Model Look Magazine
Questions / Complaints
To Whom It May Concern:
I am a photographer who is building a professional portrait
business. Many of my clients have asked if they or their
child could model.
That question became so frequent, that I am adding a "Modeling
Consultancy" to my list of services. Now, I have
no desire to defraud anyone in any way.
A year or so ago I answered one of those "No training
necessary" ads and with $30 became a "Staff
Photographer" for a magazine called Model Look.
They tell me all I need do is send photos of "models" in
for a free evaluation. Then, of course, the "model" can
buy an ad in their magazine which is then sent to member
They do print a magazine and have a web page, but many
of the models in these pages are obviously young people
who have paid the fee and probably will not get work.
That is an opinion, of course.
My question is:
Is Model Look a legitimate company, publishing a magazine
for the modeling industry?
There are basically three ways modeling businesses try
to get faces before agencies en masse: 1) modeling conventions,
2) modeling websites, and 3) modeling magazines.
The principles are essentially the same for all three.
There is a free "open call," a free "audition," or
a free "evaluation."
Then for a fee large numbers of potential models are
put together in the same place (at a convention, on a
website, in a magazine) in the hopes that model scouts
and modeling agencies or their clients will see them
and sign them.
However, most all of them do not clearly say what their
success rates are. And no independent study has been
done to show the rates of success for modeling conventions,
websites, or magazines.
It is certainly not clear if modeling magazines are
more effective than either modeling conventions or modeling
Further, it is not known how many and how often agencies
use websites or magazines to scout. You can monitor convention
attendance but it's more difficult to monitor website
and magazine browsing.
But this really is the most important thing. Who is
viewing? And how often? How seriously are they taken?
Model Look magazine, the specific magazine you inquired
about, does not state its success rate.
The Model Look website claimed they have 1,000 clients,
yet it didn't show or offer to show their client list. The
only list they offer is a state-by-state
breakdown, i.e., how many clients (presumably magazine
subscribers) they have in each state.
Their FAQ addresses a basic question about their clients
similar to the one you asked.
- Question: Can I get a list of Model
- Answer: Sorry, but our client list
is confidential. After all, if you had all the contacts
we do, you really wouldn't need us! Model Look is all
about getting people just like you actual modeling
- We did at one point give out a small list of clients
(with the clients permission) for models to call so
they could check out Model Look. Within just a month
the clients received hundreds of phone calls from models.
Some models were calling 3, 4 and more times a day
begging them to hire them for some upcoming modeling
assignment. In short, we lost one of those great clients
because once the name and number was out the models
just wouldn't let up. We never were able to convince
that particular client to come back and work with us
again after that. Since then, we have made it a policy
to never give out client phone numbers or addresses.
However, we will give you a client count for your state.
A client count? Is that it? Pu-leez!
The website did not say how many models in their magazines
get work, and how many don't. It didn't say what type
of work they get, low-end or high-end, or the percentage
This is very significant and critical information for
potential models and their parents to evaluate their
service and its risks.
Model Look Magazine is based in Charleston, Illinois.
The stated purpose:
- Our prime objective is to give new models that are
just starting out, that first big break by appearing
in a magazine.
The website claims they have been in business for 16
years. Potential clients are advised to call the Charleston
Chamber of Commerce because "they can give you a
complete history of our 16 years in business."
BBB record said they started in 1994: "Business
Start Date: June 1994." That would make them
about 8 years old, not 16.
Besides the BBB, ordinarily, you would want to check
out the modeling company through references. Model Look
Magazine, however, does not want to give you references.
Here is their justification:
- Why won't we give you other models numbers to call
as reference? Well, let's say you are the other model
in these cases and we had 30 or 40 models calling your
house every day asking you all about the modeling assignments
you have done with Model Look. It would drive you crazy
after the first day.
That defense is questionable. It makes sense if very
few models are signed, because there would be very few
references, so the same models would be called all the
time. However, if many models are signed, the references
could be rotated, so nobody would feel harrassed.
But the real test is tear sheets. Significant work or
serious jobs is evidenced by tear sheets. You don't have
to call models if they are published by major magazines.
You put up the tear sheets on the website. If you have
On the other hand, if the modeling jobs are promotional,
like handing out flyers, there would be no concrete (physical)
evidence of work, like a published photograph, so they
would have to be called for verification.
Model Look Magazine is classified as a modeling agency
by the BBB. It is important to note the BBB is not always
consistent or accurate in its classifications. Each BBB
is a franchise, and each franchise president and all
the staff have different levels of modeling industry
knowledge and insight.
Modeling agencies, as you probably already know, usually
take a 20% commission. Model Look, however, doesn't take
20%. In fact, they don't take anything.
- Model Look never takes a percentage of your income
as a model. This includes if you work for us directly.
Our models get everything they earn at the time they
get paid.... you will always make your full amount
without us ever taking any percentage of your earnings.
Generous? No, that doesn't prove they are generous.
