Industry Terms

Find below a number of terms used by photographers, models, agencies, bookers and many other participants in the fashion industry.

This list is not ment to be complete or 100% accurate, but will give you a good start in better communication.


Advertising Agency: The company that specializes in creating ads for big brands.

Agency Book: The book agencies distribute to all of their clients to promote their models. The book contains the comp card for each model represented by the agency. Models are often required to pay a fee to have their comp card printed in the book. 

Agency: A company that represents models, actors and talent of any kind. A modelling agency is responsible for representing and promoting its roster of models and booking jobs for them. Modelling agencies usually handle contracts, payments and the whole business side of the model's life. Sometimes, especially with larger agencies, the agency will "lend" the model money for a photo shoot, comp cards, clothes, an apartment, etc. The agency will then pay itself back by taking money out of the model's first earnings. It is NOT usual for reputable agencies to charge a 'sign-up' or 'joining' fee, or to charge for test shots - if they feel the model have potential as a model they will be eager to sign the model.

Art Director:
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.


Backdrop: Whatever the model stands in front of during a photo shoot. In a studio, this is usually seamless paper or a faux location scene.

Beauty Shot: A close-up shot of part or all of the face (lips, eyes, etc.). This kind of photo is usually used in a cosmetics print ad or in a magazine editorial about skin care products, make-up products, that kind of thing. A beauty shot shows the models face in an elegant and beautiful manner. No big hair, no heavy jewelry or anything that distracts from the models skin, bone structure, and overall features.

Bio: The condensed story of a model's life - basically a resume with particular jobs highlighted.

Billing Form:
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)

Bonus: Bonuses are not always given in cash - designers may give clothes as bonuses if they can't pay the models' full day rates for a photo session or runway show. And no matter what form the bonus takes, the agency takes 20% of the value of the bonus. Bonuses can be given when a shoot is long, or when a client loves the pics and wants to use them more often than the original intention/contract.

Bookout: When the model tell the models agent the model's not available for a job, for either professional or personal reasons, and the agent cannot book the model during that time, the model's "booked out" for that time.

Book: A model's portfolio book of photos.

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

Booking Conditions: 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.

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

BTS: Behind the scenes photos and videos.


Call Sheet: A call sheet contains all details of the shoot including location, call times, creative team, essential contact information, schedule of the day, and any other important details. This is sent out the day before or several days before a shoot.

Call Time: The time an individual should arrive for a shoot. Call time may be different for different me members of the creative team.

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

Catwalk Model: 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 175cm (5' 9") but 177 - 180cm (5' 10" - 5' 11") is better.
Male runway/catwalk models are a minimum of 182 - 187cm (6' 0" - 6' 2")

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

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

Commercial Model: 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).

Clean-Clean: A specification on a call-sheet that means clean hair, clean face. The model should show up for the photo shoot with no make-up on and freshly washed hair. The opposite of this is "hair and make-up ready," which is pretty self-explanatory.

Commission Letter: A letter from a magazine indicating that the model have been hired/commission to shoot for that publication. This helps the model secure the models creative team, models and clothing for a shoot. This is similar to a pull letter, except this letter indicates that the magazine has in fact hired the model. A pull letter, on the other hand, is simply to help the model get clothing and does not guarantee the work will actually appear in the publication.

Composite Card: Also referred to as a comp card, zed card or model business card. A comp card is a piece of card stock printed with at least two photos of the model in various poses, settings, outfits and looks (the widest variety possible). It includes the models name, the models contact information, usually the models agency's info and all the models stats. Comp cards come in lots of different formats depending on the city, agency and the type of model or actor the model are. Agencies will usually issue comp cards for the model after they sign the model.

Configurations: The number of models posed in a photograph. Some standard fashion configurations are singles, doubles, triples, and groups.

Contact Sheet: Also called Proofs. A photographer's term for a sheet of film printed with small versions of all the photos taken during the photo shoot. From the contact sheet, the photographer and the client will choose which shots they want to print and enlarge.

