Model Photography Genres

January 26, 2009

in Instruction

There are many names for the kinds of photography that involve models. Matter of fact I almost regret naming my site Glamour Apprentice, because Glamour is only one part of the mix. The real challenge is the names we give these different genres and how they map to actual images.

To further confuse things, the words we use mean different things to different people, especially new models. Glamour can mean anything from Playboy to Glamour Shots in the mall. If a model comes in expecting glamour to be fancy makeup and you expect nudity, there is going to be a problem.

There seem to be two ways genres are named, by the clothing worn – or not worn – and by the purpose or feeling. Of course to confuse things there is overlap. Lets talk about the first kind of naming.

Genre By Clothing

Swimsuit, lingerie, casual, nude, implied nude. These are all genres of model photography, but they are a little weak in specifics. They do tell a model what she’s going to be wearing, but not the purpose of the image. For instance, the Victoria Secret catalog is lingerie, but it is different than the lingerie in Maxxim magazine. One is fashion and the other is glamour.

You’d think nude would be a genre that couldn’t be confusing, but there are different kinds of nude and those different kinds aren’t based on how naked the model is, they are based on the purpose and feel of the image. A fine art nude image is about form, line and texture. A glamour nude is about sexiness and titillation.

Then there is casual, which is a form of fashion. Casual fashion means shots about the clothes and those clothes are everyday clothes, not high fashion designer clothes. The images are also generally taken in everyday locations as opposed to a studio.

There are a couple of genres that are about the clothes, but also about the feel. For instance Goth is both about the clothing – whether punk goth or victorian goth – and about the mood. Pinup is another place where the clothing is very important and the over all image is about about something else.

Genre by Purpose or Feel

Purpose is why you are taking the image. Feel is how the look of that image affects the viewer, what it conveys to them. Some genres like, fashion, glamour, fitness, fetish and editorial are about purpose or feel. The clothing can be about anything, though often some form of clothing is favored in the genre.

Fashion is all about the clothes. The purpose is to show off the clothes and the model is a big clothes hanger. Glamour is about the model. The clothes support her and make her look good and sexy.

Fitness is about well fitness, health. The model is a big part of that, but so is the clothing, location and pose. Fitness is often shot in a swimsuit because that is the most socially acceptable minimal piece of clothing. The purpose is to show off muscle, but nudity is frowned on.

Editorial images are the ones used in magazines to support a story. Sometimes this story is about a clothing line, but more often it is about love, or work, or some other abstract concept. Sometimes they just use unstaged images, but more often they plan the image very specifically.

Fetish photography is always about something other than the model. It is about the fetish involved. Sometimes that fetish is clothing (latex or high heels) or body parts (feet). Other times it is about an action, like BSDM.

Just Make Sure You Are Clear On Meaning

As you can see it isn’t easy to know what the other person is thinking when you say “We’ll shoot fashion.” So be specific. Make sure the model understand exactly what you are looking for and will shoot.

I actually define each genre on a modeling application I use, then ask the model to select which ones she’s willing to shoot. I roll in a guide to preparation as well. This question, with my definitions, are why I do the whole application process. It tells me what she is comfortable with ahead of time.

Have you ever had a model get confused about what you were shooting because word meaning? Do you think I’m right in my meanings?

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1 Selena May 18, 2010 at 4:33 pm

You worded it beautifully. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

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