Models who want to submit their images/portfolios to modeling agencies first need to create “modeling digitals” or “polaroids” to show their current look in the most natural way. I get many questions such as, “What’s a Polaroid?”, “Do I need modeling digitals?”, “Can I take them on my own?”, and so on. So I’ve created this web page that discusses the basics about modeling digitals/polaroids, and hopefully this answers any questions one might have about modeling digitals. Here we go… 🙂
Modeling Digitals (also known as “Polaroids”) are natural images of what a model currently looks like. These images were once taken on-the-spot with instant Polaroid cameras, (hence the name “Polaroids”), and they were taken to capture a model in simple lighting, without editing to show his/her natural appearance. Today, modeling digitals are taken with digital cameras, ideally with a white or neutral-colored background. Multiple shots of the model are taken to show his/her look from various angles, to give the client or agency an accurate representation of the model’s current look without heavy makeup or image editing.
Modeling digitals allow both clients and agencies the ability to see what a model naturally looks like. These unedited images are standard for the modeling industry, and even signed models typically update their modeling digitals every few months, or if there are major changes to their look such as a change in hair color/style, tattoos, weight loss/gain, etc. It’s important to have updated current modeling digitals on-file.
Yes! Do you need me to take your modeling digitals? Absolutely, not. However, lighting, posing, and angles are key. Since I’m well versed in this area, I know key things to look for when shooting, and if the goal is to get the most professional shots possible, you can book a session with me for your Modeling Digitals and/or optional headshots. However, if you wish to take digitals yourself, here are some tips to follow: Be sure to see some of my examples posted here, and read this page in its entirety. If you don’t have studio lighting gear at home, soft natural lighting is especially important. Don’t take selfies in front of a mirror in your bathroom. If you are going to take these images at home, have a friend take your photos, and try to find a white or light colored wall with a large window nearby for natural light. Hopefully the wall will be free of electrical outlets and cords, and can show you in a full-length shot. The ideal weather for this natural lighting look would be a cloudy day, for soft natural light that isn’t harsh. Check the agency guidelines for agencies you would like to apply to, and also search “modeling digitals” for sample poses that work best for digitals. Keep it natural, do not edit your photos, and try to capture the real you! If you find this is difficult, our would like to book a modeling digitals session, please contact me for information on booking a session.
Almost all agencies want a standard full-body shot, a quarter-turn shot from various angles, and a close up face shot. These images should be in a relaxed pose for a natural look. However, some agencies may want specific angles as per their submission specs/guidelines, so if you’re planning on submitting modeling digitals to a specific agency (or multiple agencies) it’s important to preview their guidelines before our shoot. If they have a spec sheet or guidelines, please bring these guidelines to the shoot, or submit them to me via email before our shoot so we can ensure you get the exact shots and angles you need. Since no two agencies are the same in their requirements, when shooting modeling digitals, I try to shoot every common requirement from agencies so that you’re covered when booking a modeling digitals package. This includes multiple styles, hair up/down, various poses, and so on.
Agencies really want to see a model in a natural look to show their features and shape. Loose, baggy clothing is not acceptable. This means, form-fitting clothing that is not busy, and has a neutral color.
WOMEN: For fashion-oriented models, women will ideally wear black jeans/leggings and a form-fitting neutral-colored tank-top that is either black or white. For fitness or swimwear models, black bikinis are often worn to show shape, along with black heels are ideal to compliment this look. High heels are recommended but not required, as they are an acceptable “cheat”, often times making models appear taller and accentuating proper posture. For jeans/leggings colors, it’s safe to go with black jeans/leggings and a form-fitting tank-top that is either black or white.
MEN: For fashion-oriented models, men should ideally wear form-fitting jeans and a neutral form-fitting top. You cannot go wrong with black jeans and a slim cut black t-shirt. For fitness or swimwear models, men often take shirtless modeling digitals as well to show shape.
The goal of modeling digitals is to make you naturally standout among neutral tones. Clothing with bright or busy patterns are not to be used as they detract from the natural look.
Everything about modeling digitals is supposed to be natural. This means your hair should not be overly styled, and heavy makeup is not recommended. You will see some sites that say that absolutely no makeup should be worn, but this is not realistic. Extremely light concealer that gives off a completely natural look is fine. No eyeliner or heavy mascara, and if you wish to go without makeup, that works too, but very light makeup and natural lip balm is completely fine.
No! I understand that we live in an age of Facetune, Photoshop’s liquify feature, and the occasional photo that might make a model’s skin look like a painting. However, everything about modeling digitals should be natural. This means that all shots from the shoot are not edited in any way. This ensures that agencies and clients see the real you. The only post-production that may/should be applied to modeling digitals would be a lens correction tweak in Lightroom or Photoshop to ensure that proportions are natural. When shooting at wider angles with a 24mm-70mm zoom lens for example, the wider the angle, the more that objects/people can appear distorted. Thus, if shooting at wider angles, it’s important to correct any possible lens distortion in the image in post-production. This keeps things natural and although this is not what most people consider “photo editing” (such an blemish or wrinkle removal), etc., it is technically still “editing” since it’s post-production work on an image. If you’re shooting digitals at home with a smartphone, or even using a DSLR with a lens in the 85mm range, you don’t need to worry about this. The key takeaway in this is that unlike editorial modeling portfolio shots, modeling digitals are shot with the intention of being unedited, and for any modeling digitals package booked with me, models receive all modeling digitals unedited and watermark-free.
In many cases when you receive final files from me, the files will be named something along the lines of MMP_1234.jpg. However, when applying to modeling agencies, it’s best to name your files properly with your full name. So instead of naming files “MMP_1234.jpg”, you want agencies to receive files named “Jane_Smith_digitals_01.jpg”, or something along those lines, so they easily keep track and know these images represent you.
I often encourage people to be themselves when shooting. That means if you naturally smile quite often, it’s okay to project your personality in photos. However, with modeling digitals, much like with the idea of being natural and not going overboard on makeup, it’s typically best to not go overboard with expressions as well. Subtle/casual smiles are fine, but it’s best to keep expressions more on the subdued side, and remember that you want to appear to a wide variety of agencies and clients. This typically means a more professional demeanor, so extreme poses or expressions should be avoided.
Please contact me, and select the “Modeling Digitals” option when selecting your desired photoshoot on my Contact page.
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