Modeling Without An Agent

Just a couple of days ago a small boutique called Exotica on the island of Moorea reached out to me to model for their new collection. The photographer she was hiring for the shoot, @temo_ana, recommended me after we worked together on a previous project and after some chitter chatter I booked the job!

 Here’s a picture from that shoot

Here’s a picture from that shoot

In fact, most of my modeling gigs are booked this way. I get contacted, I ask lots of questions, I think about what I’ll get out of the experience, and then I finally negotiate my rate and contract.

When I first got into modeling I wanted to work with an agent. I wanted that legitimization and reached out to a few agencies in Hawaii. Unfortunately I was discouraged by their requirements and intimidated by their line up of models so ended my contract shortly after signing when the experience wasn’t meeting my expectations. From then on, I represented myself.

If you’re still debating whether to sign with an agency or fly solo I want to help. I can’t give you a clear narrative on what it’s like to have an agent (if you’d like to hear about what that’s like I’d recommend reading Cherokee’s blog!) but I can share with you what you’ll be facing if you choose to be your own.

You’ll have to:

Network. The time leading up to actually getting paid to model might involve a lot of working for very little or for free. Without the validation of having an agent you’ll need to build up your reputation and establish yourself as a viable option to clients seeking models.This might mean modeling pro bono but take care to be selective and work for the purpose of networking only with those that will elevate you in your career. And when you are on a shoot leave a good impression on all the people you worked with because you never know who could be the person to get you your next gig.

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Here’s an image from a small budget shoot I did for Taravana for their Instagram. Shortly after this, the producer brought me on to model for Hinano’s Spring 2018 Campaign Shoot which had a significantly healthier budget!


Create your own opportunities. If clients (or agents) aren’t contacting you for work you’ll have to create it for yourself. You can do this in lots of ways, be creative. You can reach out to companies you think your brand can appeal to, build yourself a website stating your rates, work hand in hand with a photographer, target people interested in marketing on social media. The possibilities are endless.

Negotiate. Whether it’s rates or contracts you’ll have to do it all on your own. But before going into negotiations know what is being asked of you, what the images will be used for, what you’d like to get paid for the work in question, what it is you are and aren’t willing to do, etc. Take care of yourself, protect yourself, and go into negotiations informed!

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When I did this shoot for Gypsea Swimwear for example, I made many mistakes. I agreed to model for a photographer (a friend of a friend) in exchange for suits. Alas, I was naive and didn’t ask enough questions before committing to the gig. I neglected to ask how many suits I would get (I got 3 though I modeled many more), how long the shoot would be (it lasted a half a day), and what the images would be used for exactly (they were used for an online target advertisement campaign). When I found out the images were used to formally advertise, my many attempts at renegotiating the terms of the use of the images was only met with silence and in the end I felt cheated and taken advantage of. I hope I learned this lesson so that I could help you avoid a similar situation!


Operating without an agent can be daunting, intimidating, and spending but stay positive, use resources like MODL behavior, and ask us for help and advice!

We’re here for you!

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