Updated: Sep 18
Getting signed to a modeling agency isn't always easy
Getting signed to a modeling agency is not always an easy task. But there are things that aspiring models can do to make the journey to getting noticed by a reputable modeling agency a lot easier.
Being an actor, photographer for models, casting director, mother agent, model scout, hospitality professional myself...and having shot portfolio for modeling agencies for different periods of my journey in NYC has kept me very close to the modeling industry and allowed me to see the journeys of hundreds of models along the way.
Many models have had an easy time getting signed to modeling agencies because they "fit the mold". They were born naturally tall, relatively thin or with an ideal fit build, and they have facial features that the model agencies typically embraced. So those models may have found it really easy to get noticed. But those easy success stories are not a dime a dozen. More often than not it is not that easy and it can take serious dedication and effort to get signed to one of the best nyc modeling agencies...or just a reputable one in any part of the world.
There is a silver lining, however, in that in recent years the modeling and fashion industry have become so much more inclusive and embracing of varying looks, colors, and sizes.
So here are a few things that you can do to give yourself an advantage:
I, myself, am an nyc based actor and photographer for models (who travels to Los Angeles a lot) and if you are a model looking for photographer you can see my photography for model portfolio rates here.
It all starts with you
Like anything, if you want to succeed at something, you have to take it seriously. An aspiring lawyer MUST read a lot to be great at their craft and pass the bar. A doctor MUST memorize tons of medical information to be great. A basketball player MUST put in tons of hours in the gym to be a great basketball player. The same goes for being a working model and being signed to a model agency.
The biggest assets to a model are their face, mind, and body. And if you want to be a successful model and be signed to the right modeling agency you have to prioritize constantly improving all of those things.
So yes, your face needs to be on point. That means you should be putting the right things into your body that won't make your face break out. You might want to consider cutting out fried foods, dairy, and all oily foods, as many models say that helped clear their acne (here is an article from Cosmopolitan Magazine that talks about clearing acne may help you).
That also means learning how to moisturize properly to keep your face looking fresh. And I'd highly recommend taking self care days where you are treating yourself to facials and other bodily treatments.
Your body is equally as important in fashion modeling and you need to, again, put things in your body that will help it maintain a fit appeal. The cheat code to losing or watching your weight is watching your caloric intake. If you maintain a certain caloric intake you will maintain a certain weight and size. It is by reducing your caloric intake that will help you lose weight if that is your goal.
You should also fast regularly for so that you can preserve your body.
And, of course, create a workout regimen that helps to tone you in the places that you want to be toned.
Lastly, but most definitely not least, your mind must be taken care of. A lot of models fail because they don't do this. How you look is just half of what the best NYC modeling agencies look at when signing a new model. Your personality is what can really get you to go far so agents want to see that your mind is clear, that you are likable and easy to get along with, and that you come from a place of good intentions.
Figure out the type of model you are
There are many types of models out there. Everyone won't be one of the high fashion top models, signed to Ford Models, walking during every New York Fashion Week, going to a casting a day, and doing campaigns with all of the big make-up brands. That is just one type of model and most models won't fall into that category.
New talent should be aware that there are many types of modeling categories. That includes fashion modeling, print modeling, plus size modeling, commercial modeling, fit modeling, fitness modeling, and others. The beautiful thing about it is almost anyone with any type of natural beauty or with a pretty face can slide into one of the catogories.
You don't, for example, need to be thin, or tall, or have long or short hair, or be a certain age or race. Being a photographer who shoot models, I see girls and guys of all different shapes and sizes. You just need to have a serious interest, be able to manage and prioritize your time, and be able to be patient. In today's very diverse landscape, casting directors are interested in all different types of looks and now the best nyc modeling agencies have adapted. So you can google agencies and see what kinds of different modeling they focus on at their agency.
Building a portfolio
Once you have committed to prioritizing the necessary things above you need to start to build a modeling portfolio for modeling agencies. Your best bet is to find and hire or work with professional model portfolio photographers in your network or online who can help you build a portfolio.
And not only do you need photography for modeling, but you also need photography for model comp cards and for your model digitals (you can see model digitals examples here).
The good modeling portfolio photographers can help you create images that can inspire a reputable modeling agency to sign you. Reason being, agents will get to see, first hand, how you photograph. Sometimes an agent can be on the fence about your natural look, but a few great professional portfolio images can give them assurance that you know how to pose and that the camera loves you.
And not just any photos will help you. As a matter of a fact, bad photographs will really hurt your potential. They can define you to an agent and it may take a while for that agent to come around to seeing your true potential.
So you DO NOT want to send unprofessional images to a modeling agent. Find a photographer online in your network who has a proven track record for shooting agency signed models and producing agency approved images.
I am a photographer for models based in nyc (and I travel to Los Angeles a lot). If you are a model looking for photographer you can see some of my model photography work here.
Build your social media
These days your social media presence can have a heavy impact on your chances with agencies. If agencies see that you have built an organic following on your own they will be much more likely to sign you. So taking your social media presence serious can lead to success in the modeling industry.
It is imperative that you build as much content as possible and make sure that you are posting the RIGHT content.
Again, posting bad content to your website can have the same effect of sending bad images to modeling agencies. You always want to put your best foot forward and understand that your first impression is your most important.
Use all of your creative talents
While modeling is a great job, you should not shun any of your other talents for it if you have any. If you are a great singer or musician, have acting skills, are a great dancer, or have any other creative talent you should continue to master them and push them because that can help build your profile and make you more attractive to modeling agencies.
Reach out to mother agents
Being a mother agent myself, I know how valuable it can be to get a modeling manager on your side.
Mother agents often times will have direct relationships with agencies and will be able to get you signed a lot faster that you can by yourself, and often times in multiple markets.
A good mother agent may also be a photographer (like myself) or have relationships with other photographers and be able to assist you with developing your portfolio.
And generally speaking, a good mother agent will just be able to answer questions that you may have about the modeling world like how to take model digitals, how to act at a casting, what to wear for model digitals, what photographers to shoot with, or how to carry yourself in public as a model.
And they can help guide you in the right direction for your modeling career.
Reach out to agencies
It can also be a good idea to reach out to agencies yourself. Many agencies will have a submission email on their website that tells you where you can submit your images to be considered. You can google search agencies to start and make a list of your target agencies. Hit up your top agencies first and after you wait a few months, if you get no response, you can research other agencies to see if they are interested.
Remember that your first impression with a modelling agency can often times be a lasting one so be sure to only submit images that you think represent you well. If you are not sure, find someone in the business who can help to guide you and give you a second opinion on any images that you are considering sharing with agencies.
The last thing that you want to do is send an agency images that reflect poorly on your brand and don't paint the picture of you being an amazing model. You can always re apply, but your first impression can be a lasting one and hinder future opportunites.
Lastly, I can't stress enough that becoming a fashion or print model requires passion and dedication. There may be many many "No's" along the way so you must be prepared for the rejection and be ready to bounce back. So you have to be passionate and ready to take initiative do the things that it takes to get noticed.
You can reach out to me on my contact page if you are interested in developing your portfolio or would like to be considered for representation at my mother agency.