Protecting models from scams
The modelling industry is full of scams, people who are willing to take advantage of girls and guys who have a dream. Some of these aspiring models want to fulfil their dreams and ambitions so much that it can make them vulnerable.
Scams come in a variety of forms, more often than not though they are posing as agents. These “agents” promise the world to wanna-be models, saying they will be able to get them work, that they have clients who will love their look and various other things that will make the models feel as though this agent can give them everything they wish for. However, these agencies will then tell the aspiring model that they need a professional portfolio in order to be taken on by them. They then give the model the details of a photographer or tell them what packages they offer. They tell the model that without these pictures they wont be able to take them on and they will lose the chance of working in the industry. Many even suggest a joining fee, something the model pays to be registered with that agent. These are all illegitimate practices. As of October 2010, a new regulation will be in place that stops agents charging upfront fees for joining.
A legitimate agent will take a commission from work they get for models. They will not charge up front fees. No agent, manager or scout can guarantee work. Modelling is a competitive business and there will be many people casting for the same job, no-one but the client knows who they will prefer once they have met the casting candidates.
Not only are there several agency scams, there are a vast array of other opportunists looking to make money from the industry and not giving anything back. Modelling schools or academies sometimes fall under the scam umbrella. There are hundreds of schools, academies and tutorial days all aimed at aspiring models. When researching these facilities it is a good idea to consider the following:
- Is the person running the training a certified tutor?
- Does the course have a structure to it? Preferably one that has been approved by an official awarding body
- Is the person running the course an ex-industry person who didnt quite make-it? If they say they have an amazing CV do your research, check up on their credits, publications, contact magazines and newspapers and ask if they know the person. Will you just be learning how to pose the way they did or will you be advised how to work with your own shape to get the best outcome?
- Are they offering the chance to work with a celebrity photographer? If so, check the photographers credentials. If they have no pictures in their portfolio of celebrities the chances that they have worked with any are very slim
- Are they saying they have work with a variety of magazines, newspapers or TV shows? Check…many say this just to get models in the door and when checked out it is untrue
- Do they promise the chance to meet a representative of a magazine, newspaper, pageant or TV station? Lots of schools state they can put models in touch with people who can advance their career. The key is to always verify information.
- Ask to be put in contact with past students. Did the student receive good advice? what happened upon completion of the training? Did it help their career?
- Is a photshoot included? If so what is included in the package? Are the images retouched to a professional standard or are you just given a CD with hundreds of unedited images? Unedited images do not enhance anyones chance of work. A professional photographer does not offer unedited images. They enhance the image to ensure the model looks their best, whilst still looking like themselves, and also to make the photographers work as best it can be.
Guys with cameras posing as photographers is a great threat with the use of modern technology. There are many people out there who are just looking to get kicks out of images of models. GWC’s have no concept of what makes a good image, they will not understand lighting – often over or under-exposing images. They don’t like chaperones attending. Most professional photographers will be more than happy to have a chaperone on a shoot, some may not allow them on set, but they will be allowed to be there with the model. If a photographer is adamant that no chaperone is allowed this is cause for concern. Models should always agree the levels they will work to prior to the shoot, that way everyone knows what is expected of them. Should the photographer ask you to go above those levels once you are at the shoot and you are not comfortable then say NO. be polite yet firm. If they continue to put pressure on you then pack your things and leave the shoot. A models safety and comfort is of the utmost importance.
If checks have been done and all seems fine then that is fantastic news. Models can potentially gain some fantastic knowledge from authenticated training as well as some professional images to start a portfolio. If something is promised, such as the guarantee of work or something that seems a little too good to be true, then check up on it. Verification is the best way to remain protected from scams.
There are many fantastic agencies out there, along with great training schools and portfolio companies, just be sure they are not charging up front, that they do not put pressure on you to purchase a portfolio from them instead of elsewhere and that they are certified or regulated to carry out the kind of work they do. You are within your rights to see proof of certification. Don’t be afraid to ask, or to say no to something you are not comfortable with. Being informed and knowledgeable will mean you do not loose out on money or put your safety at risk.
For a wide range of advice and information see the Institute of Modeling websites. IOM are pushing towards a more regulated industry.