Choosing Your Agency: Big vs. Small
If you’re lucky enough to be in the position to choose which agency you want to join, then it’s worth really considering whether you want to be at a big agency (in London these would be Storm, Select, Premier and Models 1) or a smaller agency – for example FM, Bookings (my agency!) Profile etc.
First things first: they have to be on the AMA! This means that they will work according to certain laws and rules agreed upon by the agency members, so your rights will be more protected than if you were not at one on the AMA. I’ll go into more detail about them, and why you should only go for AMA agencies, another day.
Well, the obvious plus is that they’re BIG! That means that they have the hugest clients, get all of the castings out there and don’t have to fight very hard to get their girls onto big campaigns and into incredible high-end editorials. They have well-established reputations and many big photographers and clients will only cast with these agencies. It’s a combination of it being easier to go for the big ones, and also part of the undeniable elitism that exists in fashion. If you’re at a big agency, there’s a chance of hitting it really big and making big bucks, fast.
The minus, however, is ALSO that they’re big! When I was at Premier and Select, there were at least ten versions of me in town at the same time! It meant that competition could be fierce and, if you weren’t hot that week, you could be easily forgotten under a deluge of, in my case, other brunette models with better books and better bodies. You will have to really work at being remembered by your bookers (not least because there can be a lot of coming and going with bookers at large agencies). It can be stressful and tiring, though of course the payoff is the generally high calibre of castings.
Well, just like I said earlier: the big photographers head to the big agencies, so it follows that the smaller agencies have to really fight for their girls to make sure they get the editorials and shows that they deserve. Smaller agencies like mine are incredibly well-established and have lots of busy, working models – but the agency’s name isn’t always held in the same high esteem as the big agencies, especially for New Faces. That’s why some girls defect to bigger agencies – Rosie Huntington Whitely, for example, started at Profile but moved to IMG.
There’s a big plus to being at a smaller agency though – and that is that they will fight for you to work. The bookers can never be complacent which is a good thing for you. There are also less girls to compete with, so there is less chance of feeling ‘lost’ – Bookings, for example, has a real family feel. I know my bookers well – in fact, I love them – and they are interested in my life, as well as my career. That’s a great feeling to have for the people in charge of finding you work.
I’ve been at the big agencies and I did feel a certain pride when I held my portfolios that brandished Premier and then Select logos. Perhaps I even felt a bit of snobbery towards girls at smaller agencies…However I’ve worked incredibly well at both big and small agencies. That’s because I work hard and I make sure that I make myself memorable to my bookers and clients, making sure to get on with them.
Choosing whether you’re suited to a big agency or a small one is, of course, a huge decision and may well alter your career. However, the biggest factor in the success of your career is you: your ambition, your drive, how professionally you conduct yourself on jobs and castings, and how you get on with your bookers. Keep checking in to ModelTypeFace for plenty of tips on how you can do this, and don’t be afraid to ask me questions!