There are more opportunities for individuals to start a modelling career now than ever before, but this also means that there is greater potential for novice models to be exploited or underpaid. Securing appropriate representation, usually in the form of an agent or agency, can keep models safe, ensure models are paid properly, and provide development opportunities.
Working with an agent means that the model has certain safety guarantees and protective measures in place to keep them safe and healthy. Agencies are careful to screen new clients to ensure their models will be working with decent individuals and groups; many agencies also have existing client relationships to draw from, meaning that they have clients who have proven themselves to be trustworthy and honest. An agency also verifies aspects of each gig such as the location, the number and identities of the people who will be there, and the length of time the job will take.
Models who choose to operate on a freelance basis may be afraid to ask the right questions because they worry that they will offend the client and lose the job. Agents, however, know just what to ask to keep their models safe.
Without an agent, models are more likely to receive inadequate payment; those who pursue modelling opportunities online, for example, often accept lower payments and fail to negotiate. Most models, especially those without a lot of experience, do not know what the going rates for jobs are, so they are more likely to be underpaid. Agencies, however, have all of this knowledge and can ensure their models receive proper payment. Because agencies also receive a portion of what the model makes, they will be more keen to secure higher-paying jobs to benefit all parties.
Agencies often acknowledge that developing a model to a point where they are successful and profitable is a time-consuming process, but one that is worthwhile in the end. When an agency signs a new model, they are thinking about the future for the agency and the model; in other words, what the agency does with the model (securing jobs and providing other educational opportunities) is all geared toward the model’s development so that the agency and the model benefit from the arrangement in the future. Freelance models often feel that they have to accept every job or every client, but agencies are able to be more selective as they are looking only for opportunities that help the model grow.