Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dear short model who is trying to get a modeling agency to work with

Dear Short Model who is trying to a get modeling agency to work with and figure out this comp card and marketing yourself as a shorter model world,

Wouldn't it be great if a modeling agency could hand you a career?  Well, sorry that's not what's up.
Wouldn't it be great if a modeling agency made your compcards and portfolio for you? Well, sorry that's not what's up.
Wouldn't it be great if a photographer was anyone who owned a camera? Well, sorry, that's not what's up.
Wouldn't it be great if it was easy? Well, sorry that's not what's up.

If you are short, as in under 5'8", modeling is a heck of a lot of work. Almost so much that usually girls try for a few months, or a year or two and give up. It is a process, not an overnight or over a few months thing. Modeling for a shorter girl to get great work, with great brands, and work with agencies is a true pursuit.

It is work. And I am not even talking about the on-the-job experiences, and doing the actual modeling work, but the work it takes to market yourself, to get to the opportunities. There is so much involved within the prep, the thinking and preparing that goes into getting the photos you need, mailing the right agencies, doing some self-promotion, trying to get your own work, and striving to work with some aspiring brands to gain some experience so an agency will consider you someone they want to work with. Well, work with, that are the main two words when it comes to short chicks working with modeling agencies. WORK WITH. WITH. They WORK WITH you and they WORK WITH your compcard, the comp card that you mailed them in the first place. THEY DON'T HAND YOU. OR GIVE YOU. The agency for the shorter girl is a great marketing tool, but typically the agency won't be as hands-on as you may hope. The way of the life is: print modeling agencies typically don't invest in you, they don't give you a pretty black portfolio, they don't fork out cash ahead of time for your comp card. No. sorry, that is not what is up for the short chick.

So now that you what is not up: Here is what's up.

You need to make a comp card, but you first need to know what type of photos you need the card. Before you start calling yourself a model, and planning a photo shoot, hold up sister and think. What type of photos do I need. Here is the scoop on that:  And on this blog you can also search in the left corner, print modeling, print modeling photos, photos for short models, for more tips on photography. It is smart of you to know ahead of time what type of photos you need to market what you've got, but of course you've got to know what you've got ;)

Then after crafting the photos you need, you get a compcard made and these days there are many choices for printing, but before you order, ask to see samples of their printing, --what do their cards look like, how is their color quality, is the stock paper nice?---and always see a proof before you approve the card. Always!

Then you buy stamps and envelopes and mail commercial print modeling agencies, it might sound like arts and crafts, and it sort of it. Send the comp card to the commercial print agency. I suggest when you make your comp card NOT to put your email or phone number on the card. NO. Instead when you mail the agencies and when the agency is working with you they will send you on castings, you will bring your comp card and write, with a sharpie, the agencies phone number on the card, or the agency will give you stickers to put on the card.  Working non-exclusive with many agencies is possible and I suggest not putting your phone number on the card for a couple reasons.  1. space. You will need the space where your phone number would have been for the agencies number to go. 2.  What if you lose your comp card, drop one in the street, or something, you don't want some random person calling you or emailing you.  3.  You can work with many agencies non-exclusively and like I have mentioned in previous posts, most shorter girls work non-exclusive and do not get signed to just one.

Like a handbag designer that has her bag in many stores. So your same card should be able to be represented by the agencies you are working with.

Here is more is here on the day and life of a shorter striving model, compcard tips and more:

When you mail your agency you could write on the card your phone number with a sharpie and include a short note listing some of your assets, and that you'd be great for their print division.They know why you are sending your comp card, you don't need to send a massive note and it is best to only share the major stand-out work you've done if you have experience. To find an agency, be prepared to research. Professional Print agencies typically don't advertise themselves. If you google and search or look even in the yellow pages for a print modeling agency typically there are NO modeling open calls. YOU have to mail your comp card to the agency by postal mail, follow the directions on the website for how you should submit your photos/aka comp card. I suggest submitting your comp card or headshot to casting directors and agencies found in The Call Sheet. It is a booklet at Barnes and Noble for about $10. It is in the magazine section under tv and film magazines. And keep in mind, you will be mailing and hustling and trying again and again, it could take 3-5 submissions, making a new comp card and making your photos more "print modeling" friendly before you get a call.  But the fighters and those who work for it, get results!

