Modeling Scams

Modeling Photography and Convention Prices

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Anthony Caprio, and I am the president of PTG Models and Talent. We are based in New Haven, CT, but we are soon to open in New York.

I've been reading your website and looking at a lot of the complaints. There are a couple of things that I wanted to mention.

The first thing is about "comp cards." I've read a few times on this site that other "agents" have said you don't need a comp card to get started.

For kids and children, that's very true. You don't need a comp card. When we sign a kid, what we ask for is like a Wal-Mart or a JC Penney 8 x 10. Generally, parents already have that available already, so it's not a big deal.

However, for teens and adults the "comp card" becomes far more important around age 12.

As model and talent managers our role is to develop and groom our clients to be ready for agents. We don't believe in modeling schools because they are a complete scam. We do the development ourselves and do not charge anything for it. Developing a model is part of being a model manager.

However, the first question that I get when I send a new model over to an agency such as Cunningham Escott, or Willy, or Abrams, is, "Send me the comp card," or "Does she/he have a comp card?"

Comp cards are a must for any model over 13. And models must be aware that their management will want a comp card, and each agent wants their own comp card.

So rather than spending money for conventions or classes, money is best spent on good photographs.

Another point I wanted to make is that I read that photographers wait to bill the client till after their first paycheck. That's absurd —photographers would go out of business.

However, in very RARE cases a new potential model will be so incredible that an agency like Ford or Elite will back end the cost of the first comp card.

Which means that the client generally pays $1,000 for that comp card, but it's taken out of the client's first few checks.

As a general rule all models pay for their own first comp card. Cindy Crawford paid for hers, Elle MacPherson paid for hers, and so on.

Like with everything in this world you get what you pay for. A $200 comp card is pretty much crap... but a new model doesn't have to pay $1,000, either. A good comp card can be made for around $500; a great comp card can be made for about $700.

No entry-level model SHOULD EVER pay more than $800 for a comp card. What pisses me off about FACE, for example, is that the $600 price looks like a $200 card, and that's not fair. A $600 card should look great.

On the subject of showcases, IMTA is expensive because of who has been discovered there. Katie Holmes was discovered at IMTA. Chaz Monet (Ruby Bridges) and the guy from American Pie (Stifler) were discovered at IMTA.

Now, also, the ballroom for a week is expensive. All the major agencies send reps to IMTA. Ford, Elite, Q, and IMG are there to scout for talent. IMTA is costly, but the price includes everything: room, some meals, photos, the whole nine yards.

I HAVE NEVER SENT ANYONE TO IMTA. There are a lot cheaper conventions to attend. This past weekend I was in NYC for a convention. I was a judge and scout, and the price for the weekend was $200.

By the way, I was sitting in between the agents from Willie and Abrams and two major New York Agents. The good thing about showcasing is that all the agents that a model would want to see are right there.

The agent from Willie and the agent from Abrams will be at IMTA also. I will not be. My point is that models could have spent $200 for a weekend and seen the same agent from Willie that people will pay over $4,000 for next week at IMTA.

What are your thoughts on all this?

By the way, we just signed a girl from Click models. She had the cover of April YM Beauty. Not bad for a new firm, huh?

Anthony Caprio, president, PTG Models and Talent


Thanks for writing and congratulations on your success.

Your message is very helpful for aspiring models because it gives them context which is often lacking.

The problem for many potential models is they have no reference point. Without a reference point they don't know what scams look like or cost.

There is no reference point for prices on either modeling photos or modeling conventions. It is not common knowledge. Without the reference point they can't really compare prices.

What is cheap? What is expensive?

It is easier to find this out with modeling photos than modeling conventions. After all they can't just pick up a phone book and read the yellow pages and shop around for modeling conventions and choose the cheapest. They probably don't know that $4,000 is extreme or that alternatives at $200 even exist. Is IMTA going to provide this info? I think not.

The comp card issue is a no-brainer, but one point could be made for clarification. A distinction can be made between two things: initial model discovery and subsequent model promotion.

Initial model discovery, as top agents have said, does not require comp cards. Subsequent model promotion, as leaders have noted, does require a comp card, and possibly more, such as a portfolio.

For models to be initially discovered a snapshot can be sufficient to create enough interest to get an interview, and then get them signed by a modeling agency.

(Of course, open calls, where possible, are the superior alternative, because they are free to the aspiring model, and allow the agency to see what they need to see, unlimited by the quality or size of a photograph.)

Good agents can tell in about five seconds of looking at a decent snapshot if the person has potential. With their trained eye they do not need comp cards to see if someone is model material.

But the agency's subsequent promotion of a model who has been signed requires a comp card. Because, as you already noted, it is the demand or requirement of the clients.

As good as the comp cards are, they are not always going to be enough when a mother agency is promoting models to top agencies, trying to move them up into larger markets.

The top agencies are interested in comp cards, as an industry standard of promotion, but they are also very interested in another industry standard, the books or portfolios of the models, i.e., their tear sheets.

And the same is true, of course, with the clients of some agencies. They don't just want to see comp cards; they want to see comp cards and portfolios with tear sheets.

The more money that is on the line for the client, the more carefully they will review prospective models, and the more tear sheet photos they will want to see.

Related: Talent scout wins $50,000 for business

Related: Cindy Crawford's Views on Modeling Schools

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