Modeling Industry Terminology

The Modeling Industry is a hard business to break into and once you get started in the modeling & fashion industry you have to continue to learn in order to be successful.

Here’s are some modeling industry terms every model should know.

Styles of Modeling

Body Modeling:  This is where shape and form are essential. It isnʼt necessarily, and often is not nude. Examples posters you see for beer or tools. You will see a model dressed in a sexy swimsuit.

Commercial Modeling:  This is modeling in which a product is being presented and it is the central focus of the photo. A shot might be generic, such as a model outdoors walking, yet the photo would be commercial if it were used in advertising or marketing.

Fashion Modeling:  The modeling of clothes where the clothing is the central focus of the photos.

Figure Modeling:  This is a form of nude modeling normally used for art rather than glamour.

Model Campbell

Glamour Modeling:  A broad term of modeling where the modelʼs appearance, rather than the attire or product is the central focus of the photo. There is a misconception that glamour modeling involves nudity. A glamour shot could be nude, but it could also be taken in formal evening attire. It is the presentation of the model, not the wardrobe that makes a shot glamour.

Informal Modeling:  A type of modeling in which the model circulates among consumers and customers and answers questions about the garment or accessories that he/she is modeling.

Lingerie Modeling:  This term would seem self-evident, but it is not. Lingerie is a broad term signifying modeling in undergarments or sensual sleepwear. However, the model needs to realize that lingerie varies from quite modest to very revealing. Always inquire as to whether it is sheer or tasteful lingerie when considering an assignment.

Related: Is The SuperModel Dead?

Mannequin Modeling:  The process where live models hold frozen, mannequin-like poses.

Parts Modeling:  Modeling of a specific body part such as hands or legs. A model normally specifies which body parts she is interested in working with.

Runway Modeling:  Live modeling on a stage or walkway where clothing is the central focus of the show.

Types of Models

Character Model:  A model whose appearance suggests a certain character such as a grandmother or construction worker.

Commercial Model:  A model who appears in commercial advertisements.

Cover Girl:  A female model who appears on the cover of a magazine or other forms of print work.

Department Store Model:  A model who models for a department store, giving meek up demonstrations or modeling specific garments or accessories.

Freelance Model:  A model who doesn’t rely on an agency to help promote and represent him/her.

Full Figure Model:  A model who shows larger clothing fashions, garments and accessories.

Hair Model:  A model that specializes on demonstrating the use of his/her hair.


Hand Model:  A model that specializes on demonstrating the use of his/her hand.

Top Black Fashion Model

High Fashion Model:  A term that is used to describe a model who participates in fashion shows that is slightly taller and has a sophisticated overall appearance. High fashion models are the most well-known kind of models as well as the highest paid models.

Parts Model:  A model that specializes on demonstrating the use of his/her body parts such as hands, feet, etc.

Petite [Sub] Model:  This is a misunderstood term. Generally speaking, large agencies look for talent to be 5ʼ9” or taller because that is what is needed for fashion and runway. There is a smaller market for petite models, but there are opportunities for them with agencies. A petite model is normally one who is 5ʼ6” to 5ʼ8”. In addition to fashion, petites often find work in the commercial area. A model shorter than 5ʼ6” is considered sub-petite. Sub- petites have the greatest opportunity in glamour and body modeling.

Pre-Teen Model:  A model that is under 13 years of age.

Plus-Size Model:  A model who wears a larger size of garments. The size of plus-size models is usually 12 and up.

Released Model:  This term is used for a model that is told that they are no longer being considered for modeling jobs, (usually around the age of 30).

Ramp Model:  A model who specialized in the demonstrating and displaying clothing and garments during fashion shows.

Runway Model:  A model who specializes in demonstrating and displaying clothing and garments during fashion shows.

Showroom Model:  A model that works in a show room and either wears, displays, or demonstrates samples and/or originals of salable items to customers and consumers.

Spokesmodel:  An assignment where a model promotes a product at a tradeshow, convention or similar.

Supermodel:  A famous and/or well accomplished model, or a celebrity model.

