Just like many other industries, models and actors have a subset of modeling terms and phrases that are commonly used to communicate with others in the business. If you are going to enter this business that we call modeling it is a good idea to be able to speak and understand the language.

If you are new to the business and you are meeting with a modeling agency or a new client, don’t try to put on a show – you will stand out as a poser – wannabe. It is important to do your research and know your stuff!

When you are meeting with an agency or client, it is important that you understand what they have told you. Don’t fake it! If you didn’t understand something they said, ask for an explanation. They were new to the business at one point also and will appreciate your desire to get it right over your need to impress.

Glossary of Modeling Terms

Photos © by www.JoeEdelman.com

The following is an A-Z guide of the most commonly used modeling terms and phrases:


An agency is a company the model hires to find her work. An agency makes their money through commission. They generally take 20% of the model’s rate and charge an additional 20% to the client.


An agent generally refers to a person that markets an actor/actress. A model does not need to deal with an agent, but wants to deal with agencies, who may still submit her for some acting work as well as modeling work.


Often called a casting, an audition is an opportunity for an actor/actress to showcase her talents to a client. Auditions may be held for commercials, theatrical performances, films, tv shows, ect. At an audition, you generally have a short prepared piece to perform or may be asked to do a cold read.


A buyout is commonly used when an ad or commercial that is shot for local or regional distribution may be picked up for national display. The model or actor is generally paid a lesser fee for the actual work but would receive an additional bonus (buyout) if the ad or commercial goes national. This practice is frequently used for infant and toddler modeling. Companies will hire 4 – 5 children at a rate of between $50 and $75 dollars for the entire shoot. The child who gets used in the finished product (ad, commercial, packaging etc) could receive a buyout of several thousand dollars.


A callback is a follow up after an audition so the client may audition you further. There will be fewer people at this audition. A callback is generally a good sign and means the casting director and client liked your first audition.


See audition. A casting may also refer to a model call or go-see.


A client is the person or company responsible for hiring the models. It is the company that is using the model for its ad.

Cold Read

A cold read is when the model or actor is handed a commercial copy or piece of a script and asked to perform it as an audition without having the opportunity to see and prepare the piece beforehand.

Comp Card

A comp card is a model’s business card. The card generally has a headshot on the front and four pictures on the back. It will also list the model’s basic stats. The comp card is an abridged version of the model’s portfolio.


A go-see is a modeling audition, or when a model goes to see (meet with) a client and show them her portfolio.


A headshot is a tight shot that generally shows only the face and sometimes the tops of shoulders. Headshots shows a person as they are but in the best possible way.

Open Call

An open call refers to a posted time during which a model may go to meet an agency or a client.


A model’s portfolio is a group of pictures of the model put together in a book that she uses to market herself with. The pictures should show the model’s age range and a variety of different expressions. A great portfolio will show the model’s ability to act and still make her look amazing.


A short piece of the script that you will be expected to prepare or do a cold read from at an audition.

There are several different types of models.

Photos © by www.JoeEdelman.com

Types of Models

Commercial modeling is the vast majority of modeling work. There are no height requirements but you must be an attractive, real person who can act. Commercial modeling includes modeling for television commercials and commercial print modeling. Commercial print modeling includes casual/lifestyles, corporate, fitness, swimwear, lingerie, glamour, and alternative modeling. Parts modeling is also part of commercial print modeling. Commercial modeling also includes promotional modeling.

Fashion modeling includes runway, catalog, editorial, and fit modeling. A fashion model must meet certain height requirements.

Nude modeling is modeling done while naked. It includes glamour nude, artistic nude, and erotic nude modeling.

Web modeling is not a professional form of modeling. It is however a way for amateur models to connect with amateur photographers. This is great for the photographers, but unfortunately leaves the model with poor pictures and bad habits.

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