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!