Industry Personnel

Agent:  A personal or individual who arranges jobs for a model that they are representing.

Art Director:  The person from the advertising agency who is responsible for the art/design of the project.

Body Double:  Normally in feature films, when a featured actor/actress is either unwilling or unable to show their body, an alternate person is used without showing their face, and filmed in such a way as to suggest it is the featured character. NOTE: While body doubling often involves nudity, many times it does not. As an example, an actress may need to appear pregnant when she is not. An actress might need to appear in a swimsuit, but for a particular reason, she may not so a body double might be used.

Booker:  A person who works for a talent agency and actually books jobs for models.

Casting Director:  The person in charge of, or responsible for casting a project. Most commonly, a casting director is used in film and video, but are sometimes used for print projects.

Client:  The business that is hiring a model for a specific job.

Handsome black male model

Commentator:  The person who is describing the garment that a model is wearing at a runway show.

Designer:  A person who designs garments and accessories.

Dresser:  A person or individuals who assist and fit the model into the wardrobe.

Extra:  A person with a non-speaking part in a film or commercial. They may be part of a crowd or non-descript in the distance. If they are alone on camera performing a specific function, they are considered a “featured extra.”

Make Up Artist:  The person who is hired by the client to apply make up to models. Some clients have their own make up artists.

Stylist:  A professional who provides accessories, garments and/or props.

Stable:  The roster of models represented by an agent.

Talent Scout:  Someone who works for the L. A. Dodgers looking for baseball players to sign. This is a dangerous term and models need to be skeptical of anyone calling himself a talent scout. Generally speaking, larger agencies donʼt go scouting talent. Enough people come to their door to keep their stable full. While managers and agents occasionally want to expand and thus seek talent, few companies have the need to employ full-time people to seek models out. Donʼt expect to be “discovered.” While it happens, very rarely, success in this business comes from hard work and perseverance.

Styles of Image / Wardrobe

Beauty Shot:  A headshot from the shoulders up, where the main focus is on the model’s face, including make-up, hair, and accessories.

Body Shot:  A full length photo of a model, where the main focus is on the model’s body.

Boudoir:  A style of print that is normally a lingerie style or an implied nude glamour or similar shot in an indoor, bedroom setting.

Commercial Look:  An appearance that appeals to a wide variety of people and consumers.

Fad Look:  A certain style that many people are wearing that is “in style”.

Editorial:  A section of a magazine that shows a fashion or topic and isn’t trying to advertise anything.

Headshot:  A photograph that concentrates on the model’s head, the head shot shows make-up, hair and accessories.

Look:  The unique appearance of the model.

Off the Rack:  Clothing that are taken off racks at department stores and purchased. These clothing styles are ready-to- where as opposed to custom clothing.

Print Work:  Photographs that are taken especially for print media such as magazines.

Nude Styles

Artistic Nudity:  Artistic nudity is a form of nudity that is quite tasteful in the nature of poses, but is still revealing. Photographers who do this often work in black and white or with unique lighting scenarios. Generally speaking, these are the types of photos that are intended for gallery display rather than in magazines.

Commercial Nudity:  Commercial nudity is similar to implied nudity except it is intended for the commercial, rather than the glamour market. Examples would be Calvin Klein ads where the model is topless but wearing jeans, panty hose ads where the model is nude in panty hose or soap commercials where a model is taking a shower but nothing shows. This can be contrasted with Maxim magazine, where again, the nudity is non-revealing, but is clearly more glamour than commercial.

Continental:  This is a term that is being seen more frequently. It originates in the United Kingdom and generally signifies a pornographic assignment.

Explicit Nudity:  This is a level of nudity that is somewhat less than what would be considered pornographic. The term “explicit” means that you will be asked to reveal your genitals fully.

Full Nudity:  With full nudity, you are expected to completely disrobe and your body will be fully exposed to the camera. Unless you have been warned in advance and have agreed to it, poses should be tasteful and should not include graphic views of the genitals.

Implied Nudity:  Where implied nudity is required for a shot, you will generally be asked to disrobe fully or partially. While the standard is subjective, a photographer will normally not reveal nipples or genitals in the photographs. In some cases, buttocks will be shown. The essence of implied nudity is that the photograph is suggestive but not revealing.

