Types of Modeling

Model Photo Test Shoot

The market determines what models are needed. These needs tend to cluster into market segments and allow us to look at types of models. It is important to understand the type of model you want to be. By understanding the type of modeling you are interested in you can learn what the requirements are and if you can meet them. This also helps in avoiding getting ripped off (more about this on the scam page). I have seen the greatest number of rip-offs and bad business decision happen when a wannabe model is thinking of one type of modeling (usually high fashion) and a scout, agent, photographer, etc. is recruiting for another (life style, Playboy glamour). So it is very important you understand what type of modeling you are interested in.

Fashion Modeling

Model at Sunset

The Garment and Beauty product industries are large users of models. People want to see what clothes or beauty products look like on somebody. Your high-fashion, designer-label garments, are designed for what fashion designers view as the "ideal woman." This is someone tall and slender, somewhat leggy, with a swan like neck and very young. In major markets like New York, this is someone who is 5'9" to 6' tall and from a size 8 to a size 0 depending on what is in. For men it is at least 6 foot tall and a 40 regular - of course, you have to have that "look" to go with the clothes. In secondary markets we would like to have this but often work with fashion models that don't meet these measurements. It is more important you just have a look of being tall and slender and that the sample clothes will fit you. The "look" can run from classic beauty to some extreme looks for fashion.

If you are going to work in front of the camera you need to be photogenic, and this you won't know until you do a test shoot. Usually the face is oval shape, with symmetry to the facial features. Eyes are almond shape. The cheekbones should be strong and nose straight and proportioned. Lips should be full. All of this just puts you in the general category; from there it is a matter of what the market demands are.

On the money - Top New York High Fashion models (there are just a handful of these folks) make more money then any other models (I have seen incomes as high as eight million a year). By contrast a model doing a fashion show at a local mall may get paid nothing. This shows the wide range of income one might expect in fashion modeling. Most folks who try to make it as fashion models will earn almost nothing so don't quit your day job.

Types of Fashion modeling:

FASHION EDITORIAL MODELING - Vogue, Elle, Glamour, Cosmo, etc. - these and many other magazines today that focus on fashion have lots of editorial pages they must fill each month. Many of these editorial pages feature models wearing what the magazine thinks will be the next trend in fashion. Editorial work does not pay as well as other types of high fashion modeling but it is great for building a model's reputation and getting tear sheets for one's portfolio. Also, because fashion magazines are not as constrained as advertising work, they can use more 'extreme' and 'special beauty' models in their pages.

FASHION RUNWAY MODELING - Clothing designers traditionally show their new collections twice a year (Fall and Spring) to perspective (store) buyers. (buyers is a key word here, if some one is putting on a fashion show without buyer then it is entertainment) As an example, the New York Ready Wear shows just finished with 110 designers presenting collections for Fall 2000 (post 9/11 the number of designers has fallen 30%, note 2010 slow economy has not been kind to the fashion industry). Designers present these collections to a gathering of buyers by sending models down a walkway or runway. How well a model brings the clothes to life and shows important features of the garments can determine how well they sell. So it is worth it to a designer to have the most ideal models show these collections. This leads to why models have to meet very strict requirements and why they get such high fees for this type of work (modeling agencies have also forced up fees). These young models tend to be very tall, slender and move very well in clothes.

FASHION CATALOG MODELING - There are a lot of clothing catalogs produced. (I know because my significant other gets most of them and tries to keep them all in business by constantly buying from them.) These catalogs, whether business-to-business, store, or direct marketing, require models to pose in the clothes they are trying to sell. Generally, catalog models are picked for a project because they represent the ideal of the market segment for which that catalog is targeted. Often times this is the classic beauty - tall, slender, healthy, and beautiful. The marketing idea is for transference, i.e. if you buy these clothes you will look as nice as the person pictured in the catalog. Catalog modeling usually pays well because of the volume of photos that must be taken. When I was sharing space with a couple of photographers who shot for a department store chain they could be shooting for weeks with models to produce at catalog.

FASHION PRINT MODELING - This is fashion and beauty for print advertising. It can be display ads or collateral print materials. This is the most demanding work to get but pays the best because of usage and exclusives (this is where models make millions). These are the ads that can make or break a designer's reputation. With these ads it is very important that the concept, photo, and model work perfectly to convey the 'image' that is wanted.

