Preparing to work with agency models takes months of studying the model boards of various agencies and creating a portfolio that translates well and still maintains a personal aesthetic. When it comes time to making initial contact with an agency after months of hard work, it is natural to feel anxious or nervous.

Who do I contact? What do I even say? What if they say no? These are questions that most aspiring fashion and beauty photographers have asked and hopefully these answers will alleviate some of the angst.

Who to contact
It is always best to send an email to someone at the agency directly if they have it listed, however, many agencies are moving away from being easily accessible and specific contacts have become more difficult to find.

In these situations it is worth it to do a LinkedIn search as it can sometimes lead to a new contact. You can also check an agency’s Instagram page and scroll through the comments because some bookers will comment and reveal themselves. In this case an email is usually their first name or a combination of their first and last name and it typically follows this format:

If nothing else, the agencies will almost always have a general inquiry email on their contact page and if they don’t a good email to try typically follows the following format:

What to say
Brevity and complimentary are always a good place to start. Make sure to introduce yourself and ask inquire if there are any new faces that you can test with. I will then imbed 1-2 low resolution images from my portfolio that best meet the agency’s aesthetic as an example of my work and link my website for further examples of work.

It is important to send low resolution as a courtesy because anything larger than 2MB takes a long time to load and can be rejected by their server. This is why it is usually best to link to your portfolio as opposed to attach a .pdf of your work. Thank them for their time and indicate that you would look forward to hearing back from them soon.

What if they say no?
If at first you don’t succeed, try again. If the rejection is from a boutique agency it is nice to send them an email to thank them for their time. You may even ask if there is something that you could improve upon to work with them in the future. Sometimes they will answer, and, if they do apply their feedback and reach back out in a few months.

Rejection is very common in the beginning so remember to not get discouraged. This is one of an exorbitant amount of agencies that are out there and many agencies are diversifying their brands to offer even more avenues to take. Keep plugging away because every “no” is one step closer to a “yes” and that “yes” is the gateway to more opportunities and a better portfolio of work.

For more on model test shoots and lighting check out the following:

how to use a simple one light setup for three different looks | how i shot it

photography posing tips | three simple poses for female models

How to Shoot a Basic Model Test | Gear, Shot List, Agency Requirements & More

How to Test Shoot With Model Agency Represented Models