You need to have a comp card to get a modeling agency, the comp card is your introduction. Without it you can't work with commercial print agencies. Another reason you want and need a comp card, because you come off more professional.  You are ready to go to a casting, you already are prepared, you have your stuff together.  You wouldn't go to an interview as a graphic designer without a portfolio would you? So similar mindset about your comp card, you need it. Here is more on making your model marketing tools.

I've worked with agencies at the start of my pursuits who hated my comp card, but liked me. They still took my crappy comp card, they worked with my comp card, and gave me some tips on the type of photography I should get that would help them market me better. So as I improved my photos and made a new card, my comp card got better. I've worked non-exclusive with over 5 agencies in NYC, once I did order or make a comp card with a modeling agency.  They helped me pick the photos from the ones I had, and I gave them the cash and they printed it up for me. But I didn't spend thousands. It was a normal price for the printing like $120 for 100 cards or something.  So it was like giving them the money to print out my compcard. To be honest I didn't really love that comp card and I don't think it was my best one to market myself with. But usually I have made my comp cards myself.

If you work with an agency non-exclusive, and you have a comp card through them, you should consider making your own comp card to use to market yourself for other opportunities, agencies, jobs. One agency for the short girl is usually not enough.

Here is some insight on the agency logo on a comp card for a shorter model working non-exclusive with an agency.  Again usually a shorter girl will work non-exclusive with agencies because print modeling agencies know that they work with many girls for many types of jobs and can't afford to invest in their models. So the models work with them, but also more than one agency at a time.

After you submit your comp card and you are now working non-exclusive with an agency, this agency might suggest to put their logo on the comp cards, and you could try that if you think the agency is great...but remember those cards, that money you put up for them, will be only typically used for that agency and that agency is working non-exclusive with you,-- so that could sound ok, but be aware that using that comp card to pitch yourself to other agencies is wrong. Typically you will work non-exclusive with print agencies, and I always suggest no matter what having your own comp card, another comp card, one that is your's for marketing yourself. The world of comp cards and  agencies is different than a taller model and for a shorter girl it is more about managing your self and your goals and being able to not feel limited. An agency might want to work with you but that doesn't mean you are set. That agency might only call you once a week, once a month, so if you want to work more than that you have to be able to work with other agencies non-exclusively. I suggest not rushing into "signing" with an agency, this can often be a scam for a shorter model. Usually print agencies work non-exclusive with their models, aka, shorter, non-fashion models.  This is based on my experience as working as a model with agencies in NYC for many years. If you are confused about this "comp card and signing thing", again, read this post:

And when it comes to preparing your portfolio remember, your portfolio grows over time. Only show the best images you've got in it. And when you are on your way to a casting, I think it is best to arrange your portfolio, the first images to reflect the job you are going for. If it is for shoes, then put shots of you modeling shoes in the front of your book, aka portfolio.

There is nothing wrong in managing yourself,  it is work, time, and energy, but agencies for print modeling and talent agencies, don't have time typically to prepare you for how to model, make a comp card, headshot, etc, they want models and talent that is ready to work!

A fashion model is trained, crafted, invested in, a print model invests in herself, teaches herself, learn from mistakes, and tries again.

Also, I will be soon sharing a post on marketing your self as a model and seeking out your work with with or without an agency, how to up your chances to get work with aspiring brands, designers, and magazines in your area.

Aim high and strive on! ~Isobella

P.s: Want more tips on the comp card subject:

Also you can find my modeling memoir Almost 5'4" and Short Stuff on and, and you can find them as ebooks as well! If you would like a signed and personalized book contact me through my website:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness at least I'm lucky to be 5'8" but I'm more athletically built (Hey, it's better than being thin.)