International Modeling and Talent Association (IMTA) - Queries / Complaints
To Whom It May Concern:
My daughter is a "student" at a John Robert Powers Agency.... Recently she attended an audition for IMTA International Model & Talent Association, and was "selected" to go to New York for their model and talent scout program.
It costs $4,000. This is a lot of money for us to be spending if my daughter is just a "fill-in" so they can make their money.
My daughter is serious about this, and wants to be a "super star"; however, she has been to these things before, and I feel like it was a scam. Is this a scam as well?
I need to know as soon as possible, so if you could get back to me very soon, I would appreciate it very much.
You are right to question the legitimacy and cost: $4,000 is a lot of money. Does that include airfare etc.? Can you provide more details about their model and talent scout program? Is it just another modeling convention? How long does it last? And what is the success rate? Is there a money-back guarantee?
The IMTA website seems to indicate IMTA, the "International Modeling and Talent Agency," offers week-long modeling conventions. It does not say how many attend nor, more importantly, how many get work.
When you click on the Events button on their website, it tells you about buildings. It said the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles is "one of the 10 most photographed buildings in the world." This is ridiculous. What are they selling? A vacation?
The event in New York is from July 20-17, 2002. Is that the one your daughter was "selected" to attend?
- The Hilton New York, the site for the IMTA New York, New York 2002, July 20-27. The Hilton New York is Manhattan's largest hotel, with more than 2,000 guestrooms and suites, and numerous meeting and banquet rooms, including four ballrooms. The Hilton commands a city block on the Avenue of the Americas, between West 53rd and 54th Street. Like the nearby Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall, the Hilton New York is a defining enduring icon in vibrant midtown Manhattan.
Why are they telling you this? Again, it reads like a travel advertisement, and it says nothing about the purpose of going to the modeling convention. It says nothing about model success rates.
You wrote, "She has been to these things before and I feel like it was a scam. Is this a scam as well?" The President of the Models Guild, an organization that seeks to protect young talent from modeling scams, etc., said modeling conventions can be fun, because you travel and get to meet new people, but it is probably not the best use of money for those who are serious about being discovered.
Why on earth does an aspiring model have to stay at the best and most expensive hotel to get discovered? It's totally ridiculous, a serious waste of money, fluff. Do you know of one supermodel who was discovered at a modeling convention? I've heard of a disco, a beach, a hair salon, etc. All places where it cost absolutely nothing.
One of the last stories I heard was about the girl on the cover of a recent issue of Elle magazine. How did she get discovered? She walked into a modeling agency. Before she left they signed her.
To Whom It May Concern:
The IMTA set-up makes OTG and MSA look like bargains. You can only attend an IMTA convention (LA or New York) by first going through a modeling school. So the modeling schools have already gotten some money out of you. Then you shell out the big bucks to go to an IMTA convention/contest.
If you do well there, then you can shell out even more money to go to the international contest. And after all of that, you still have never gone into a modeling agency to see if you can get any work.
I think it is more like the beauty pageant system only without any of the prize money or scholarships.
I have never been able to understand why someone would fork out $4,000 and all of the expense of going to New York, and then not go around to the modeling agencies open calls, but the folks who do this convention do just that.
If one has the talent, they are better off to take the money and stay in New York for month, call on all of the modeling agencies, and actually start a career.
To Whom It May Concern:
My daughter was picked at an audition at Barbizon in Boston to go to the convention that the IMTA sponsors at the Hilton in New York this July.
Barbizon wants $4,000 for my daughter to go to classes at Barbizon in preparation for this convention.
What are your thoughts? My daughter is 14, is 5'9" tall, and thin.
Thank you for any info you have,
Barbizon has a bad reputation, and it is arguably one of the worst. On one model scam watch website, it seems to have the most complaints.
Barbizon is a modeling school, but modeling schools are not necessary to become models and get contracts. Just ask leading agencies if they require modeling schools.
One person who paid and attended the modeling classes at Barbizon said: "I learned nothing my older sister couldn't have taught me."
Another aspiring model who paid hundreds of dollars to Barbizon said essentially the same thing about what she was taught: "I could've learned all of that from my mom."
This was another complaint: "I spent $1,600 dollars learning how to pluck my eyebrows and set a table."
Although Modeling Scams has received no complaints about Barbizon yet, another modeling site posted several Barbizon complaint letters from parents of aspiring models, and aspiring models themselves.
Regarding the IMTA modeling convention, a recent letter explained how they operate and how the scam works.
