Model agency scams and model portfolio scams
Before you join an agency, do your homework. A glossy website alone does not mean that the agency is trustworthy. Don't become a victim.
Rule No. 1: Never pay money to a model agency. Do not join an agency if you are expected to pay a fee (e.g. for joining, membership or to have a portfolio produced) - so-called upfront fees. Reputable agencies never charge their models any fees. They make their money from finding paid work for you and taking a commission.
Always research the agency on the Internet (do a search for their name) to see what other people say about them. Concentrate on notice boards and similar sites that provide a discussion platform for models. Your research should be thorough and comprehensive.
Legitimate model agencies have offices that you can visit and printed stationery (some less reputable outlets do, too). Legitimate model agencies employ staff, who you can talk to on the telephone. Don't just fill in a form on a website to sign up. Pick up the phone and speak to a human.
Reputable model agencies would not dream of signing you up on the strength of a photo and some details submitted over the Internet. They will want to meet you in person.
Do not be taken in if an agency contacts you because they have seen your picture somewhere on the Internet. There is a vague possibility but most likely it will be a scam.
You should not have to pay for casting and test shoots or for updates via e-mail or SMS.
If an offer to join an agency comes as a time-limited offer, possibly with a discounted fee, run as far and as quickly as you can. Reputable agencies will not try to push you into making a decision - do not fall for the line "we have been looking for someone like you and, by the way, we have a paid job for you, but you need to sign now".
Agencies at the very top do not require you to have a portfolio. If they sign you up, they will produce photographs with no cost to you. Other agencies may not have the financial backing to do that and may ask you to supply a portfolio. By all means, let them advise you on the type and style of photographs you should have, but be wary of agencies that want you to pay them to produce a portfolio for you.
Avoid agencies that want you to get a portfolio produced on a prints for time or time for CD basis. If you have worked with a photographer for time before you contacted an agency, that's okay, but reputable agencies always pay photographers for portfolio work. If they try to cheat photographers, they will cheat you, too.
If you are approached by a spotter (or a scout) in the streets, do not give your details initially. Say you need time to think about it, take their details, check them out and, if you are satisfied that you are dealing with a legitimate agency, get back to them. When you do contact them, find their telephone number on the Internet or in the telephone book. Do not rely on a number that you were given. Reputable agencies will respect your vigilance.
If an agency seems to issue guarantees of paid work, challenge them. Nobody can guarantee your success.
If an agency promises that you get in before they have seen your pictures, details and have spoken to you, it is a scam.
Before you sign a contract, read it carefully. Discuss any concerns that you have. If there is anything in the contract you are unsure about, ask for an explanation. Be careful that the contract does not ask you for money. Check that the agency on the contract is the agency that you think you are dealing with. In all but the most exceptional circumstances, contracts are legally binding.
If it all does go wrong and you have paid a fee but are not getting any work, you have very little chance of getting your money back.
In this section:
What makes Wolf Kettler Photographer different to the average photographer.
See examples of Wolf's work in the photography portfolio.
All about the photo sessions, services, products and prices.
Find out about modelling opportunities with Wolf.
See more photography and get inside information.