Choosing a good agency is one of the most important decisions that a model must make in her career, both in terms of potential career development and the day-to-day enjoyment of the work being done.
AMA member agencies operate their business based on a strict Code of Practice. These principles have been developed to protect the well-being of models and to promote best practice for the industry as a whole.
Almost anyone can get on the books of a model agent - but what kind of model agent? Are they going to find you work or just kid you along while they relieve you of all your cash for going on their website, for a modelling course, a portfolio, or even just for registering with them? Rogue agencies don't need to find you work when they can just take your money for a number of spurious services.
AMA members, and the handful of bona fide agents who are not members, derive their income from commission earned on bookings they get for the models they represent.
In the model industry many are called but few are chosen. If you really think you could make it as a model then go to some AMA members' websites and apply to them. If you've got what it takes they'll be after you in no time; if not, do take no for an answer. But, whatever you do, please don't join the thousands of young people (and their parents) who are so starry-eyed they can't see what's coming. Be sure of this: the rogue agent will see you coming.
A good model agent recognises a potential model when he sees one. You don't need a portfolio of poor photographs from a mediocre photographer or even good ones from a good photographer when you go to an agent. Just take a couple of snapshots a headshot and a full length; they'll be more interested in looking at you than the pics. If they take you on they will organise test shots with good photographers to start building your portfolio.
Beware the model scout who claims to be working for a well-known agency. There are increasing numbers of rogues passing themselves off as model scouts in order to take advantage of you in one way or another. If a scout/photographer approaches you, ask for some ID a business card perhaps and check with the agency concerned before doing anything else. (See Rogue Agencies above).