Think of a modeling agency as a salesperson, selling photos of you at your very best, and earning a commission each time your image is sold. A modeling agency and your agent work to get jobs for you, whether you are a leg model, a hand model or a runway model in a big city. The best modeling agencies will not sign on someone who they think does not have a distinctive enough look or presence in front of the camera, because the only way the agency makes money is by placing their models for work. An agency will take a commission from your paycheck (usually 20 percent) as the fee for finding you the job and also looking for more work for you.

Modeling agencies keep books of photos of the models who work for them and also a listing of which clients their models have worked for---and you will be in both of these. Their book will have photos of you in all kinds of clothing and situations so they have you posed in different hairdos, clothing and makeup, from the natural look to ultra-glamorous. Some smaller modeling agencies may ask you to pay a portion of the printing costs for the book. Modeling agencies will teach you the latest makeup techniques, walking for the runway and poses for the camera, but won't charge you money for these classes, unless the agency is also part of a school. Your agency will book you for work that may be at odd hours when a particular location is unused, or for photo sessions for a magazine layout with you dressed in winter clothing and being photographed in July. The agency will expect you to respond to each offer of work they find for you and to show up at the photo shoot, TV studio or other location on time and ready to go into makeup, hairstyling and dressing.

Your agent at the modeling agency home office itself will be the person who carefully reads all of the jobs which come in every day and decides whether you are the right age, height, look and presence for that client. He or she is responsible for sending out what is called a composite card, showing you in four or five different poses and clothing, hair, etc. if the company that is needing the model wants auditions first. Modeling is not an easy job. The agency will expect professionalism and your talent to be displayed from the day your agent signs you to a contract. But every agent at a modeling agency also dreams of being the person who discovers the next supermodel.