A Glossary Of Modeling Terms


If you’re going to be successful in the modeling business, you need to be familiar with the terms that are used in the industry.  Here’s a list of the most common terms used in the modeling/fashion business.


American Federation of Radio and Television Artists.  AFTRA is a television and radio artists union.


The age range you appear to be. Generally between 5 – 7 years over or under your actual age.


The person responsible for developing the look of an ad, editorial or other visual presentation. Can be an independent contractor or employed by an advertising agency, a magazine or photographer.


A clean head shot with excellent makeup and simple hairstyle. A beauty shots shows your face in an elegant and beautiful manner. No big hair, no heavy jewelry or anything that distracts from your skin, bone structure, and overall features.


A form used by models to record the names of clients, job descriptions, number of hours worked, rate of pay, and expenses. The model has the client sign the form (voucher) and will give the client one copy, the agency one copy and will keep one copy for herself. (see also Voucher)


A model’s portfolio book of photos.


A person working in a modeling agency who books jobs, schedules appointments and assignments for models.


Factors that may exist in a booking and for which the model may be paid more. An agency establishes booking conditions that outline fee specifications for cancellations, weather permitting bookings, overtime or weekend fees, or bonuses for a variety of other conditions.


When a model books out he or she makes specific hours or days they are unavailable for assignments.


An arrangement in which a client will issue a model a one-time payment for use of their work rather than pay residuals.


A second audition or meeting with the client so they can see you again before they make a final hiring decision.


The time at which a model must be at the location and ready to work.


Casting agencies are agencies specialized in finding talented people for different fields like modeling, singing, acting, dancing and others. They work similarly to scouts. They search for perspective persons that could participate in different kinds of projects like TV, photo, video, advertisement casting and others. Usually the models in a casting agency doesn’t have an exclusive contract and can work for different agencies.


A mass interview or audition where numerous models attend. (see also Go-See)


Catwalk or runway describes a narrow, usually elevated platform that runs into an auditorium, used by models to demonstrate clothing and accessories during a fashion show.


A file or sheet used to chart a model’s schedule, appointments, and other activities.


Commercial models can be any age, any size, ​and any height. Commercial models can do everything that isn’t normally associated with high-fashion, such as product ads (housewares, food products, travel industry, tech devices, and the list goes on).


A fee taken by an agency or manager based on fees earned by models.  Typically it is a percentage of the model’s fees.


Often referred to as a comp card. A card used to promote the model that contains several photos, the model’s stats, and contact information.


A sheet developed by a photographer showing all the shots from a roll of film so photos that can be selected quickly and easily. Can be in black and white or color.


Copyright is the set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. These rights can be licensed, transferred and/or assigned.


An advertising agency (or magazine) employee with overall responsibility for the creative design and direction of an ad (or editorial).


The rate charged for a model’s services for a full 8 hour day of work.


The money taken from a model’s earnings to pay back loans the agency has made to her for their expenses.  Common in fashion agencies, less common in other kinds of agencies.


When a model is booked by a client without a go-see, either from pictures or from recommendation by the agency.


High fashion models that appear in fashion magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, GQ, Details, W, Numero and work for clients such as Armani, Gucci, Prada, Valentino, Louis Vuitton and other high-end clients are usually referred to as “editorial” models.  Editorial refers to photographs made to illustrate a story or idea within the context of a magazine. These are usually assigned by the magazine


Fashion pages of a magazine that are produced by the magazine itself to portray current trends, clothing and fashion ideas. Editorial work does not pay as well as commercial print which is work done for an actual paying client.


  • An agreement between a model and an agency that the model will work exclusively through that agency.  Exclusive agreements may be limited by time, geography (only in New York, for instance) or modeling/acting discipline (exclusive for on-camera TV commercials)
  • An agreement that a model will not allow her image to be used to advertise any competing product for a specified period of time.  It may also include a prohibition against public criticism of the client’s product.


