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All rights reserved. Unauthorized use or reproduction of coyrighted materials is strictly prohibited. HOW TO CREATE A STRONG COMMERCIAL MODELING COMPOSITE SHEET By Aaron Marcus
Excerpts were taken from Aaron's book How to Become a Successful Commercial Model

A composite sheet is the primary way commercial models get bookings. It is a collection of photographs that shows the variety of ways you can look. The composite sheet, or "comp," is the key that unlocks the door to getting work. One way to get cast for a commercial modeling job is for an agent to submit your comp to a photographer or an art/creative director. Comps are also used at go-sees (auditions for the model).

The most basic composite sheet will have a head shot on one side and two or three different types of photos on the back. The most common size is 5 x 7. However, there is no set rule on how a comp must look. The size, shape, and appearance of a card is limited only by the model's imagination.

Here's how you can create your own "ad" photos for your comp.

Deciding on the image or images that fit you best might be the hardest part of the whole process of putting together a composite sheet. Ask agents, casting agents, photographers, art/creative directors and friends how they see you being cast. Consider their input, but you need to make the final decision. You must figure out how you want to present yourself to the world. Are you best cast as the grandparent type, student, athlete, teacher, plumber, lawyer, mom? Do you look right roasting marshmallows around a campfire, sitting behind an office desk - or both?
Think about the types of photos that would best display those images.
To help with ideas, look through:

  • Magazines -Newspaper ads - Junk mail
  • Agents' web sites
  • Photographers' showcase books (photographers pay to have their work shown in the books to generate business for themselves. The photos are incredible) One directory is called the Communication Arts Annual Awards Books, www.commarts.com. Another is called The Creative Black Book, www.blackbook.com. The Workbook, www.workbook.com is also a wonderful publication. These books can be found in camera stores, art schools, some public libraries, on line and at advertising agencies. The most important thing is to be prepared before your photo session. Know exactly what you want to shoot, bring plenty of props, show a variety of expressions, and make the shots look like ads, instead of test shots.

    Planning Your Shot

    Since the shots for your composite sheet don't have words, make sure each photograph itself tells the story. Even better, create a photo that shows more than one story. If you want to present yourself as a mom and a businesswoman, the photo might show you walking up the steps to your house wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase, while your child runs to meet you. Take your time and be creative in thinking of different scenarios for your shots.

    Magazines are a great source of ideas. Find the magazine that will feature the look you want. For example: Parents Magazine is great for shots of parents and kids. For business images, look through investment magazines.

    The ads can give you information on how to style the shot and what props are needed. Props are items placed on the set to make the ad look real. For example, if the ad is supposed to take place in an auto garage, tools, oil cans, towels, grease guns, and auto parts would be appropriate props.

    The most important thing to keep in mind is to make the photos look like ads. Do not pose for the camera. Show a wide range of expression for the different photos.

    Having strong pictures for your comp will give you your greatest chance for getting work.

    Aaron Marcus is a full-time actor and commercial model with 1,138 jobs (so far) to his credit. He also travels throughout North America and Australia offering his Becoming a Successful Actor and Commercial Model Workshop. See if his workshop is coming to your town by visiting www.howtomodel.com
    His book, How to Become a Successful Commercial Model can be seen and ordered at his site as well.
    You can also read about up-coming jobs and auditions at his forum: http://www.howtomodel.com/bb

    See Aaron Marcus' Portfolio @ New York Best Models