How do you know a modeling scam from what is necessary to be a successful model? As a beginner, how does one know what to look for and how to avoid them? It may not always be easy to decipher between what is legit and what it is a scam as many agencies work together with photographers and modeling/development schools to jack up prices and split the cost. This can sound very convincing and they may even guarantee work. This is usually a combination I avoid, pricey and guaranteed. Nobody can guarantee work, that is left up to the client. Here are the pointers to help you spot modeling scams and differentiate between what it legit, and what is not.
The only items models should have to pay for include: a portfolio, composite cards, money to shoot with photographers (roughly $250 – $500), and many agencies are now uploading models’ resumes/portfolios online which adds one additional cost. None of these, with the exception of a photographer, should cost very much and you don’t need to do them all at one time. Go ahead and space them out as you need to. Though, if you do have the money, go ahead and get them as you will need them to take on substantial modeling jobs and agencies. Really, you shouldn’t have to pay for anything other than these items and if an agency requires something more, confront it with skepticism.
If something doesn’t sound right, ask questions! Why am I paying this? Why do I need this? Is there another way? And if it doesn’t sound right, Don’t Do it! Many agencies make a lot of money not off booking jobs for models, but getting them all to take classes and shoot with expensive photographers who share the profits. Your best bet is to take care of the items listed above on your own and when your ready, take them back to the agencies. It is the inexperienced and beginner models who fall victim to these scandals for they know not what they do. But if you go into an agency with your bases covered, they have less of a chance to scam or try “develop” you. If an agency seems sketchy, move on to the next. When in doubt, track down a mentor or more experienced model to gain insight and find out what they think. They have probably been there before and can help you make the right decision.
The biggest modeling scams are overly expensive modeling schools and development agencies, overpriced photographers, and sketchy agencies that simply want to cipher money out of every model who walks through their doors, whether they have what it takes to model of not. Modeling conventions on the other hand can be helpful, but still remain pricey. If you are considering a model convention than you must read What about Modeling Conventions and How do they Work?
Modeling shouldn’t cost a fortune. The only other cost you may encounter may be travel to and from jobs/castings. Of course, all this can be tax-deductible so keep all your receipts associated with modeling. This can help minimize the amount you may have to pay in at the end of the year if you were lucky enough to land a few good modeling jobs. In the end, just be savvy about any additional expenses that come up. Ask a lot of questions and find out why they are so important. If it sounds sketchy, don’t do it until you have gotten further insight from a mentor or a more experienced model. Work hard and always be careful.