Saturday, April 13, 2013

Comp Card Photography and Printing

Lately this year I've been getting a few more replies than usual about comp card photography and printing comp cards (or zed cards, same thing). This post here is to try and go over what a comp card is, how they are printed, why they aren't really cheap to print, and why they take longer to get than regular photo prints. Also, I'll explain why it's not a good idea to wait until the last min with these, as (again) they do take some time to get done and get printed.

So first, what is a comp card. Talent usually have a few things to help promote themselves, the first being a headshot - which everyone has, even top name actors and models, and the next would be a comp card or demo reel. On the comp card side, it's usually a post card sized, double sided, handout that would include the talents name and headshot on one side, then their stats, contact info, and a assortment of images (usually 4-10ish) from their portfolio. This is left behind in place of their actual printed book, so the clients can go back from a casting and remember who they were talking with, or so the agency has something to send out to clients so they can pre-screen talent for a casting. Either way they are like business cards and every working model needs them.

That's what they are, now let's talk about what goes into making one. First, the images aren't all the same, or the same outfit. Usually it's about 4-5 different looks, and we try (weather and location permitting) to get a range of shots and backgrounds, or maybe for fashion a single background (white wall) or something, either way it's not a simple as a few shirt changes for a headshot. The shoots usually take anywhere from 3-4 hours, and that all depends on makeup and hair. It's not a quick in quick out type of deal. Then, I usually have clients pick the top 25 images from the shoot (about 4-5 per look) and retouch them. Retouching normally takes me a business week starting when I know what the selections are. Sure, I can get them done faster, however I don't like to be rushed if possible. So already you're out a week from the date of the shoot before you're going to get images.

It's time to order the prints once you have images. Now yes, you can go to websites that specialize in headshot printing, and they will be faster, however they will be about twice as expensive as a normal online printer. As I said before, you're ordering what is pretty much a postcard. I like to use and for a 5x7 color two sides, coated two sides, online proof print it comes to about $80 with shipping (at 04/13/2013) for 250 of them. In the long run that's not a lot of money, and a person may be paying that much anyway on headshots, but it's not like they are $20 and you get them in a hour. The last time I ordered business cards it took about a week for it to get printed, then a short week in the mail. So now you're about 3 weeks out from the date of the shoot before cards will come in, unless you pay double or more and have them done faster.

Lately some of the calls I've been getting are from parents who's children are interested in modeling and they have appointments for shows, conventions, contests, and other places where they may need a comp card. If this is something you want to do, and if you really do need printed comp cards, then it's best to start arranging a shoot and get ducks in a row sooner, since again they do take a while, and again they aren't like headshots that you can just get locally and pick them up same day.

I have thought about what would happen if you try and print some yourself. The issue with this isn't the printing, any normal printer made lately should give the color quality - however it's the gloss coating and paper that will be an issue. Comp cards are so standard, that you're better off getting them done professionally so they don't stick out (in a bad way) in a pile, or that the ink doesn't rub off and stuff.

Andrew Thomas Evans

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