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Hunter Talent’s Guide to Modelling Terms
Learn the must-know modelling lingo
The world of modelling can be a daunting place, particularly for a young aspiring model who has just entered the industry. It also doesn’t help, that at times, people in the industry seem to be speaking another language. From comp cards to deportment, there are so many terms that have completely different meanings in the modelling industry.
Modelling Terms quick links
We’ve created this to help you navigate your way through the industry without looking like the proverbial newbie. Think of it as your modelling dictionary, one that we will continue to add to as new terms come into fashion. And trust us, with the way the industry is developing, there are bound to be some new terms to add in the coming years.
Also known as a modelling agency, an agency is a company that represents models and helps them find work in the fashion and entertainment industries. An agency will usually manage most aspects of a model’s working life including booking photoshoots, fashion shows, and other assignments, as well as negotiating contracts and fees. The best modelling agencies will also provide resources and support for their models, such as the guides you’ll find here at Hunter Talent. Modelling agencies will work on a commission basis and usually take anywhere from 10-20% from a model’s pay depending on the assignment.
A booker, also known as a model booker or an agent, is someone who works at a modelling agency and is responsible for scheduling and coordinating jobs for the agency’s models. The booker helps facilitate communications between a model and client and is responsible for ensuring that the model knows all the details relating to an assignment. They will also negotiate rates and contracts with clients and make sure that the model’s rights as a worker are protected at all times. Generally speaking, bookers will have great communication and organisational skills.
A campaign, also known as a modelling campaign is a straightforward series of advertisements that will usually feature a specific model or group of models. They will often follow a specific theme throughout the series. These campaigns are often the brainchild of fashion designers, marketers, and creative directors as a way to promote a new line of products or services. Campaigns can feature in different mediums such as print, television, billboards, social media and online. However, it’s not unusual for a campaign to focus on one medium only.
A catwalk, also known as a runway, is that raised platform that you see models walk down during a fashion show. Catwalks are typically long and narrow and have no railing along the sides so everyone in the audience can see the model’s outfit and silhouette in its entirety. Catwalks are also used for other events such as beauty pageants or exhibitions.
A commercial model is a model that appears in advertising and marketing campaigns to promote all kinds of products and services. Commercial models are most often used in print ads, television commercials, billboards, and online promotions. While commercial models may appear at fashion shows from time to time, they are most often photographed in a studio environment. Commercial models also come in all shapes and sizes as many marketers these days prefer to use models that the average consumer can relate to. Generally speaking, commercial models tend to have more opportunities than fashion models.
A comp card, also known as a composite card, is a marketing tool that models and agencies use to promote a model’s portfolio to potential clients. Comp cards will usually include a selection of the model’s best photographs, and some vital information. For example, a typical comp card will have a photo or two on the front and personal information alongside some more photos on the back. This personal information will include measurements, the model’s agency contact details, skills, and, in some cases, a nice little tag line to grab the client’s attention. A model or agency may hand out comp cards at industry events or bring them along to casting events.
Deportment refers to a model’s posture, bearing, and how they act while on the runway or during a photoshoot. This covers a wide range of a model’s characteristics and mannerisms including walking gracefully, standing up straight, and maintaining good posture. Deportment is considered a hugely important aspect of a model’s training, as it can greatly affect the overall look and feel of a fashion show or photoshoot. That’s why many aspiring models will take deportment classes when starting out in the industry.
Editorial modelling is modelling work that features in editorial content, such as magazines, newspapers, and online publications. This type of modelling is usually associated with high-fashion and is considered more prestigious than commercial modelling. For this reason, editorial modelling often features clothing or accessories that are from high-end brands and designers. Editorial modelling shoots often follow a theme and are often more visually appealing and striking that regular commercial modelling. This is why many of the world’s leading editorial models often have a unique look that makes them stand out from the crowd. The idea here is not for the model to be relatable but for them to be striking.
Fashion week is a series of events where fashion designers and brands showcase their latest collections to an audience of fashion industry professionals. These can include buyers, the media, other designers, and VIPs. Even if you only have a passing interest in fashion, then you’ll know that London, New York, Milan, and Paris are the biggest fashion week events of the year, but they also take place in many other cities such as Sydney Fashion Week and Melbourne Fashion Week that are right here on our doorstep.
Hair and makeup
Hair and makeup in the modelling industry is a pretty self explanatory term as it simply involves the process of doing a model’s hair and makeup prior to and during a shoot or show. Hair and makeup is an extremely important aspect of modelling as makeup in particular can help a model look more striking on film. All modelling shoots will generally have a hair and makeup artist and models are very rarely required to look after this on their own. Hair and makeup is always carried out in the studio or at the location where the shoot is taking place.
A lookbook is a collection of photos that showcase a fashion designer’s latest work. These are usually used to give buyers an idea of the overall aesthetic of a collection and are often used to encourage retailers to buy clothes in bulk. Lookbook images are always shot by a professional photographer in a studio or on location. Models can also have a lookbook of their own which is used to showcase their talents. It’s kind of like a portfolio except in more detail and with more images across a broader range of themes. A model’s lookbook will also contain relevant personal information for the model for interested brands and potential clients.
