On the outside, the modeling industry looks fun and glamorous. And while it often is, there is also a darker side that most people don’t see or choose to overlook. As a model, a big part of your job is showing up to a booking to work with a group of people you’ve never met or spoken to. If you’re an agency-represented model, you’re trusting that your agent has done their due diligence to ensure the photographer/client they booked you with is legitimate and you’re showing up to a safe work environment. On the other hand, if you’re a new or freelance model, you are responsible for doing your research to make sure that the agency meetings, booking, and photoshoot requests you receive are with a real agency/company/person and that you’re not getting scammed or putting yourself into a potentially dangerous situation.
As a model, looking out for your safety is crucial. In this post, I’ll go over ways to avoid scams and precautions to take when you go to bookings.
While the modeling industry is full of professionals, unfortunately, many are looking to take advantage of models, especially if they’re new or overeager. And since it is so easy to appear legitimate online or on social media, it’s even more critical for models to always be on high alert and on the lookout for scams. So here are some things to look out for to help you stay safe.
When you plan to attend a casting call, get booked for a job, or have a collaborative photoshoot set up with a photographer, always let someone know the address of where you’re going, who you plan to be meeting with, and a rough timeframe of when you’ll be there. Even if it’s a person or team you have worked with before, it’s always a good idea to have people aware of your location.
If you see a casting call posted online or hear of one from a friend, always verify that the casting is legitimate, and then check that the location of the casting is in a public space. For example, suppose you have a meeting request from an agency, photographer, or potential client. In that case, you want to verify that the meeting spot is at an actual office address or another public location, such as a coffee shop, and not a private home or somewhere off the grid. You could be falling for a scam and putting yourself in physical danger by not checking that.
Although in some situations it is considered to be unprofessional to bring an acquaintance with you on set when it’s a paid booking set up by your agency, if you feel uneasy about the booking for any reason, you should ask to bring someone with you. Likewise, if you’re a freelance model or if it is a collaborative situation where you set up the project outside of your agency, you should always bring someone with you to set instead of arriving alone.
Another way to ensure your safety, especially on set, is to discuss your boundaries prior to the project and stick to them. If you’re agency represented, they should already be well aware of your boundaries and not send you to any bookings that would violate them. However, if you’re freelance or setting up projects outside of your agency, it’s crucial that you thoroughly discuss what you are and are not comfortable with doing so that the lines are clear before you ever arrive on set. If, once you’re on set, the production team tries to push you outside of your comfort zone despite having those boundaries set; you have every right to stop the project and leave if they are not willing to respect you.
If you receive a casting or booking request via email, before responding or clicking on any links in the email, make sure that the email is legitimate and not a scam. Check things like the sender’s email address, how they address who the email is to (do they use your name?), and pay close attention to the body of the email. If there are spelling and grammar mistakes, misuse of the English language, a sense of urgency (“Please respond ASAP”), or they promise to pay large sums of money, you can guarantee it’s a scam email. Also, check the email signature. If they sign off with just their name and don’t provide any company contact info, that is a red flag.
When you are DM’d on social media by someone claiming to be an agency, agency scout, photographer, or brand ambassador looking for models to work with, the best thing to do before ever responding to them is to do a deep dive into their social media profile. Do they have the agency information and website link listed in their bio? Where does that link take you when you click it? How many followers do they have? How many posts do they have, and how long ago was the first one posted? Are they tagging the models, style teams, and brands in all their posts? These are things to look at when attempting to verify an account.
After checking their social media accounts, look up their website. If there isn’t a website, that is red flag #1. Once you find their website, check to see that it’s professional looking. The information about the brand/company/agency is on there and easy to find, and contact information is available.
While it’s not entirely unheard of- agencies rarely reach out to models on social media.
Another major red flag is if anyone asks you to send photos in lingerie, partially nude or fully nude, especially if you’re under the age of 18. There is not one legitimate reason for anyone to ask you to send these types of photos. Many don’t realize that if you send photos to someone, you no longer have control over what those photos are used for or where they get posted. That is why you should never send them to anyone, no matter how they try to justify why you need to send them. If someone keeps pushing for you to send those photos, especially if you have declined to do so, you should immediately end communication with that individual. Under no circumstance will an agency ever request pictures of you in lingerie, partially nude or fully nude.
Falling for one of these scams could potentially put you in an unfortunate situation. If you click on any links within a bad email, you risk being hacked. If you provide any personal information, send inappropriate photos, or agree to meet someone who isn’t who they say they are, you could be putting yourself in physical danger. The best thing to do if you’re contacted online is to send the message to your agency if you have one so they can do some investigating. If you don’t have an agent, call the agency/photographer/brand that reached out to you and verify it is a real message that came from them or someone from their company. With so many scams happening, they will completely understand and appreciate that you called to verify.
In the modeling industry, you are your biggest advocate, and you can never be too careful about your safety. Do not hesitate to research and dig for more information, especially if your gut is telling you something isn’t right. Agencies and brands will always be more than happy to verify the legitimacy of their messages because they know the dangers that are out there and the lengths people will go to scam others. Never be too eager for a potential booking that you put your safety to the side!