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The Basics of the Model-Agent Relationship

Aspiring models often have one question on their mind: How do I get an agent? 

All models have to start somewhere. For many, that somewhere is finding an agent. But what is the relationship between a model and their agent? How can each party get the most out of the relationship? In this post, we’ll take a look at the basics of the model-agent relationship, discuss what agents do, how to find an agent, and what you should expect from your working relationship with your agent.

While signing with an agent is definitely not the only way to become a successful model, it can be useful having someone you trust to help you navigate the industry. This is why it’s important to understand the model and agent relationship. So, whether you’re just starting out in modelling or you’ve been working with an agent for a while, read on for some valuable information!

As you may already know, a model is someone who is paid for their time to represent a brand and help promote products via varied mediums. An agent is someone who represents said model and helps to find work for that model in their genre.

A model’s agent is typically paid a percentage of the fees that the model earns for finding them work and negotiating contracts on their behalf. In Australia, the standard percentage for a model to pay an agent is 20% commission or less.

A good relationship between a model and agent is important because the agent is responsible for finding work for the model, and therefore, an agent and model must have great communication. The agent must know the model’s typical work week and personal details, so that they can arrange castings, rehearsals, fittings, flights, postage of clothing items, and send phone numbers and measurements to clients. An agent should even know when a model has had a haircut! It is the model’s responsibility to keep their portfolio up to date and share content with their agent in order for their agent to advertise them to clients. A model must be responsive, professional, organised, flexible and easy to work with. An agent is more likely to book a model work if they know the model is contactable, as booking modelling work is often time sensitive. On the other hand, It is the agent’s job to oversee the immediate career and long term goals of their models. If the model is in demand, this may include brokering a deal to sign the model to additional agencies. Generally, an agent should communicate suitable casting calls to the model, negotiate terms and provide model briefs for upcoming work. It is also the agent’s responsibility to guide and nurture their model and give them advice when they don’t book work, and need to update their portfolio or look. The agency representing the model must seek payment from the client on behalf of the model, and pay the model according to the rate negotiated with the client for time worked, plus allowances of meals or travel owed.

To find an agent that is a good fit for you, start looking for agencies that represent your genre. For example, Harvey James Management is a commercial agency, representing relatable talent that the masses connect with. There are different agencies that excel in every genre of modelling – if you are unsure of what type of model you are, then please read our article, ‘https://www.harveyjames.agency/what-type-of-model-are-you-height-and-beauty-standards-in-the-australian-modelling-industry/’ 

Once you’ve found an agency that seems like a good fit, do your research to ensure they are a reputable agency. Search for reviews online from other models. Look for their client list on their website. If the model agency is a local agency, then attend local industry events and ask others about the agency. Reach out to industry professionals such as photographers or makeup artists you may know or have worked with, and ask about the agency.

Once you have confirmed that the agency operates according to your values, then look up how to apply to join them. Every agency has a way to intake new models. Some agencies have an open door policy on certain days of the week, others hold interviews, and some hold yearly model casting calls. No matter what the format, when attending an agency casting there are some general basic etiquette rules on how to act, what to wear and what take with you. 

Never arrive late to a casting call, you may miss your turn. Never wear too much makeup or an overly styled outfit. The model Agent will want to see YOU. The more clients they can imagine booking you, the more likely you are to be signed. Wear fitted clothing so that they can see your figure and, females must wear heels that they can walk comfortably in. Only take your curated portfolio to the casting. If you want to know more about curating your portfolio, then please read our article here https://www.harveyjames.agency/top-portfolio-mistakes-models-make-and-how-to-fix-them/

If you are shortlisted at an agency casting, the agency team will typically take your measurements, and digitals. You will then be contacted by the agency with a contract offer. An agency should not want you to sign a contract at the casting, as a model has the right to take home the contract and seek legal advice. Never sign a contract if you feel under duress. Your contract should always outline the commission that the agency with deduct from your fees for time worked.

For more tips on how to find a reputable agency, what to wear to a casting and what clauses a model contract should contain, keep an eye on our future articles or book a Top Model Assessment with our Founder Jade Taylor here, and ask her your questions in person!

Boobalicious Ball 2022

Once again, HJM was thrilled to take part in this year’s most prestigious black tie event, Boobalicious Ball 2022 – raising funds for Breast Cancer WA.

Our models Natasha L, Kathryn F, Kaylene B and Ella B were cast to walk the runway of the year in Simone Perele – get a glimpse at behind the scenes below!


General Credit – all photos
Photography – @adamnalapraya
Production / Styling – @liz_mitch
Assisted by – @rochellerenwick
BOH manager – @gracenrose
All wearing – @simoneperele_australia
Hair – @elevenaustralia directed by @jaimmelee
Makeup – @artistsatplay directed by @smfmakeup
Models @natashaallyse @kathrynfigueiredo @kaylene.melanie @ellabrouwer.modelling represented by @harveyjamesmgmt

Top Portfolio Mistakes Models Make and How to Fix Them

One of the most common mistakes that models make is not having a strong, organised portfolio to present when attending a casting or agency interview.

A model’s portfolio is their calling card and it is one of the most important tools that they have to market themselves. Without a strong portfolio, it can be difficult for a model to get signed or book work. In this article, we discuss a few simple, but key things that every model should keep in mind when putting together their portfolio.

The first thing to remember is that your portfolio should showcase your very best and most recent work. It is important to remember that your portfolio is not a place to display all of the work that you have done, only your best work.

Another common mistake models make is not keeping their portfolio up to date. It is important to regularly update your portfolio with new images as you shoot them. This will show potential clients that you are actively booking work, improving your modelling skills, and that you have fresh, new content for them to review.

Another mistake is when a model chooses to work with the same photographer to build their entire portfolio. The outcome can be a one-dimension portfolio presentation, that looks like the photographer’s portfolio; not your own. Select images from your first photoshoot thinking from the client’s point of view, then leverage these photos to book an additional photoshoot to add to your portfolio. This can be the toughest but most critical stage in an aspiring model’s career, so your first photoshoot and how you introduce yourself to the modelling world is paramount.

Our advice to new, aspiring models is to try your best not to present a full portfolio of Time for Print material. When the work is Time for Print, the photographer is generally going to produce and shoot work that will benefit their portfolio and is signature to their brand, in exchange for their time. This can be positive if you are selective and only work with photographers whose vision aligns with yours, and you are given some creative control when planning the shoot, however, the safest solution is carefully selecting and booking a range of different client shoots and Time for Print work when starting out, showing your skills in a variety of settings – meaning you shine as the hero subject!

The final mistake that models make when curating their portfolio, is not tailoring it to the specific type of work they are looking for. It is important to have a variety of images from different photographers in your portfolio that showcase your range as a model, but ensure you have images that are specifically tailored to the type of modelling you are interested in doing, or are casting for. For example, if you are interested in or good at commercial modelling work, make sure to curate images that showcase your experience in this modelling genre. You choose your modelling genre according to your features and what type of clients are approaching you.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure your portfolio is strong and give yourself the best chance at booking modelling work to keep improving your portfolio game.

Do you have any other tips for creating a strong portfolio? Or want to take advantage of a FREE portfolio review with our Founder Jade Taylor? Then book a Top Model Assessment today!’

HJM Model: Suha Tilmiz
Photographer: Andrew Ho
Makeup Artist: Rana Mosleh
Stylist: Juvelle Behrendorff


@ harveyjamesmgmt

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