Everytime I go to a casting I am inspired to pass on the knowledge. Yesterday I went to a casting for a local agency. This agency was not particularily bad they just seem to do business in an interesting way. In order to join their agency you have to use thier photographer ($300+), they give you 24hrs to make a decision (although they say they really want you to think about it), and they do the type of work I am not interested in doing anymore. When you put all those things together that agency was not a good fit for me. Below are some things I have learned along the way.
There is a reason casting calls are also caled cattle calls...
TIPS when agency shoping or attending castings and open calls:
1. Beware of agencies who INSIST that you use their agency photographer. A good and reputable agency will suggest a photographer they work with but should tell you that you can get high quality photos on youir own. If you are not shure which photographer to chose you can send the agent/agency a list of photographers you like and they will tell you who, from the list, will take the types of photos you need.
2. Beware of agencies who pressure you to make a decision. Forcing people to make a decision that is time sensitive is a tactic that scammers use. You need time to make a wise decision. If someone is pressuring you to make a decision in 24 hours, for instance, you do not have time to think it through. It makes you think that you may be passing by the chance of a lifetime. Time to think about a big decision allows a clear head
3. Beware of photographers who call themselves celebrity photographers. Many times a photographer will call themselves a celebrity photographer if they take a picture of a celebrity at an event or if they pay that celebrity to work with them. I talk about this trap in a video. YOU or I can see a celebrity at an event or pay a celebrity to work with us. That does not make US a celebrity photographer.
4. Usually when you purchase something from an agency you are paying a premium price. The agency is a middleman. That means if you buy a portfolio, compcards, or photography services through an agency you are paying the fee for the product or service plus the markup or service fee that the agency has added.
5. Sometimes reputable agencies will offer photoshoots at a cheaper rate than you could get on your own. But you should also be wary of this offer. Photographers may give agencies a bulk discount if they book many models for a shoot at one time. This may be called a powershoot. Powershoots are a great war to work with a good photographer at a discounted price but since so many other people are scheduled to shoot with the same photographer in a short amount of time, the process may be rushed. You may not have as much time with the photographer as you would normally.
6. Sometimes agents/ agencies will boast that their talent has been in high profile publication or projects (ie. Vogue, Elle, feature films). Here is a scenario: Annie has been in Vogue Magazine. B Modeling Agency currently represents Annie. If you go to B Modeling Agency they may tell you that one of their models was in Vogue. They will not tell you that B Modeling Agency did not book Annie for the Vogue job. They will also not tell you that Annie got the job on her own or from another agency.