Whether it’s your first time or fifth, submitting to a new modeling agency is a big step in any model’s career. For new models, though, this process can seem quite daunting and may even deter them from trying to apply.
As nerve-wracking as it might be, the process isn’t that complicated! In this post, I’ll go over the typical agency application and some tips to help you send a professional submission.
Before submitting to modeling agencies, you must research and make sure it’s a good agency to be submitting to. These days, it’s really easy to make yourself look good and professional online, so it’s critical that you make sure to dig deeper than surface level when researching. In this post, I cover some red flags to keep an eye out for as you are doing your research. Once you have done your due diligence and have narrowed a few agencies to submit to, it’s time to start gathering your submission materials.
Every single modeling agency website will have a page for new model submissions. They will have many titles, for example, ‘Be Discovered’, ‘Get Scouted’, ‘Become a Model’, etc., but they are all where you need to go to apply for the agency. Before you start filling everything out, read everything thoroughly and clearly understand what they want you to send in.
Aside from all your general information like your name, address, and date of birth, all agencies will ask for your measurements (height, bust/chest, waist, hip, and inseam). Do not lie about your measurements. Not even half an inch. If an agency is interested in signing you, they will want to meet with you in person, and they will take their own measurements of you, so they will know if you fudged the numbers at all. Here is a quick how-to on taking your measurements if you’re unfamiliar with how to do that!
Some agencies will have a little section where they want to hear more about you. Be thoughtful when you fill this out. This is a great spot to include if you’re in school, have children, or are signed with other agencies. It’s also a great spot to put a fun or interesting fact about yourself. Do not put anything along the lines of “I want to be signed by your agency” because that is already obvious. You wouldn’t be submitting if you weren’t interested in the agency. Also, check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation for any mistakes.
After you fill out all your information, it’s time for the part most models overthink- photo submission!
This is where reading instructions and following them exactly is essential. Some agencies only want two photos; some want several different angles. This is where looking at the form ahead of time is helpful because you can make sure you’re prepared with all the photos you will need and won’t have to take more and delay your submission.
The type of photos you will need to submit are referred to as “digitals” or “polaroids”, very rarely will they ask for any professional photos. Many models don’t believe me when I tell them this, but they want to see you completely un-styled. That means little to no makeup and absolutely zero retouching or filters on the photos. Because they want this style of photo for your submissions- you do NOT need to have a portfolio before submitting to agencies! If you have some professional photos, great, but they are not a necessity. Especially if you're a brand new model, they aren't going to expect you to have a portfolio.
When taking this style of photo, the most important thing is to have great lighting. You want the light to be bright enough that it’s flattering, and they can clearly see your features, but not so bright that it washes you out. You also want a plain or very simple background so your image has no distractions. Even though the images are not all that different from a mug shot, you do want to have some personality in them by emoting through your eyes and having strong but simple poses. Again, be sure to include all the angles that they requested! They may also give suggestions on what to wear. Do not take creative liberties with these suggestions. If they suggest you wear a black tank top with black jeans, wear precisely that, even if you think your hot pink top and skirt is cuter. They want to see your body type, so simple, form-fitting clothing is always best.
Once you have filled out the application, uploaded your photos, and pressed submit, the waiting game starts. This wait could range anywhere from just a few hours (this is rare) to a month. Many agencies don’t reach out unless they’re interested in you, so if a couple of weeks go by without any response, it’s usually safe to assume they weren’t interested.
Many models get discouraged during this waiting period, but it’s important to remember that modeling agencies are businesses, so it’s truly nothing personal. That also doesn’t mean you can’t ever submit to them again. Seasons change, trends change, and so do their model rosters. After six months or so pass, I suggest retaking your photos and submitting them again! It's also a good idea to submit to more than one agency at once. In the best-case scenario, multiple agencies contact you and you have the option of choosing the one you have the best connection with.
If an agency is interested in you, they will either send you an email or give you a phone call to set up an in-person meeting. Virtual meetings are usually an option if the agency is out of state, but don’t be surprised if they expect you to fly out to meet them. The in-person meetings are like a job interview where they will ask you more questions and possibly take more digitals and measurements. If the agency has a runway division, they may even ask to see your runway walk. It’s important to ensure you do your research before meeting with the agency to have educated answers ready. It’s also important that you ask them questions to get a good feel of whether they would be a good fit for you. In this post, I have a few great questions you should ask during an agency meeting.
Sometimes contracts are offered during this meeting, and sometimes they aren’t. There is often a large team involved in the selection process for really big agencies, so if someone wasn’t available for the meeting, they would have to converge later to discuss whether they want to add you to the agency. If a contract is offered, you do not (and should not) have to sign it on the spot. Take it home, review it, and make sure you understand everything you’re legally binding yourself to. It also never hurts to have a lawyer look over it as well. If they try to pressure you to sign on the spot, this is a red flag!
In addition to the online submission process, many agencies also have what is called an “Open Call”. This is where the agency will accept walk-ins on a chosen day during a set timeframe. This is very much like a speed dating process where you come in, have a few minutes in front of the agency staff to answer a few questions, take digitals, and then leave. If you see that an agency offers an open call, I highly suggest you attend! I got signed with two of my agencies by going to an open call. They are great because it’s a guaranteed moment in front of an agent instead of being one of the countless online submissions that may or may not get adequately reviewed. If an agency posts dates for their open calls, check if they require pre-registration, especially if you’re planning to attend one out of town or out of state.