Picking Assignments

Evaluating Assignments

Why Should You Evaluate Assignments based on Intent, Use, and State of Dress?

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the term "modeling." The reason there is confusion is because the term is so broad and covers so many different types of activities. Also, not everyone means the same thing when using "single phrase" terms to describe an assignment. This leads to a lot of confusion and frustration on all parties.

For many beginning models, the term "glamour" makes them think that the poses will be like those in fashion magazines -- where most professional photographers mean that the model will be topless and in lingerie. Unless there is further discussion about the State of Dress, the model may show up to the shoot completely unprepared and unwilling to do the poses the photographer has hired him/her for.

Similarly, the Intent and Use of the images are important. If a female model does poses in conservative business suit and then ends up as the main photo about the issues of being an "lesbians in the workforce," the model may be horrified and embarrassed by the use of the otherwise "innocent" photo.

Assignment Intent, Use, and State of Dress

Most beginning models are only concerned about "what they will be wearing" and whether or not they have to pose nude.  These are legitimate questions.  What an aspiring professional model would instead be asking is "why are the photos needed, and how will they be used?"

It is very limiting for a model to base their decision to pose simply on the type of clothing (or lack thereof) required for the photos. In order to be considered serious/professional, the model should be open to all ideas and concepts and base his/her decision on the "total project." Many models have benefited from posing nude for tasteful projects and assignments (cosmetics and bath products, fine artwork, postcard / calendar projects, and even high-quality magazines like Playboy).

In relating to types of modeling there are three areas which need to be considered. These are INTENT, USE, and STATE OF DRESS.

INTENT asks "what is the model needed for?" These can fall into several categories, including just a handful listed here.

  • runway for clothing display
  • photography for commercial advertising, promotion, catalogs, or product use
  • photography for photographer's portfolios
  • photography for personal projects (model's, photographer's, or art director's)
  • acting or performing for commercials (film or TV)
  • acting or performing for theatrical or film productions
  • spokes modeling at tradeshows and conventions
  • photography for personal entertainment (followed by a 976 number)

Since the money for most models is in the arena of Commercial Photography, the next issue that needs to be addressed is what is the USE of the resulting photography?

  • photography for editorial / story illustration (newspapers, magazines, newsletters, etc.)
  • photography for product promotion (geared again toward "stories" in print -- these photos are
  • by the manufacturers rather than by the newspaper or magazine staff & contributors).
  • photography for printed advertising (which can be anything from postcards to billboards)
  • photography for catalog / product guides (where product is key -- model's face may not even appear)
  • photography for paper or "novelty" products (posters, postcards, greeting cards, calendars, T-shirts, advertising promotions, etc.)
  • photography for fashion 'tests' of outfits by designers (to see how the clothes look "on print").
  • photography for packaging (boxes, labels, containers, etc.)
  • photography for illustration guides (used by commercial artists and illustrators to draw and paint new work)
  • photography for stock use (can include any of the above uses)
  • photography for gallery-oriented artwork
  • photography for artwork books (coffee table and collector's editions of prints)
  • photography for private sale to collectors (generally glamour & erotic pix)
  • photography for adult entertainment magazines and advertising (anything from Playboy to hardcore)
  • photography for computer websites and video content

Most beginning models (and those who think they "aren't" beginners) are confused by terms that photographers and industry types use regarding a model's STATE OF DRESS. Also, many models turn down glamour assignments without considering the INTENT and USE of the photography. For someone who wants to maximize their modeling potential, this is likely a mistake.  Turning down current opportunities will also limit future opportunities.

The following are fairly well accepted definitions for the various STATES OF DRESS.

  • Casual (t-shirt & jeans types of clothing)
  • Evening wear (gowns and tuxes)
  • Business (suits, skirts, and conservative dresses)
  • Beachwear/Swimsuit (swimsuits, bikinis, thongs, cover-ups, etc. -- in other words, anything appropriate and "wearable" in public at the beach)
  • Lingerie (all types, whether sheer or not; after all a large share of lingerie is sheer to begin with -- use Band Aids on nipples if you're concerned about them showing)
  • Glamour (lingerie and nude - similar to men's entertainment magazines like Playboy)
  • Art (generally means nude poses with no clothing, or plain fabric "draping" materials - models' faces often do not appear in images)
  • Erotica Art (artwork poses including sexual themes)
  • Adult (typically means adult hardcore material, XXX materials)

Unless a model is specifically interested in having a career as a porn star, I would recommend that models stay away from requests for the categories Adult (and some Glamour work).  Bruce Webber and Helmut Newton are just two of many world-famous fashion photographers who have propelled young models onto an international scene by creating erotica art poses of the women for the inner pages of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and other top fashion magazines.

Nude Photos?

Deciding to pose nude is a very personal choice which should not be made lightly.  Who you choose to work with should be a matter of "style" and "talent." Style has to do with techniques of taking the photo (lens selection, lighting used, compositional features, etc.) and working with a model (how well he can explain what he wants, coax poses from a model, make the model feel positive and enthusiastic). Talent has to do with having finished images that people will admire and appreciate (and perhaps even pay for).

Again, the issue is about substance and quality.  Many professional models are very comfortable posing fully nude and even erotically for artwork, but they would never pose in sheer lingerie (they appreciate art, but they hate "cheesecake" shots). On the other hand, other models are more interested in looking sexy and teasing, so they would much rather pose in completely see-through lingerie than in a more "serious and sober" art piece. And still other models think than anything less that seven layers of wool on a hot summers day is "naked," and want nothing to do with photos that show any skin lower than the neck.