Second Variety

Today's little ditty has to do with why you shouldn't be a model, despite how pretty you are...

It seems like I am full of rants lately. Maybe it's because my injury has interrupted my training schedule, or perhaps I'm just on a more pissed off cycle than I have been in the last few years. Today's little ditty has to do with why you shouldn't be a model, despite how pretty you are...

My business card says designer on it. It doesn't say web designer, my area of expertise, because my company has a policy that designers should be able to design. Print, Web, whatever. Therefore I am forced required to do a certain amount of print work on occasion. Logos, magazine ads, flyers, etc. Our company offers another print design service that has become the sharpest thorn in my side lately. That service is comp cards.

Comp cards, or Zed cards depending on which coast you are closest to are a model's business card. A half sheet with a head shot on the front, and four to six different shots on the back with vital statistics. Our former head of sales set up a comp card program and marketed it, successfully to several modeling agencies in our area. Models bring in their photos, we do the layout, type setting, and send the thing to print. It's low margin, but steady work.

The work isn't problem, nor are the models. It takes zero effort to layout and pre-press these things, and the models(or their agents)are almost always friendly. The problem is the agencies, and their photographers. Allow me to break down how this works.

Imagine you are a normal person (more of a stretch for some of you than others), with average to good looks, just finishing high school. Your friends have told you you should be a model, and you look great in all the pictures you friends have taken of you. You finally get up the courage and go to the closest agency to your house, and guess what...They say you should be a model, too! They also say you need some classes. The first thing you will need is modeling classes, and makeup classes, and walking classes, and photo-shoot classes, get the picture. All for very reasonable prices of course. Then you will need comp cards. Comp cards are distributed to all the talent aquisition agencies (more on this later). To buy comp cards you need a photo shoot, which means you will need to hire a photographer.

Photographers are not cheap. A decent shoot around here costs 1600 for a full day, full rights release, digital output. Some photographers have been around a long time, and may not be familiar with digital output, which will boost the cost later on. Still more photographers use the "class picture" paradigm, and are unwilling to release source files, which means you pay them for every print of every shot. Not very cost effective when you are looking for at least five 8x10s.When the shoot is done, and you have your shots, the agency will pick which shots you should use, and send you to us, or whichever design or print house they work with.

We are the cheapest link in this chain. We layout your photos, prepress, and send them to the printer. If you have digital output you are getting 100 comps, spot printed, on cardstock, aqueous coated for less than it would cost you to make color copies at Kinkos. If you have hard prints we'll scan and level them, but it's extra. This isn't an ad mind you, if I never do another comp I will rejoice loud and long.

You then take your comps back to the agency, who in turn sends them out to everyone who hires models anywhere near you. If everything has gone well, you will then be hired for an ad shoot, or an auto show, or something like that. I'm sorry to say that it is rarely that easy.

You see, the modeling agency is there to make money, and if they tell you you will not be successful, they won't make any money, so they are going to tell you how great you are no matter what. Then they are going to send you to a photographer who gives them a kickback, regardless of how shitty or difficult that photographer is. Your head shot may look like a prom pic from 1985, but the agency is going to tell you it's great, and send you to get comps. My company won't make comps with bad quality photos, but that just means they will send you to someone else. The comps get sent out to the hiring agents who spread your out on a table with a hundred others. Then they start pulling out the ones they don't need, which will probably be yours.

This can happen to kids as well. Parents love to hear that their little darling is the most adorable child ever, and it makes them gullible. The kid may actually be the most adorable child ever, but the process is so corrupt that it's blind luck that lands them in the right spot, with people that aren't just doing their best to divorce people of their dough.

There are some agencies that are good, and will be honest and helpful. There are very good photographers who will make you look like a star. The problem is the bad ones are very bad, and it ruins Christmas for everyone.

That's my rant for today. Thanks for tolerating it.