Cove Studio / Cyc Studio: This is a photography studio that has no corners - instead, it's sort of rounded everywhere with built-in backdrops. In photographs, corners and edges (like where the wall meets the floor) tend to look ugly. A cove studio eliminates this effect. Seamless paper gives the same effect in a regular studio.

Craft Services: Food on a set. The person in charge of 'craft services' must manage getting food or catering for the shoot.


Day Rate: The rate charged for a model's services for a full 8 hour day of work.

Daylight Studio: A photographic studio that is lit with natural light, usually by way of windows and skylights

Digital Tech: On a photo shoot, a digital tech manages the communication between the camera and the computer, the tethering, image display and image backup. They often help the photographer check critical focus and exposure for a shoot, and are solely responsible for backing up images.

Dresser: The person who makes sure that clothes fit the model properly, and pins them if necessary.


Editorial Model: 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.


Fashion Editorial: A series of images based upon a theme that is then published in a magazine or online publication. A fashion editorial usually consists of a minimum of 5 images, and usually is unpaid. When shooting an editorial people usually work in exchange for the exposure or 'tear sheets'.

Fashion Fit Modelling: A male or female model fashion designers and garment manufacturers use to size and measure clothes for production. Fit models have the perfect proportions for a given clothing size. They are used by designers 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. Fit models can be hired by manufacturers in permanent salary positions. Often, clothing manufacturers do not hire separate fit models for each size. Instead, they measure the clothes on a standard size (size 8-10 for women; size 40 regular for men) model and then use computer programs to magnify those dimensions for each different size.

Favoured Nations: Contractual term for a photo shoot in which each model is getting paid the same day rate. The highest paid model on the shoot usually gets paid less than his or her usual rate. This helps eliminate accusations of unfair work practices and general griping by lower-paid models that are working just as hard as the highly-paid model. Models don't look as good in photographs when they feel they're being cheated to pay the star.

Fitting: The session that takes place before the photo shoot where the clothes to be modelled are fit onto the model. Based on the model's particulars, the clothes are usually altered to fit. When the model go to a fitting, be prepared to stand around partially clothed all day long, in front of several people. These people will usually be stylists, seamstresses and designers.

Fit 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.

Freelance Model: A model listed with multiple agencies (as opposed to one particular agency) or a self-promoting model who works without an agent. Most commercial print models are freelance and work as independent contractors.


Go-see: A model's appointment to see a potential client.


Haute Couture: The French word for high fashion.

Hair and Makeup Ready: If the agancy or photographer asks a model to come 'hair and makeup ready', he/she should have already done his or her makeup for the shoot. They come ready to shoot as-is.

Halftime: Models are paid halftime for all travel time. If the models day rate is £50 an hour, the model'll get £25 for each hour the model travel to and from that job. the models agency also gets 20% of halftime travel rates.

Head Sheet: A poster displaying head shots and information about models represented by a modeling agency. Models may have to pay to appear on an agency's headsheet.


Kit Fee: Sometimes a hair stylist or makeup artist will ask for a 'kit fee' to help cover their costs for a test shoot. Kit fees are usually relatively small and meant only to help cover costs of supplies.


Location: Any place, other than in a studio, where a shoot (photography or film) takes place. When the model are on location, it means the model are outside the controlled environment of the studio or soundstage and should prepare accordingly.

Look Book: A collection of photos created to show the designer's collection for the current season. Typically the photography is less 'creative' and more about showcasing the clothing, although that is not always the case.

Letter of Responsibility / LOR : When borrowing clothing for a shoot, a publication insures the clothes for the model in case of loss or damage. Designers and showrooms are more willing to lend clothing if the model have a LOR.


Markets: 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 the models 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.

Model Release: 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.