FASHION SHOW ROOM MODELING - Modeling for buyers in the designer's show room. This is lower pay but very regular work, it could even be a full time job. Only happens where there are designer show rooms.

FASHION LINGERIE MODELING - Because this type of modeling may be more revealing it requires very good body tone and proportions.

FASHION BATHING SUIT MODELING - Again, more revealing requires excellent body tone and a healthy look. A number of years ago (like 30, boy am I getting old) we had Jantzen and White Stag here in Portland. Back then I was a competitive swimmer and they would come around the pool and hire models from the swim team - in this case the models were very fit.

FASHION FITNESS MODELING - As health and fitness has moved more into the public consciousness a greater demand has grown in this type of modeling. Of course being in the city with the corporate headquarters for Nike, Adidas, and Columbia Sportswear makes it very noticeable here. Where once everyone exercised in baggy gray sweats, fitness attire continues to evolve and become more everyday wear. Add to this all of the fitness, health, and outdoor lifestyle magazines that are on the newsstands and you have a fast growing category for modeling.

FASHION FIT MODELING - Fit models have the perfect proportions for a given clothing size. Garment manufactures and designers hire fit models to use to piece together new creations, see how they move, and develop their patterns. The key for a fit model is to never gain or loose an inch. A clothing manufacturer may hire a fit model as a permanent salary position. It is one type of legitimate modeling that you can see advertised in the classified section of the newspaper. I used to see ads for fit models in our local newspaper for Jantzen and Pendleton, but no more.

FASHION TEAROOM MODELING - This once was very popular (the '80s) in smaller markets. Usually it would be at ladies' luncheons where models would wander between tables wearing designer clothes from local fashion boutiques. The models would describe the outfit they wore and where to buy it. Not big bucks, but a place to start and gain confidence in a small market.

FURTHER DIVISIONS - These categories can have further sub-categories for size - petite and plus, and for age - children, preteen, and mature. Petite size models usually are 5'2" to 5'6". Plus size is the same height as standard size models but size 14 -16. Main stream models usually start in around 14 years of age and go to their early twenties. Obviously pre-teen is before this age and mature is everything after it.

A category of modeling will only be found where there are clients to support it. Since almost all of the fashion magazines are based in New York, that is where you will find work in the fashion editorial modeling category.

Body Part Modeling

Body part modelBody part modeling is a special category that belongs in both fashion and commercial modeling. This is the use of just part of the body in a photograph. Often standard models that look great in full-length shots or headshots don't look so good close up. Their hands or feet may look horrible. This is where the body parts model comes in. We will set up a shoot using the standard model's face but the body part model's hands and it looks like it is just one person. Usually body part models will specialize in just one part of the body like hands, feet, legs, ears, or neck.

Hand models are one type of body part model that I have had more call for. With hand models we look for long slender graceful hand and fingers. We also look for smooth (no wrinkles, hair or large pours), clear (no blemishes or irregular color) skin, and very good nails. The ability to pose the hand in a relaxed graceful fashion is very important. This is like a hula dancer that can tell a story with their hands and avoid what I call "the claw" that most folks produce when put in front of the camera.

Body parts model follow a similar path as regular models with finding modeling agencies, building portfolios and having comp cards. They simply pursue a very special niche market.

Commercial Modeling

Commercial modeling is sort of the catch all for everything that isn't fashion and isn't glamour. It is vast and diverse. The physical requirements can vary greatly. The 'look' can be mom, business executive, scientist, glamorous beauty, etc. The pay can be good but not to the level of the top fashion model and commercial models tend to find work less often. But it can be an area on can work part time at their whole life. Again, the purpose is to sell something - a product, service, or idea.

Some Categories of Commercial Modeling are:

COMMERCIAL PRODUCT MODELING - Generally we are generating a photo to sell a product and the model is used to show how the product is used. Also, model may be used to convey an image about a product. An example would be a model dressed like a doctor holding a blood pressure device. This gives an image of medical authority being behind the product. There is also the old Madison Avenue technique of selling a product by putting someone attractive by it. Although it may not be politically correct to do this, it still is done and it works. People stop to look at a pretty face, not at another vanilla computer box. The physical requirements and look for commercial product modeling can vary a great deal. It all depends on the image or story you are trying to tell. This is where character models are used.

