Commercial Print Modeling
When I started modeling, I was told at 5-foot-7-inches tall it would prove to be a challenge. Most fashion models were at least 5'9 to 5'11. I would soon realize that the 'fashion modeling' arena is representative of only a fraction of the work available to models in the industry.
Discovering commercial print
I used to flip through the pages of popular magazines and wonder, "Who are these models in everyday advertisements for cell phones, insurance, toothpaste, cars, etc.?". "They look like everyday people." This is when I first discovered commercial print modeling, also known as "real people" modeling. There is no age, height or size requirements. Browse through the advertisements in newspapers, magazines, and television. You will find all ages, ethnicities, sizes, types and characters. All models who are well paid for looking like everyday average people! After some initial investigation I learned that commercial print models can earn up to $250 per hour, plus 'bonuses' or 'buyouts' in return for usage rights. In order to be clear, a bonus is determined by the amount of 'usage' the advertisement will receive. Will it be a poster on the freeway or an ad in a major magazine? Is it for a 'trade ad' or for advertising on the web? The answers to these questions will all determine what your agency charges the client and a bonus is negotiated for any additional uses. A 'buyout' is a onetime all inclusive fee for the lifetime use of your image with respect to the product or service you are representing. Always remember when taking these types of bookings future conflicts may arise. So if the rate is not what your agency feels is appropriate you may want to pass on that particular job.
Adopting the lifestyle
Once I came upon the commercial print modeling division, I quickly pursued representation from a reputable commercial print agency. Week after week I submitted my photos/ composite card, as either are appropriate, to the top commercial print agencies in New York City waiting patiently for their call. After a month or so I realized a new approach was in order. Flipping through an industry paper I found a seminar focusing on Commercial Print where these same agents I was vigorously pursuing would be attending! With this information I quickly signed up to attend. At the seminar learned that each agency is bombarded with submissions and given how busy they are determined if and when the 'new talent' submissions are sorted through. This is when I realized it is always best to get in front of any agency or casting director you are interested in working with. That night I left confident in the fact that I would obtain representation. Three agencies took me on to represent that week and continue to be my agents to this day and that was over eight years ago!
Early on, I used my fashion photos to market myself in commercial print, but each agent asked that I "commercialize" my portfolio and composite card to make myself more marketable to commercial clients. How is this done? By having pictures made that show you in an array of everyday activities and situations. These are called lifestyle photos. For example, on my composite card I show myself as a businesswoman, a doctor, a mother, a wife, etc. I also complement that with other shots for beauty and fashion, because I work in those divisions as well. You will want to do the same with the other types of work you generally book. You also can create two separate cards - one for commercial print and another for fashion - although that is more expensive.
When looking for a photographer for these lifestyle shots, you will want to find a commercial photographer. If you already have representation, your agency can refer you to a quality photographer. If you are still seeking representation, you should exercise a bit more caution when selecting a photographer. Try calling a few agencies and asking them for referrals; they will usually be happy to provide a few names from their list of reputable commercial photographers. Be wary of those agencies that either ask for up-front fees or insist on your using their in-house photographer.
Acquiring stock options
A no-cost way of building a commercial card and portfolio is to work for a commercial stock photographer. Stock photography is quite popular these days, and many companies buy stock photos in lieu of shooting an ad with their own photographer and models. A stock photographer shoots models in a variety of situations and compiles a catalog of photographs for sale. The rights of these photos are held exclusively by the photographer. When you model for a stock photographer, you will most likely receive only photos as compensation and will not receive any money. This is true even if your photos are bought and used by the stock photographer's clients. Models should worry about becoming overexposed without any compensation. Early in my career, I had many great experiences working with stock photographers and have booked numerous jobs as a result of promoting myself with their photos but now find it is too risky when not know what products or services will buy my image. A stock image can surface later on in your career and conflict with an actual booking that you have already committed to. For example, if Sprint buys your image out for use on their packaging they will ask you if you have any conflicts with other telecommunications companies. Nokia can then buy a stock image of you and use it for their marketing purposes and a conflict has been created. If Sprint sees you pitching Nokia they can sue you because they have paid you for a particular amount of time to be 'exclusive' to them in the telecommunication field. Basically, use your judgment, watch what you sign and weight the benefits with the potential negative of stock photography.
Commercial Print modeling is an excellent source of income when pursuing other fields within the Entertainment Industry. How better to make some extra cash as you are auditioning in for roles in acting or waiting to strut your stuff on the 'catwalk'? Most likely you will not only find that your connections with the Commercial Print with not only compliment your current pursuits but drive them as well.