Modeling Scams

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

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 better?

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. 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 said:

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."

So what?

"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 of focus.

"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 make money.

They can either make the comparison to photo expenses or they can make the comparison to what is most fair: online advertising.

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 website).

You should only be charged when the web page of your son is viewed by industry professionals who could book him.

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 equipment.

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.

Good luck!

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