Modeling schools are considered modeling scams because they offer what is not required, charge extreme prices, yet offer no money-back guarantee.
One of the things they offer is teaching on makeup. From the Barbizon website: "Barbizon offers training in the skillful application of makeup."
A mother who made an online inquiry about Barbizon on behalf of her daughter received a forum response with the following observation: "As for makeup classes, the technique varies from each photographer, and each type of shoot. Modeling schools inevitably only teach two styles of makeup."
But, more importantly, don't professional makeup artists do the makeup for professional photoshoots, not the model?
Another thing they offer is teaching on how to walk. But modeling agencies can teach models how to walk if they are doing local or major fashion shows. It is not complicated, and it doesn't take long to learn. Besides, catwalk modeling is the least common type of modeling. Most models are going to appear in print, not on video or at catwalk shows.
One parent said her daughter was chosen to attend a modeling convention in New York. Barbizon said her daughter was one of the 32 students chosen out of 120 to attend because she had a good chance of getting a contract.
But after being at the convention for several days they found out everyone in the class had been asked to go, and they were even more shocked to discover: "Barbizon students paid twice as much as other schools to go."
This is a very common modeling scam technique: modeling companies pretending to be selective, claiming those who are chosen are a small or very small percentage, when in fact just about everyone is chosen.
"Needless to say it was a very, very expensive lesson."
She added: "The convention was also a waste of time. Out of the 2,000 contestants that attended, only a small handful received callbacks, and only a few were asked to sign contracts."
The bottom line is contracts. You always want to know how many and what percentage of modeling companies get contracts. Many of them will have at least a few success stories, but those are not really the main issues.
The main issues are:
What percentage get work?
Can they prove it?
Is it cheaper to contact agencies directly?
Are the chances of getting work higher going directly to the agencies?
Modeling conventions, like modeling schools, are also considered scams, because they offer what is not required, charge hundreds or thousands or dollars, and come with no money-back guarantee.
It would probably come as no surprise to see modeling schools forming partnerships with modeling conventions. Apparently this is indeed exactly what happens with Barbizon and IMTA.
They have different names, but they could just as easily be the same company. They work together. In fact, it has been reported aspiring models cannot attend an IMTA convention unless they have attended a modeling school like Barbizon: it is a prerequisite.
Interestingly, however, top modeling agencies do not require modeling school attendance, graduation, etc., to sign a model. It is not a prerequisite.
Scam modeling agencies and scam modeling photographers operate in a similar way to modeling schools and modeling conventions. The agency requires the aspiring model to use a particular photographer. But they don't say the agency splits the fees with the photographer. It is a hidden or concealed partnership.
You said you are in Boston. Boston is a large city with its own modeling agencies. Your best bet, since the information you provided suggests your daughter fits the modeling industry standards, is to visit the local modeling agencies. This could actually cost you nothing, but it would give you a clearer idea about your daughter's potential, and if she gets work through them, it would be near home, and she may not have to travel to work in another city.
At the same time you can bypass the Barbizons and IMTAs out there, and contact the big New York modeling agencies directly. Cut out the expensive middlemen who offer no money-back guarantee.
To Whom It May Concern:
How much does it cost to go to IMTA? Not the plane fare or hotel but is there a cost to get in? My daughter is currently working with John Robert Powers and I have found them to have different prices for different people or different situations. I just don't want to pay more than I should have to.
I've also read there are different prices for different people. I don't know for sure what the price is to go to the IMTA modeling convention, and I didn't see the price listed on their website.
Is there a reason why the price is not posted on their website? I guess if they don't put the cost on their site, they can charge different people different prices.
For example, if one person was told it cost $5,000, but the website said it is $3,000, the person charged more could refer to the website and start complaining.
One mother whose daughter also went to John Robert Powers said it was $4,000.
I understand IMTA is the most expensive modeling convention (or one of the most expensive). But I haven't seen evidence their success rate is the highest or even higher than sending photos or visiting agencies.
If the people who run IMTA don't tell you their success rate, i.e., how many contestants/applicants find representation with a reputable modeling agency, what percentage find representation, and don't provide proof, it would be very difficult to take them seriously, much less pay them hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Modeling conventions and modeling schools should be required by law to disclose their success rate, but that hasn't happened yet.
Please note sometimes they talk about "call backs," but these are not the same as finding representation, and they are a very weak definition of success.
