How to Take Modeling Digitals and Polaroids
Updated: Jan 24
If you have spent any time researching modeling agencies and trying to learn how to get agency signed, then you should be familiar with these 2 terms:
Modeling digitals and polaroids are interchangeable terms within the modeling industry which both mean the same thing. Some agencies will use the term "digitals" while others will often say "polaroids".
What are Modeling Digitals and Polaroids?
Essentially, they are basic images/photographs taken to showcase your face and body without any professional editing, styling or make-up. Digitals are the raw photo version of you which showcase to an agency/client what you look like in your most natural state.
So this means no fake lashes, no red lipstick, no "beat" face that took an hour to apply make-up and certainly no face-tune or IG filters.
And yes, if you ever paid attention to most models in ads and on TV, you will notice that they all have short nails in a neutral color unless for a specific ad. Therefore, take your digitals with short, neutral nails so that agencies are not distracted by minor changes that could have caused them to see more of a model in you.
Why are Model Digitals needed?
Modeling agencies require that aspiring models hoping to be signed submit digitals either on an agency website or via email in order to best see the model in their most authentic natural state. This ensures that the hopeful model has the look and potential to book jobs with the agency's client roster without having to be made up to be a success. Digitals are also a way for the agency to clearly see the model's skin type (blemish free) as well as the health of their hair, curves etc.
When are Digitals and Model Polaroids Needed?
Aside from agencies requesting them when a model is going through the submission process, once signed, agencies typically require that their models submit to them fresh digitals/polaroids every quarter...so every 3 months or so.
The purpose is to see if the model has grown, aged, if they have lost or gained weight, to verify the model's current hair color and length etc.
How to Take Modeling
When taking digitals, this is not the time to get all technical and professional. Digitals are intended to be taken on a cell phone - or if using a professional camera be sure that there is no post production editing to your skin.
Take your digitals against preferably a white background/wall or as close to white as possible.
Natural lighting would be the suggested option as the purpose behind digitals is for the agency to see you best and natural light tends to create more well lit images.
When shooting in natural light or even indoors, be sure to avoid any shadows across your body.
Images should be as clear as possible - not blurry or dark.
If you are feeling overwhelmed on making sure you take the right digitals and that you submit to the agencies best suited for your look, schedule an appointment with Kamla-Kay consulting and let's do a 1-hour model coaching zoom call together.
How Do Models Pose for Digitals?
Most agencies will request for digitals to be taken in certain body angles, but if they do not give you specifics, be sure to capture yourself in the following angles and make sure that you hair is not covering your face.
Put your hair behind your ears or tie it into a low ponytail if you have long hair....or a high puff for my natural girls with thicker hair if it's too much in your face.
What Angles to Take for Modeling Digitals? Polaroid Angles?
Headshot (from chest up smiling versus non-smiling)
Full Body Profile shot (non-smiling)
3/4 face side shot with or without eyes looking into the camera
Full body front-facing shot (smiling versus non-smiling)
Note that fashion agencies typically do not want you to smile in your digitals but commercial agencies will want to see you smile in at least 1 photo.
Be mindful to also capture a few shots of you showing personality such as a cute smile, seated on a stool in a pose etc in case the agency later requests a few of those ...but make sure they are cute silly faces and not scary or too off the wall. The personality faces/poses should not be initially sent to the agency when trying to get signed unless requested.
What to Wear For Modeling Digitals?
Be sure that when you take your digitals/polaroids you wear an outfit that is flattering to your body.
Many agencies will specify if they wish to see digitals in a swimsuit, regular clothing or both.
Wear solid colors, preferably darks such as blacks, blues and grays. If wearing more color, avoid overly distracting options such as neons. You will also want to stay away from any patterns and logo branded pieces.
Generally, models will wear flattering jeans and a plain t-shirt or tank top to take their digitals or a 2-piece solid color swimsuit depending on which is requested.
As you can see from my photo samples, I have had to take both types of digitals for my agencies; in swim and in full attire. I always ensure that I capture the poses that the agency requests and then I also include a bit of posing personality if that seems to be allowed by the agency based on the samples they often showcase on their website. Just do not go overboard with the posing as digitals are intended to be simple.
I have booked many modeling jobs with clients and gotten modeling contracts as a result of taking proper digitals so take care in capturing your best version of you. Practice in front of the mirror and in various lighting to see what works best to increase your chances of getting signed or booking a job as a result of the digitals.
Finally, digitals/polaroids can make or break an agency or client choosing you so be sure to also work on a healthy physique, skin and hair to be more marketable prior to you attempting to submit to an agency.
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