Photography / Tips and Solutions

A Glossary for the Glossies: 52 Fashion Terms for Photographers

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Do you know the difference between a Creative Director and an Art Director? Agent and manager? Call sheet and line sheet? The fashion industry can be as unforgiving to outsiders as it is rewarding for insiders. No amount of smizing will save a photographer who shows up to a test shoot with a #2 pencil but no camera. Luckily, we compiled a glossary of terms every photographer who is thinking about shooting fashion ought to know.

Agency/ Agent

A person or company that represents creative talent (actors, models, artists, etc.); books jobs; and is licensed and regulated.

Art Director

The individual responsible for organizing and executing the concept for a project. The Art Director is responsible for making the Creative Director’s ideas tangible.

Artist Release

A binding contract wherein a photographer and client outline the terms of use and compensation for a photograph or series of photographs. With commercial clients, this may entail the photographer surrendering copyright ownership of an image, hence “release.”

Beauty Shot

A close-up shot of a model’s face, most commonly used in cosmetics advertisements.

Booker (Booking Agent)

The direct contact at an agency responsible for booking talent.

Buyout

When a client purchases complete copyright ownership of a photograph or series of photographs.

Call Sheet

A document that outlines the details of a shoot: call times, location(s), individuals involved, etc.

Call Time

The time when a person involved in a shoot is required to arrive. Depending upon the complexity of a shoot, times may vary by role.

Campaign

A set of advertisements connected by a shared concept that features a designer’s collection. These are the images that appear on billboards and in magazine spreads.

Casting

When a client invites models to audition for a job.

Catalog

Photographs of garments taken in a non-distracting (usually studio) setting for use in a catalog.

Cattle Call

When multiple agencies send models to a casting.

Clean-Clean

A term used to describe a model wearing no makeup or hair products.

Collection

All the items put out by a designer for a given season.

Composite (Comp) Card (aka Sedcard)

Usually in A5 format, a comp card is the equivalent of a business card for a model. It includes the model’s name, contact, dimensions, and multiple photographs.

Contact Sheet (aka Proofs)

Reduced-size photographs arranged in a grid, used to make selects. In the days of analogue, these were done by contact-printing negatives.

Creative Director

The person at an ad agency or publication responsible for determining the vision of a campaign or shoot.

Cyclorama (Cyc) Studio (aka Cove Studio)

An indoor studio with rounded corners designed to provide a completely uniform background.

Diffusion Line (aka Bridge Line)

A secondary, more affordable line of a high-end fashion house.

Digitals (aka Polaroids)

Digitals are straightforward, unedited digital photographs of a model used to show what he/she looks like with minimal makeup and no styling (often in swimwear). Occasionally, this is still done with a Polaroid camera.

Editorial (aka Story)

A fashion shoot guided by a narrative, made for one-time use by a publication.

Fashion Week

Twice a year, designers unveil their latest ready-to-wear collections at fashion week. Although numerous fashion weeks have sprouted around the world, the “Big Four” are held, in sequence, in New York, London, Milan, and Paris. Somewhat counterintuitively, the fashion week held in September showcases Spring/Summer collections and the fashion week held in February showcases Fall/Winter collections. Men’s Fashion Weeks are held separately, in January/February and June/July, respectively.

Fitting

The time dedicated to fitting garments to a model in advance of a shoot.

Fit Model

A model having the exact dimensions of a particular size, used for refining samples.

Go-see

When a model brings his or her portfolio to a photographer’s studio for perusal and consideration for future assignments.

Gutter

The crease in a two-page photo spread. This is a black hole for photographs; avoid placing anything important in this area of an image if it is destined for a spread layout.

Haute Couture

Extremely high-end fashion made by hand, specifically for a client. In France, the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture regulates the fashion houses that are allowed to use this term to describe its garments. Haute couture is given its own fashion weeks in Paris, in January and July.

Headsheet

A sheet or book of models that an agency sends to clients.

Headshot

A photograph showing the head and shoulders of a model, usually 8 x 10 inches.

Line

The items comprising a specific category of a designer’s output (e.g. swimwear).

Line Sheet

A reference for buyers that typically includes product images, sizes, prices, and other practical information.

Lookbook

A series of photographs featuring a designer’s collection. Unlike campaigns, which emphasize a mood or theme for marketing purposes, lookbooks are more focused on the garments.

Location Shoot

Any environment other than a studio setting where a shoot takes place.

Makeup Artist (MUA) / Hair and Makeup Artist (HMUA)

Your best friend, if you hate retouching.

Manager

A person who provides guidance to talent. Unlike an agent, managers are not licensed or regulated. Similarly, they do not book jobs or draft assignment contracts, which is the job of an agent.

Model Release

A binding contract between a model and photographer that outlines compensation and usage rights for a shoot.

Mood Board

A collection of images used as references in the creative process when setting the desired mood of a shoot.

Mother Agency

An agency that has exclusive representation of a talent. Any work or listing with another agency must be negotiated through the mother agency.

Pull Letter (aka Letter of Responsibility or LOR)

A pull letter is drafted by a publication and used by a stylist to borrow samples from a showroom. It should include contact information, shoot date(s), sample return date, publication date, and the financial responsibility if something is damaged.

Ready-to-Wear

Unlike haute couture, you can buy ready-to-wear garments at a department store, off the racks.

Sample

A garment that is loaned for use in advance of production.

Seasons

There are two major seasons in the fashion world: Spring/Summer (January-June) and Fall/Winter (July-December). Additionally, there are two interseasons: Resort (overlaps winter and spring), and Pre-Fall (overlaps summer and fall).

Selects

Photographs chosen from a shoot for use.

Showroom

An intermediary between designers and buyers. Stylists work with showrooms to procure garments for shoots.

Smize/Smizing

A term popularized by Tyra Banks on the television show, America’s Next Top Model, that describes when a person smiles with his/her eyes for the camera.

Speculative (Spec) Shot

A photograph made with the aim of impressing a client, to obtain work.

Street Style

A branch of fashion photography that features personal style, often using models found on the street.

Stylist

The roles of a stylist vary by assignment, but generally center upon conceptualizing, acquiring, and preparing garments for a shoot. They are a jack-of-all-trades on set and especially helpful when working with samples that may need to be adjusted to the model.

Tear Sheet

Pages taken out of publication used to show the final form of an assignment.

Test Shoot

A shoot that “tests” a model or idea used for portfolio building.

Trade (aka TFP: Time-for-Print)

A shoot wherein a model, MUA, stylist, or other creative partner collaborates with a photographer, with the goal of using the resulting work to build their portfolios.

Wrap Time

When a shoot is scheduled to end.

The language of fashion changes faster than this writer can type. Can you think of any terms that didn’t make the list? Share your knowledge in the Comments section, below.

6 Comments

hey, this is helpful, thank you!

@txkitsune

I think you meant Cyclorama Set not "Cyclone Set" 

That's what I thought, too. Just to be sure I searched the  B&H site for a Cyclone Set and nothing in the nature of a cyclorama came up.

Hi Jim,

B&H does sell tabletop cycs: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Cycs/ci/14478/N/3973066534

The ones used in fashion, however, are much larger and have to be custom built for the space.

Thanks for reading!

Hi Daniel,

Yikes, you are correct. Thanks for the catch.

New Face

A model that needs images for their portfolio because they are new to the industry or they updated their look that are often willing to do unpaid test shoots in exchange for the images.

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