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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Understanding Commercial/Print Modeling

I often talk about commercial/print modeling on this blog and the many benefits of doing this type of work but have come to understand that the concept/definition of this category may not always be quite clear to aspiring models learning the industry.

So I decided to do a new post to update some info in regards to this category and hopefully bring you guys more insight as to what commercial/print models do and the nature of their jobs.

Commercial/Print Doesn't Mean TV Commercials

It totally makes sense for people to think that because the word "commercial" is in the phrase, that it means acting in TV commercials. But when it comes to modeling, "commercial" is used in a different way.

In commercial/print the "commercial" part is mostly referring to the demographic that clients are targeting, which would be the average, everyday consumer. The businessman/woman, families, parents, kids/teens, etc.

So if you want to get into commercial/print modeling that doesn't mean you have to become an actor. Sometimes the term is shortened to "print models" or "commercial models" but either way if it has the word "model/modeling" in it, chances are it's strictly talking about modeling and not acting.

Commercial/Print Models Represent Companies/Brands, Products & Concepts/Ideas

Companies/brands like Burberry, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent hire fashion, runway and editorial models. Companies/brands like Target, Verizon, HP and Walmart hire commercial/print models. See the difference?

Commercial/print models are hired to represent a company or brand, mainly by depicting them using a product or somehow interacting with/showcasing whatever is being advertised. Is the product a new laptop? Then the company who makes the laptop is going to use a commercial/print model to take photos using this product, which could then appear in a magazine ad, an online banner or pop-up advertisement or on a billboard.

If Disney Cruises has a new family travel package they want to promote, they may hire commercial/print models to pose as a family, with the shoot taking place on the actual cruise ship, depicting them playing, laughing and enjoying the amenities.

The next time you go shopping at the store, take a look at the people that appear on the product packaging. Those are prime examples of commercial/print models.

Sometimes the concept is more abstract. It could be a concept, idea or design a company comes up with. If it's targeting the average, everyday consumer then chances are commercial/print models will be used.

How the Photos are Used for Commercial/Print Modeling

Alrighty then, now we're moving into what's known as "usage." Where and how are the photos taken of commercial/print models used? This was sort of answered above but there is a bit more to it.

Newer and inexperienced models often worry about where their pictures will wind up. There are horror stories of people manipulating modeling photos and misusing them but when it comes to commercial/print, there couldn't be a more "up-and-up part" of the industry.

When dealing with legitimate companies/brands, especially if it's a gig booked through a modeling agency, the odds of having to deal with your images appearing somewhere shady or being misused is super duper low. This is because the general nature of commercial/print modeling is very G-rated. It's highly unlikely that a company like Sprint, for example, would misuse a model's image in a negative or derogatory way. What good would that do for Sprint if it was found out?

Commercial/print models are hired by companies/brands to promote, support or represent them so rest assured, I doubt any print model is going to lose sleep at night after they've done a shoot.

Now that we've gotten that pesky "OMG, what if?" moment out of the way, let's focus on what actual usage for such images are as they relate to the industry.

I've talked about Model Release forms before and they do appear throughout a model's career. However, in the past I've mostly talked about release forms as they apply to a model shooting with a photographer to create images for each other's portfolios. What I'm about to go into is dealing with release forms as they apply to a model that has been hired for a specific purpose by a client (company/brand).

No commercial/print model is going to be in the dark about where and how their images will be used. Those who have agents will get these details ironed out completely beforehand. Freelance commercial/print models will be provided with this information as well. In the release form, the details of the intended usage will be stated right in the document. Below are the typical ways clients end up using the resulting images from a shoot with a commercial/print model:

- In Print: Duh, right? The final image(s) chosen by the client could end up appearing as a magazine advertisement, in a promotional flier or mailer, catalog, on a billboard or any other printed/published format.
- Online: The final images could appear on the company's website, in a pdf document, a pop-up ad, email newsletter or banner advertisement.
- Broadcast: Sometimes still images from a shoot may appear as part of a commercial or other broadcast project (TV show, infomercial, etc.). Again, this doesn't mean you'll end up being an actor, just that the still images from the shoot might also be included as part of a broadcast advertisement.
- Promotional Material: The final images could wind up in the form of banners, table displays or other printed materials that may be showcased at a tradeshow, convention or other public venue where the company/brand wants to advertise how the commercial/print models are using/interacting with the product or representing their company.
A Bit More About Release Forms & Usage

The release form will specify which types of usage applies to the project. What happens if that usage changes later on? Then the client is obligated to either have a clause that covers such a possibility in the release form or will be required to contact the agency or the model directly (if freelance) to notify them of a change in the terms. Sometimes this could result in the model getting paid an additional fee.

