Would you believe me if I told you all these modeling jobs are from ONLY 1 category?

When I jumped into the industry years ago, I had a hard time distinguishing between each of the categories of modeling. People with various prejudices would give me information that were inconsistent!

So here it is, the mainstream categories of modeling.

The easiest way to understand the different types of modeling is to break it into 5 main groups.






Note: categories such as workshop, body paint, cosplay, and nude modeling are not considered mainstream and thus not included in this list.


This is the category that most people think about when they hear the word “modeling”.

Based on popular media’s influence, models of this type are expected to be Young, Tall, and Thin.

Fashion is all about the glamour, clothing and the accessories.

There are 5 main sub categories of Fashion modeling: High Fashion, Editorial, Standard Fashion, Runway, and Accessories.


High Fashion

high fashion examples june top model

A type that is recognizable by its expensive name brands, or weird style and awkward ways of expressing style. If it’s cool, weird or exotic, you’ll probably find it here.

So what’s the deal? Why is this category popular and the career objective of so many models?

One word: Attitude.

Because the wardrobe and situation is so out there and away from the norm, we can’t help but feel intrigued.

High Fashion has the characteristic of exaggerated poses and something that is a little off. For example, one of the photo is of me wearing a fitted Christian Dior suit. It is categorized as high fashion because of the makeup and boots that I am wearing. (You don’t normally wear combat boots with suits)


fashion ediotrial modeling sample june top model

Editorials are basically fashion shots that are published in a magazine. This type of modeling is most commonly confused with high fashion because they can overlap in style and presentation.  There may still be something off about it. Such as extreme color contrast, intense makeup, or outrageous hairstyles.

Artistic shots such as the last photo also make up some of the editorials out there.

Half the time you‘re trying to figure out just what are they selling? Some may notice that what accompany these photos is a story and that’s what makes editorials different than high fashion. Sure there are overlaps in these areas, but an editorial is mainly used to tell a story through clothing, make up, hairstyle, poses, and attitudes. 

Standard Fashion

fashion modeling example june wu top model

Now we are in more familiar territory.

These are the standard advertisements that you see on billboards, magazines, and online. They look pretty cool and are the standard ways of marketing clothing.


runway modeling example june top model

A popular way of marketing fashion is of course through the famous runway. Models in this category are expected to be extremely tall and thin. With an average height of 5’10” for female and 6’2” for male models, this is definitely one of the more competitive areas of modeling.

Please don’t let height alone discourage you. Although the cut off point for girls is about 5’9″ in the New York City market, I have worked with many girls who book shows that are just under the limit because they have a great walk and attitude.

Don’t forget, the celebrity model Kate Moss is only  5’7″ .  😉


fashion modeling accessories sample june top model

We finally reached the last part of fashion, the accessories.

The purpose of these advertisements is to market all the accessories that goes with the clothing, e.g., watches, bags, shoes, eyewear, and etc.  

If you read further ahead in this article, you’ll notice that there is a section for parts modeling. So how does this differ from parts modeling where a hand or a foot is modeling the accessory? The answer is that this type of accessory modeling also includes the model’s face in the advertisement.


Alright! It’s commercial time!

Now don’t get this confused with the commercials that you see on TV. That belongs in the realm of acting, and that’s why some may be confused as to what the term “commercial” means in modeling.

commercial modeling sample

Commercial in the modeling world means pretty much an advertisement for a product or service other than fashion/clothing. e.g., office products, technology, food, travel, insurance, etc. 

What is the key selling point of commercial modeling?

One word: Personality.

There’s a reason why you see me smiling in these photos. Commercial modeling is not about glamour or beauty but about personality.

A secret that most people don’t know is that:

There is almost no height or age requirement to be a commercial model.

This is also why almost anyone can be a model.

There are 4 main sub categories of Commercial modeling: Commercial Print, Lifestyle, Real, and Stock Photography.

Commercial Print

commercial print sample june wu top model

This is your standard Commercial Print. It is called PRINT because the final product is intended to be printed and distributed by agreed terms. You, the model, are usually photographed while doing something or using something.


Lifestyle modeling sample june wu top model

Lifestyle modeling is advertisements of you having a good time. The roles that you play are usually not far from your character type. You might be asked to play a girlfriend, the soccer mom, girl next door, young dad, business man, and so on. As you can see, the possibilities are endless and that’s why lifestyle modeling makes up a large portion of commercial modeling.

Just think about it, wouldn’t you love to do what you already do and get paid for it?


real modeling sample

This category of modeling is fairly new because originally, it was categorized under lifestyle.

Due to the success of campaigns using real people, many modeling agencies started to open their own division representing real models.

Okay, Okay, Okay.

I know you are dying to ask me, “What the heck is a ‘REAL’ model?”

“Are you saying that the rest of us are imaginary?” 😀

Real models are people who have a very outgoing personality, who may or may not look average, and are NOT afraid to act fun or goofy for comedic roles. This makes them more real and down to earth.

Stock Photography

Stock Photography Commercial Print sample june top model

Stock photography is one of the more interesting categories because the product/client is not set or known during the photo shoot.

