PGM: Model Managers are the Kiss of Death

This entry is from my series: A Photographer’s Guide To Models.

If you are a goth model the kiss of death might be a cool concept, but generally it is a very bad thing.

I met a young woman a few weeks ago and gave her my card. She was cute. She was dress iconically, which I thought was a cool concept.

I never heard from her again.

This wasn’t really surprising. People are like that. And as I’ve been told it is hard being a model and there is a lot of fear involved. But a couple of days ago I was surfing MySpace and ran into her profile. So I sent her a message.

She responded and said she liked my stuff and that she’d be interested in the calendar, but had some flaws that would keep her out of it. I’d also asked if she’d be interested in a general shoot and she replied to that as well.

She told me to contact her manager about a regular shoot.

That’s it for her. And it is it for her with about every photographer I know who will shoot with a model for free. We hate managers. They are totally worthless. I have never heard of a manager doing a model any good at all. They are kind of like HR departments, there only purpose is to say no and keep people away. This is not what a new model needs. She needs to shoot with a variety of photographers and build a portfolio.

I’m sure the deal managers present to models is they will get them paid work. And that would be cool if a) it were true, and b) it wasn’t necessary for them to vet all modeling jobs. I’ve never heard of a model manager ever getting a model work. I’m sure it happens, but I’ve never had a model tell me it has. And as with all agencies, managers and agents, if they didn’t get you the contact, they don’t need to be in the negotiations. Especially if there isn’t going to be money involved.

Most photographers won’t even contact a model if her profile says you have to go through a manager. Why should they? A manager is an extra level of trouble and you can find another model.

I’m going to attempt to put myself in the place of a well meaning manager now. There are a lot of freaks and guys-with-cameras out there trying to take advantage of pretty young girls who want to be models. And the managers girls are all hot and they’ve got IT, that thing that will make them big. So they deserve to be compensated. If someone isn’t interested in that, then it isn’t worth the girls time to shoot with them.

Problem is this isn’t how modeling works. There are a ton of pretty girls out there. That alone isn’t what makes a model worth her pay. The ability to create great images is what makes her worth pay. And you know how a photographer or an art director decides she can do that? Because she has done it. Because she has great images in her portfolio. If she doesn’t, then it doesn’t matter how pretty she is, you can’t trust she’ll produce good work enough to spend money.

And there is a lot of stuff a model needs to learn to go along with good looks. She needs to know how to handle makeup and hair. She needs to learn to do it herself, and she needs to learn to let a MUA do it. She needs to learn to pose, and what angles make her look better. What poses accent her positive and lessen her negatives. She needs to learn multiple expressions, and how to convey feeling to the camera.

These are all learned things and TFP is where they learn them. So women, don’t put a manager between you and photographers. You are smart enough to know which guys aren’t worth shooting with – and this changes as you gain experience. You can take precautions for your safety without having to have a manager around.