Internet Modeling Scams
To Whom It May Concern:
I was just wondering if this sounds reasonable...
My son is seven months old and I brought him for a interview
at Character Kids Agency in Rhode Island.
Of course she wants to sign him. The commission is 10%.
It's a one-year exclusive contract.
She also promotes via a web portfolio. It costs $150
to post his portfolio on the site modelnetwork.com.
She didn't want me to get professional pictures done —just
a few nice close-ups.
Does this sound legit?
I am planning on checking out two other agencies in
Boston: Dynasty Models and Model Club. Are these any
Thanks so much,
M.B. in Providence, RI
"Just a few nice close-ups" of your seven-month-old
son sounds right. No need for pro photos of infants.
Commission is fair at 10%.
One-year contract is ok. Exclusive is questionable but
not too bad. Why would the contract have to be exclusive
(unless she's certain she can get your son work)?
The web portfolio could be a waste of money. Modelnetwork.com
at $150 is neither the most expensive, nor the cheapest,
but the whole "web portfolio" or online comp
card concept is overhyped, overrated, and under-scrutinized.
The advertising at modelnetwork.com said:
- WHAT WILL AN ONLINE PORTFOLIO DO FOR ME?
- An online portfolio is the best way to promote yourself
to clients and agencies worldwide.
- It cannot be lost or damaged, costs nothing to email,
and is an example of your professionalism.
- You will save thousands of dollars by reducing your
need for printed cards, overnight delivery services,
couriers and postage.
- Your online portfolio can be updated quickly, as
often as you like.
Wrong. An online portfolio is not the best way to promote
yourself or anyone else to clients and agents worldwide.
It is passive and you don't know if anyone is going
to see the picture(s).
"Worldwide" is irrelevant because your son
is not going to be booked by an agency in a foreign country.
"It cannot be lost or damaged."
"It costs nothing to email."
It costs almost nothing to put a picture on a website.
They should not be charging you until your son gets work.
"An example of your professionalism."
Most web photos are not examples of professionalism.
The color is wrong, the tone is wrong, and they are out
"You will save thousands of dollars by reducing
your need for printed cards, overnight delivery services,
couriers and postage."
This part of the sales pitch has been used elsewhere.
It is weak and misleading. If nobody ever sees the photo
in the first place their point is moot.
A discussion on the topic of "Internet Modeling
Scams" has to include explanation of how the web
portfolio concept is twisted by companies making photography
the central issue instead of online advertising.
Online advertising is the name of the game. You advertise
yourself or your child online.
The Model Network and other internet companies or dot
coms are selective in their analogy in a way to try and
They can either make the comparison to photo expenses
or they can make the comparison to what is most fair:
Online advertising works like agency payments: it is
based on commission. Photography, of course, works with
payment no matter what.
Agencies get paid if and only if the model gets work.
Photographers, on the other hand, get paid regardless
of whether or not the model gets work.
"The water gets muddied" because photos are
at the center of internet comp cards. (They are digital
photos.) But the internet photos are used for advertising.
Internet advertising works by commission; the term is "click-through." Which
means advertisers pay only when someone clicks on the
advertisement (e.g., a banner), and actually views what
is at the other end of the link (e.g., a web page or
You should only be charged when the web page of your
son is viewed by industry professionals who could book
If the page is not seen, advertising has not happened.
If advertising has not happened, you should not pay,
because you would be paying for nothing.
The other reason why the online advertising and offline
agency comparison is fair and right is because there
is almost no time, skill, effort, or expense required
to host a picture on a website in a "web portfolio."
It costs almost nothing to host one or two pictures
of a model on a website. It is even less if the pictures
are not seen. Slapping a picture on a web page and launching
it into cyberspace requires almost no skill. It takes
almost no time.
Contrast this with photography. It requires skilled
labor. It has expenses (film development), etc. And everything
takes much more time. And it requires investing in expensive
So unless you can get modelnetwork to operate on the
industry standard (modeling industry or internet industry)
of commissions, maybe 10%, like what the agency wants,
you may want to forget about the web portfolio.
Dynasty Models in Boston looks good from what is on
their website. I am not familiar with Model Club.
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