Ask any new model what types of modeling she wants to pursue – and high-fashion and editorial modeling top the list. Who wouldn’t want to appear in the pages of Vogue or Marie Claire?
But here’s an industry truth: Fashion modeling accounts for just a small percentage of open modeling jobs.
There are countless genres, niches and types of female models who earn a living posing for ads and other types of media. From lifestyle and catalog work, to genres like glamour and niches like mature or plus-size modeling, the industry offers plenty of opportunities for girls (and guys) to launch careers and get paid.
Which type of model are you? Maybe you’re not quite sure, yet.
Each genre, from fashion to editorial, has its own unique qualities. That’s why it can be difficult to decipher between the many modeling genres. Here’s a look at the most common types of modeling, with some insights into what makes them unique:
Fashion Modeling: Different Types and Styles
Fashion modeling might be the most glamorous – and most competitive – genre to break into. The majority of supermodels – Tyra Banks, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, for example – are first and foremost fashion models.
Yet, under the umbrella of fashion modeling, there are a few subgenres, including editorial, runway, and look book modeling. Each of these subgenres, though, has distinctive traits:
- Fashion Modeling: Fashion – e.g. modeling clothes for advertisements and catalogs – is one of the most exclusive genres in the industry. It’s extremely competitive, with many physical requirements to land regular work. Fashion models, for example, tend to be tall and slim (that’s 5’8” to 6’0” for girls and 6’ to 6’2” for guys). And they have “the look.” One key difference in this genre: Fashion models serve a specific purpose. Their job is to make the clothes they wear look immaculate; they’re paid to sell clothing.
- Fashion Editorial: Editorial modeling is what appears on the pages of Vogue and Elle. These are fashion models – those same physical requirements apply – but there’s a key difference: Editorial models tell fashion stories. Editorial models are characters in a carefully crafted narrative. And while the clothes matter, editorial modeling is all about helping to tell a visual story.
- Runway Modeling: Runway models walk the catwalks in fashion shows around the world, from Milan, to New York Fashion Week. This is another highly competitive genre, with strict measurement requirements. Typically, runway models are about 5’11”, slim and work hard to perfect their catwalk struts.
More Modeling Niches: Lifestyle, Fitness and Glamour
Outside of the highly competitive world of fashion modeling, there are numerous genres and niches. In other words, a whole range of opportunities are available to new models.
Advertisers, for example, are always on the lookout for fresh faces for promotional and lifestyle photos. And there are niches for every body type, age and look under the sun – from fitness to mature modeling, to glamour.
Here’s a look at the most common types of models:
- Lifestyle – Lifestyle models appear in photographs that sell a particular lifestyle. Advertisements for luxury travel, jewelry or liquor brands, for example, tend to feature lifestyle models. These models sell a slice of life, whether enjoying themselves at the roulette table or pampering themselves in a new luxury spa. Lifestyle models must play the part, and embody a character for photos.
- Mature – There’s a growing need for mature models, who typically work in all genres, including fashion, commercial and lifestyle modeling. In general, this niche is for models over 35, with work available for women and men into their 70s and 80s. Work tends to be for clothing and lifestyle brands that cater to baby boomers and new families.
- Curvy – Curvy or plus-size models are in high demand at the moment. The industry is becoming more inclusive, and encouraging women with fuller figures to pose for all types of work, including fashion, lifestyle and commercial modeling. Many top modeling agencies now have divisions for curvy models. What exactly is a plus-size model? It might sound crazy to think a size 12 is considered “curvy,” but the industry tends to define plus-size as sizes 8-12.
- Parts Modeling – Parts models model accessories and products that appear on various parts of the body. There are feet models – for sandals and shoes, for example. There are hand and wrist models to model watches, bracelets and tech gadgets. And there are even eye models, who model eye makeup, contacts and glasses. How do you get started in parts modeling? There are model agencies that work exclusively with parts models, and the process is similar to what you’d expect from a traditional agency.
- Promos/Events – Promotional models attend events, parties and product launches, as brand representatives. Many liquor companies use promo models at bars and parties, for example, to mingle and promote their products. Events models also are regularly called upon to attend trade shows and conventions to promote new products and represent brands. These models don’t just look the part – they’re also outgoing and happy to mingle and strike up a conversation.
- Fitness – You’ll find fitness models on the pages of Women’s Health, advertisements for athletic wear, or promos for gyms and health clubs. Fitness models aren’t just slim; they’re toned and in shape. That’s the only requirement. Fitness models come in all shapes and sizes – but they must be athletic and toned!
