In my conversations with many commercial models and actors, many ask me to shoot their head shots. They are at least informed enough about the business to know that they need a head shot to market themselves, but it’s troubling to me that many have no idea what I mean when I ask if they also need me to shoot their Comp Card.
Sometimes, I’ll explain my words…then say, “Oh, maybe you know it as a “ZED” Card?” Nope! Crickets! Deer in the headlights. So, it occurred to me that there are a ton of commercial models and actors out there, perusing this business with incomplete photographic marketing tools.
Comp cards are the standard marketing tool that most models provide their agencies. Agents send out “zeds” (or “comp cards“) in response to casting calls or by request, so that potential employers can
preview talent and decide who to call in for auditions or casting interviews. They are designed to show a model’s range, list their measurements and other stats and provide enough photos to let the agent and casting people get inspired on what the talent might be cast for. It actually increases your marketability and makes you more “bookable”, which is always a good thing – right?
Composite Cards, Comp Cards, and Zed Cards are exactly the same, just called by different names all over the country. They also vary by the market and how the talent is being showcased in that market. From my conversations with agents, casting people and directors, the “ZED CARD” term is basically considered an old-fashioned and outdated. (Kind of like B&W head shots!)
Typically, a commercial model will use examples of their existing published work as material to compile their card. New talent, who don’t yet have a body of work under their belt, need a tool that provides the same impact with “ad-quality” photography that can be used until the talent has enough work to create a new comp card. I shoot a wide variety of shots based on what I know the agencies are looking for? How do I know? I talk with them. I learn from them. I know the emerging trends in shoot locations, scenarios, colors, popular character/industry types, poses, hair styles, up-and-coming fashion, etc.
I build the tool that gets my clients agents. That same tool is what that agent NEEDS to market their talent effectively.
I’m always looking out for your image! — Steve