Types of Model Photography - dkmackinnon

Types of Model Photography

Model photography can be divided into a variety of styles, and the terms may not be what you expect. Many of the definitions here are taken from a variety of sources including Model Mayhem, Wikipedia, and other photography sites. Where possible I've included links to the definition sources.

Model Mayhem lists the following genres of model photography: Art, Bodypaint, Cosplay, Editorial, Erotic, Fashion, Fetish, Fitness, Glamour, Lifestyle, Lingerie, Parts, Pinup, Promotional, and Runway. These are the classifications we'll define here with some modifications.


Fashion Photography Blog defines images for advertising in this way: "Advertising is selling a product or brand. Advertising tends to look cleaner, using simple lighting to really show off the clothing or make up." Advertising photography is similar to promotional photography except that the latter is typically short-term. Advertising photography modelling involves creating an image that will be used over the advertising cycle of the brand or product. 


Fashion Photography Blog - http://www.fashionphotographyblog.com/2009/12/advertising-vs-editorial/


According to Wikipedia, "An alternative model is any model who does not fit into the conventional model types and may include punk, goth, fetish, and tattooed models or models with distinctive attributes."


Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_(people)#Alternative_models


According to Wikipedia, "Beefcake is a performance or photograph depicting a large and muscular male body." Beefcake modelling is, in essence, a cross between fitness and the male version of cheesecake-style pinup.


Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beefcake

Body Art

According to Wikipedia, "Body art is art made on, with, or consisting of, the human body." This often refers to tattoos and piercings, but in the more general sense can apply to any temporary or permanent art, such as body painting and temporary prosthetics. Mehndi and temporary tattoos are also examples of body art.


Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_painting

Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_art


According to Wiktionary, bodyscapes are an "...artistic style where closeup photographs of the human form convey the impression of landscape."


Wiktionary - http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/bodyscape


WiseGeek defines Boudoir as "... a style of very stylized sensual photography". The term comes from the french term for a private room set aside for the use of a lady. The room was sometimes used by the lady to entertain guests, and the term eventually came to be associated with a more intimate form of entertainment.

The term can be thought of as a type of glamour photography that may have elements of lingerie photography. The effect of the image is to give the viewer the impression of being granted access to a private, and often intimate space that the person the model is portraying bestows upon a select few individuals. In this way it is more than lingerie photography in that the scene is as important as what the model is or is not wearing.

Boudoir photography is often personal to the model.  It is often requested by women who do not typically do modelling, and the resulting images are sometimes meant to be a special gift for a loved one, not for public consumption. 


WiseGeek - http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-boudoir.htm


WiseGeek defines conceptual photography as "... a type of photographic art that is initially envisioned by the photographer and then staged to realize that vision. Images are often designed to depict certain aspects of society or life. Photographs might also be digitally manipulated to achieve the final effect desired by the photographer. Conceptual photography might also be referred to as avant-garde photography."

Conceptual photography modelling can be thought of as artistic photography in which a model becomes part of the artwork. Sometimes it will be a raw, unprocessed image. Other times it will be so heavily processed to be practically unrecognizable from the raw image. It's all up to the artist's vision, whether they be the photographer or the retoucher.


WiseGeek - http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-conceptual-photography.htm


According to Wikipedia: "Cosplay photography is a form of photography where the subject of the photo focuses mainly on a cosplayer and their attire and/or prop making skills." For those who don't know what is meant by "cosplay", wikipedia provides this definition: "Cosplay, short for costume play, is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character or idea that is usually identified with a unique name." 

Two sub-genres of cosplay are crossplay, in which the model portrays a character of the opposite sex, and gender-swap, in which the model portrays the character as a different gender than it is typically known. In short, if you're portraying a different gender, it's crossplay. If you are changing the gender of the character, it's gender-swap.


Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosplay

Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosplay_photography


According to the Editorial Photographers organization, "'Editorial' refers to the market where the images will be used -- primarily books, magazines, and newspapers -- and, to a lesser extent, to the style of photography that appears in these venues. We use the term editorial to distinguish it from other markets like corporate, advertising, general commercial, or fine art." Answers.com is more succinct: "Editorial photography refers to the pictures in a magazine that aren't ads."

In essence, editorial photography modelling differs from advertising modelling in how the images are used. In editorial photography, the images are part of the publication body while advertising photography is used in the advertisements. Fashion Photography Blog makes this distinction clear: "Advertising is selling a product or brand. Advertising tends to look cleaner, using simple lighting to really show off the clothing or make up. Editorial sells more of the mood and the situation the clothing would be worn in."