A Sedcard, short for seduction card, is the same as a comp card. It is a card that features a model’s images on one side and their personal details and vital statistics on the other including their agency’s contact information. Much like a business card for models, the Sedcard is handed out at industry events to potential clients. The term Sedcard is more commonly used in mainland Europe.
A fitness model is someone who will work with clients and brands who are primarily focused on the fitness industry. This can include gyms, fitness brands, and activewear brands among others. It can also include health companies or outdoors brands. Most fitness models will have a toned and athletic physique while some may be muscular. Either way, they will be quite fit and able to handle strenuous physical activity which may be required of them during shoots. You can learn more about this type of modelling in our Complete Guide to Fitness Modelling.
A glamour model is a model that is usually considered more alluring than other models. This type of model will often wear revealing clothing in shoots such as lingerie or swimwear. They will often have curvier figures or what some might consider a sexier look and appear in commercial modelling campaigns across all forms of media. Glamour models may also work at exhibitions and conferences to help promote products. They are even sometimes used to promote nightclubs and entertainment venues. It’s important to note that glamour modelling does not necessarily involve nudity but can do in some cases.
A hand model is someone who models products and services using only their hands. This is one of the most underrated types of modelling as many people assume that it’s regular models who do hand modelling jobs. However, this is not the case as hand modelling is a very niche area. Hand models must have amazingly healthy hands and the ability to hold their hand steady for prolonged periods. They must also take very good care of their hands much like the world’s greatest hand model J.P. Prewitt. You can also learn a lot more about this type of modelling by checking out our Complete Guide to Hand Modelling.
A headshot is a photograph of a model’s face and head that usually appears in their portfolio or on talent portals. Modelling headshots are usually taken by professional photographers and are used to showcase the model’s unique look, facial features and expressions. It’s an essential piece of a model’s portfolio and is often the first chance that a casting director, photographer, or client gets to see the model. Modelling headshots should be updated regularly so that the photo always reflects what the model currently looks like.
High fashion refers to luxury fashion and couture clothing and is often associated with exclusive and expensive designer labels, such as Chanel, Dior, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton. High fashion tends to use high-quality fabrics, intricate details, and exceptional craftsmanship. A lot of high fashion is also custom made and can be seen on red carpets the world over. High-fashion models are usually runway or catwalk models that are typically taller and thinner than commercial models. They will be chosen for their unique appearance much like those found in editorial modelling shoots.
No prizes for guessing what a male model is! A male model is a model who is male or identifies as male. They do all of the same work as female models so you’ll see them on runways, in editorial shoots, commercial modelling, fitness modelling and swimwear modelling. Male models can also be involved in glamour modelling too. Learn more about this type of modelling in our Complete Guide to Male Modelling.
Model management is exactly what a modelling agency does. It’s the promotion of models to potential clients and also involves helping models to build their careers by securing work in various projects such as photo shoots, fashion shows, and advertising campaigns. Model management is a hugely important part of a model’s career as it’s nearly impossible for a model to handle all this work by themselves.
A modelling scout is a person who works for a modelling agency and is responsible for finding and recruiting new talent. They may spend much of their time in public looking for people who may have potential to work in the industry. It’s their job to evaluate a would-be model’s potential and decide if the agency should sign them up. Scouts are an important part of the industry as clients are constantly looking for fresh faces for their modelling campaigns.
A modelling school is a training program or place that teaches aspiring models the skills and techniques they need to succeed in the modelling industry. Modelling schools will usually run classes and workshops on a variety of topics. These include runway walking, posing, hair and makeup, and photo shoot preparation. Schools will also provide guidance and support to students as they develop their portfolios and learn to navigate the industry. Many modelling schools will also have a close relationship with local modelling agencies and modelling scouts.
A photo shoot is a professional photography session where a photographer will shoot a model in various poses based on a client brief. The shoot will often take place in a studio environment but can also take place outdoors or on location in a venue such as a bar or hotel. During the shoot, the photographer will work closely with the model to create a specific look or theme required by the client. Photo shoots can last anywhere from an hour or two to multiple sessions over a few days.
Plus size model
A plus size model is any model that is larger than a size 12 or 14 for female models and with a waist of 34” or more for male models. So contrary to belief, a plus size model is not necessarily someone who is overweight. They are simply larger than the industry standard for models. This type of model will do the exact same work as many other types of model, particularly commercial models. Plus size models are becoming much more popular as brands look to feature models that represent the average consumer. You can learn more about this in our Complete Guide to Plus Size Modelling.
A portfolio is a collection of a model’s best images that is used to showcase their talents and range as a model. Images in a portfolio can include headshots and full length shots while some models will also use images from previous assignments. All portfolio images must be professionally photographed as this is what clients and photographers checking out potential models will expect to see. As you can imagine, a portfolio is hugely important in a model’s career and so it’s considered a worthwhile investment to hire a professional photographer with modelling portfolio experience.
A modelling pose is a certain position or stance that a model takes during a photoshoot or on the catwalk. These poses are typically designed to show off the clothing or products being modelled or the model’s body shape and features. Most models will have a small collection of poses that they can drop into when requested by the photographer while some actually have their own signature poses.
