Is Commercial Print Work Right For You?
Is Commercial print worth doing? Maybe you have friends who have had some nice paychecks from their print jobs? Perhaps you’ve thought about it? But where do you start? Is it, or isn’t it a good idea?Generally, when making a decision I find it is best to get out of your head. Don’t waste time debating and analyzing. Trust your gut. Or simply take action as that will inform you much faster. Here is some info to help you choose if Commercial Print is right for you.
Yep…this is me in a stock photo as seen on SNL, The NY Post and a magazine in FRANCE!!
Are you the right type for commercial print?
Do you see yourself reflected in commercials or in advertising campaigns? If so, then YES! Nicknamed “real people” modeling it’s pretty inclusive. Commercial print has no height, age or size requirement. In fact, I think the pool gets less competitive the older I get!
Need to practice those commercial skills?
A few years ago, print casting used to be 1 or 2 quick photos and you were done. However now more and more, they lean toward commercial castings (on camera!). Producers and clients really want to get a sense of your personality. Even if the job is only print, they might shoot a video at the audition and ask questions like, What are your hobbies?
Print auditions can be a good place to practice those on brand “tell me about yourself stories.” Thanks to a great tip from commercial veteran Bill Coelius, (Run, don’t walk to his class) I always have fun, short, on brand stories related to being a mom, my fav food, travel, holidays, and movies ready to go so I’m never caught like a deer in headlights!
I often audition for “mom” roles so this is one of my go-to stories:
Do you ever have random Dance Parties? My 6yr old son, D, and I like to dance to Cheesy Top 40 at full blast. It can be a little tight in a small NYC apartment, I almost knocked him out once with a flying arm move but thankfully my dance moves are not lethal!
NOTE: This answer could safely answer many questions – what are you doing this weekend? What do you like to do for fun? What is your favorite music? Tell us about yourself?
What do I wear for commercial print castings?
It is very similar to commercials. Do your research and use your common sense. Look at advertisements, what do the moms wear in those ads? What does the Best Buy employee wear? Usually your agent will give you a brief character description, eg: mom shopping with a child. If you don’t know the brand/product do a quick google search to look up past ads so you get a sense of tone/color choices.
Do I need new photos?
If you have some good commercial headshots, most agents will start off with those. They might want some more lifestyle or body shots down the road, but you don’t need them to start.
How do I get an agent?
Statistically it is easier to get a commercial agent than a legit agent. I would argue it is easier to get a print agent than a commercial agent. Just based on numbers of clients those agencies are working with.
Commercial Print is also an easy entry point to an agency roster. I had a client start working with the print department of a large agency and she was a total pro! (always on time, quick response to email, booking-out etc.) Though she hadn’t actually booked anything yet, 6 months in she asked to be referred to the legit department, it was an easy next step for both sides.If you’d like to learn 3 juicy, insider strategies to get the right agent for you, check out this free master class.
Do I have special skills?
Don’t forget those special skills. Do you play tennis well? Are you a great ice skater? Those can be great assets for commercial print.
Is print work Union or non-Union work?
Print is non-jurisdictional work so open to Union and Non-Union members and the rate can vary considerably depending on the scope of the project. Sometimes producers unfortunately want to shoot non-jurisdictional photos and also shoot non-union video, which would exclude SAG-AFTRA members as that violates Global Rule One.
To stock or not to stock?
One way to get some great images of yourself is to do a stock agency shoot. However, I do not recommend it. Typically it is very low pay $250-$400 for the day and you sell all your rights away so anyone can buy your image to use as they see fit.
If you want to pursue commercial print you could accidentally create a conflict for yourself. I did one stock shoot many years ago, it was a super fun day but I have seen those photos on everything from SNL, The NY Post and a magazine in FRANCE!!
My image and work is worth more. And so is yours. I would also hate my image to be used as part of a product/campaign that I strongly disagree with. The shoot was very silly, involving clowns, fake fights and an adorable dog, it does seem unlikely…but still.
My favorite reason to do print work…
Momentum! If you are going through a slow legit-audition period, adding commercial print can help you stay inspired. Yes it’s not auditioning for your favorite TV show, but staying busy and “in the mix” can be useful. And those big juicy checks don’t hurt either….
What do you think? Is commercial print something you will pursue? Have you already had success with print? Let me know in the comments below.
— Coach Sarah