Playboy Style:  This is a commonly used term to describe a tasteful style of nude modeling intended for print or Internet publication. The term is vague and often leads to misunderstandings. The reason is that Playboy Magazine has a constantly evolving style. Generally speaking, it means full nudity where the legs are kept reasonably together and there is no overt sexual activity. Our advice is when accepting Playboy Style assignments; discuss clearly what is expected to ensure that you are not being asked to do more than you feel comfortable with.

Topless:  As the name implies, you will be expected to remove your top and the full breast will be exposed.

Sheers:  Modeling in clothing or drapes which are sheer or transparent. Generally the model will be exposed to the camera through the material. The model might be topless or completely nude beneath the sheers.

Legal and Financial Terms

Booking:  A term used synonymously with “a job that has been offered to the model and accepted.

Booking Out:  When a model indicates that he/she will be unavailable for work by crossing out time on his/her planner or schedule.

Commission:  A certain percentage of the model’s earnings from a modeling job that is taken out by the agency that is representing the model. Typical commissions range from 15% to 20% of the total job earnings.

Contract:  A legal statement between a model and either his/ her photographer, business, or agency that is representing him/ her.

Deferral:  This is another term for “Deferred Compensation.” In this form a payment, all or part of the monies due a model or actor are deferred until a certain event. Most commonly, talent is paid a percentage of future earnings. A word of caution, while deferral agreements sometimes sound appealing, legalistic definitions of profit or a production that is unsuccessful means that, in reality, most of these arrangements will not result in payments to talent.

Day Rate:  A model who works at a certain specified daily rate no matter how many hours the model actually works.

Exclusivity Clause:  A legal document that only allows the model to work for one agency, and not work for any other agencies.

Gig:  A slang term for a job or a booking.

Impression:  That is the term that reflects one viewing of a print advertisement by an individual. Thus if four people see an ad, that would be four impressions. The number of impressions may not necessarily equal the number of copies printed. For example if you printed one hundred posters and each was seen by three people that would be three hundred impressions. Impressions are important because the rates paid to talent for national advertisements, etc., are often based upon the exposure measured in the number of impressions.

Gigi Hadid Vogue CoverLicense:  When a photographer takes a photo of a model, he almost always owns the copyright to a photograph. If a model is given and wants to use pictures she has been given from a photographer, she needs to ask him for permission to do so. The giving of permission is a license by the photographer to the model to use the photos for a specific purpose. Some photographers have detailed, legalistic forms for this purpose, others just grant the consent in a note or e-mail. Photographers also give clients a license to use the photographs that they have taken.

Listing Agreement:  A legal agreement between a model and an agency that gives the agency permission to mark the model to prospective clients.

Model Release: (See Release)

Per Diem:  A payment given to a model who travels to cover her daily expenses. A model could be given a flat per deim to cover all expenses including lodging, transportation, meals and incidentals or just specific things like food. In the latter case, the client might choose to pay things like lodging separately.

Photographer Release: (See Release)

Residual:  A payment made to talent for subsequent use of a material after its initial release. It normally applies to film/video. As an example, if an advertisement were to run on TV for six months and the producer chose to renew it for an additional six months, the talent would receive a residual payment to compensate them for the additional use.

Release:  The document a model signs after a paid shoot giving the photographer permission to use the photos that have been taken. When a model has been paid to do a photo shoot, she will almost always be asked to sign a release, therefore, the model should always ask about this before accepting a booking and should read the release before shooting begins.

Voucher:  A legal statement that usually originates from the model’s agency that includes the contact information and the model’s rates, this services as a release for the model.

Tools of the Trade

Book:  Another term for a model’s “portfolio” containing composite cards and photographs of a model that is representing a certain modeling agency.

Catwalk:  A term that is used to describe a fashion runway.

Comp [Composite] Card:  A card with photos on it as well as your stats and contact information that is submitted for consideration when casting projects.

Portfolio:  A book, normally 8” X 10”, 9” X 12” or 11” X 14” filled with photographic examples of a modelʼs work.

