Desperate Agencies - Part II
Dan Grant, Publisher
As I mentioned in Part I, CBC Vancouver recently alerted me to an agency that is allegedly engaging in some pretty desperate scouting practices, and I've learned since then that they aren't limiting their sales-driven tactics to the West Coast. There are a lot of legitimate agencies in Canada, willing to play by rules. This is NOT how legitimate agencies work:
There are many more signs of desperate, or just plain poor, agencies. These are just the most recent examples brought to my attention about one particular firm that is giving the entire industry a bad reputation.
- Legitimate agencies do not trawl Facebook with a gill net, dragging the depths for anyone and anything they might lure in for a pitch.
This has become more than just an annoyance, for many it's a problem as Facebook allows users to send messages to people they've never previously had contact with.
There are clowns that call themselves scouts or agents, plowing through profiles, looking for ways to reach anyone that might possibly be coerced into buying a model portfolio or taking expensive classes. It's a money grab that plays on the vanities of people who want to believe that actual, knowledgeable scouts are the ones reaching out to them.
Have people been scouted off Facebook? Of course, but if the "scout" can't tell you in the course of an FB convo that you're not required to buy something, don't even think of proceeding.
- Legitimate agencies do not recruit interns to solicit for them.
I doubt you'd be surprised to learn oodles and oodles of people are super keen to break into the fashion industry, and are willing to take unpaid, largely thankless positions to get a foot in the door.
Sadly, some of those bright young things end up getting "hired" to do exactly the sleazy outreach I just mentioned about.
- Legitimate agencies do not recruit on kijiji, craigslist or other online classified sites.
It's a longstanding rule that an agency doesn't place an ad in a newspaper's classifieds unless... you know... it's an escort agency. Now the shadier operations have moved online, posting in help wanted sections for models. Or, to be crafty, they say they're looking for scouts, hoping to catch the eye of anyone looking for a back door into the industry.
If answering one of these ads was merely a waste of time, that would be bad enough. Wasting money, far worse. But the personal danger a potential model puts herself in when responding to one of these ads could end in disaster.
- Legitimate agencies do not charge to shoot with their own photographers.
Investing in photos that further your career is a worthwhile expense, as I outlined in my fourth Digging Deeper feature. Sometimes you pay for them, sometimes you don't, but you should never have to pay an agency to take your photos... not even your digitals (snapshots).
For more signs you should think twice, check out Jessica Denomme's Red Flags article.