  • A model who works with the fashion industry.  She may appear in fashion editorials, fashion advertising, catalogs or TV commercials, or may do showroom or fit modeling.
  • A model who is represented by an agency which specializes in fashion modeling.
  • Short for “editorial fashion model”, which many people consider “real fashion models”.  These are the highly specialized models who appear in high-end fashion editorials and campaigns, and normally meet the stringent height, stats and appearance specifications that people associate with “a model”


Fit models used by designers and fashion houses, usually on a regular basis. A fit model would have the perfect measurements that fit industry standards. Can be any size and are not required to have the facial bone structure required by to be a print model.


When the model tries on clothing and outfits to make sure they fit properly and can be altered before a booking such as fashion show, commercial or print shoot.


A model working with out agency representation, or one who works with multiple non-exclusive agencies


A personal or mass interview or audition where numerous models attend to go and see the client so the client can see how the model looks in person. (see also Cattle Call)


A model who specializes in photographs that emphasize their sexuality.  Glamour modeling can range from fully-clothed to nude but the emphasis is usually on the beauty/sex appeal of the model as compared to fashion modeling where the emphasis is (usually) on the beauty/appeal of the clothing being worn


The French word for high fashion.


A poster or brochure of the model’s the agency represents that is presented to clients. Usually contains the model’s headshot and stats. (Headsheets are rarely used anymore, almost all agencies have websites where they post their model’s photos and stats.)


A head shot or headshot is a specific type of portrait where the focus is on the model’s face. The term is usually applied for photographs that realistically demonstrate a person’s appearance for branding or casting.


Typically used for “special situations” models, such as those who are not available for go-sees, but can be direct booked.


On most modeling jobs, the model will be legally treated as a contractor, not an employee, so the client will not withhold payroll taxes, pay workers compensation insurance, or do any of the other things they do for employees.


A collection of photos taken of models wearing a designer or manufacturers clothing that is sent out to fashion editors, buyers, clients and special customers to show the designer’s looks for the season.


The term “market” refers to the various geographical locations in which models work and earn a living.  New York is a “market”, Paris is “market”, Tokyo is a “market”, and so on.  It can also refer to the category your particular look falls into, such as the fashion market, commercial market, plus market, petite market, etc.The major markets are New York, Paris, Milan, and Tokyo.  Secondary markets are Chicago, Miami, Australia, Taipei and so on.  Local markets are much smaller markets and usually where most models originate from before heading to a secondary or major market.


A smaller version of the model’s book that can be sent to clients. Photos are usually 5 x 7 inches. (Mini books are rarely used anymore, almost all agencies have websites that clients can easily access from their offices.)


A model agency is a company that represents fashion models, to work for the fashion industry. These agencies earn their income via commission, usually from the deal they make with the model or the client. The model agency presents the models to the clients, promotes them to foreign agencies and is in charge of the models chart, book, portfolio, buyouts, travel etc.


A legal document provided by the client/photographer and signed by the model or agent. It gives permission to the photographer to use photographs taken at a particular sitting. If photographs are used without a release, or in a way different from what is stated in the release, then the model can sue for breach of contract.


A mother agent is the person or agency that initially discovered you.  A mother agent will help you develop your look, build your book and market you to major and secondary markets.  A mother agent is an important part of your team and can help you navigate the various markets and manage your career long term.


A makeup artist (MUA) is an artist whose medium is the human body, applying makeup and prosthetics for theatrical, television, film, fashion, magazines and other similar productions including all aspects of the modeling industry.


Also referred to as a “hold”.   A client has requested the right of first refusal on a model during a specified time.  That means the model is obligated to be available for the client’s job if booked, and may not accept any other assignment.  A “first option” means that client has priority over any other for that time period.  A “second option” (or “second hold”) means the client has a claim to the model if the person holding the first option decides not to book the model for that time.


Different kinds of modeling define what is “petite” differently.  In fashion work a “petite” is normally a model who is 5’7” or less and wears a size 6 or less dress.  In other kinds of modeling the meaning is closer to the general meaning of the term:  small, without regard to specific criteria.