A print model is a model whose work will feature mostly in print media. This includes magazines, newspapers, catalogues and even billboards. Print modelling can include all types of modelling from high-end to commercial. This was once the most common type of modelling work but that has changed with the growth in popularity of online campaigns.
A promotional model is someone who is hired to promote a product, service, or brand at events such as trade shows, conventions, and product launches. This type of model is used to create a positive image around a brand or product and to help attract attention and generate interest. Promotional models must be good with people as they may have to engage with potential customers or speak to crowds. They may also need to hand out promotional material or provide demonstrations of products. Promotional models are usually chosen for their looks and appeal to the target audience.
A runway model is a model that will work primarily at fashion events and shows. While they may also do commercial or editorial modelling work, their main job is to walk down the runway at fashion events showcasing clothes and accessories of the world’s leading designers. Runway models tend to be taller and thinner than average and many have unique looks.
A showroom model is a model who works with fashion designers and clothing manufacturers to help them promote their new designs and products. This is typically done in a showroom environment where buyers and retailers can view the designs on a live model as opposed to in a book. This helps the designer or manufacturer to sell the clothes or accessories on a large scale. While this type of modelling is rarely seen in public, it is still an important aspect of the fashion industry.
Supermodels are elite fashion models who are renowned for their striking appearance and looks. They are considered to be some of the most attractive and fashionable people in the world and are in high demand for high-profile fashion shows, editorial shoots and other modelling opportunities. Many supermodels become celebrities in their own right and are recognized as some of the most influential figures in the fashion industry. Think Naomi Campbell and Cara Delevingne and you’re on the right track.
As you can guess, a swimwear model is someone who primarily models swimwear. They will often have a tone and fit physique and will feel comfortable wearing clothing that is usually quite revealing. Swimwear models will also model clothes such as bikinis or other beachwear and are often used in promotional campaigns for holiday destinations and hotels or resorts.
A talent agency is a business that represents talented individuals such as actors, models, and creatives; hence the name ‘talent’ agency. The agency will help its talents to find work and promote them to its network of industry professionals while also providing guidance and resources to help a person along their career path. The only difference between a talent agency and a modelling agency is that a modelling agency represents only models whereas a talent agency will also represent actors, creatives, comedians, influencers, and musicians among others.
A test shoot is a photo shoot that is done purely to test a photographer’s skills, a model’s look or a makeup artist’s work or even the suitability of a location. Most test shoots are done for minimal pay or, in some cases, no pay at all. Any photos from a test shoot won’t be used for commercial purposes and are never published. They can, however, be used to build a portfolio, improve skills, and test out concepts, styles or aesthetics. A test shoot is a great way for an aspiring model to gain a little experience and pad out a portfolio.
Trade show model
A trade show model is someone who works at trade shows, conventions, exhibitions, and other events to promote a product or service. Trade show models will help to draw the attention of visitors to a certain booth or exhibit while they may also demonstrate products, answer questions, and engage with attendees. For this reason, trade models are usually outgoing and friendly. They may even be training in some aspect of sales.
A child model is a model who is under the age of 18. While they cannot work as much as adult models, they are just as busy and in demand as their grown up counterparts. Child models usually fall into three categories; newborns/babies, toddlers, children, and teens. They are most often used in commercial modelling for products and services that are for children or families. Some child models will even do runway work at select shows.
Yes, virtual models are actually a thing. They are fictional avatars that are created by artificial intelligence (AI) and that have realistic human characteristics. While this may seem like a futuristic concept, virtual models are actually growing in popularity and in recent years modelling agencies have started to use them for specific campaigns. In fact, in 2019 a modelling agency based in LA signed a CGI generated model named Daisy Paige.
In the world of modelling, wardrobe refers to the clothes and accessories that a model must wear for a photo shoot or an event. Wardrobe is usually provided by the client but for some commercial shoots, the model may be asked to wear their own clothes. At a typical fashion shoot, the wardrobe department is quite important as there may be quite a few outfit changes required throughout the shoot. Wardrobe can also be an important aspect of commercial photo shoots that are not fashion related as a model’s outfit can have a significant impact on the theme of the shoot and how the target audience relates to the model.
Believe it or not, this is a term that is not so commonly used in the modelling industry these days. This is because many clients and brands are moving away from the thin model approach and going for a more relatable model physique especially for commercial modelling. However, when size is a deciding factor for an assignment, there are no weight requirements. Instead, the client may ask for a specific size or height in a model.
We couldn’t possibly do a glossary of modelling terms without mentioning the greatest male model to ever grace the catwalk. Yes, we’re talking about Mr. Blue Steel himself, Derek Zoolander. Just check out that walk at Paris Fashion Week!
There’s no doubt that you will come across more terms the longer that you spend in the industry, most of which will be closely related to fashion. Generally speaking though, the terms above are the most common ones and the ones that you really should know before becoming a model.
Speaking of which, if you have dreams of hitting the catwalk and making a name for yourself as a model or if you’re more interested in commercial modelling, then we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today or apply to join the agency and we’ll get right back to you as soon as we can.