Some of the most important things needed to start a modeling career are the items that make up a model’s portfolio. Professional photos, comp cards and a modeling resume are all critical elements of a modeling portfolio that will evolve over time as the model becomes more experienced. A portfolio is typically required to secure representation with a modeling agency, which then leads to paid modeling assignments.
A model portfolio typically contains professional photographs of the model’s face (headshots) as well as full-body shots of the model. The ideal portfolio contains a variety of diverse photos taken by different photographers to display as wide a range of styles as possible. If you’ve already decided what type of modeling you’d like to pursue, such as catalog, runway or lingerie, then the photos you choose for your portfolio should reflect that focus.
Also known as composite cards or rack cards, comp cards are marketing material that an agent uses to match up the models they represent with assignments that suit them. Models also carry comp cards with them as a type of business card and present them to potential clients on go-sees (informal auditions or interviews with clients). Comp cards are pieces of printed card stock that feature a synopsis of the model’s stats and contact information along with a few select photos.
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Unlike other types of resumes, a model’s resume displays such personal information as the individual’s complete measurements, weight, height, eye color, hair color, dress size and shoe size. These statistics should be up-to-date at all times. A model’s resume also includes details on previous modeling gigs, training or special talents that relate to the modeling industry such as skills in makeup, hair or fashion design.
A modeling agency is critical in starting a modeling career, as agencies source and book photo shoots and other paying job opportunities for models. In exchange for representing the model, a modeling agency will then take a percentage of the revenue made from the jobs they’ve booked for the model.
High fashion or editorial models in particular are frequently required to travel internationally for assignments. Models should have an updated passport even if they don’t foresee any international travel in the near future, as assignments can pop up last-minute, leaving no time for the passport application process.
A freelance writer since 2006, Giselle Tattrie has written for publications such as "Reader's Digest" and Popjournalism magazine, as well as for live theater and television. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia.