Modelling for photographs- What you need

I get requests all the time from people who would like to enter the world of modelling. I do sometimes take inexperienced people for photoshoots if there is a project that requires it or if I want to try out something new.

There are a few factors that need to be taken in to consideration for me when picking a model for a shoot:

*Size– Fashion models are slim, very slim (usually around 115-120lbs). This is because designers make clothes in sample sizes to show the clothing to it’s best advantage. Therefore girls who want to do editorial modelling need to be a dress size 6-8 and 5’8″ or taller. For commercial modelling girls can be any dress size and there is no height restriction. Men are 6′ or taller, slim yet toned for fashion modelling. For male commercial modelling the more muscular physique is most popular.

*Skin– Everyone gets the odd blemish but near flawless skin is a necessity for photographic modelling. It is a time consuming process to make skin flawless in post production while keeping pores visible so the skin in the image doesn’t look fake. I want to spend my time making the image a show stopper  rather than painstakingly perfecting these blemishes. Beautiful skin is a large part of the reason models are in their teens/ early twenties. Drink lots of water in the days before the shoot (and always) to give your skin it’s best texture and clarity.

*Teeth– Straight and clean without discolouring. Your friends shouldn’t need sunglasses to look at you but any staining is a big no. Front gaps are having their moment in the limelight and can add character to a face but the overall look of the teeth should be straight!

* Your Look– Know your product, your product is you! What category of modelling do you fit into? Do you have a commercial or editorial look? Commercial models are usually conventionally good looking, the type of person that everyone would say is beautiful where as editorial models, while also beautiful often have an interesting aspect to their features. They can have a striking feature or unusual face.

*Acting– Yes that’s right – acting! There is always a style to the image being captured, a mood and this will usually be explained to the model or demonstrated with a mood board. You will need to try and understand the style of image being achieved and act/ pose accordingly. For example – if it’s a happy go-lucky image and you are tired or in a bad mood you still need to be able to light up with a smile and make your eyes sparkle.

*Movement– Learn how to move your body to know your best and worst angles. You’ll need to hold a pose and usually move one body part at a time to gradually change from pose to pose and get the best shape possible. It’s not easy or comfortable and can feel like a work out so its good to be in shape and flexible. As a default, you will stand and walk as if there is a string pulling up from your head, straight up through your back and neck to appear long & elegant.  Your hands will be graceful and feminine – try imagining yourself as a ballerina. You may be asked to do the exact opposite of graceful and feminine- learn how to project different attitudes through your body’s movement.

*The clothes are the hero if the shot– understand this. You are there to show and sell these clothes, perfume, jewellery , whatever the product is on the day and create the best image possible. To do this it may be necessary to enhance the image in a certain style through colour or making your neck longer, ears smaller, lips fuller, waist narrower, or any number of creative enhancements- This is the difference between a portrait and an editorial or commercial image. In a portrait, you will have all your distinctive features intact and it’s all about looking like the best you that you can be. In a creative editorial shoot the focus is on creating the best image that can be made. Usually changes wouldn’t be too drastic but don’t be shocked if your favourite freckle doesn’t end up on the final image.

*Work Ethic– Final images will usually look beautiful, tranquil, ethereal or striking, bold and dramatic and it takes a lot of hard work to make them look this way. It can mean getting up at 4am on a Sunday morning to get to the right location as the sun rises while everyone else is in their beds. Models will then often have to stand in the cold in beautiful evening dress made for a summers evening and look blissful and beautiful- in reality they are tired, cold and wearing shoes that are hard to balance in. That’s your job. It’s not easy but everyone else is also working really hard to make the shoot it’s best and help you look stunning. You are expected to give 110% effort too. That said – never do anything you are uncomfortable with, you should have a clear concept of what you will be asked to do before the shoot. Make sure you are happy with this before you commit to doing the job.

