Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What's in a Modeling Agency Image?

I found this on ModelMayhem.com and I thought I would share my response to the question:

So I did a test shoot with model for a model agency last week. They emailed a few comp cards of girls requiring new shots, so the first was done last week.

I felt the shots were lovely and asked for feedback moving foward, but was told this by the agent involved: "I must admit although they are nice shots I don't feel they are quite strong enough for the models folio's I feel they look like "TEST" shots. At this stage I might hold off doing another shoot."

While I'm disappointed, I don't let stuff like this get me down. Anyway, here's a link to one of the shots (more are on my page) and I was wondering if people have this kind of photography experience could help by telling me where it is I went wrong?

thanks folks

My response follows:

I'm going to try to do this gently because it could come off wrong but just as a disclaimer, I actually think this is a nice image but from an agency's perspective it does nothing for them.

The objective of the agency is to "sell" the models. Usually this happens in 2 steps. The client reviews the portfolios (nowadays online) and then selects to see them in person.

The objective of your images is to help them (the models and the agencies) get to step #2.

So you have to ask yourself: From the perspective of a client, would this image sell the model to me? If you asked me this question I would have to say no. Because as a client I'm probably interested in her proportions and I can't deduce that from the image because the dress is too long and she's sitting. This is why many agency polaroids are shot in swimsuits (and standing) or at the very least a tank top and jean shorts. Even within the models' portfolios you'll find many images that reveal a lot of skin. This informs the client better of what they're getting.

I've briefly reviewed Chadwick's and Vivien's for reference into the Sydney market. It confirms that although I'm in Los Angeles, the overall look and feel of the agency images are the same: simple, clean, showcasing the model and not the photographer skill, and certainly not makeup/wardrobe.

There are other little things that a client might read into this image. The Mona Lisa smile and the slightly hunched forward leaning posture... neither of which really inspire much confidence in me (as a client) to hire this model. She seems like she might lack confidence. Personally I wouldn't want my brand represented that way. These are the things that agents consider when they evaluate your images to them.

As far as the "test" comment. I think he/she is implying that this looks like a "test" shot (where you were testing your light) and not a "test shoot image".


  1. not that this has anything to do with anything but...

    I think there is some weird liquify going on too. Just noticed that her hand appears to be as long as her forearm and looks bigger than her head

  2. Whoa damn. Her hand is ENORMOUS! LOL! :) I didn't even catch that!

  3. Got to love perspective distortion. ;-)