COMMERCIAL LIFESTYLE MODELING - Models are used in photos showing a period of life or doing something in life. The photo might be an older couple walking on the beach and the photo is used in the advertising materials for a new retirement resort. Or a photo of a young couple playing in a park with their children and the photo is used in an ad for a life insurance company. The models are used to act out some concept or idea of life. The physical requirements, age, size, etc. can vary greatly. But most often they use the "beautiful people" in these photos rather then real folks off the street.

COMMERCIAL CORPORATE MODELING - Corporate modeling is like Lifestyle but it always has a business theme. Again physical requirements can vary greatly, but usually attractive people are used - although sometimes character models are used.

PRODUCT DEMO - In smaller markets this seems to be a favorite area to start models. Models stand in front of, or in a store or mall, and hand out free samples of something. The idea is they want someone attractive that people will be drawn to and will work for just a few hours or a few days. When you are young and starting out this pays better then any regular job and it can really build your confidence around people.

TRADE SHOW MODELING - Once again attractive people are attention getters. When a trade show comes to town some exhibitors may hire models to hand out literature at their booths. One of the classics examples of this is the auto show. Again, it gives some income when you are starting out and gets you in front of the public.

SPORTS/ATHETICALLY PROFICIENT/FITNESS - This is kind of lumping a lot together but this has been a growing area in modeling. With sport attire companies like Nike and the increase number of personal sports, fitness and outdoor magazines the need for models that look like they actually know what they are doing has grown. The idea is to look good and actual be proficient at the activity being photographed.

modelsHOBBY MODELING - This is modeling for the fun of it, to help out a cause or a place to get started. Some folks may never make a living at modeling but enjoy being in front of the camera or being on the runway. It also ties in with organization that might put on a fashion show as a fundraiser. There have also been cases where some one may start modeling just for fun and this may some day lead to a career.

ALTERNATIVE MODELING - This term has been coined for the whole gothic/punk modeling. This is a very specialize niche

WARM BODY MODELING - This is my own term (unflattering as it is) . This is where you just need someone to put in a photo. When doing an outdoor tourist bureau type photos you often find you need someone hiking a trail or standing at an overlook, this is where you need a warm body to help animate the photo. This type of modeling does not pay much and may even be done on spec, but if you like doing outdoors or tourist activities it is a chance to make a dollar while having fun. This type of modeling can be open to all ages and sizes.

Glamour Modeling

Photo of Glamour ModelI am getting a lot of young visitors (under 18) to this site so I won't go into this too deeply. Glamour modeling is modeling for photos with a sexual theme. This might be a simple cheesecake or beefcake photo. They can include bikini, sexy outfits and lingerie modeling. On the cheesecake level, photos can be used for calendars, posters, and other pin-up girl products. You can't pick up a car magazine without seeing a babe by the car or truck. As one moves to greater states of undress you move to the adult entertainment industry with high-end men's magazines like Playboy and then on down to the low-end back-ally magazines. But it is the Internet that dominates this field and is now loaded with all levels of sexual model photos. Glamour modeling and its triple X component is a very big industry. Top glamour models can make as much as top fashion models. But what is different from other types of modeling is all grade levels in glamour modeling can make good money and it is common for an established model to make over $100,000 a year. There are no height or size requirements as in fashion modeling. Where fashion modeling wants you to look like a beanstalk, glamour modeling wants you to have curves like a young Pamela Anderson. Where fashion may want a 'special beauty look', glamour modeling wants traditional drop dead gorgeous; where fashion really only happens in New York, glamour can happen anywhere and does.

You have to be over 18 to do glamour modeling even cheesecake. With the way the laws are today a photographer runs a real risk doing any kind of sexy photo with someone under 18. With news story reporting mothers are being thrown in jail for photographing their own children taking a bath and putting the photo in a family album, I think the risk is too great and the return too small to do any glamour work with someone under 18. But this field is wide open once one is of legal age. Unlike fashion modeling where you career is over by the time you are 30 with glamour your career could be just getting started. There is even demand for good looking grandmothers in their 50's and 60’s.

This field is easy to get started in, as there are a lot of photographers who would love to do test shoots and photo assignments on spec. Finding work and getting test shoots has been made easy with several web sites that cater to this field, although getting top high paying work can take as much effort as becoming a high fashion model. I will leave details and how this is all done to some other web sites. But a couple of references are Teezemagazine.com that covers the bikini, lingerie market and adultmodelingbook.com for a how to book on success as an adult internet model.