Ramp:  A place designated for runway modeling. A ramp can be slanted, a flat surface or a stage.

Runway:  A strip of platform or designated area for a model to walk while displaying and demonstrating clothing and garments to the the audience.

Showroom:  A room where models wear, display or demonstrate samples and/or originals of salable items to consumers and customers.

Stats:  The statistics for a model. Normally this is height, weight, hair color and measurements. Age is also included in some cases, but is not necessarily required.

Submission:  The sending of your zed card to a project for submission.

Tear:  Also referred to as a “Tear Sheet.” This is anything that has been published in print in which a particular model or photographer is featured. It is referred to as a “tear” because it is most often a page that has been torn from a magazine.

ZED Card:  This is a misused term. A true “ZED” card is similar to a comp card except it is usually shorter than a comp card and folded into three sections. When looked at from above, it looks like the letter “Z.” ZED is how the letter “Z” is pronounced in England where the ZED card originated. People often use ZED card to refer to a comp-card, but the useage is actually incorrect.

Types of Auditions / Castings / Shoots

Audition:  Interview with a photographer, art director, casting director or client where they evaluate you for a particular opportunity. Where specific talents are required, it is not unusual for you to be asked to perform. As an example, for acting, one might be asked to read lines from a script.

Bikini Audition:  The same as an audition except that one will be asked to appear in a bikini so that the client may evaluate your figure.

Bit:  The term applies to a role as an extra where the actor is asked to do something specific on camera for which there are no lines. As an example, if one were an extra acting as a doorman at a hotel, went up to a car, opened the door so an actor might exit, that would be doing a “bit.”

Body Check:  For an assignment where shape is critical, a casting director may want to view your figure. This will often be done in a bikini. In some cases, a body check will require nudity (if the assignment requires nudity). It is important to never disrobe at an audition unless you were informed in advance of the nature of the assignment and have discussed the requirements with your manager and/or agent first.

Casting:  When a business chooses a model for fashion, show, print etc.

Call Back:  After auditions have occurred, the casting director will often narrow the field of candidates for a particular assignment. You are then being called back for further consideration to help the casting director make a final selection. A call back will often entail a more specific process such as a body check, screen test or wardrobe check.

Casting Call:  A notice put out by a producer, art director or casting director of an opportunity in a film, video, commercial or print project.

Casting Couch:  A term from the early days of the entertainment industry. It basically means that a producer is soliciting sexual favors in return for a part in a film or a print project. This needs to be emphasized. This is a big business. Nobody is made famous because they sleep with a director. There is just too much money involved. If someone propositions you in return for a job, get up and walk out. That is the smartest move you will ever make!

Cattle Call:  An audition where dozens of models are brought in and paraded by the casting director to seek out a particular look. It could also just be a notice of an opportunity where the casting director is trying to get the largest participation so that he can select someone who has just the right look and talent.

Closed Set:  A set that has been closed to public access and is likewise closed to anybody who has not been given a specific authorization to be present.

Go-See:  Similar to an audition. You go and visit a client to investigate what a particular assignment entails.

Meet and Greet:  A first meeting with a client where you are not auditioning for a specific assignment. Instead you are introducing yourself to a client with the hopes that you will be considered for a future potential assignment.

Open Call:  An audition that is not by invitation or appointment, but instead is open to anyone who wants to try out for a particular opportunity.

Open Set:  A set that is open for anybody who has access to enter. Sometimes an open set is open to the general public, but it is usually just open to people who happen to be in the studio, on location or on a studio lot.

Shoot:  A photo shoot session.

Test Shoot:  A photo shoot where the model and photographer agree to divide the costs of the shoot. This photo shoot is for the benefit of the photographer and the model.

TFD:  The term means: “time for downloads.” A model works for a photographer without a cash payment. Instead, the model is given a pre-arranged number of digital downloads as payment for his or her work.

TFP:  The term means: “time for prints.” A model works for a photographer without a cash payment. Instead, the model is given a pre-arranged number of prints and/or enlargements as payment for his or her work.