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How to Have Success As A Commercial Model

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

By Aaron Marcus

Have you ever dreamed of seeing yourself in a magazine/newspaper ad, on a billboard, poster, side of a bus or in a catalog?

Most people don’t have the looks, statistics or are young enough for fashion modeling. Women must be between 5'9 - 6'0 tall and have measurements of 34/24/34. Men fashion models are normally 6'0 to 6'2 and wear a size 40 jacket. There are some exceptions to the rule, but it is rare for fashion models to have real success without these stats and have the specific look desired by the fashion agency.

Even if you fulfill these strict fashion guidelines but are over the age of 21 and have not really made it in the industry, then the chances of working as a fashion model are slim. However, if you don’t fit the fashion model requirements, but still want to model, then here is some great news.

There is an entire division of modeling that unlike fashion modeling has no height, weight or age restrictions. All types of people are needed. Men, women, children and even babies are needed. Models are needed to believably portray the mom, student, doctor, lawyer, nurse, grandparent, teacher, banker, real estate agent, mechanic, athlete, child, librarian, the list goes on and on. This is Commercial Modeling.

Commercial models are the “real” and beautiful looking people seen in virtually every non - fashion magazine. These publications can be anything from Gap catalogs to fitness magazines. The best part is that along with paying up to $250/hour (in New York only), most commercial models work on a part-time basis. Even if you live in a small market, chances are, commercial models are needed and hired for jobs. Commercial models take a few hours off from their jobs, or leave school early, go to the photographer’s studio for the shoot, and can go back to work/school before the end of the day.

Creating Strong Commercial Photos

Most people hire a photographer and walk into their photo session without a clue as to how to create strong commercial photos. What models must know is that each photo taken for their portfolio should look like an ad. The picture should tell the story. Even better, create a photo that shows more than one story. If you believe that you could be booked as a working mom, then create a photograph that shows you as a mom and a businesswoman. The photo might show you walking up the steps to your house wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase, while your child runs to meet you. Take your time and be creative in thinking of different scenarios for your shots.

Magazines are a great source of ideas. Find the magazine that will feature the look you want. For example: Parents Magazine is great for shots of parents and kids. For business images, look through investment magazines.

The ads can give you information on how to style the shot and what props are needed. Props are items placed on the set to make the ad look real. For example, if the ad is supposed to take place in an auto garage, tools, oil cans, towels, grease guns, and auto parts would be appropriate props.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to make the photos look like ads. Do not pose for the camera. Show a wide range of expression for the different photos. Having strong pictures for your comp will give you your greatest chance for getting work. Getting ideas from stock photography websites can also help you prepare before getting test shots done. Here are a few popular stock shot companies: and

Most people do not realize that commercial modeling is like any other kind of business. Before entering this or any industry, you must do your homework. Learn about the types of photos that will get you the most work.

The people who have done their research and have gotten the needed information will have the greatest chance for success.

The most important thing is to be prepared before your photo session. Know exactly what you want to shoot, bring plenty of props, show a variety of expressions, and make the shots look like ads, instead of test shots.

Aaron Marcus has been a full-time actor and commercial model for 36 + years with over 1290 jobs to his credit. He is also the author of How to Become a Successful Actor and Model. You can read more about his work and book at Aaron saves 5 days each month to privately mentor people online and help them break into the industry or advance their career – He also created an incredibly helpful acting and modeling quick tips channel with 260 free quick tip videos. Subscribe today -



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