- Glamour – In fashion modeling, the model’s mission is to wear the clothes well. With glamour modeling, it’s about selling sex appeal. This type of modeling is common in men’s magazines like Maxim or Playboy, as well as pin-up calendars. The focus is the model’s body and figure, and commonly depicts models in sexy, form-fitting clothing or lingerie. There aren’t requirements for height or size; instead, the key is having sex appeal and knowing how to convey sexiness and flirtation in photos.
- Alt Models – There’s a genre that caters specifically to looks that fall outside the mainstream. Alternative models tend to have unique hairstyles, tattoos, piercings, and dramatic makeup, and these models appear in print ads for lifestyle brands catering to younger demographics. Models in this genre also find work as promotional/events models, or with photographers who specialize in alt fashion or art photography.
- Petite Models – Petite modeling, just like it sounds, features petite models. In general, petite models average about 5’4”, and although they don’t land many editorial fashion jobs, there’s plenty of work in print, lifestyle, and commercial modeling for models short in stature.
Commercial vs Editorial Modeling: Key Differences
Are you a commercial or editorial model? That’s a common question new models hear, and for the uninitiated, it can be tough to answer. What exactly is a commercial model? And how do commercial models differ from fashion models?
What Is Commercial Modeling?
Commercial models appear in print advertisements, outdoor advertising and television, i.e. the photos are for “commercial” work. This can mean many different things, but if the goal of the photos is to sell products or services – that’s considered commercial modeling. Commercial models, for example, appear in various types of media, including:
• Advertisements (Print and digital)
• Promotional materials (Year-end reports, brochures)
• Lifestyle ads and media for websites
• Commercials and music videos
• Training videos
• Outdoor advertising
There are hundreds of commercial modeling niches. For example, in Miami, there are numerous opportunities for commercial models – including with local corporate brands like American Airlines or Royal Caribbean – as well as in ads for hundreds of smaller, regional businesses. Miami is also a hub for promotional modeling, as many lifestyle brands hire models to connect with clientele at clubs, events and parties.
How Is It Different from Fashion Modeling?
A key difference of commercial modeling – there are no height or size requirements. Brands look for models who embody their brands, and that means models of all ages, looks and body types can find work in commercial modeling.
Another difference: Editorial models tell stories in their photos. They want to convey emotion and build a narrative with their poses and expressions. Commercial modeling, on the other hand, focuses on selling the brand. A lifestyle ad for a cruise line, for example, wants to sell the fun and excitement of a Caribbean cruise. The model smiles and conveys that emotion – looks great, while enjoying the cruise.
Launching a Modeling Career: How to Get Started
You have a few genres in mind in which you want to work – maybe lifestyle and commercial modeling. But what’s the next step? How do you land that first paying gig?
To get started, you need portfolio photographs.
Your portfolio – a book of photos featuring your best looks – is what gets your foot in the door. And to find work in various genres, you need examples that show what you’re capable of as a model.
If your goal is lifestyle modeling, for example, you’ll need high-quality, professional modeling photos featuring you in slices of everyday life. If your dream is working as a fashion model – you need high-quality headshots, editorial photographs, and a winning beauty shot.
Building a modeling portfolio is hard work. But it’s absolutely essential to launching a successful career. Here are a few tips for getting started:
- Work with a Professional: Professional model photographers take photos that put you in the best light, provide helpful direction, and take photos that make you look incredible. Don’t waste time with unpaid photoshoots with amateur photographers. If you need high quality photos at the start of your career, a model photographer will deliver – it’s one of the most important investments you’ll make in your career.
- Show Your Range: Your modeling portfolio is a living work. As you progress and begin to specialize, you might feature photos in one or two genres. Early in your career, though, it’s important to use your portfolio to show what you’re capable of doing. Take photos in a variety of genres in which you want to work.
- Look the Part: Study poses for model photography. Find inspiration from your favorite advertisements and see what models do to sell products, clothing, or tell a story. In your early portfolio photographs, you want to mimic the techniques and poses you see in ads and magazine spreads – so study the pros, and find a photographer who can offer direction and support.
The world of modeling is highly competitive. But getting in the door is much more difficult if you close yourself off to the various genres, niches and types of modeling that are available. The most in-demand models know this, and they become masters of many different types of modeling.
Looking for high-quality model portfolio photos? Perfect10 Portrait can help – we’re experienced model photographers who can help you build your portfolio.