However, in some cases the client knows that the type of usage could change over time but may not know when. In such an event, they may offer what's know as a "buyout" rate, which is typically in addition to the actual pay rate the model would receive. The rate and buyout rate is always listed on the model release form so the model and their agency (if applicable) are all on the same page as the client as far as compensation goes.

If offered a buyout rate, this means you are agreeing to accept the money and be hired as the model with the understanding that you have no say in how the images will be used and that the client isn't obligated to pay any future monetary compensation if they want to change how the photos will be used whether it's a few months or years down the line.

However, if the word "perpetuity" appears anywhere in regards to usage and buyout rates, that means the model is allowing the client to use their images for as long as they want aka "forever", which may not include additional compensation (thanks to Noelle for reminding me to add this bit of important info!).

Are you still with me? :-)

If you're thinking to yourself that this all doesn't sound very fair and that the models are just signing everything away, I would advise you to step back and look at it from the appropriate perspective. This isn't a situation where you're supposed to fight for your rights and make a big stink. It's business, folks. This is how it's done everyday. Honestly, you're getting hired for a service and if you're getting a buyout rate, that means you'll be taking home a very nice paycheck at the end of the day for what may only end up being a few hour's worth of work.

In general, signing a release form (with or without a buyout rate) means that the model is understanding and agreeing that they have no say how the images will be used, that they do not own any rights/copyrights to those images, nor will they be allowed to pick which photos will be used in the final version. That's never going to change, by the way. I gotta say, that makes sense when it comes to commercial/print gigs where you're being hired by a company/brand for a specific purpose.

Models are only a part of the marketing/advertising process. The companies/brands have entire departments and personnel responsible for taking the images from a shoot and transforming them into the final product. You, as the model, are working for the company/brand, not the other way around.

Show up, do what you're supposed to do and when all is said and done, you get paid, you get exposure and--hopefully--tearsheets. And that's what it really all boils down to when it comes to your role and responsibilities as a model.

And now you know more than you did before about commercial/print modeling. :-)


Lisa said...

And even plus size models seem to do commercial print as well.

Anonymous said...

Wow this is such a good post aboit commercial and print modelling! It must have taken you ages to write this! Now I'm not even confused about commercial/print. Before I wasn't really sure and just said that I'll apply for it because od my height but now I actually understand it and want to apply for it!

Thank you for making this post :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Dania! I am not a model but read your blog often. You have so much invaluable information and truly are an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Hi Diana,
I am 16 and am thinking of trying to model. I measure 34-24-34, and people say i have unusual features. i am asian but have euro features (russian ancestory). does that sort of count as 'exotic?' however, i read that u have to be 5'8'', 173. Well, i am 172 and a bit, just off 173. :( Would that count against me significantly?
i live in NZ btw.
thank u :)

Dania Denise said...

Hi, Katrina! You'll find the answer to your questions in its own post, titled "Answering a Reader Question #710," which can be found on my other blog: "Modeling 101 - Answering Readers Questions."

Please visit this link: http://amodelsdiary-readerquestions.blogspot.com/ and you can view your post there. Thanks for reading!

imodels said...

This is really detailed post. So informative! Thanks!

Noelle McKenzie said...

You gave some valuable information here. One thing to keep in mind when reviewing contracts for usage agreement with commercial clients is the word in perpetuity, which basically means "forever." When you see this word it means the client has unlimited usage for any footage that is taken from the shoot. I am always weary of signing these types of agreements because they usually aren't paying you enough to have unlimited rights for usage. It's better if you see a definite length of term for the contract such as 1-2 years. This means that after that time period is up they can no longer use your photo or video without paying you again for additional usage. Commercial modeling rates are not what they use to be so protect yourself and don't be afraid to decline a job if you feel the pay is too low. I turn down modeling opportunities all the time for this reason because once you agree to work at a very low rate it may also create conflicts for you to be able to work with other clients in the same field who may have been willing to pay you a higher rate. These are just other things to consider.

steve said...

Commercial/print is a dominant type of work I will be doing in the future. When my talent agent says 90% of their work is acting, but talk about doing a lot of commercial/print work, are these primarily modeling or acting jobs?

Steve Norwood

Dania Denise said...

Hi, Steve! You'll find the answer to your questions in its own post, titled "Answering a Reader Question #965," which can be found on my other blog: "Modeling 101 - Answering Readers Questions."

Please visit this link: http://amodelsdiary-readerquestions.blogspot.com/ and you can view your post there. Thanks for reading!