Why Models Need Polaroids ?

Why Models Need Polaroids?


Polaroids, Digitals, Roids, Digis … What the heck are they and why do I need them?

In the film days agencies often snapped potential models using film Polaroid cameras as part of the evaluation and vetting processes. Today this is done with digital cameras but the name stuck and it is still used to mean ‘Natural looking snapshots that show a potential agency, client, designer or photographer what you currently look like’ I stress the word ‘Currently’ as it is very important that whatever you submit clearly depicts what you look like NOW. If you have radically changed your look (eg you now have shorter/longer hair, drastic hair color change, have added tattoos or permanent piercings) then get some new Polariods done that best reflect your current you!. Regardless I suggest getting Polaroids done at least twice a year.


Alexandra Martin

Alexandra Martin


Are they really that important?

The short answer is “YES”. Polaroid are the most important images that you have in your portfolio, regardless if you are a pro or just starting out. If you’re serious about modeling you will have to submit Polaroids at some stage during the casting process. If you want to be signed by an agency you will need Polariods – period !

But wait, what if I’m a freelance model and I don’t want to join an agency. Do I still need them? – Absolutely!! I would argue that as a freelance model your Polariods are even more important as you don’t have an agency backing you up. I have run and been part of the casting process many times. There is nothing more perplexing than having a model ‘s portfolio in your hands and the person sitting in front of you looks nothing like the one in the folio images. Think of Polaroids as a base line of what you look like or how you would turn up for a photoshoot before hair, makeup, wardrobe and styling is applied.

What makes a great Polaroid?

I remember reading in a fashion photography journal that what is very important in the non physical aspects of a Polaroid are the 3 A’s: Attitude, Aura and Appeal. These intangibles are not measurable qualities but rather are what the model can project in the image. Self confidence, body awareness and sureness of self are great properties that experienced models are able to portray in Polaroids.

The primary physical aspects of the Polaroid are to show height, posture or poise, overall body shape and skin condition. Different modeling genres usually expect different combinations of these attributes but agents/clients usually use these measurable attributes to gauge models appropriateness for either representation or fit to the brief.

Emily Dibden

Emily Dibden


Do my Polaroids need to professional looking shots?

The word Professional can infer expensive fees to agencies or photographers. If we consider the word in that sense then the answer is NO. If however, we use the word Professional to mean great quality images the answer is a resounding YES!

Your Polariods need to be exposed correctly, be in focus and not have too many objects in the background that may distract the viewer. Ideally shoot in front of a plain white or grey wall. The images should be shot in natural diffused light. Avoid harsh midday direct sunlight and always shoot in a shaded area. Flash lighting should be avoided unless you are using a large diffusion light modifier on the flash. Do NOT use pop up flashes or flash heads mounted on top of the camera.

I would discourage using phone cameras that don’t provide high quality images and absolutely never use ‘selfies’ as part of your Polaroids. You can borrow or ask a friend that has a digital SLR to help you with the images if you don’t have one yourself. But remember, make sure the images are in focus and exposed correctly so there are no major dark or bright spots on you.

What should I wear in my Polaroids?

First and most important is NOT to wear any makeup. That’s right, nothing, nada, rien, nichts …Polaroids need to be natural. Pimples and blemishes are fine, most agents will see past that. You should put your hair up or tie it in a ponytail and away from the face. This will highlight your facial features, cheekbones and jaw line.

You should wear a bikini or bra & undies. Avoid revealing lingerie. Active or fitness wear can also be used. Remember you must show your shape and skin. Full body shots should be barefoot. For ¾ , mids and headshots you can cheat a little and wear heels to accentuate your posture and shape.

You can optionally wear relaxed clothing as an indication of how clothes would sit on your frame but the bikini shots are necessary to showcase your form and shape.

Male models should be topless and can opt for cotton briefs or trunks. Avoid boxer shorts. Optionally jeans and tank tops can also be worn. Groom facial hair and keep long hair away from the face.

Jeremy Salter

Jeremy Salter


What about using Photoshop?

You should not be retouching images either professionally or otherwise. Remember it needs to represent your current look, unaltered. You can however adjust the crop of the image, correct the exposure if needed and add a little sharpening if the image is soft. That is all you need to do !!

How many Polaroids do I need?

I suggest a minimum of 5 shots which include

  • Full body Front
  • Full body Profile
  • ¾ body front
  • Front Headshot
  • Profile Headshot

Optionally you can also add

  • Full Body Back
  • Full Body Profile ( left and right )
  • Profile Headshot ( left and right )
  • Headshot Smiling

Do NOT try to over pose in these shots. Your body should stand naturally. Especially for the Full Front and Profile shots. For ¾ and up I would suggest simple subtle poses. As the shots get tighter you have more leeway to express the 3 A’s : Attitude, Aura and Appeal. But DO NOT over pose the body or the face. That’s right no ‘Duckface’ shots 😉

Ashlea Perry

Ashlea Perry

A big thank you to Ashlea, Alexandra, Emily and Jeremy for their time outdoors and in the studio. If you found this article informative and useful please share with your friends. If you have any questions leave a comment below or email me

Happy ‘roid’ing !!! 🙂


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