A collection of photographs and tear sheets of a model, compiled and presented in a book.


Plus-size model is a term applied to a person who is engaged primarily in modeling plus-size clothing. In the fashion/modeling industry, plus size refers to any female model who is size 8 or higher.  Plus-size models are also engaged in work that is not strictly related to selling large-sized clothing, e.g., stock photography and advertising photography for cosmetics, household and pharmaceutical products and sunglasses, footwear and watches. Therefore plus-size models do not exclusively wear garments marketed as plus-size clothing. This is especially true when participating in fashion editorials for mainstream fashion magazines.


Client-speak for “has pleasing proportions”.  In modeling, this means relatively long arms and legs, and a body that is slim, or has a well-formed waist, if a plus model.


Money paid to a model or actor for continued use of their pictures after the photo shoot.  In modeling “residuals” typically are paid when the usage rights originally purchased by the client have expired, and the client wants to continue to use the pictures.


Runway/Catwalk models do live runway shows, showrooms and other types of jobs where a designer or client needs the model to walk and show their clothing.Female runway/catwalk models are a minimum of 5’9″ but 5’10” – 5’11” is better. Male runway/catwalk models are a minimum of 6’0″ – 6’2″


The Screen Actors Guild


Pronounced Zed Card. Another name for composite card. Apparently named after a German agent who invented it.


A senior model is a professional model aged 40 to 70. As the average age is constantly raising, the advertisements go back more and more to older models to approach their target group. A senior models often has a good book as they can show a lot of experience or after easily being booked for ads they get publications from the beginning on.


This is where the action of shoot takes place usually within a professional studio or within a location. It includes all the elements which make the shoot; for example the lighting, camera, art direction and art directed scenery.


A model who specializes in body parts such as hands, feet, legs, backs and other parts.  Shoe models are a subset of this, since they have to have standard sized feet (size 6-7 for women, 10 for men).


The model’s statistics such as height, bust, waist, hips. For men, it is height, chest, and waist. Modeling agencies vary rarely, if ever, use weight as a measurement.


Stock photography is the supply of photographs licensed for specific uses. It is used to fulfill the needs of creative assignments instead of hiring a photographer. Today, stock images are usually presented in searchable online databases, where they are then purchased and delivered online. Often, they are produced in studios using a wide variety of models posing as professionals, stereotypes, expressing stereotypical emotions and gesticulations or involving pets.


A tearsheet is an actual page from a magazine, catalog or other print job in which the model has worked.


In years long gone by, a “test shoot” would be one in which a photographer had a new film, piece of equipment or technique he wanted to try out, or a model he wanted to try shooting in anticipation of using her later for a job.  Usually in such shoots no money changed hands, and at most the model was asked to pay for the cost of having prints made for her book.  More recently, “testing” has also come to mean any shoots for a model’s  or photographer’s portfolio or composite card, and it is commonplace for photographers to charge for their services


TFP means Time for Prints. It is when a model will exchange their time to pose for a photographer and the photographer will, in turn, give the model prints for their book. Usually, this is done by a photographer who may be building their own portfolio or they want to try new lighting techniques or styles.


Models get paid for each different medium in which their photograph is used. These different mediums, or usages, may include: consumer magazines, trade magazines, product packaging, print ads, bus ads, subway ads, billboards, magazine covers, direct mail, magazine editorials, posters, catalogues, brochures, point-of-purchase (point-of-sale or p-o-p), annual reports, book covers, kiosk, duratrans (those big portable billboards that are towed around behind trucks), newspapers, etc. The model receives an additional fee for each usage the client buys. Usages also vary according to time and region. The longer the ad runs and the more markets in which it appears, all drive up the model’s fee. The largest usage is the unlimited time usage, worldwide buyout. That means the client can plaster the photograph across every city in the world in every possible usage until the end of time.


An invoice that is signed by the model and the client after the model completes a job. The model will hand in their vouchers to the agency so that the client can be billed and the model can be paid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar