Ask an Agent / 'Real' Models

Ask an Agent is a regular monthly column answering your questions about the business of photography– the photography industry’s first Agony Aunt!

If you have any questions you’d like to ask a photographers agent please send them to Questions can be on anything to do with the photography business, such as photoshoots, marketing, professional practice, pricing, contracts, legal stuff – anything!

This month we have a question on what the term 'real' looking models actually means!


Dear Ask an Agent,

I know you do a lot of production as well as just being an agent, so I wondered if you could help me with something.

I’m doing a casting online for ‘real’ looking models for a shoot, but the client keeps rejecting all the models I send over. I’ve briefed the model agencies to only send ‘real’ looking people, so I don’t know why the client doesn’t like any of them.

- Lucy Bones

Hi Lucy,

Ah yes, this sounds familiar, many of the shoots we organise require ‘real’ looking models.

The problem is, there are a few different interpretations of ‘real’ in the commercial world, you’ll need to pin down what your client has in mind so expectations are met.

Basically there are two ends of the ‘real’ scale, when we are talking about castings for commercial shoots. At one end is your average looking person, perhaps even with some ‘quirks’. (I’m not going to attempt to give examples!) Then the other end of the scale is your very attractive type, but in no way pouty, posy, or unapproachable. A lot of shoots do require this latter end of the scale, as if you think about it, the images and the people in them need to look appealing so they will engage the consumer and sell stuff.

real © Nick David - an example of what I'd class as 'real' models from an advertising point of view - attractive but attainable.

Best thing to do if your client hasn’t made it clear, is to send them over some examples of models from the agencies who run the gamut of ‘real’. Then hopefully they can identify some that would fit the bill and why they like them. Do point out these are just examples for reference though, and that you haven’t checked their availability or fees, else they might lock on to someone if they like them.

Thanks for writing in to Ask an Agent and I hope your client finds what they are looking for!

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Lisa Pritchard, LPA and guest bloggers take no responsibility for any omissions or errors.

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