What it shows is if they make nothing from commission,
they make everything from aspiring models and magazine
subscriptions. You said models pay for ad space and their
magazines are only available by subscription.
Typically a "modeling agency" that gets all
its money from photos, nothing from commission, would
be seen as a scam. In the case of Model Look, it's not
so clear. Is it a modeling agency? Is it a magazine?
Or is it both a modeling agency and a magazine?
Model Look acts somewhat like an advertising agency.
They advertise faces in print and they are paid regardless
In comparison with and by contrast to traditional agencies,
there is a conflict of interest. Model Look magazine,
after all, has a vested interest in quantity more than
quality. The more aspiring models who sign up, the more
they make, even if they don't work. They don't have to
be very selective with their "free evaluation." It
is to their economic advantage not to be very selective.
There is still more potential for confusion because
of the medium. They use magazines, so one would expect
aspiring models to automatically associate the idea of
being published in their magazine with they themselves
being published in a magazine, like a fashion magazine.
In other words, high-end, lucrative modeling.
The association is to be further expected because Model
Look does not, as previously mentioned, give the breakdown
of how little work or how much its models get in fashion
and print, and how much they get in promotion, which
would pay far less.
Model Look Magazine strongly pushes the magazine idea
at the end of its sales pitch, just when it wants you
to sign up:
- Now you can model and be seen in the pages of a real
magazine! It's easy, just print out the application
above, fill it out and mail it in to the address shown.
We will be in touch with you in a few days to let you
know if we can get something going for you as a model
for a real magazine.
Ironically, on one page of their website they said, "With
Just One appearance in Model Look, YOU can get a lot
of print work! This [is] just some of the print modeling
Tammie has done since appearing in Model Look Magazine
a little over a year ago!"
But there are not a lot of examples of models who did
get a lot of print work. There are some tear sheets on
the website, but not very many for a company that has
been around "since 1986."
On their website I only saw mention of three models
getting signed with modeling agencies.
Robert Holmes, a magazine photographer, wrote a short
but useful article about Modeling Schools which is published
on the Model Look website, although it turns out to be
an advertisement or infomercial for Model Look.
- So if you are really interested in becoming a working
model, there are several things you can do to further
your modeling career.
- First, forget modeling school.
- Second, start promoting your look to clients with
a model composite card and by getting publicity in
an agency book if you are signed with an agency. If
you are not signed with an agency, then get the publicity
you need as a freelance model with Model Look
- Third, get started putting your portfolio together.
These are the tools you need to become a successful
Then he said: "Spend your money on the things that
really count in modeling." But he didn't substantiate
this statement by giving the success rate of Model Look
or magazines to show if they are more like a lottery
ticket than a wise career investment.
Earlier in the article, he said, "I personally
can't recall a single top model that was ever discovered
because they attended a modeling school." But he
didn't offer one top model who was discovered through
Model Look Magazine (or any similar type of model magazine),
and nor did Model Look Magazine.
They shoot down modeling schools, as they should be
shot, but for their agenda, i.e., in an attempt to boost
their own company concept and sell ad space. The author
makes a strong case against modeling schools, but he
never makes a convincing case for model magazines in
general or Model Look in particular.
This is similar to the rest of the Model Look website,
because it too does not provide enough information. They
don't and won't provide model references; they don't
and won't provide a client list; they don't tell you
their advertising rates, and they don't tell you their
success rates. And they don't tell you their success
rate in getting models high-end modeling jobs.
The blunt question that should be asked of unorthodox "modeling
agencies" and "scouting companies" is
basic: Do they make more money from failures or successes?
Are they more like a casino running a gambling joint
where you pay to play and leave with nothing if you lose?
If you are going to run an unconventional modeling business,
one that has a clear conflict of interest, you better
be able to back up your claims, state your success rates,
and provide a convincing case that the majority of aspiring
models are not wasting their money, or offer a money-back
When there is a conflict of interest, the onus is on
the modeling company to show it is not a scam.
To Whom It May Concern:
I sent Model Look Magazine my pictures
and received a letter back saying that out of three categories,
I had received the "guaranteed" modeling one.
A couple pages later, cost was mentioned.
They said with the "guarantee" if I paid to
have my picture (JUST once) in their magazine, they guaranteed
that I would get a job offer within the year from one
of their magazine clients.
Many were listed.
If I did not get a job, the money would be completely
The problem was, they gave you a list of amounts you
could get paid, from like $25 to over $50. Then, it could
be any state, and the client does not always pay travel.
So, I called them up, and the woman said that yes, if
the job was from the other side of the country, and not
paid travel, etc., and you turned it down, there goes
To me it sounds like playing the lottery.
How many people actually get refunds? They could just
have a client in Texas call a model in New York, knowing
that with no paid travel or low pay, the model would
turn it down.
Watch out for this scam!
I am glad that I did not fall for it, but many do. It's
right in the back of popular magazines. I am angry that
magazines would be associated with them.
The whole concept of guaranteed modeling is ridiculous.
