Editor's Picks Fashion

When To Contact An Agency

Before you contact an agency regarding your project / photoshoot you need to ask yourself a few questions if you don’t want to waste people’s time, your own included.

Black model in beige suit sitting on a wooden chair
Suit by MADS NORGAARD / Jewelry by KONPLOTT © Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

It is purported on TV that you need to be an egomaniac in order to have success in business. The list of shows like POWER, Sons of Anarchy, The Shield, etc. is endless. That’s why it is on TV, to tell you a vision…not the “truth”.

Unfortunately, that view is very short sighted as you can use people only once and the world can be a small place. 

It is more advisable to have a broader view because if you want to have a successful sustainable business relationship then everybody involved needs to be happy. Following the motto: “I scratch your back and you scratch mine”.

Now, with this in mind, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is this a professional level photoshoot or not?
  2. Do I have an adequate budget ($5,000/day and up) to pay for hair stylist, makeup artists, wardrobe stylist, photographer, model, etc.?
  3. If you don’t have an adequate budget, what makes your project so special that you ask people to offer you favors, including the agent? Do you have something to offer that has equal value?

Are you familiar with Day Rates for Photographers & Artists?

Professional Level Photoshoot

Black model in beige suit sitting
Suit by MADS NORGAARD / Jewelry by KONPLOTT © Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

Is your photoshoot going to be on the “professional level” or is it basically a non-paid “Test Shoot”? 

Having no budget is not a professional level photoshoot because the professionals cannot sustain a living that way.

Hence you may only be able to get a “Junior Artist” or “New Faces” model. If you don’t have an adequate budget or don’t have anything valuable to offer in return why would you contact an agency and waste the agent’s time?

Nobody, the model, artist and agent, is interested in producing / working for pictures that don’t meet professional standards because they can’t use them for their portfolio. 

So, they don’t get paid what they are worth, the agent doesn’t get a commission and they can’t use the pictures. Hence you wasted everybody’s time! Well done!

In other words, nobody cares if you do a photoshoot for a “magazine” nobody knows and cares about, with a photographer who can shoot pretty pictures and a model who has done some shoots before, showing wardrobe of some designer.  

Unfortunately for you, you have to look somewhere else and do all the hiring yourself, finding models & artists who want to collaborate with you. Why don’t you browse ModelMayhem, use Facebook or Instagram to contact artists and models directly instead of wasting an agent’s time?

If you have a great project then it shouldn’t be too difficult to find artists & models who are willing to work with you if they still need pictures for their portfolio.

You need to meet the two “if’s”:

  1. your project is great 
  2. models / artists who still need pictures for their portfolio

Adequate Budget

Next, do you have an adequate budget for your professional level photoshoot? An adequate budget is approximately $5,000/day. Take a look at the sample budget:

When To Contact An Agency Sample Budget
© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

This sample budget is on the lower end of the spectrum. 

“If you don’t have an adequate budget to work with, do you think it is a great idea to contact an agency you didn’t have a prior business relationship with and ask them for a favor, a discounted rate? What makes you think you deserve a discounted rate?”

Some people suffer from the god-complex…are you a god?

Contact an Agency Without Adequate Budget

Contact an agency: Black model in beige suit sitting on a bar chair
Suit by MADS NORGAARD / Jewelry by KONPLOTT © Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

If you have a modest budget then what can you bring to the table to follow our motto “I scratch your back and you scratch mine”?

For example, do you have other paid photoshoots coming up with a decent budget? You could offer to use the agency’s models or artists for X of those shoots. 

Is the model a relevant celebrity? Or can the amount of work or duration of the shifts be adjusted?

Are you shooting the wardrobe of a well known designer? Or can you grant the agency additional usage rights of the produced pictures?

There are many ways you can come to an arraignment that works for everybody involved.


Photographer: Phil Halfmann
Creative Director: Sophia Lenore
Hair & Makeup: Sophia Lenore
Wardrobe Stylist: Sophia Lenore
Model: Ruth Bambi

Makeup by Charlotte Tilbury
Jewelry by KONPLOTT

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