It doesn’t matter if you’re an agency signed model or a freelance model, a strong composite card is the most important marketing tool you can have in your arsenal. Like business cards, composite cards (also called a comp card, z card, zed card or sed card), are a quick way for a model to exchange information with a potential client, agency, photographer, and other industry professionals.
While traditional business cards usually just contain a person’s credentials and contact information, a comp card includes photos, measurements, and other relevant information. They’re an effective way to professionally showcase your abilities and make a great first impression. Many models will even have different comp cars for the different types of modeling they do (i.e. commercial print vs runway).
These days, many models use a combination of digital and physical comp cards. Essentially, they’re the same when it comes to format and information, but one will be used for online submissions while the other you’ll be able to physically hand out to potential clients and use at casting calls. All comp cards, whether they’re digital or physical, act like mini-portfolios and act like a quick reference for agents and clients.
Comp cards are important because when it comes to casting calls, they’re usually what the client uses to book a model. For in-person castings, the only thing a client has to remember you by is your comp card that you leave with them. If they saw hundreds of models that day and have a stack of cards to go though, you want your card to stand out. The same goes for digital castings. If a booker is scrolling the agency website, you want your digital comp card to catch their eye as they scan the webpage looking for the right model to hire for their project.
While no two comp cards are identical, there is a standard industry template that cards follow. Typical comp cards include one large photo (usually your best headshot), 3-4 smaller photos, and your information. Physical comp cards are usually double-sided and printed on an 8.5" x 5.5" piece of cardstock with your headshot & name on the front and smaller photos and information on the back.
When it comes to choosing what photos to include on your comp card, look to your modeling portfolio. The strongest photos out of your book are usually the best ones to put on your comp card. You will want to include a range of photos from a headshot to a full body shot, and include different poses and facial expressions. If you have an impressive portfolio, it can sometimes be difficult to narrow down your best photos and decide which ones to showcase on your comp card. This is where the expertise of your agent comes into play. They will be able to provide you with advice as to which photos will help you appeal to the type of clients you want to book jobs with. If you aren’t signed with an agency, you’ll need to choose your photos carefully and possibly redo your choices a few times until you find the combination that gets the best results.
In addition to your photos, your comp card should also contain your measurements (aka ‘stats’) for your height, bust, waist and hip, as well as your shoe size. Sometimes, they will also include dress size, hair color, and eye color. Most importantly, though, you need to include your contact information! You’ll never get booked if no one is able to get ahold of you. Be sure to include the contact number, email, and website of your agency. If you’re a freelance model, you’ll need to include the contact info you’d like to use for bookings. Make sure this information is correct and easy to read so you don’t miss out on any jobs.
If you ever have any questions about what your comp card should look like, the best place to look for guidance is agency websites. Most agencies will have a model’s digital comp card available for download right on their profile, so it’s the best place to go for inspiration.
As a working model, you should never be without easy access to your comp cards. Keep a few physical cards in your bag to carry with you and also have quick access to your digital comp card. You never know when you may need it on the fly!