Do Top Agencies Scout Online?

How would you feel if you paid hundreds of dollars to attend a modeling convention but nobody showed up?

The model scouts and model agents from top agencies in New York -- the people you were told would see you, and the people you hoped would select you -- failed to show.

Internet comp cards are much like modeling conventions. It is the same concept in a different medium.

After paying hundreds of dollars a lot of young people are put together in the same place where they can be seen by the agents and scouts of the leading reputable modeling agencies so the aspiring models can be discovered and signed.

It is not only the concept but also the pricing which can be the same. There are real-world modeling conventions and online "modeling conventions" or showcases of comp cards which cost $200-$600, or more.

Modeling conventions have been criticised for their high prices and low performance. There are internet comp card websites which have received exactly the same criticism and complaints: high prices and low performance.

The modeling industry intersects with or meets the internet industry through online comp cards. Pictures of models or aspiring models can be hosted on a website and visited by scouts and agents at modeling agencies.

Since most modeling agents now have internet access and most modeling agencies now have their own agency websites, which include searchable databases of the models they represent, there is a natural tendency for aspiring models to believe the agents scout for new faces online.

Indeed, there are agencies which ask potential models to use the internet through submitting their photos by email. Some agencies even say they prefer email submissions; while others don't allow them, insisting instead on the traditional way of print submissions.

"We are always looking for new faces" is what modeling agencies of all sizes, both the largest and the smallest, are often heard saying.

Of course they are always looking for new faces, but are they looking online? Always? Often? Sometimes? Rarely? Or never?

In a guide for aspiring models called "Getting Started in Modeling," professional photographer Frank Longo wrote:

The first thing to realize is that you have almost NO hope of becoming a top mainstream model by hanging around the Internet. While many of the top agencies have a web presence, none of them actively recruit from it.

A reporter for ABC News Channel 6 in Philadelphia asked a local modeling agency if they would use the internet to scout for models.

Virgina Doyle of the Reinhard Agency answered: "As an agency, we certainly wouldn't look at a website looking for models."

A reporter for Fox News asked three local agents in Atlanta, one of the major modeling markets, to look at a comp card website, but they said the expense would be "a waste of money."

Why? Because they didn't think agents and advertisers would really use the website.

Why not? Why would agencies not use the internet to scout for models?

Al LaCayo, Director of the Men's Division at Look, a top agency in New York, gave the following answer to a question about an internet comp card website: "I don't see any value in it. We have enough models knocking on our door."

But not everyone knocks on the doors of modeling agencies. When aspiring models live nowhere near the top agencies or the top markets, they send their pictures by mail.

The President of Next Model Management, one of the top New York agencies, said 1,000-2,000 aspiring models send them their pictures every week.

Faced with the choice of reviewing models using open calls, mailed Polaroids, or online digital photos, what do you think the agencies do?

The greatest hype surrounding internet comp cards is the idea of being discovered by a top modeling agency. Put your photo on a website and you can be discovered.

But if the top agencies have no need, no interest, and no time for scouting online, the whole concept falls flat on its face.

Who came up with the idea in the first place? Was it someone who worked in the modeling industry? Or was it someone who had no idea how things work?

There are no published reports of significant research giving both statistics and many quotes from top modeling agency owners to suggest the idea was conceived by modeling industry experts or professionals.

A significant flaw at the conceptual level of internet comp cards is they encourage passivity. The modeling industry has limited demand but extreme supply. There are so many wannabe models so the competition is fierce.

Who is most likely to be discovered by a modeling agency? The individual who says, in the middle of cyberspace, "Here I am, find me"?

Or the person who pounds the pavement and goes knocking on the doors of modeling agencies and is actually seen by agents?

Aspiring models can get their pictures into an image database for modeling scouts. It is not clear, however, to what extent modeling agencies or even modeling scouts use the internet to find new faces.

Who are you going to believe? The company which has a vested interest, and makes money every time someone signs up? Or what you hear when you call the agencies yourself and ask them if they use the website or any website to scout for new models?

There is a lot of hype surrounding the internet, and its potential to help men and women break into a modeling career.

Until there is an extensive independent study by a reliable source into the impact of the internet on the modeling industry, the use of the internet for promotion should be considered in the context of proven methods.

Modeling agencies have existed and been successful for many years without the internet, and most all may still prefer open calls or seeing aspiring models in person.

Meeting a potential model in person allows the agents to see exactly what they look like from any angle and learn about their personality and ask and receive answers to any questions.

The Better Business Bureau office in Houston, Texas, made the following comment about the internet and modeling agencies:

It is the understanding of the BBB that most modeling agencies are still relying on paper comp cards, as opposed to scouting talent on the Internet.

Don't tell modeling agencies how they are going to find you. Find them.

When a top modeling agency's website says they only accept print photo submissions, you might want to take that as a pretty good clue they are not going to be scouting at digital photos online.

If you find out they do accept digital photos, are you going to email them free, and make sure they are seen, or are you going to pay for the opportunity to have no guarantee they will be seen?

The internet is full of corruption and incompetence. There are people who are selling a place in cyberspace to get discovered because they are crooked, and there are others who sell it because they are clueless.

On every website which claims you could be discovered by a top modeling agency, look for quotes from TOP agents who say they use the website, and then go directly to their website, and find out how you can send them pictures directly.