How to Shoot with Agency Models

How to book agency models for photo shoots

Shooting with agency models can boost your portfolio. Using signed models who are professionals can be super helpful when putting together a book. It will give your book a more clean, refined look if you are using agency standard models. That’s not to say that there aren’t wonderful unsigned models, but having that agency credit in your book can look good on paper as an artist as well. Let’s figure out how to shoot with agency models.

How to book agency models for photo shoots

Create a Mood board

Create a mood board for reaching out to agencies. You’ll want to display the exact feeling you’re going for with your shoot. If you’re looking for someone with a specific look, make sure that your mood board includes models with a similar vibe. Use your mood board to show the lighting style you are going for, the location type that you want to shoot in, any makeup or hair inspiration, etc. Good words are important for agents to be able to understand what you’re going for so they know exactly what the model is signing up for. It’s also helpful for them to be able to choose models who may fit your concepts a little better than others.

Related: How to create an effective mood board

Outreach

Find the agency’s contact information on their website. Some very high standard agencies may not have a direct line of contact on their site, but many will at least have a general email to point you in the right direction. If you are just starting out shooting with agency models, you are typically looking for new face models. These are people who have been recently signed, or are redeveloping their book. These models need photos, and you need them in your book. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved! Shooting with new faces will give you experience, and will also give models the on-set experience that they need. If you don’t have a direct line to the new faces email address, ask in the general email to be forwarded on to the new faces agent. 

Modeling Agency Email Outreach Template

Hi there,

My name is BLANK and I am a photographer based in BLANK. I’m looking to do some testing to update my portfolio book. You can take a look at my portfolio site HERE, or my Instagram HERE. I have a shoot in mind THIS COMING DATE. Please take a look at the attached mood board, and let me know if you have anyone who might be a good fit.

I would also be happy to meet in person to chat!

Best,
BLANK

When you are first starting your communications with the agency, ensure that you maintain an air of professionalism in your writing. As you become more familiar with the agents you are interacting with, you can loosen up your structure. But for the initial outreach, make sure you are giving details and sharing your work.

No Calls, Please

Don’t call the agency. Unless you are really looking for a contact there and have no other option, it’s best to do this via email. Over the phone, they can’t see your work or check you out online at all. They have nothing to go off and they don’t know what kind of photographer you are. They will just ask you to send them an email if you call. 

Putting Together a Team

Sometimes, before you contact the agency, it’s a good idea to have a team ready. If you are shooting an editorial or a styled test shoot, list your makeup artist and stylist before hand if you can. Reaching out to modeling agencies with the team in place will show that you are ready to go. Plus, your team may have agency relationships already. It’s also important to get aligned with your team on any creative shoot on what you’re looking for in a model.

Planning

When you are planning a shoot with an agency model, it’s important that you fill the agent in on all details. They will relay the information to their model. The day before a shoot, or on the Friday before for a weekend shoot, send out a call sheet.

Typical Call Sheet Outline

Date

Time

Photographer | Phone | Email

Stylist | Phone | Email

Makeup Artist | Phone | Email

Hair Stylist | Phone | Email

Model (care of Agent) Agent Phone | Agent Email

Location Address | Phone Number | Email

Add any specific call times in case they are not all the same, or are staggered call times.

It’s also good to include things like local transit information, what the weather will be like, any catering information, any additional detail the team might need to know.

Communications After the Shoot

When you’ve finished the shoot, keep in contact directly with the models agent. You don’t want to contact the model directly. That looks really unprofessional. Deliver the photos directly to the model’s agent when they are ready. If there is a hold on the photos for an editorial submission, make sure that this is made clear to the agent, and to instruct the model not to post. This happens to so many photographers. Their editorial images will end up in a model’s book because instructions were not given, and the submission has to be cancelled. After the shoot, it’s nice sometimes to send a little note to the agent letting them know how it went and any positive notes you might’ve picked up during the shoot.

How to Shoot with Agency Models

In summary, shooting with agency models can benefit everyone in a positive way. Shooting agency models will allow you to further develop your own book, and also help them to develop their book and their modeling skills that are needed for their job. Agency communications can be nerve-racking, but they’re not all that scary when it comes down to it. As long as you conduct yourself in a composed and thoughtful manner, you’re going to have success shooting with agency models.