How to Get a Great Modeling Comp Card

by Christian Lange

Girl photographer with camera

Tips to get great modeling photos for your comp card.

Many actors augment their income by also modeling. Enter the comp card – a model's emissary... the 5.5 by 8.5 inch calling card that shows the prospective client a model's versatility and talent. The standard format contains one headshot in the front and three looks on the back.

A modeling gig usually starts when a buyer (such as an ad agency art director) requests the modeling agency for a selection of say "18-25 year old males, urban look, mixed ethnicity." The agent will do a "pull" from his files and send the AD (art director) a selection of 15-20 comp cards from which the AD will choose four people for the ad campaign. This AD will eventually want to personally meet the candidates but until the selection is pared down the comp cards are essentially what will sell this talent.

Because comp cards play such an important role, the "looks" you pick are critical to your success. Ask your photographer and agent what they feel are your most marketable looks, ie, the looks you are capable of pulling off. Could you be a convincing athlete? How about an edgy look? Or a girl next door type? Could you pass as a technician? Or a classic beauty? The idea is to show several contrasting looks to improve your chances of displaying the look a client is searching for. Even creative people sometimes lack imagination and they only choose models who display exactly the appearance they seek to portray.

The next item of course is the photography itself. I find that comp cards that are shot completely in-studio look boring. Hopefully, you'll find a photographer that is creative and will select some interesting locations for two of the scenes – spots that compliment your wardrobe and styling. If you don't have your own stylist ask the photographer to recommend one. With a female model great hair and make-up is what ties it all together.

Finally, a word about choosing your photographer. Make sure you meet him in person before scheduling the shoot. Look at his work and make sure there is good chemistry. If he takes great interest in your wardrobe, styling, and looks - if he exudes creative energy - you're in good hands! If he or she schedules half day for your project you should feel properly cared for.

One last note: keep your comp cards updated! If your agent distributes photos of you featuring a mysterious dark haired beauty and you show up at a client with a bright red hairdo no one is going to be happy!
Christian Lange is a fashion Photographer in Knoxville, TN. He also directs and shoots music videos. You can view his work at

Copyright © Christian Lange. Used with permission of the author. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or distributed.
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