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 agencies.

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?

Thank you,



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 websites.

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 Look clients?
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 assignments.
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 breakdown.

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."

The 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 them.

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 of results.

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 magazine.
Third, get started putting your portfolio together. These are the tools you need to become a successful model.

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 guarantee.

When there is a conflict of interest, the onus is on the modeling company to show it is not a scam.

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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 refunded.

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 your refund.

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 work!

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 them.

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 work."

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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 Look."

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 $300.

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 jobs.

I look for ALL my acting/modeling jobs myself, without my parents' help —I am my own manager, and it's tiring sometimes.

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 being scammed.

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 jobs.

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 yourself.

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 Boston?"

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 Look magazine.

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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