Photos are taken sometimes with enough space on the side for logos to be placed afterward. The model is paid an agreed amount by the photographer and the photographer sells the photos to private clients or stock photography companies (2 of the biggest companies being Shutterstock and Gettyimages.)

microsoft powerpoint photos sample modeling commercial modelYou know when you want to select an image for your Microsoft Powerpoint presentation?

Where do you think those images come from? 🙂

But Watch Out!

The moment you sign the model release and get paid, the photos are out of your hands and the photographer can use them however he/she wants. So if you see your face on a billboard the very next day, there is nothing you can do and you cannot demand more pay or royalties.

So please be careful because there are a lot of photographers out there that pay models a low fee, such as $50 for a hour of their time. Sounds like a good deal right?

$50/hr can be tempting.

But those photographers sell your photos for hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars.

Not a good bargain if you ask me. 🙁



The Body category is exactly as it sounds- It is all about your body type.

There are 4 main sub categories of Body modeling: Fit, Fitness, Parts, and Plus size.

Fit Modeling

fit modeling example breaking into model

Fit modeling is actually one of the few modeling areas in which your personality and style is not important. As long as you fit comfortably into the designer’s clothing, you are qualified to be a fit model.

Fit modeling exists because designers such as Gap, Old Navy, or Levi Strauss are launching a new campaign and need to know how the clothing will fit on a real person, not a mannequin.

This type of modeling have no exposure potential but do pay pretty well considering you are just trying on clothes.


fitness modeling sample june top model

It makes sense that fitness is a category composed of models who are very fit. They are lean with low body fat (not skinny) and toned (muscles in shape and well defined).

Fitness modeling also uses people to model their fitness wear in addition to regular ‘lifestyle’ like shots. I know this might sound like it belongs in the fashion category, but the difference is that fitness wear is not considered mainstream fashion.


parts hand modeling sample june top model

If you take good care of your hands and feet, you are in luck because there is a specific category of modeling just for you. There are many products out there that need a good looking hand to hold onto/point to a product, or a shoe that needs a nice looking feet to model in it.

Parts modeling is not only limited to hands and feet but also the torso, arms, chest, and legs. (Pretty much all body parts except the face)

Plus Size

plus size modeling fashion photo shoot sample

A category of modeling that I am proud that exist.

It is a Myth of Modeling that thin people are attractive and overweight people are not. Truth is, overweight people can be very attractive, and have proven to mainstream media that a modeling category is needed and is in high demand.

Plus size models are people who are larger than the average, who also have outgoing personalities.

A popular brand that uses plus size models is Lane Bryant. Other stores such as Old Navy also have a department for Plus Size people.

It’s not a surprise that at the end of the day, the people who succeed in modeling are those who are very comfortable with their bodies. 


The three main subcategories of promotional modeling all share a similar characteristic: Modeling different products/services to a live audience throughout the day.

The subcategories of Promo modeling: Promo, Showroom, and Trade Show.


Promo modeling sample

Promo models ranges from attractive to fit, depending on how the client wants to market their product.

They are usually provided wardrobe from the store and walk around the venue interacting with customers.


showroom modeling example

Showroom models are considered the live mannequin of the room.

They are similar to fit modeling in that they wear the designer’s clothing to see how well it fits. The difference is showroom models tend to be presented to designers and their clients in a professional exhibition room, called the showroom.

Trade Show

trade show modeling sample

Easily recognized as the most popular of the promo models, Tradeshow models are the eye candy of the event.

They add flavor, style, and sexiness to an otherwise inanimate product. This is why sexy and attractive girls are commonly used for automotive import shows. They draw such a crowd that most people attend those shows just to see the girls!

An area of tradeshow modeling that is blooming is the entertainment comic convention scene.

As you can see in this example, before the movie premiered, the Green Hornet movie marketing department hyped the movie by selecting attractive girls to dress in green costumes.

These tradeshow models walked the convention floor promoting the new film and took pictures with people.


hair modeling show example june top model

Never thought our hair would be so important as to have its own category right?

Hair is a rather complicated category to explain because it overlaps several areas but since its most popular venue of advertisement is in tradeshows and showrooms, it is covered here.

Hair is in its own category because it is a marketable entity that has personality, but is not part of the commercial modeling section. It can be considered a stylish fashion accessory, but not something concrete that you purchase to go along with your wardrobe.

Now do you see why Hair is a complicated category to describe?

In any case, there are three main ways hair services, or products, are marketed in a venue such as this one.

hair show modeling example

1) A model walks down a runway to display his or her haircut/styled hair to an audience.

2) A model has his or her hair cut live in front of an audience.

3) A model has a specific haircut and is styled and photographed or videotaped to be included in a catalogue, or demonstration video.

hair show example modelingThe biggest perk of doing hair modeling is that in addition to getting paid, you get a free professional haircut and styling which can be expensive at a renowned hair salon.

Models with medium to long hair are usually chosen to participate in shows. There is also a tendency for stylists to pick models with thick hair because they are easy to stylize and manipulate.

That’s it!

There are so many categories of modeling that you may fit into and new categories are added all the time.

There’s plenty of work out there for those who really pursue it.

Thanks for joining me! 🙂


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