Tear Sheet Magazine published the following insight and advice about modeling conventions:
- Events attract anywhere from 100 aspiring models to 1000+. Usually there is some kind of pre-screening process, which weeds out the modeling candidates most unlikely to succeed.
- Beware: An invitation to the event does not necessarily mean you have what it takes; it just means you might have what it takes.
- These companies aren't going to parade a bunch of dogs in front of the agency scouts, but they're also not going to make any money if they only invite people who look like they walked straight out of a Ralph Lauren ad.
- I can tell you that you, your mom, your boyfriend/girlfriend are not the best judges of your modeling potential. If you want some feedback before considering one of these events, I would suggest sending photos to some agencies first.
To Whom It May Concern:
We have a contract to pay $800 now —which is non-refundable —and have $5,300 left until December 11 so we can go to the IMTA - Los Angeles Convention.
John Robert Powers was the company that called us and "picked" us after entering a Mall. The John Robert Powers Director is John Velthuis.
John Robert Powers had a company come to interview over 250 of us; that company was United Model & Talent (James Gholston). I have not been able to find this company through the internet.
All documents signed refer to us going to LA for the IMTA convention. It does say that IMTA and John Roberts Powers do not guarantee contracts with agents, etc.
We are liable for photo shoot, portfolio, etc.
Please let me know asap if this is legit. We have our organization meeting with the school this Friday, and, if we are to cancel, we must do so within 10 days.
Thanks so much,
IMTA is running the biggest modeling scam out there, some people believe, because they have the most extreme prices, but no guarantees, and no checks and balances set against an extreme conflict of interest.
The point is they don't screen applicants before the convention. They don't ask the agents who are going to be there to screen the aspiring models before they or their parents spend thousands of dollars.
Why don't they do the logical thing and first do what NY agents ask: send pictures of the potential models to the top NY agencies?
Because if they did, hundreds of their parents would not pay $6,100. The agents would not want to see them. They would not waste their time or money when they knew the agents were not interested.
$6,100 for a modeling convention is totally ridiculous! This is the most expensive modeling convention I have ever heard of in my life. Other conventions charge less than $500, but they have the same NY agents.
These people are obviously trying to make as much money as possible. It is a multi-million-dollar business. A thousand people paying $6,100 = $6,100,000.
There are two modeling schools which are used to recruit big spenders: John Robert Powers and Barbizon. These two businesses have created a closed system.
In the closed system potential models end up believing two myths: 1) they need to go to a modeling school to get discovered and signed by an agency; and, 2) they need to attend a modeling convention to get discovered and signed by and agency. Neither one is true except according to their reality.
John Roberts Power and Barbizon and IMTA create their own reality. Their reality is aspiring models must attend the school to attend the convention, or they must be referred by the school to attend the convention.
But their closed system is not THE system. It is simply their version of reality to make millions. It is the American modeling cartel.
But the American modeling cartel does not have a monopoly on how to get discovered by a modeling agency. You can walk into a local modeling agency on your own and get signed. This does happen. You can also walk into a New York modeling agency and get signed. And this also happens.
The smallest and the largest modeling agencies do not require attendance at expensive modeling conventions, or even cheap modeling conventions, to get signed. Nor do they require modeling school attendance or graduation.
Modeling agencies will accept photo submissions —which cost next to nothing because the photos can be Polaroids and do not need to be professional —and they also have their own open calls FREE.
You said: "We are liable for photo shoot, portfolio." Aspiring models do not need a professional photo shoot or a portfolio to get discovered. This is a huge myth perpetuated by those who want to make money selling expensive photos. It is a modeling photography scam.
Why? Because top NY agencies themselves do not ask for and do not want professional photo submissions. They want Polaroids which may cost $12. Others pay as much as $1,200 for photos which they don't need, and agencies, even if they are signed, will not use.
The best route is to go directly to the agencies, cut out all the people who are trying to take your money. As you yourself noted, they have no guarantees. Why pay thousands to people who offer no guarantee when you can get what you want free or for next to nothing?
Even the modeling schools like John Robert Powers are no guarantee anyone will get work as a model. Which is why people including a modeling and talent agency president say they are a complete scam.
The top agencies do not look for modeling school graduates. It gives the aspiring model no advantage in getting signed. They want to see their face and figure, not their diploma. And most agencies who sign new models, the BBB says, teach their models what they need to know FREE.
There is a deceitful web of modeling school scams, modeling convention scams, and modeling photography scams.
Are you at risk of being trapped by, or falling victim to, all three?
Related: Powers That Be