Must know modeling terms

Every occupation has its own list of verbiage that easily describes functions of that field. As you may already know, the modeling world is no different. to help familiarize you with popular nomenclature, I’ve put together this list of Must Know Modeling Terms to keep you up to date with the vernacular.


Art directors are typically those responsible for developing the concepts for the photographic works that will be created by the photographer and other talent.


Beauty shots are lightly processed images that show off the model’s natural beauty. Make up is acceptable if its soft and does not drastically change the models natural look. The same is true for hairstyle. It should remain natural as well. Though it should be well maintained and casually styled. Nothing too extreme or artistic.


This one does get confusing, because to “book” a gig means to be scheduled for an upcoming shoot. But a models “book” is also a collection of images that show of the models best works from her career.


Booking out is a scheduling term that refers to a model creating an availability table that shows when they can work. These need to be updated as often as possible, unless your schedule never really changes. This is because booking out allows your agency to know if they can schedule you for a shoot if the opportunity arises. They need to do this without having to check in with you because things tend to move quickly in the modeling world. That is, once they get started!


After meeting with potential agencies, photographers, or other hiring departments, you may be selected to return for another round of evaluations. Call backs are good signs that you made a great first impression, so if you book the gig, then great, but if not, you should still be proud that you even made it that far.


Castings are the first step before the callback. Too bad it’s not first alphabetically! Castings can happen with only a few other models, or with hundreds. When there are hundreds of models to choose from, it’s also referred to as something else.


When the job calls for someone with a very specific look, the casting director will most likely contact many agencies, as well as place online and print adds that are meant to draw in as many contenders as possible. Cattle Calls can be very intimidating and stressful since there are usually long waits to be seen, and once you are, you only have about a minute to make an impression.


When many think of models, they typically will envision super tall, thin, high fashion men and women. Commercial Models, however, don’t need to fit into that category. They don’t need to fit into any category. There are no height requirements, size requirements, or pretty much anything else. It all depends on the needs of the hiring agency. Look ranges of Commercial Models are limitless.


Composite Cards, or “Comp Cards,” are typically small, 5.5” by 8.5” promotional cards that display the model with several images printed on one side of the card, and one image on the reverse side. The card will also have the models name, contact info, and stats, such as height, eye color, wardrobe sizes and measurements.


Editorial Models convey high fashion intertwined with artistic expression. Editorial Models often appear in images that tell stories with either a series of images, or with text and/or graphics.


Unlike print models, fit models are hired by designers, and the like, to help perfect the clothing design process. This is because Fit Models have the exact measurements that correlate to standard industry sizes. Designers can take advantage of such exact measurements to assure their final designs are sized perfectly. Because it’s all about size, other attributes, such as facial features and hair don’t matter.


Think of a Mother Agent as the place where you were “discovered.” A good Mother Agent will help you move forward in your career by giving you ample guidance through the beginning of your career. They may help you build your portfolio by using an inhouse photographer, or a contracted photographer that knows the exact style they need for their clients.


While other forms of modeling are based on producing still images, runway models show off designers clothing lines in motion. This way buyers can see how the fabrics fall on the model while they are moving. Female Runway Models are typically 5' 9" - 5' 11" while male Runway Models are typically 6' 0" - 6' 2"


Tear sheets are either the actual page, or a copy of a page from a magazine or other publication in where a model has appeared. It is used to show that the model has been published. Once a model is published, it shows hiring agencies that they’re not alone in thinking the model is marketable.


Test Shoots are any shoots that are not commissioned for the purpose of selling anything. A photographer may wish to create a Test Shoot after purchasing new equipment, so that they can perfect their use of it before having to duplicate their proficiency with it during a paid shoot. A model may wish to create a Test Shoot to practice new poses, or try out new outfits. An art director may wish to set up a Test Shoot to hone the look of an artistic concept they’ve been working on.


TFP is an older term meaning, “Time for Print.” When film was the standard medium for photography, photographers that were seeking to build their portfolios, or create Test Shoots, would seek out models by offering image prints for the model’s time. So, when advertising the opportunity, they would say it was TFP. Some photographers use the term, “TFD” (Time for Digitals), since what they provide is digital copies, and not printed copies. Click here to learn how to stay safe during a TFP/TFD shoot.