That’s correct – you only get 5 shots to make a good first impression with your comp card and if you don’t hit the target with all 5 shots – you will severely limit your chances of being accepted by an agency.

Just like your portfolio, your comp card must tell a story – not a short story – just the abridged version of your portfolio.

The card needs to show the obvious – that you are beautiful and in great shape. (If you are not – why are you in this business?) Your card also needs to show range. Range of age, expressions, emotions and characters are all important to your comp card.

I am constantly asked should a comp card have this picture or that picture and I have to answer with a big “It Depends”

Every models story is different – so there is not set group of photos that should be on your card.

Here are some of the guidelines that I consider when recommending images for the front of a models comp card.

The photo that goes on the front of the card MUST make people say “WOW!” This image must be eye catching and engaging. Imagine if your comp card were tossed on a table with 20 other cards – Would it stand out? Would it grab an art director’s attention? Does it make them want to turn it over to learn more? If you can’t say yes to all of those questions – you have the wrong photo on the front of your card.

The back of the card needs to show variety – personality and needs to leave them wanting to meet you.

As a new model – you should produce an “Industry Standard” card (1 shot on the front – 4 on the back with your stats), don’t get fancy. After you have gained some experience, built a resume and potentially gained a few tearsheets – then you might want to do a custom designed card.

I am often asked if Black and White images are ok. Of course they are! A good black and white image can have more impact than a color image. Additionally, the last time I checked – there is still a large amount of advertising that is produced in Black and White.

Don’t cheap out on printing. You get what you pay for. Make sure your card is printed on heavy card stock and be VERY fussy with your printer to be sure that you get good reproduction.

I am frequently asked by new models if it would be ok to pay an agency to print their comp cards. My answer… NO WAY!!!!

If an agency prints your comp cards…

They will put their logo on the card. Now that’s great for them – but then you can’t use the card at any other agencies. If you are only going to sign with one agency – you might as well not waste your time and money. There is no single agency that has access to all of the work.

If an agency is going to produce your card – they will most likely be copying the images from your prints – this ALWAYS results in poor quality reproduction.

They are probably charging you a markup on the cost of the printing and as a result making a profit by “helping you”.

Comp Card Design - How to beat the competition in 5 shots.


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