Even an agency cannot guarantee modeling work for a model
unless the client has already guaranteed work for the
model. And I can guarantee, if the client has not yet
seen the model, the client has not guaranteed that model
Even before you figure out how the guarantee can be
bogus in a specific way, you can see how it is bogus
in a general way, and that is enough to forget about
If a modeling agency or modeling magazine guarantees
a new model work, let them put their money where their
mouth is, and pay for the magazine advertising up front
with the payment due AFTER the model gets the "guaranteed
To Whom It May Concern:
I'm a 13-year-old actress/aspiring model from Boston,
and I'm emailing you regarding information on the company "Model
Last month I responded to an ad in Seventeen Magazine
that said Model Look booked hundreds of teens each year
for several photo layouts.
Naturally, I was interested, so I checked out their
website, which seemed legitimate.
So, I sent in a copy of my headshot and resume, and
forgot about the whole thing for a little while.
Last Friday, two weeks after I sent my things in, I
received a letter of acceptance saying I was being offered
a "guaranteed modeling contract," meaning I
was guaranteed to book at least one photo shoot within
90 days, or I could have my money back.
How their company works is, you choose to pay for either
1/4 page space, 1/2 page space, or a full page space
in their "Model Look" magazine, which supposedly
is sent out to their 1,000 clients.
The clients then see the models in their magazine, then
book whichever models they need.
Model Look does require that you pay either $25 or $50
upfront [depending on how much ad space you choose],
and then pay the rest over time, but my Mom thought this
didn't sound legitimate, because she didn't like that
you need to pay upfront.
She also didn't like the fact that she would have to
fork over $300 for me to maybe do only one photo shoot.
She said I could try to email people and get more information
on the company, and if they turn out to be for real,
then we can go ahead with it.
I'm just emailing you to ask if you have ever heard
of "Model Look," and if you have, please tell
me everything you know.
Or, if you don't know who they are, please email me
immediately telling me if this sounds like a reputable
deal to you.
I admit, all the paperwork and the acceptance letter
were VERY tempting —the thought of me bringing
my friends to the supermarket and opening up a magazine
with me inside is too much.
But, I was ripped off by one "production company" before,
and I don't want my parents [and me] to waste our hard-earned
So, please get back to me as soon as you can.
And by the way, thanks for the amazing website you have!
By looking it over, I've become a much smarter person
about this business I want to enter, and I know now that
I'll have to work harder than I thought to find reputable
I look for ALL my acting/modeling jobs myself, without
my parents' help —I am my own manager, and it's
Thank you for helping me have a clearer head about modeling —it's
fun, but there's also a dark side, a side I plan on having
no part of thanks to you.
It sounds as if your Mom has a handle on the basic industry
standard: no upfront fees. You don't want to stray too
far from this rule of thumb unless you know exactly what
you are doing. No upfront fees is like insurance against
Yes, there were a few inquiries about Model Look magazine.
You said they claimed to send their magazine to 1,000
clients. This number represents the number of clients
across America. However, most clients are not going to
be interested in you unless you are near them; it's not
cost effective to fly models in for low-end modeling
If you need a model to promote your business for two
hours, and the cost is $30, you don't fly in someone
from another state, and probably not another city, either.
If it is for a magazine cover, that could be different,
but Model Look Magazine does not have many magazine cover
stories to speak of besides their own.
The clients (subscribers) who are relevant to you are
the companies in Boston. How many of the 1,000 Model
Look subscribers are located in Boston? They don't say,
but they did claim 89 in MA. (A number, by the way, which
you cannot check, so you don't know if it is true.) How
many of those do you suppose are in Boston?
Model Look is a national magazine. They do not have
a local presence in Boston, do they? How can they compete
with Boston agencies which have had a local presence
for many years, have established relationships, and sent
models to work in Boston?
Has Model Look got anyone in Boston any work, either
in the last year, or since they started?
The ML website actually lists their success stories.
There aren't many, and some of them are promotional work.
This does not pay well, it's only $15/hr, so you could
actually earn less from promoting than you paid for promoting
The ML magazine appears to work for some people, but
it looks as if the majority do not benefit. Although
the $300 fee is not extreme, there is no convincing argument
to say what they offer is better than representation
at a modeling agency in Boston.
Ask Model Look: "How is being in your magazine
better than being represented by a modeling agency in
You can also ask them: "How many Boston models
have been booked through Model Look in the last year?
How much did they earn? Did they earn more than they
paid to be in the magazine? Who booked them?"
Then you could call Boston agencies and ask them if
what Model Look offers is better than what they offer.
If you are rep'd by a Boston agency, you will have comp
cards, and you will be in the agency book, a book which
will be sent to clients in Boston, the same as the Model
You said Model Look "guaranteed to book at least
one photo shoot within 90 days." They don't have
the authority to do that, do they?
But even if you do get one photo shoot, how do you know
it will be cost effective? They don't guarantee you will
earn more than or as much as you paid them, do they?
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