Books, portfolios, and comp cards

Posted on November 4, 2011


As a model, you will need to create something that will display your looks to potential clients. While this is something that is required, many people just starting out seem to think you build a book (or portfolio) from one person or photographer. In reality, your book is created over time with many photographers and jobs that you do. Never create one from just a single photographer.

The reason is that each photographer sees the world differently, and does things differently. This is because they have learned photography through each of their experiences, and each will find things that are important to them to refine and get better. If you take 10 really good photographers and give them the same everything, then compare the images they create afterwards, you will find that they are all different and that each person sees different things with the same subject and materials. With less experienced photographers, you will probably find just the reverse: all the images look mostly alike.

The reason for bringing this up is that your book should have many different looks, styles, and photographers. If your book has a lot of the same looks, then it will be noticed and frequently it is frowned upon to being considered inexperienced. So, work with a lot of photographers, and get all those different images from many different photographers. The variety will make you stand out. This doesn’t mean use just anyone, but look at each of the images and see if each image adds to who you are as a model. Try to stay away from more than two images in the same book from one photographer.

The second thing to do is always include recent images. This book shows who you are and what kind of looks you have now. The book isn’t to reflect what you once were. This is the reason why an agency will require you to update your book completely every six months. If you are shooting like you should be, this shouldn’t be a problem. Otherwise, get out there and beat the street for some photographers to work with and get a few shoots done. If you change your hair style, hair color, start or stop tanning, or do anything that changes your look… you need to update your book. Tear sheets are fine to be included as historical images. The others, they should be replaced regularly.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the images that you show in your book will be indicative of the work you want to find. If you show off nude images or implied nude images, photographers will expect you to work for them doing those types of work. If you show those types of images, then say you don’t do that type of work or refuse to do that type of work, you will be considered fickle and inexperienced. Always put images for the work you want to find in the image galleries and books you have. And, don’t think that just because the image isn’t in your book, you won’t do those types of images. Frequently, photographers and casting managers will ask if you will do other work. Don’t fall for the line that sex sells and that to be a model, you have to do full nudes and have them plastered all over your book. That is the quickest way to get stuck only doing nudes, and rarely anything else.

In the past, there was an equation to what you should have in your book. Today, I am not really sure any more. The key, though, is to have some variety. This means having a few head shots, a few full body shots, and some 3/4 length shots of you. In one of the full body shots, you should be wearing a two piece bathing suit if you are a female or just a plain bathing suit if you are a male. This will give prospective photographers and clients an idea of what your body looks like. If you have tear sheets, they should always be included in some way. If you do lingerie modeling, or full nudes, you may want this image to be in lingerie or as a full nude. The key is to have this as professional as you can.

From your book, you will need to create a comp card or zed card. You should think of these as your modeling business cards that are given to prospective clients. Again, these should be very focused on each style of work you want to do, but the images should be from different photographers. If you do fashion, then you should have a fashion comp card. If you do lingerie, you should have a lingerie comp card. These cards frequently have from three to six images on one side, and then statistics about you as a model on the back (height, weight, measurements, eye color, hair color-although I am frequently seeing the weight left off the cards). If you work for an agency, they will probably only want you to have a single comp card for their racks.

Posted in: Modeling