What are Modeling Agents?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 December 2018
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Modeling agents are people who find jobs for models, or are entities like modeling agencies. People may have a specific agent when they work in the modeling field or they may be represented by an agency. The agent or agency finds open jobs that may be ideal for the model and helps them negotiate contracts with a variety of sources. Modeling is often thought of as fashion photography or runway only, but a modeling agent may help a model find commercial work, catalog work, specialized photography work or even acting jobs.

The modeling agent should make money when he or she gets jobs for those people he or she represents, and this is usually based on a percentage of pay from the client. Industry standard in fashion is 10% but some modeling agents may charge more than this, up to about 33%. Agents who ask for a great deal more than the industry standard may not be reputable.

It’s important to understand that modeling agents should not make money by other means. For instance agencies attached to schools are usually scams and since they charge money to represent models, they may not be all that motivated to find work for their models. In most cases, a modeling agent should make money only when the person they represent does, which helps ensure that the agent is always actively looking for work for those they represent.


While a few modeling agents work privately, the majority of available jobs in the fashion industry are booked by large agencies. Those looking to break into the industry tend to have better luck when they are represented by a reputable agency, especially one that is high profile. Larger agencies tend to mean more job opportunities, but also more competition for jobs and to even get agency representation. Given the competitive nature of modeling work, huge agencies can pick and choose those models they think will make the most money for the agency.

One issue with choosing private modeling agents is the way in which contracts are defined. An agent with a small business may be able to book models for some jobs but those signing up with that agent should not sign contracts that give the agent exclusive booking rights. Models frequently move from one agent to another but exclusivity contracts may impair careers because they keep the model tied to only getting work from one agent.

Sometimes modeling agents specialize in certain types of modeling. Some people represent kids only, and others book jobs for hand or feet models. The type of modeling people want to pursue can influence the type of agency or agent they want to find.

As with any industry, there are scams run by those posing as legitimate modeling agents. People interviewing with agents should find out as much as they can about the agency and do some research on standard fees and requirements of a modeling agent. Most important when the business is run legitimately is to find out about the agent’s contacts and success rate in booking jobs. Representation by modeling agents matters little if the agent is unsuccessful at his or her work.



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