Fashion Photography Blog - http://www.fashionphotographyblog.com/2009/12/advertising-vs-editorial/

Answers.com - http://www.answers.com/Q/What_is_editorial_photography

Editorial Photographers - http://www.editorialphoto.com/


According to Wikipedia, "Erotic photography is a style of art photography of an erotic and even a sexually suggestive or sexually provocative nature." Inner Beauty Photography further explains that the line between erotic art and pornography is somewhat blurry but comes down to lighting, pose, and composition. Ultimately, the dividing line is defined more by cultural norms than artistic merit.


Inner Beauty Photography - http://www.innerbeautyphotography.com/5336/what-is-erotic-photography/

Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erotic_photography


According to Wikipedia, "Fashion photography is a genre of photography devoted to displaying clothing and other fashion items." WiseGeek defines it as "... a photography genre that is devoted to creating marketable images of clothing, jewelry and other fashion accessories.". Similarly, Ask.com defines it as "... a type of photography that focuses mainly on clothing and other fashion accessories."

In short, in fashion photography the model and photographer are "selling" the clothing or accessories through the image.


Ask.com - http://www.ask.com/question/definition-of-fashion-photography

WiseGeek - http://www.wisegeek.com/how-do-i-get-started-in-fashion-photography.htm

Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fashion_photography


According to Wikipedia, "A fetish model is a model who models fetish clothing or devices that augment his or her body in a fetish manner or in fetishistic situations, though he or she may not work exclusively in that form of modelling." It goes on to specify that "Fetish modelling may involve bondage, body modification, fetish photography and exotic glamour photography as well as sexual fantasy costuming (i.e. maid's outfits, nurses, etc.)"


Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetish_model


According to Wikipedia, "Fitness modelling focuses on displaying a healthy, toned physique.". Fitness photography highlights the fitness level of the model. The focus is typically on musculature and may involve scenes in which the model demonstrates their athletics, such as running, weight-lifting, or engaging in other athletic activities. Other types of fitness may involve posing to accentuate musculature. 


Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_(people)#Fitness_models

Fine Art

According to the Illustrated Dictionary of Photography, fine-art photography is the "...production of images to fulfill the creative vision of a photographer. ... Synonymous with art photography". In this way it is similar to conceptual photography, except that it can also be defined as a "...picture that is produced for sale or display rather than one that is produced in response to a commercial commission." Conceptual images may become fine-art images if the artist decides to display them as an art piece."


Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-art_photography


According to Wikipedia, "Glamour photography is a genre of photography in which the subjects, usually female, are portrayed in erotic or exciting ways ranging from fully clothed to nude but in ways that either may conceal or may otherwise not especially draw attention to the subjects nipples and vulva." It goes on to specify that it is less explicit that erotic photography (which is not quite as explicit as pornography). 

Seems pretty straight-forward until you read Wiktionary, which lists a second definition: "Photography intended to glamorize the subject." As an example of how it is more colloquially viewed, WiseGeek defines it thus: "Glamour photography is a form of photography which focuses on the models used in the photography, highlighting their natural features in a way which is meant to be flattering and artistic."

The variety of definitions may be why this style of photography means different things to different people so take care in using it. On this site we use it in it's broadest sense: that of glamorizing the model.

Given the wide range of interpretations of this term, it is recommended that a model NOT refer to themselves as a glamour model. 


WiseGeek - http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-glamour-photography.htm

Wiktionary - http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/glamour_photography

Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glamour_photography


Lingerie photography overlaps Erotic and Boudoir photography, but refers generally to posing while wearing lingerie.


According to Wikipedia, "Nude photography is any photograph which contains an image of a nude or semi-nude person, or an image suggestive of nudity."

St. Marc of Unspeakable Dreams divides nude photography into the following sub-genres:

Implied Nude: The model is probably not nude but is posed to give the impression that they are.

Covered Nude: The model is nude but is posed such that nothing is showing. 

Sheer Nude: The model is nude but behind a shear material. 

Semi-nude: The breast and/or buttocks are visible.

Artistic Nude/Fine-art Nude: May be full nude, but the pose, lighting and composition are artistic in nature. According to Wikipedia, "Fine art nude photography is a genre of fine-art photography which depicts the nude human body with an emphasis on form, composition, emotional content, and other aesthetic qualities." See Fine-art Photography.

Figure Nude/Figure Study: May be full nude, typically with no makeup and a neutral expression. Figure nudes are typically used for figure studies in which the body form is the focus.

Casual Nude: May be fully nude, with a casual pose. Typically the expression, pose, and composition does not draw particular attention to the fact that the model is nude.

Erotic Nude: Typically fully nude, the expression is often highly suggestive, very much drawing attention to the fact they they are not wearing anything. See Erotic Photography.

Adult Nude: Essentially the point at which the image crosses the line into pornography.


Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nude_photography_(art)

Unspeakable Dreams - http://dreamstrike.com/stmarc/nudetypes.html

Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nude_photography


Parts modelling involves a particular body part, often the hands or hair. There are, in fact, entire agencies devoted to hiring parts models.


Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_(people)#Parts_models


According to Wikipedia, "Pin-ups are intended for informal display, e.g. meant to be "pinned-up" on a wall... These pictures are also known as cheesecake photos." The entry goes on to say that pinup "...may also refer to drawings, paintings, and other illustrations done in emulation of these photos." CG Pinups adds this: "Ultimately, it has to do with sexuality and whether the character(s) convey a sexual charge through that imagery. The character can be smoldering, or fun - but the underlying theme is that the character conveys sex appeal..."

Pinup images emerged out of promotional images used by burlesque performers. Today it refers more to a vintage style of imagery popularized by artists such as Gil Elgren and Alberto Vargas, what is more specifically referred to as Vintage Pinup.

The Pinup Podcast breaks pinup into a wide range of sub-genres including:

Alternative: Combines vintage and alternative elements such as tattoos and piercings.

Bombshell: Looks inspired by classical sex symbols such as Marilyn Monroe. This is a favourite of curvy models, and the feeling evoked by the images is generally one of confidence in, and enjoyment of, their sexiness. 

Boudoir: Similar to boudoir photography, the setting is the "boudoir", but the feel is typically more vintage than standard boudoir.

Burlesque: This style is evocative of the late 1800s burlesque shows. Typically there is little to no nudity, with the models using pasties and props.  

Cheesecake: Cheesecake pinups draw on the themes and styles popularized by Elvegren, Vargas, and others. The situations are often humorous, using seemingly innocent situations with an "oops" outcome. Expressions are typically over-the-top, with "accidents" often revealing little more than underwear, stockings, or garters.

Hollywood Noire: Film noire (classic hollywood crime dramas), typically done in high contrast black-and-white.

Kitschy: Classical pinup: think bikini babe on a plain background. This is what most people imagine when they think of the term "pinup". 

Military: Pinup with a military theme.

Nose Art: This refers to the style of images that was painted on the noses of military aircraft.

Page 3: A pretty girl posing topless, as made popular by the British Sun newspapers. Technically this is more glamour than Pinup.

Playboy Bunny: Nude pinup in the style of Playboy centerfolds.

Rockabilly: Pinup based on the stylings of 1950s rockabilly.

Rust Queen: A form of rockabilly merged with classic cars and hot rods. Where rockabilly pinups pose in a hot rod, the rust queen is the one covered in grease and holding a wrench.

Steampunk: Victorian pinup with a retro sci-fi feel. Feature plenty of brass, copper, and sometimes big elaborate clockwork devices.

Tiki: Polynesian-inspired pinup based on the 1930s Tiki fade. Think grass skirts and coconut bras. 


The Pinup Podcast - http://thepinuppodcast.com/what-are-the-different-types-of-pinup/

CGPinups (DeviantArt) - http://cgpinups.deviantart.com/journal/What-s-a-definition-of-quot-pinup-quot-221322522

KuhMillion Lingerie - http://www.kuhmillion.com/lingerie/page/59/What-is-a-pinup-girl.aspx

Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pin-up_girl


According to Wikipedia, "Plus-size models are models who generally have larger measurements than editorial fashion models.". 


Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_(people)#Plus-size_models


According to Wikipedia, "Portrait photography or portraiture is photography of a person or group of people that displays the expression, personality, and mood of the subject. Like other types of portraiture, the focus of the photograph is usually the person's face, although the entire body and the background or context may be included." Photography Tips adds this: "A good portrait will contain at least one element that reveals the subject’s personality, attitude, unique mannerisms or any of the other features or traits that form the individual nature of the person."

This is the type of photography with which most people are familiar.


Photography Tips - http://www.photographytips.com/page.cfm/368

Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portrait_photography


According to Wikipedia, "A promotional model is a model hired to drive consumer demand for a product, service, brand, or concept by directly interacting with potential consumers.". Promotional photography is used to sell goods, typically those available for a limited time. This differs from advertising photography in which the product is being sold over a longer term. For models, promotional photography involves short-term contracts to sell something relatively quickly and may be combined with promotional work.


Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_(people)#Promotional_models


This is a form of fashion photography in which the model is working on a runway at a fashion event. Runway modelling often features fairly tight body shape requirements. For women, their measurements should be around 34"-24"-34" and their height between 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m) and 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) tall. For men, they should have a height of between 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)  and 6 ft 2 in (188 cm), a waist of 29–32 in (73.66–81.28 cm), and a chest of 39–40 in (99.06–101.60 cm). 


Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_(people)#Runway_modelling

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