Location, Location, Location
"This is the single most important thing needed to be successful as a model. You need to be where the jobs are!" -- R&L Model and Talent Management, Inc.
"You need to be able to travel to shoots and meetings on very little notice -- sometimes a few hours. Only people who are local can do that." -- Margaret Pelino, booking agent, Ford Modeling Agency, Manhattan
"Most agencies are not going to be interested in (or respond to) you unless you are in their immediate neighborhood." -- Frank, Blackwood-Steele
Location is a significant factor which can determine not only an aspiring model's chances of being discovered, signing a contract, and finding work, but also the risk of becoming the victim of modeling scams.
Aspiring models, generally speaking, live in one of three areas:
1) in a major modeling market;
2) near a major modeling market; or,
3) nowhere near a major modeling market.
The major modeling market of the world is, of course, New York City. The other top international modeling markets include the other three fashion capitals: Paris, London, and Milan.
In the U.S., the major modeling markets besides New York City include these large cities: Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, and Orlando.
1. Living In A Major Modeling Market
If you live in a major modeling market, you can look up modeling agencies in the Yellow Pages or on the internet, and visit them.
Call ahead to find out if they have weekly open calls, or if you need to schedule an appointment.
When you live in a major modeling market, it is a very basic process, simple and free. You can literally walk into the modeling agency as an aspiring model, and walk out with a contract to be their model.
You do not need to spend any money. You do not need to get pictures taken, or go to a modeling convention, or model search, etc. You can go directly to an agency, and avoid all the middlemen, and all their expenses.
2. Living Near A Major Modeling Market
If you live near a major modeling market, follow the same guidelines as for those who live in a major modeling market.
In the summer or during your vacation you can visit the modeling agencies in the city.
At other times of the year, you could take a day off school or work, and visit the agencies, after calling ahead to find out what types of models they want, and when they have open calls.
This is how Cindy Crawford did it. Her father took a day off work and drove her from Dekalb, IL, to Chicago, IL. They got a copy of the local Yellow Pages and started visiting the modeling agencies in the phone book.
By this simple approach you do not need to spend any money, except for gas. Similar to those who live in the city, you do not need to get pictures taken, nor do you need to go to a modeling convention, or model search, etc.
You can go directly to the agencies, and avoid all the expensive and unreliable middlemen, and whatever they present to waste your time and money.
3. Living Nowhere Near A Major Modeling Market
If you live nowhere near a major modeling market, you can either schedule a trip to one of the big city markets so you can visit the agencies, as outlined above, or you can send your photos directly to them.
It might be better not to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to fly to the city and stay for a week or a month unless and until you have first sent in your pictures AND at least one agency (preferably several agencies) expressed a keen interest to see you in person.
The photos you send should look good but they need not be professional; two good shots (showing your face and figure) should be sufficient.
Modeling agencies, including Ford Models in New York, allow aspiring models to send their pics, and specify what types of models they want, and provide their mailing address online.
The further you live from a major modeling market, the more likely you are to become the victim of modeling scams: most modeling scams being reported nowadays target people in the more remote areas.
Those who live nowhere near major markets are offered model searches, modeling conventions, modeling schools, modeling jobs, etc.
The traveling salesmen and women advertise in the newspaper, in a magazine, on TV, or on the radio, and ride into town.
The responses by hundreds or thousands of young people and their parents across America seem to suggest it does not take much to get them to drop what they are doing and open their wallets.
This openness could be the result of modeling scam artists not having to sell the dream; for the media has already sold it for them.
The scam artists are already half way to taking your money before they even start their sales pitch, because for many young women (and some young men) modeling is part of the American Dream.
Living far from the big city modeling markets can put the aspiring model in a more vulnerable state, however, because opportunities to be discovered are extremely rare or infrequent.
It may be like living on an island. There is increased stress over the idea the company which is coming to town may be their only hope of making their dream come true, their only option to "get off the island."
Whereas the potential model in the large modeling market can make a serious attempt to be discovered in any given week, simply by walking or driving to a modeling agency for a free open call, the potential model nowhere near the top markets may only see a serious opportunity to be discovered once in any given year, when a model or scout company visits from out of town.
The fewer the opportunities for an aspiring model to be discovered, the greater the chances are of him or her being emotionally manipulated by a scam company into making a quick decision, without diligent research or careful thought.
A lot of aspiring models and their parents are not prepared for out-of-town modeling firms. They can be asked to sign contracts the night of the open call, pressured by hard sales without time to go online, call the BBB, or check references, or learn the basics of the industry.
Out-of-town modeling firms
Too many times when out-of-town modeling firms show up and deliver a sales pitch, aspiring models have given them their money far too quickly.
Why do aspiring models give their money so quickly to complete strangers?
No office in the city
The victim of one modeling scam paid for a service offered by a modeling agency based in another state which visited his city. Somehow the modeling agency led him to believe they could find work for him -- even though they did not have an office in his city.
When he did not get work and he realized it was a scam, he concluded the modeling agency should not be targeting aspiring models in cities where it does not have offices.
ALWAYS be suspicious of a modeling agency which makes great claims about how much work you can get through them, or how much money you can make through modeling jobs they will get you, when they do not have an office in your city.
Reputable modeling agencies, including the big ones in New York City, have offices in major modeling markets outside New York City. They can get models work in Chicago, for example, because they have an office in Chicago, and people who work in Chicago.
The ability of a modeling agency to get models work is significantly affected by where its offices and bookers are located. They need to have a physical presence to do serious business or to make serious money. Clients do not just want to deal with people over the phone: confidence comes from meeting in person. Having an office in a city shows commitment to the city.
The last thing an aspiring model should do is accept a sales pitch about potential work in their area without first asking for and receiving proof of the previous work the agency got its models in the same city during the previous year.
Who were their clients? When did their clients book the models?
Call their claimed clients.
The onus is on the modeling agency to prove it can get work for models even though they are based in another city and indeed another state, and they do not even have an office in your city or state.
The other problem, of course, in being represented by a modeling agency thousands of miles away, is accountability. You cannot visit their office if they do not help you. They can and do change their phone numbers without notice. Or they just hang up on you.
Potential models who do not live anywhere near major markets are pitched the idea of attending conventions to offset and overcome the distance.
Unfortunately, too many times the modeling convention organizers do not explain the inherent problems with conventions, and those who attend them do not think it through.
A model who went to a modeling convention said:
A mother who took her daughter to a modeling convention reported:
A mother who was thinking of sending her son to a modeling convention based on the recommendation of his agent asked if it was a good idea.
Then she said:
Roger, a modeling industry professional, responded:
Mona, who works at an international modeling agency, placing models in American markets and different markets around the world, added to that, saying:
Another mother of a model responded, saying:
This last statement is exactly right. A competent, responsible, experienced, and networked agent does not need a convention to get their job done. Clients and the industry do not wait for conventions.
They don't say, "Well, I wish I could place this model in another city, and another country, but there is no convention, so I guess it won't happen."
In their extensive guide for aspiring models, R&L Model and Talent Management, Inc., a New York commercial modeling firm, is very emphatic about the importance of location, naming it as the most important issue:
(One agency said only 1/10 of the models they sent to go-sees were selected.)
Finally they summed up the importance of "Living Near the Market" very well, saying:
Parents of models have recounted how their daughters moved to New York to work as models, with all the expense that went with it, but they either did not get any work, or barely enough modeling jobs to break even.
You must live within driving distance of the modeling jobs. This is an issue first and foremost for the model, but also for the agency. The agency has to be able to recommend reliable models, and how reliable a model can be to show up and be on time certainly depends on where the model lives.
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