How Modeling Agencies Work….


I have been asked so many times on how to start in the modeling business.  Yes I’m a photographer but let me give you a little background.  I was a model represented by Elite Models & Wilhelmina in Miami and NEXT & Ford in Los Angeles.  I know how the “big boys” work and I know how the local small agencies can be complete ripoffs.

How and agency makes it’s money.  Let’s say you are with Ford Models and a client wants to hire you to model their next ad campaign. To keep the numbers easy, let’s say the job pays $1000.  The client will have to pay Ford  20%-25% (Agency fee) of that $1000.  After the job is done, you get a check but not for $1000, because the agency will take out 20%-25% of your check as well.  So the agency basically just made $500 of the $1000.  Make sense?    And let’s not forget you will have to pay taxes on your check, which is roughly 30%  This means you just made $595 on a $1000.  Now just divide how many hours your worked on the job and you will get your hourly amount.

Professional Models are real working people, not just someone calling themselves a model. This means they make their income from modeling, making it a real business.  What does it cost??  When I was in Miami, I paid between $400-$700 for photos from professional photographers that my agency recommended.  But they allowed you to work with whoever you wanted to.

Small local agencies…..  I have seen this so many times on how these agencies (if you really want to call them that) rip people off.  Here in Louisville there isn’t a huge market for models.  Now there is work but not enough for an agency to justify having over 500 models to their roaster.  During peak season in Miami which runs from January to around May, agencies Like Elite, Ford, NEXT, and other have about 100 female models and 50 or so male models.  Now keep in mind this is peak season in a city that is booming with advertising jobs for models.  Now ask yourself why an agency in Louisville takes in model after model in a city that doesn’t have anything compared to Miami or Los Angeles.???

How do these small agencies their money ?  The same way I mentioned above with the %%, but these people will charge you over $1000 for photos….. they require you to take “classes” on how to model, which isn’t free.  They typically charge over $1000 for that as well.  This means anyone can be a model as long as you’re willing to pay the money.  There are also other things you will have to pay…..  Want to be seen by clients? The agency  will want you to pay a monthly fee and then there are different packages for that as well.   There is an agency in Louisville that needs $33,000 a month to stay afloat…. pay salaries, overhead etc.  This is why they take in so many models, but I can tell you that 90% of those models will not ever see work or ever make back the money they spent to be a model….which you should never need to pay anyway.

kevin fr

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About Kevin Talley Photography

Louisville Based Photographer. Published in Oxygen Magazine, Women's Health Magazine Former Model with Elite and Wilhelmina in Miami and NEXT & Ford in Los Angeles.

Posted on July 10, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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