed it, items that the model brings along. Typical brings are a favorite T-shirt or pair of jeans, a pair of khakis, and/or a wedding ring.

3. Who will be paying for travel.

If the gig pays well enough, most models or agencies are willing to pay for airfare, lodging, and ground transportation. Sometimes, however, the agency will ask you if you’re willing to pay. Know in advance whether this gels with your budget, and be clear about it with the agency when negotiating your booking.

4. Usage.

As discussed in my previous blog post, you should have a clear idea of what the usage formats, time period, territories, and rates are. Once the agency agrees on these factors, put it in a contract for the model, or someone at the agency representing the model, to sign.

5. Usage Extensions.

Pre-negotiate what the rate would be if you were to extend usage past the current period. If you wait until the last minute, you will be in a worse bargaining position.

When casting, between knowing what to ask your clients and knowing what to discuss with the agency, the only major detail left is the one that only you can determine: which model is the right fit for your vision?

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