Spotting a Scam

How to become a model in Australia

Considering becoming a model? Unfortunately, as the modelling industry in Australia (and indeed, internationally) is largely unregulated, there are many scammers and scam agencies who seek to rip off and profit from the hopes and dreams of young, aspiring models.

Here are the four biggest scams to watch out for and how to spot them:

Scam #1: The Fake Agency
Beware any agency that claims to work outside of Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm! This is when most legitimate agencies work and many agencies that ask models to attend after hours castings, open calls or talent reviews are scammy. Be sure to double check their license from their website or researching their business name, as all agencies must be licensed. And, at the agency, be aware of your surroundings and what’s going on around you.

Scam #2: The Photoshoot Scam (THE most common modelling scam!)
A photoshoot scam will make its money by sending models to photographers on staff to shoot expensive photos (or by taking the photos in house and charging a fee). Be suspicious of any agency that wants to force you to shoot with a particular photographer, as there’s a chance it may be a scam. A legitimate agency will always give you a testing list, or a round up of good photographers that you can pick and contact at your own discretions.

Scam #3: The Online Portfolio Scam
The Online Portfolio Scam sees online modelling agencies attempting to sell budding models their online website – that is, models pay a fee (yearly or monthly, usually upfront) to host an online portfolio with the agency with the promise that the more they pay, the more work will come their way. This sadly isn’t the case and these sites make their money by taking your credit details, not by booking you legitimate work. Many models will never see any work come from these paid portfolios.

Scam #4: The Parent Scam
All parents think their children are adorable, but sadly many scam agencies will prey on this. Talent agencies that charge exorbitant fees and make big money after you’ve paid for your child’s photoshoot sadly are all too prolific these days, capitalising on parents desires to make their children famous. Often, these agencies will have a stall at children’s expos and conventions. For example, the US-based Premiere Group claim to be “the leading global specialists in launching young talent” and frequently host “evaluation” sessions in Australia and abroad that claim to give young people a foot in the door to working in the very lucrative entertainment industry. However, internationally, Premiere Group has come under extensive fire for hard sells, very high fees and low return.

Spotting a reputable agency is easy – so long as you do your due diligence and research any potential agency that you’re considering signing with before you sign on the dotted line. Any reputable agency in Australia are unlikely to conduct mass recruitment sessions or make excessive promises.

Our number one tip is this – if you ever feel like an agency is fishy, suspicious or you just get a strange vibe from it… trust your gut. At the end of the day, there are plenty of agencies in the world that are legitimate and would love to have you on their books, so don’t risk your reputation or put yourself in harms way. There are better ways to build a portfolio than to compromise yourself with dodgy dealers!

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Highs & Lows of Modelling

How to become a model in Australia

For many, wanting to become a model is filled with ambitions of travelling the world, experiencing the high life and wearing beautiful, glamourous clothes. And without a doubt, the modelling world can be a wonderful place for those who are hard working, gutsy and lucky enough to make it!

However, it is also irresponsible to paint a purely rosy portrait of becoming a model and there are some very harsh truths of the industry that it’s important for aspiring models to be aware of.

First, some of the positives of being a model include:

  • Modelling can be a fantastic confidence boost and seeing finished photos featuring you within the pages of a magazine or on television is an exhilarating feeling… plus, just wait for the first time someone ‘recognises’ you – what a thrill!
  • Many reputable agencies will cover some of your expenses that will enhance your quality of life such as putting you up in a model apartment (which you will likely share with a couple of other models), a personal trainer and dietitian.
  • You’ll get to meet loads of interesting people, from other models to photographers, directors, designers and even celebrities. If you’re a social butterfly, you’ll flourish!
  • The opportunity to make it big is alluring and if you have a competitive personality, you’ll enjoy the thrill of beating out other models to get the top jobs.
  • On many shoots, designers will let models keep some of the items they model such as clothes, shoes and jewellery as part of their payment.
  • If you’re ambitious and with a good work ethic, you can really go far. Your limits are only as far as you can push yourself and what the industry is responding to. If you have a classic look or a look that’s on trend, your chances of making it big are much higher.
  • Modelling provides opportunities to other endorsements that can further your career in directions that you may not have considered (such as being a spokesperson for a lifestyle brand).
  • Modelling isn’t a ‘stable’ job so if you like excitement and moving around a lot, this may be an exciting lifestyle for you.
  • If you get chosen to work at a Fashion Week, this is an amazing opportunity for your career – you’ll have more exposure than ever before, the atmosphere is exhilarating and you’ll make a good income from these jobs, too.
  • As a model, often you’ll get free passes to parties, nightclubs and events practically every week of the year (club promoters love to have talent at their venues) so if you love the nightlife, this a great industry for you.
  • You get to have the personal satisfaction of having a career that lets you chase your dreams… very few people can say that!

