Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Scoop on Modeling Marketing Tools Comp cards and portfolios

The Scoop on Modeling Marketing Tools

A girl on facebook recently asked me what a comp card was, this post will help her and other's who are wondering the same thing.

Unlike a fashion model, you may be surprised to learn that it is normal and expected that you’ll produce your own marketing material. This includes, creating photos, printing comp cards, buying a portfolio and maybe putting a headshot together as well. Modeling for a shorter girl is very hands-on, and it involves prep work, research, and time. It is best not to rush the process.
What is a modeling comp card? Printed on 8.5”x 5.5” card stock paper--a modeling comp card contains photos, your measurements/statistics and contact information. A comp card shows a selection of images, sort of like a mini portfolio, that highlight what you can do as a model. On the front you should have a headshot or beauty shot and on the back include two to four images depending on how you want to present yourself as a model. The comp card shares your statistics, or “stats”: height, dress size, bust, waist, hips, hair color, eye color and shoe size.

How do I pick photos for a comp card? Making a comp card is something an aspiring model needs to have a handle on. Mainly it comes down to picking the right photos--photos that will market you in the right way. Your compcard is your best marketing tool; you will use it to get an agent and later to book modeling work so the photos need to be carefully chosen. You need to think about modeling jobs you can realistically get and brands and products you can realistically model for, and shape your comp card around shots that show your energy and personality. A shorter girl should not be showing fashion shots obsessively, or shots that are too, too sexy or not tasteful.

Where do I get a comp card printed? You can print your comp card at a printing studio that specializes in comp cards and headshots. When researching a printing location, look for places that print headshots. Usually where a headshot gets printed, a comp card can be printed as well. There are also many online printing services. I suggest using for Internet printing services. I also suggest seeing a physical sample or proof, one you can hold in your hand, not just see on a computer screen, before you approve the order.

How much are comp cards?
You can get 10$ off at by mentioning Isobella Jade.
Price varies depending on the quality, but you should expect to pay a dollar or two per printed card. A great deal is 100 comp cards for $100. You can find good deals online ordering at
How many comp cards do I need? For a new model it is all about trial and error. For your first batch of printed comp cards I would order 100 and mail them to commercial print modeling agencies in your city as well as magazine photo editors, smaller ad agencies, production companies, etc. I have two comp cards, one for commercial print modeling with photos that express my personality and lifestyle look, and a parts card for parts modeling that shows my parts--hands, feet, legs, stomach, etc.-- in an editorial way. The key to getting modeling opportunities is mailing, mailing, mailing your comp cards. You might have to make a couple different comp cards until you have one that works and that an agent likes.
I thought the modeling agency makes you the comp card? Nope, and don’t expect that an agency will “make” you anything. Some print modeling agencies will assist with photo selection when it comes creating comp cards, but it is normal and even expected that the model will make her own comp cards. Many models make their own comp cards and mail the comp cards to the agency. This postal-mailed submission is the agency’s first impression of the model. If they can work with your photos and your look, they will call you.

The topic of comp cards and finding an agency for a shorter girl can a different from what might be perceived in reality TV or in the fashion world. The “being discovered” thing is over. It is all about being hands-on with your pursuit. If you want to be a painter, you make a portfolio and send it to galleries or agents; models put together the best photos they can, make a comp card, and mail it to agents. Do not rely on the agency to make a comp card for you since they work non-exclusive with their models mostly. It is best to be in control of your model photography, make your own comp cards and use them to work with agencies. A print agency will use the cards you give them if they are professional. Be a part of your goals, and craft the proper photos that represent what you can do as a model and represent your assets as a model. Remember, it is great to have an agent, but an agency in print modeling doesn’t craft your career or hold your hand always. An agency sends you on castings, but it is up to you to be prepared with the proper marketing tools. You are not a rag-doll at the agent’s beck and call; if you do not feel comfortable with the way a certain agency is speaking to you or how they plan to market you, then don’t work with them. Do what you, and only you, want. There is always another agency out there to pursue and print models can work non-exclusive with more than one agency.

How many comp cards do I mail a modeling agency? Submit only one or two comp cards during your first submission. If the agency is interested they will call and ask for more.

What is a modeling portfolio? A modeling portfolio is a selection of your best photos placed collectively in a 12.5”x9.5” portfolio. Usually 20 of your best photos or your magazine tear sheets and samples of your experience as a model are inside. You will present your modeling portfolio at modeling castings. A standard portfolio is black and I like a portfolio to be leather. I suggest going to an art store or a photography store to find a quality portfolio. You should be able to find one for under $100.

What photos should be in my portfolio? You only want to show your best images in your portfolio, not ones that are just OK. The photos in your modeling portfolio should be similar to your comp card images but you can show more range or diversity as a model, if you want. You can arrange your portfolio before a modeling casting so that when a casting director opens it, he or she will see photos that fit the vibe of the job that you are hoping to book. For example: If the casting is for a fitness magazine, then you will want to make sure your fitness shots or shots that show your body in a swimsuit and smiles and energy are in the front.

How do I print modeling portfolio photos? You can print your portfolio photos at a local printing studio or online. I suggest using
 for digital printing. Also has portfolio printing. You will want to print your portfolio photos 9” x 11”, of course the size of the print depends on the size of your portfolio. My portfolio book size is 9.5”x 12.5” and holds 9" x11” prints.

The more prepared you are for approaching your goals, the better, so aim high and strive on!


P.s: check out my graphic novel MODEL LIFE: The Journey of a Pint-Size Fashion Warrior,  it's also a mobile comic, I wrote it for shorties and anyone striving for a dream. Also if you haven't read my modeling memoir "Almost 5'4", I hope you do, it is my inspirational journey of becoming a self-made model, the grit, the hustle, the survival, and beating the odds in modeling. And my book Short Stuff: on the job with an x-small model also shares tips for short chicks. I've got you covered!


leadanswer said...

This is nice tactics to so the marketing on the Comp cards.

Bria Beall said...

Do you put your number on the back of the comp card so that the agency can contact you?

Unknown said...

yes Bria, I don't typically have it printed on the card, I would hand write my phone number on the card.

Unknown said...

At the casting I would hand write my phone number or the phone number of the agency that sen me to the casting on the comp card.