Signing with an Agency
As a new model you will be bombarded by offers from “Agencies" wanting to sign you up. Now I am not going to say that all small and local modeling agencies are scams but with a little knowledge you can avoid the ones that are.
First and foremost, an Agency makes its money from getting you work and usually taking a cut of what you make for each gig. The more work it gets you and the more money it gets you for each gig, the more money the Agency makes.
If you are asked to front a sizable amount of dough to sign on with an agency, watch yourself.
There may be some costs but they should be minimal. For example it is not uncommon for agencies to require you get head shots or photos from a specific photographer so they can maintain a consistent model book for clients and this can often cost up to $75. But if there is a large signing fee or you are required to dish out a few hundred dollars for modeling classes - that just happen to be offered by the agency - then be suspicious.
Take the time to ask around, check the companies background with the Better Business Bureau [www.bbb.org] and ALWAYS read the contract carefully. Ask questions and if you still feel your missing something get a copy take it home and have someone look over it with you.
OK say you've checked around and everything seems kosher and you decide to give into an agency that has been romancing you. Before you sign your life away ask if the contract is exclusive or non-exclusive.
An exclusive contract basically locks you into working only with or through that agency for the length of the contract, generally at least a year. As a new model this can put major drag on your burgeoning career. While they will make it sound great always keep in mind that just because you join an agency does not mean it is actually going to get you work.
Consider that the agency never gets you any work or nothing big or consistent. Because of the contract you can't go to another agency or even take gigs you find yourself. Sometimes if you get your own modeling jobs by contract the agency gets a cut of what you make even though you did all the work. Often the contract dictates you cannot even do TFP work without approval. Which is why it cannot be stressed enough to READ THE CONTRACT CAREFULLY!
I would suggest if you are starting out, unless you get accepted by one of the big agencies like Elite, Wilhelmina, Ford, MC2, Major, IMG, etc. , ONLY sign non-exclusive deals. That way you can still get your own work, sign up with other agencies and remain open to take better deals as they come along.
In glamor, because you are the product, many models choose to manage themselves foregoing an agency altogether. But in general I say if you are going to sign up with an agency try the big ones first then work your way down. You may get rejected, but if you do get in you are starting at the top rather than getting stuck at the bottom.