Models comp card – tips and ideas (for models)

Hello girls! (and hello male models! I know you exist, hidden somewhere… )

At my photographic studio, I often shoot pictures for models’ portfolios, and today I would like to write down some tips and ideas about how to shoot and select photographs for creating your COMP CARD (if you’re a model, not an actor/actress).

A comp card can be printed or digital, but it’s basically a “collage” or composition (as the word suggests) of your best pictures, that you should use as a marketing tool. Agencies and clients will ask you to see your comp card before or during casting calls, go-sees etc. You probably already know all of this if you’re reading this post, but it doesn’t hurt to explain it one more time :).

Well, the ideal would be putting together photographs that you have taken during different photoshoots. However, if you’re starting your career, but you need anyway a comp card asap, you may schedule an appointment with a photographer in order to shoot as many pictures to use on your card as possible. For the sake of this article, let’s pretend that this is what you’re doing.



The main photo of your card should be a professional-looking head shot of yourself. You’re looking for a natural, fresh look – not too much make up, no strange hats or collars or necklaces. The purpose of this pic is to show how you look like, not the skills of a make-up artist or designer. I’ve recently shot at the studio pictures for model Megan Beauregard (not for her comp card specifically, but they work for this post), and here is her head shot (below).

So, the first thing you should slip inside your bag when you go to a photographic studio is:

a strapless shirt or bra – personally, I think that head shots should look like beauty pictures, and you should show your bare shoulders – in this way, nothing distracts from your face

make-up tools and anything that you normal use for your hair to make it look nice, clean and polished (hair straightener/ hair curler/ hair spray etc.). Don’t forgive a comb or brush… Don’t assume that the photographer owns one, especially if he’s a guy πŸ™‚


You may want to add to your comp card a second head shot, if you’d like to show versatility of your expression/ if you have a very peculiar profile and you want to show it/ if you know that you can handle lot of make-up and you have pictures with a dramatic look/ or for many other reasons. Megan, for example, looks pretty different if photographed from 3/4 angle, plus she has a nice set of tattoo that she may want to show off πŸ™‚ Besides, while the main head shot has to look like a beauty picture, you can add a more edgy/editorial close-up of yourself. Sometimes more dramatic/contrasting lights and a more edgy pose are enoughΒ  for doing the trick.


It’s time to show something, babe! πŸ™‚ Even though not all the models have these kind of photographs on their card, they can be very useful for the client to get an idea of how your body looks like, because in full body shoots (which are #4) the focus will be more on your legs. With Megan we work with underwear, but it’s not at all necessary. If underwear is not your thing, in my opinion you should not force yourself into doing it. Speaking of what kind of outfit you should bring to a photo session of this kind, there is not really a “right answer” to the question, but in my opinion 2 good tips are:

PLAN IT IN ADVANCE –> don’t throw in your bag at the last minutes some random clothes from your closet. Take some time to thing about what you would like to wear, what is flattering on you, buy something new if you can, ask your girl friends to lend you that nice dress that you really like (they will, since it’s a special occasion.. and if they don’t, the bitches, defriend them on Facebook). Plus, don’t bring to a studio wrinkled clothes – iron them and pack them with care

DON’T DRESS UP AS YOUR GOING TO A CLUB –> I’m sure you’re smocking hot when you go out for partying with your friends, but what you would wear in that occasion doesn’t necessary work in front of a camera. You want to look elegant, sophisticated, fashionable – pick up a fashion magazine, look what models are wearing, try to find your style

For upper body shoot, you should bring with you:

a nice tight shirt – short sleeves, with a nice neckline, of a color which looks good on you (no big logos please)

a pair of jeans, or a skirt


These are very important, and the kind of full body shots that you select gives an idea of what kind of modelling you would like to do. Would you like to be a commercial model? You should select pictures with a commercial pose (as you are posing for a catalogue). Editorial model? Editorial pose. High fashion model? High fashion pose (you see, it’s easy πŸ™‚ :)). Of course, the best would be if these pictures were REAL catalogue/ editorial/ high fashion shoots (for a client, with designer clothes, in a cool location, with a team of make-up artists and a stylist), but if you’re at the beginning of your career and you can’t, you can still shoot photographs in a studio specifically for this purpose.


Show your legs! Bring with you:

a nice short dress/ short skirt

– if you have it, a long, flowy dress can be fun to wear, if you move around or play with it

– SHOES!! don’t forget them!! High heels, but possibly comfortable – if you clean the sole before, it won’t stain the photographer’s backdrop paper, and I’m sure he will be grateful πŸ™‚

ACCESSORIES – THESE ARE VERY IMPORTANT and usually models forget to bring any of them. Bring scarves and jewels matching with your outfit.


Unfortunately, working inside a photographic studio may not be enough. A comp-card should always include pictures that don’t look like taken in a studio, but they’re still professional. If you don’t have the chance at the beginning of you career, you can always “fake” it. With the model Priya, for example, we just went to a room of the building where I have my studio, with big windows, and we shot a not-in-the-studio photograph (the one with the guitar, below). In your comp card, you should not only show your look, BUT ALSO YOUR VERSATILITY and the ability to work in different environments, for different clients, and with different looks. A lifestyle shot, for example, would be a great addition to your comp card.


Yes, I know, these are not real… shots. But at the end of this short “tips and ideas” article, I would like to tell you that, if you start a modeling career, you will have to face choices. You may be asked to pose with fur – and it’s your choice to decide what to do. I’m not telling you not to do it (it’s risky sometimes to be picky), but I’m telling you to be conscious, always, about what you’re doing and what you’re wearing. Don’t let others dressing you up as a doll: you have a voice, if you want. If you think, as many others are now, that the modern fashion industry should be green an animal-free, when you bring your own accessories to a photographic studio or to a runway (many times, for runways, you need to bring your own shoes), choose NOT-LEATHER accessories. Let other people know what you’re wearing. Thanks to the blogger “Sexy Vegetarian“, for example, I’ve discovered today a new green/animal free brand Gunas (on the left).

Good luck modeling or, as we say in Italy, in bocca al lupo! πŸ™‚


About valentina oppezzo

fashion and accessories designer


  1. Katica

    I love the mint wedges!!! Who are they by? πŸ™‚

  2. germ.s

    Great words of wisdom!

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