However, you must also be prepared for the negatives of being a model:

  • Initially, you may not be getting paid a lot per job and you may not have jobs coming in consistently, which can reduce your finances and could cause you stress (this is why we recommend having a second job as you start your modelling career).
  • Depending on your niche, you may likely have to diet (or at least, keep control of your health and fitness regime) in order to stay in good shape.
  • Modelling often involves very long hours, lots of standing and having to pose. This can place strain on your feet, hips, back and joints so you will need to develop good endurance.
  • If you’re someone who gets bored or tired easily, you may struggle – many jobs can be boring or exhausting, for instance if you’re booked as part of a large campaign you may be on set all day, yet only shooting your part for an hour or so.
  • If you’re travelling a lot (as many models have to do to keep work coming in), you might find yourself getting homesick. Travelling also can compromise your immune system if you’re not careful, and getting sick can knock you out of being able to work for a short while (thus reducing your income).
  • There are a lot of scams around that seek to lure in young, inexperienced aspiring models so you must be vigilant of who you trust.
  • The modelling industry can be ruthless and many clients and agents may pressure you change your body – you must maintain a healthy body image as such an image focused industry may open you up to being obsessed with your weight or developing an eating disorder.
  • With your livelihood being dependent on your face and/or body, the jobs you are able to book will vary over time with age and as your body changes. Many companies are now using mature age models, but you must make peace with the fact that the jobs you book may change over time. Many models also struggle with the career vs. motherhood dilemma, particularly as modelling is very image focused so many models worry that their work will dry up if their body goes through the drastic changes of pregnancy.
  • Hectic schedules are the norm in the modelling industry so be prepared for a lot of early mornings and late nights! At the same time, models are also expected to get adequate rest to ensure they don’t look tired and can stay healthy.
  • If you don’t enjoy fashion, you’ll likely struggle with constantly being in high heels and constrictive clothing. It may look glamourous but it certainly doesn’t always feel good on the body!
  • The modelling industry is also rife with drug and alcohol abuse (as many models self-medicate to deal with the pressures of the job) so you must be careful of who you befriend… getting pulled into the wrong social circle in modelling can kill your career!
  • Not everyone will treat you kindly. As a model, many will consider you as a product or tool rather than as a person (this isn’t nice, but it’s a harsh truth of the industry – especially in the beginning of your career when you’re still unknown). You’ll find that people may talk at you rather than to you. If you’re lacking in confidence, you’ll need to develop a thick skin very quickly.

Note that in saying this, it is not our aim to discourage you from becoming a model. Modelling is just like any other job in any other industry and like all jobs, there are pros and cons (for example a lawyer might earn a lot of money, but also they may sacrifice time with their family while working long hours… or a shop manager might love the freedom of being their own boss whilst also feeling the struggle of having to consistently keep the customers and money coming in).

Like any industry and job, do your research – we cannot stress this enough! Although some models won’t make it, others will give up on their dreams and others will find the downsides of the industry outweigh the pros… other models will thrive, succeed and love every moment of it.

Only you best know yourself, your dreams and what you want to achieve… so ask yourself, what does modelling mean to you? What do you hope to achieve? Is it worth it?

By understanding yourself and why you want to become a model, you can then make informed decisions about how to best shape your career.

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