What Are Commercial Models?

(Shakira Khan, Lahore)

When most people think of models and the modeling profession they think of high fashion supermodels like Kate Moss, Gisele Bundchen, and Naomi Campbell appearing on the covers of Vogue, Elle and Harper's Bazaar. However, there is a very lucrative side of modeling that many people overlook, and that is the commercial modeling industry.

Commercial models are essentially models that look like everyday people and are modeling or advertising products such as food and household items, pharmaceuticals, travel destinations, sporting equipment and more.
What Are The Requirements For Commercial Models?

Unlike fashion models who must have specific measurements (stats), commercial models can be any age, shape, size and height. Hooray!

Top 5 Myths About Becoming a Model

Do Commercial Models Need Special Training?
Commercial models do not need to attend modeling classes, however, it is highly recommended that they have some basic acting skills and training. Attending a few acting classes or workshops that focus on auditioning skills and how to work on a set is a good start. A great resource for learning about commercial modeling is the book "How To Become a Successful Commercial Model" by Aaron Marcus which can be purchased at most bookstores and on Amazon.com.

How Much Can Commercial Models Earn?
The income that a commercial model earns can vary depending on the type of job, the market in which the client or model is based, and the model’s level of experience.

Another factor that can come into play is how the client intends to use the images or film in which the model is appearing. For example, is the ad appearing locally, nationally or internationally? How long does the client wish to use the photos, is it for a few months or indefinitely? The more “usage” the client wants the more the model is paid.

In general, commercial models can expect to earn around $250 per hour for the amount of time they are on set with usage and buyout fees ranging from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.

What Are The Best Markets For Commercial Models?
In the United States the best markets for commercial models are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco and Seattle. Secondary markets like Atlanta, Phoenix, Dallas and Houston can also be great. Unlike fashion models who focus on big fashion cities like New York, commercial models have many more markets available to them.

Commercial models can also work overseas in Paris, Milan and Asia but agencies typically work with commercial models who live full time in these markets. Commercial models don’t usually travel overseas the way that fashion models do.

How to Become a Commercial Model
In order to work as a commercial model you will need an agency representing you. Therefore, you should start by sending some basic snapshots to experienced modeling agents and scouts who can evaluate your particular look and determine if you will be the right fit for their markets.

Unlike fashion models who, in the beginning, are evaluated solely on their physical attributes, commercial models need to put a little more effort into their photos, even if they are just snapshots. Be sure to show the agents and scouts your true potential by letting your personality shine through in your photos.

It is advisable not to invest in photo shoots or commercial headshots until you have a basic understanding of what agencies and clients are looking for and how the commercial market works. As mentioned above, a great resource is the book "How To Become a Successful Commercial Model" by Aaron Marcus. Aaron's book is full of tips and advice on how to choose the right photographer, how to get great photos and much, much more.

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About the Author: Dr. Shakira Nandini

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