“Polaroid” may be a dated camera, but the word is commonly used for test shots by photographers (roids), and within agencies when describing un-retouched, non-professional images of talent used to depict their real selves.

These are the most important shots you can take when trying to get signed as a fashion model. We take them at CAT-Shoots as part of agency submissions but you can take them yourself!

Here’s a step by step guide to how to get these important shots without making common mistakes that can keep you from getting signed!


There are several poses, all of them taken under the same conditions. We’ll show you examples. First, some very important things:

  • Do not wear any makeup whatsoever.
  • Put your hair up, or pull it back into a ponytail so that your jaw line and cheekbones are well depicted.
  • No not retouch the images in any way. Pimples and blemishes are fine. Really.
  • Try and avoid flash photography (turn the flash off on your camera).

Taking the pics:

When you take these images, any digital camera, or newer phone will work. Take the pictures outdoors in natural light, and without flash. How do you do this? Follow these simple steps and look at the examples below:

  • Ideally, do it on a cloudy day where there’s no direct sunlight falling on you, or the background.
  • If it’s not cloudy, find a shaded area and make sure the background is also shaded so there are no “hot spots” from the sun. Usually a good place for this is under a large awning, or on the shady side of a big building.
  • Keep the background simple, for example a simple wall, ideally grey. Never bright white, or too dark as those can effect the camera’s exposure.
  • Turn the flash off on the camera. If you are too dark, it’s probably because the background is too bright. If you can’t get yourself properly exposed, you can try turning the flash on but it will flatten you out in the image.
  • Wear a simple bikini, or a bra and panties. You must show your shape and skin.

Now for the 6 pictures: (Click on any to make bigger)
3O8E4902The first three pictures are head-shots. First, show your natural self without smiling. Don’t try and pose your face, just a reasonably blank look with your mouth closed. make sure the camera is turned sideways for all shots (portrait orientation) and frame just above the top of the head, and have the face fill 2/3rds of the frame.


3O8E4903Now do the same thing again smiling. What you need to show well are your teeth.


3O8E4904Your last head-shot will be your profile. Don’t just turn your head but stand facing sideways so you don’t have a twisted neck. Just stand with your feet pointed 90 degrees from the camera. Don’t forget to have your hair up, or in a ponytail!


Now for your body. Have the person taking the picture standing further back (don’t overuse the zoom) and put your feet a few inches apart with both toes pointing at the camera, and arms at your side.

Do not try and pose! You want your body falling naturally. The top of the frame should be just above your head and the bottom should be well below the knees. Showing your feet is optional but we don’t like it.

3O8E4906Now do it again sideways. Remember, your feet should be pointed 90 degrees from the camera. Don’t suck your stomach in, it will be obvious if you do and make all your images appear less believable.


One more time from behind. Stand the same way for all three full body pictures.

Many people are embarrassed by these images so they want to add makeup, and prefer more flattering poses. The new faces people at major agencies know exactly what they are looking for and can see past blemishes and other faults. Do not try and hide anything, it will work against you.

What else to include.

When you submit the images electronically to an agency, send a very short note. They won’t read much and there are some very important things to include:

  • Where you are located.
  • Your age.
  • Your height. (Flat footed and do not lie, even by half an inch)
  • Your measurements, most importantly your hips measured at the largest point around your butt. Be sure that the tape measure is perfectly in line with the floor, people have a tendency to wrap it around your butt and then pull it upward or downward which will make the measurement less than actual size.

That’s it! That’s all you need to send an agency, but one other thing: Agencies have open calls. Those that do you should go visit in person and bring prints of your digital Polaroids as well as your book and link to your modeling portfolio if you have one.