How to Apply to Modeling Agencies

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If you’ve chosen a career in the modeling industry, you’ve likely been asked the same question by every inquirer who finds out what you do: Do you have an agent? But finding a perfect agency match can be a daunting task, especially if you’re just getting started. (Before you land an agent, finding work without representation is a great way to gain experience.) Here are some top tips on how to get a modeling job by signing with an agency.

1. Do your research

Treat this process as you would dating. The goal is to find an agency that’s a good fit for you since this is the beginning of a relationship—albeit a professional one. Start by looking at available agencies in your area by (literally) searching “modeling agencies in [your city]” online.

Once you get a decent list of suitable “mates,” you can start to delve further into each to see which agencies you could see yourself with. Look at the talent they currently work with and how they accept submissions. Read online reviews and check out their social media profiles, full investigation style. Would you feel proud being represented by them? If yes, then move forward! 

2. Be prepared

When it’s time to apply to modeling agencies, before submitting or showing up to an open call, make a list of everything you could need for both. There is nothing more frustrating than sitting down to send out your submissions only to find that you don’t have what the agency is asking for. Open calls will also require specific materials or dress codes, so make sure you know what agents would like to see before you arrive. Oftentimes, this will include a modeling portfolio and a comp card, also known as a zed card.

While many agencies still prefer hard copies, it’s not uncommon these days to see aspiring models with a prepared digital portfolio.

3. Don’t spend too much money

The photos you initially submit do not need to be professional. While headshots taken by a professional photographer are ultimately best, headshots taken with your phone camera are good enough when you’re just starting out, because their purpose is simply to get you a meeting with the agency. Remember that your photos should not be retouched or edited. Agents want to see the real you, not a photoshopped, virtual version. After you’re signed, your team will advise you regarding new photos.

4. Be yourself

You’ve likely heard this one a thousand times, but here it is again: Be yourself. When you’re showing up to an open call or casting—and especially at your first photo shoot—be exactly who you were in the waiting room. Agents and casting directors have already seen it all, and more importantly, you don’t know what they’re looking for. Sometimes they might not even know yet, so don’t try to figure that out for them. Your job is to be you! 

5. Follow up

People get busy, especially agents, so don’t be surprised or discouraged if you don’t hear back right away. After a few weeks, it’s appropriate to reach out, thank them for meeting you, and ask for an update. Asking for feedback is another nice way to remind agents of you. This provides an opportunity to prove you can take constructive criticism and has the added bonus of arming you with tips to help sharpen your skills for the future, even if it isn’t with the same agency.

And now for a secret tip: Be prepared to hear the word no. The rejection part of this industry can be difficult, but don’t let it get you down. Remember that you are strong and beautiful just as you are, with or without representation.

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Chloe Catherine Kim
Chloe Catherine Kim is a model and actor currently residing in Los Angeles. Chloe began modeling at age five and has worked with MTV, FX, dozens of national print campaigns, and walked the runway at New York Fashion Week. As an actress, Chloe has appeared in films like “Electric Love,” “High Voltage,” “Better Start Running,” and “Untogether” (with Jamie Dornan, Jemima Kirke, Scott Caan, and Billy Crystal). For more information on Chloe, please visit
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