The Politics of Fashion Photography Part 24 Model Agencies

Model Agencies

A Few Interesting Tips

There are some interesting adages one might wish to use in describing relationships with model agencies. I have dealt with all of them and the one thing I can say is this; It is not so much the model agency, but the bookers who work for the model agencies that will leave you a lasting impression about them.

Now that may seem obvious, but it really isn’t at all, as bookers move from agency to agency more often than passengers on a subway line. Yeah, I am exaggerating, but it is very often. Thus, when you think you have built up a solid relationship with a booker at an agency and find out that she left for another, the reality of this move is worse than you might imagine. Not only have they left the agency, but quite often, come of the talent from that agency leaves with them. Not add insult to injury, being that the politic in model agencies are what they are, there is a good chance that trying to establish a solid working relationship with another booker may be problematic, as they may be jealous that you didn’t give them your time and decided to book via someone else.

Model Agencies

The above example is not an exaggeration, as I have experienced this time and time again.

Something else you must be made aware of is a kind of bait and switch technique, that is used often to get you to book a model with less notoriety than that with whom you really want to work with.  How does that work you ask? Well, let’s say you are casting for “So & So” magazine. You ask for suggestions for girls available for the magazine. They send you 8 or 9 models and in that choice there are a couple of Top Models. You get all excited and say, yes, please put an option on so and so for “So & So” magazine. They say, “we will try, but in case they are not available, why don’t you also consider so and so as well”. Most photographers won’t want to be impolite and generally say, “perhaps why not”.

Well you are now only a few days away from the shoot. You have a good 2nd option on those two Top Models. Well lo and behold, guess what happens? A couple of days before the shoot, you find out that they are NOT available and you are basically forced to take their second rung of models. You ask, “Why not confirm them or put them on 1st option?” Well, one of the techniques is to always give a 2nd option, in case the model gets called for an Ad Campaign, which pays a lot more than “So & So” magazine. Of course, if you can confirm the girl, that is the best bet, but still will not guarantee the booking. They will always find a way out if necessary.

My advice, is to put as many options as possible on the girls you like and hope that at the end of the day, one of them turns out to be a go for your “So & So” Magazine Editorial. Or better yet, if you can afford a casting director, go for it. They have tons more leverage than you do.

Oh yeah and one more very important point. The photographer is also a client, especially when casting for an editorial or an ad campaign and thus should be treated as such. In some places that is not the case, which I and many others find infuriating at best!

More to come about model agencies later. PART 25

About Frederique Renaut
Born in Paris, France, Fashion & Beauty Director for Frédérique Renaut wears 2 hats: 1/ Consultant in Communication for the Luxury Industry specialized in International Communication, Media & Advertising, 2/ Creative Direction, Video Direction for Fashion and Beauty shoots for publications like VOGUE & Harper's BAZAAR. She has also worked as an International Executive Manager for major cosmetics brands (Jean-Paul Gaultier, Issey Miyake and Narciso Rodriguez fragrances) and Couture Houses (Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Féraud & Givenchy by Alexander McQueen).