Modelling an agent relationship
Got a fashion shoot lined up and going to need model talent? Aaron K talks to booker Marijke Van Dillen of 62 Models and Talent about the relationship between photographer and modelling agency
If you want to produce high-end advertising or fashion imagery for premium brands, you have to work with agency-represented models. Asking a good-looking friend to step in and model simply won’t cut it — not by a long shot. In addition to having all the physical attributes that discerning commercial clients expect, an experienced professional model also knows how to perform in front of the camera. This makes the photographer’s job a lot easier and produces a far better end result. So, when your client has the budget, and the shoot calls for a subject with the X factor, getting in touch with an agent/ booker at a leading model agency should be at the top of your to-do list.
With this in mind, I interviewed Marijke Van Dillen — one of the five bookers at 62 Models and Talent. 62 has been representing incredibly attractive people for over 20 years. You may not know any of its models by name, but you will definitely recognize many of their faces.
The Photographer’s Mail: Can you outline the range of services that top model agencies like 62 provide professional photographers with?
Marijke Van Dillen: At 62, we provide high-end local and international models for a wide variety of jobs that can range from editorial and high fashion to catalogues and TV commercials. We represent males and females who are experienced or in development. We also have a creative division, so we can provide stylists, hairstylists, and make-up artists for shoots as well.
What does your role as a model booker involve — what exactly do you do?
I facilitate the process of securing a model for photographic shoots, fashion shows, TV commercials, and films. I negotiate the model’s rate based on the determined usages and time frame of the work required. It’s an agent’s job to ensure that a model is being paid appropriately for their time and the use of their image. Once the fee and usages are confirmed, I ensure that the model has a clear schedule for the job and send through all the relevant details to the model so [that] they arrive on time and [are] fully prepared.
In addition, we nurture and train the models to excel in their career. We are generally available to models 24/7 should they have any questions, need advice, or just want someone to talk to. I believe a booker can be a friend, counsellor, taxi driver, and agent all at once. The relationship between a model and their agent can be incredibly strong, particularly if an agent has worked with a model from a young age and been a large part of their modelling evolution.
What can photographers do to make your job easier?
From an agent’s perspective, the best thing a photographer can do is be clear and concise with their information. Keep a firm shoot date; pass on usage details; ensure that the model is looked after on set. A good agent can book a model under tight time constraints provided we are given a secure shoot date and call time. Personally, I like photographers who are succinct in their details: tell me what sort of model you’re looking for, give me a shoot date and some reference images, and then stick to these. There’s no need to send me an essay about the shoot. I just want to give the model enough information for them to be their best on set: what team they are shooting with, what the vibe is, how many hours they’ll be on set, and what are they going to be paid.
When hiring a model for a shoot, what attributes should photographers be looking for?
Obviously, I would recommend that the first thing a photographer … do is request a model from a reputable agency. That way, the photographer can be sure that they’re going to be working with a model who has some industry experience. A professional model (even if they’re still in a development division) will know what to expect and how to behave on set. Depending on the level of modelling required, photographers should always look at the portfolio of a model to gauge how much experience they have. And I always recommend checking out a model’s Polaroids/digitals, too. This shows what a model looks like without make-up, styling, retouching, etc.
What can photographers do to get the best results from the models they work with?
At a big shoot, there will be a big team, and the last thing a booker wants is to have their model disappear among the crowd. Without the model, a photographer isn’t going to get very far. Call me biased, but I consider the model to be the most pivotal aspect of a shoot. Despite being beautiful people, models are human, too! They can get tired and hungry, and they value their privacy. Providing a secure changing area and ensuring a model is given enough time to eat and rest are all non-negotiable aspects of booking a model. Be reasonable! A model will give you their best if they are being looked after adequately.
Can you help photographers starting out in the industry who need professional models for their portfolio shoots?
Yes, we can. This is a two-way relationship. In order to progress, a new model needs experience behind the camera, and, to build their portfolio, they need great photos. However, before we work with an emerging photographer, we need to know that they can produce good-quality imagery that we can actually use. Anything too obscure or artistic, while beautiful, is probably not appropriate for a modelling portfolio.