*Your details– I need to know what you look like and all your measurements to know whether you have the right look or the job I am casting and if you will fit the clothing. You need to send a recent profile picture showing your face with minimal/ no make up and a full length image to show your body shape. Yes, they probably aren’t your favourite pictures of yourself particularly if you are starting out and they weren’t professionally taken but I need to see you as a blank canvas to imagine what you would look like in the style I am planning for my shoot. Often people will send a made up picture of themselves also.
The measurements I ask for are height, weight, bust, waist, hip, dress size, jeans size, shoe size, hair colour and length. These images and details are made into a “composite card” for professional models (see below). There is no point in trying to be economical with the truth in these answers, if you arrive to a shoot and the clothes don’t fit you as they should, it will cause a lot of aggravation. If you weren’t honest you will never be hired again. I’ll also want to know if you have any tattoos or piercings. If you are under 18 I will also need to know this as I will need your parents consent and someone else to be present throughout your shoot.

What you should bring

A models bag should contain all the supplies he/she may need including some hair accessories, rubber-bands, safely pins, masking tape, undergarments, shoes, facewipes a snack, water and a toothbrush. You may also want to ask if you should bring accessories. If you are allergic to any make up or cleanser products, you should bring your own and let the person who is hiring you know before the shoot.

Feel free to send in your details for consideration for any projects I am doing to If I do a casting call and you aren’t chosen for the job then I’ll keep your info on file for next time. If you are only interested in a specific type of shoot please say this in your mail. I am also often asked by other people if I have anyone to recommend, if you aren’t right for me you might be just the person someone else is looking for. It is a tough game and not for those without confidence and faith in themselves. If its something that you really want to do, be prepared to take a few knocks. Surround yourself with your cheering squad, there may be days when you need them. Only a lucky few make the big leagues, if you aren’t one of the few, it doesn’t mean you are not beautiful, perfect and destined for greatness. x

Model Glossary:

Mood Board- A collection of images together complied to demonstrate a theme or feeling.

TFP: Time for Print- your time given in exchange for printed images of the work created

TFCD: Time for CD- your time given in exchange for a cd with digital versions of the work created

Comp card: A composite card which is your business card to show your talent. Usually on A5 card stock, the front shows a full face image of you, exactly as you would look when you go to see a client. The back gives your measurements and a couple of different looks to show how you could be used e.g. fashion, beauty, lifestyle etc. 

Model release: A document signed by the model showing the terms under which her images will be used

About me

My life and studies have been intertwined with art, fashion, photography and graphic design. These disciplines have created the artist/person I am today. All my studies and experience developed in me an understanding for fashion styling, creating images for publication and advertising as well as conveying meaning through visual media. If you want to create unique imagery for your brand, if you are proud of what you do and would like me to help you share it with the world, then get in touch :-)


Travis Menswear Fashion Photography
Travis Menswear Fashion Shoot
February 23, 2017
Benetti Menswear by Suzy McCanny Photography
Benetti Menswear 2017
February 10, 2017
Fisherman Out Of Ireland Fashion Photoshoot
Fisherman Out Of Ireland 2017
February 09, 2017
Sunday Business Post Feature
September 13, 2015
Commercial Fashion Imagery
October 10, 2014
Cloud 10 Beauty
July 28, 2014
Suzy-McCanny-Fashion-Advertising-Rossanos, Sligo
Fashion & Hairstyling PhotoShoot
April 24, 2014
Fashion-Commercial-Advertising-Photography-Images- Photographer, Ireland, by Suzy McCanny Photography & Fashion, Fashion-photographer-Sligo-Ireland
Fashion PhotoShoot
March 18, 2014
Creative Edge
March 12, 2014


Emma Holmes
Reply January 6, 2014

Hi my name is emma i am 13 and am starting to become interested in modeling. I recently found your website and was wondering if you had an upcoming shoots for young girls. Also if you had any times that would be amazing, Please get Back to me.Thanks

    Reply January 7, 2014

    Hi Emma,
    I see that Blue Oak is in the U.S. Are you aware that I'm based in Ireland? If you are able to come into the studio I'd be happy to arrange a time for a consultation with you.

Isabella Rhee
Reply September 1, 2014

Dear Ms. Suzy,

I am 14 years old and turning 15 this October, and I saw in the last comment on this page that you are based in Ireland. I was sad once I read this because you sound like an amazing photographer. I was wondering you knew of any places I could get started with modeling. Thank you.

Isabella Rhee

    Reply October 6, 2014

    What country are you in Isabella?

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