Mood Board: A collection of images that express the overall direction and inspiration for a shoot. Mood boards often contain images for the desired type of hair, makeup, wardrobe and even lighting on a shoot. A mood board helps express a photographer's vision of the shoot to the entire team.  A mood board can be a number of tear sheets, printouts or digital, such as pinterest boards.

MUA: Short for 'Makeup Artist"

Mini Book: 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.)

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


New Face / Development Model: Models at an agency that are still developing their portfolios and are available for unpaid/test shoots. Often these models have less experience or have recently changed their look (hair) and need updated portfolios.


PA: Production Assistant: On set this individual helps to ensure that the day runs smoothly and coordinates scheduling, locations, permits, food and other elements of the shoot.

Photographer Release: A contract signed by the photographer giving permission to the model to use the photographs taken during a particular sitting.

Portfolio: Also called a Book or Model's Book. A notebook conaining a collection of a model's best photographs (usually size 8"x10") and tear sheets demonstrating their abilities in front of the camera. Models can usually purchase good portfolios stamped with their agency's name and logo directly from the agency, but plain black portfolios work fine, too.

Pull Letter: A letter from a magazine, written on the models behalf, to encourage designers and showrooms to lend clothing for a shoot. Usually has the date of shoot, the issue the model will be published in, and lists the models wardrobe stylist's name.


Resume: Sheet listing a model's education, experience, and vital statistics. The resume is usually attached to an 8X10 or a composite.

Runway Model: see Catwalk Model

Right of First Publication: When the models work is accepted to be published by a magazine or online publication, they reserve the right to be the first to share these images online or in print. In other words, do not share the models images from these shoots on social media, the models website or any other outlet until AFTER they have been published.


Showroom: A showroom represents different designers, helps lend their clothes for publication, and often manages a designer's public relations. Stylists have relationships with showrooms to help attain clothing for shoots.

Spec Shoot: Also known as 'shooting on spec', everyone shoots for free in hopes of later selling the images or catching the attention of a brand to hire the model to create imagery for their company (see also TFP)

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.

Session / Sitting: General term for a photo shooting. A session is divided into different sets (one or more).

Set: A session consists of one or more sets. Each set is generally speaking the change of a look. This can be a change of the crop (full body, 2/3, 3/4 or portrait), a change of the styling (clothes, or a change in lighting or the whole setup such as background changes or moving into another location.


Tear Sheet: An image in a publication is called a tear sheet, referring to when the model could literally 'tear' a sheet out of a magazine. Tear sheets may be physical (print) or digital. Often people will work in exchange for credits and 'tears' to include in their portfolio and list of clients. Models put their tear sheets in their portfolios. Tearsheets are even better than photos, because it shows the kind of work the model has already done.

Test Shoot: A test shoot is intended for portfolio building and to test working with new people (aka a photographer testing with a new hair stylist, makeup artist, model or vice versa). Typically a test is unpaid (see also TFP / Time for Pictures) and everyone is working for experience and to build their books (aka portfolios).

Tether: If shooting tethered, the models images are automatically displayed on a monitor or screen during the shoot so that the client can view the images real-time.

Time For Prints / TFP: An agreement between the model and photographer to whereby they work for each other on a mutually beneficial basis, and no money changes hands. The photographer provides a selection of pictures from the shoot in recognition of the model's time commitment.

Trade: When a shoot is done in exchange for services. Often a hair stylist or makeup artist will trade for digital images in exchange for their time. (See also TFP and Test Shoot)


Usages: 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 bu the modelt. That means the client can plaster the photograph across every city in the world in every possible usage until the end of time.


Voucher: 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.


Wrap Time: The projected time that the model will complete the shoot.


Zed Card: Apparently named after a German agent who invented it. See Composite Card.

Heiko Kanzler Photography
© 2024 Heiko Kanzler    Contact

Avenida Mediterraneo, Urb Vista Real 3, 11360 Alcaidesa

Photography with by Heiko Kanzler