Hi! Model and Talent Agent here to talk to you about the simplest of all things that every model, talent, agent, manager should be able to get…Digitals!
Let’s cut to the chase and jump right into it. You’re going to WANT good digitals ready to send whenever someone asks for them. So stop, prepare, and get them done right instead of scrambling to get some on the fly the moment someone needs some taken. I’m going to break this article down to into categories for all you “skimmers” out there that just want the cliff notes: What are Digitals, Why do you need digitals, How to take GOOD digitals, When do you need to take digitals. While this topic is super elementary, it’s not just for beginners; many of you veteran talent out there could use some schooling… so read on.
What are Digitals?
Alright, let’s back up a little. What are Model/Talent Digitals? Digitals (AKA, Polaroids, Polos) are unedited pictures of a model/talent to show what that talent looks like as if they were standing in front of them in person (at a casting for example). With all the photoshop in the world and the final pictures in talents’ portfolios, clients want to see what a talent looks like without editing, make-up, or crazy posing/angles. It’s all about showcasing you AS YOU ARE. You’re great and you’re headed for great things, so be confident in who you are and let that shine through your digitals.
Why do You Need Digitals?
There are a number of reasons why someone would want to see a model’s/talent’s digitals. To reiterate what I said before, it’s simply to judge what a talent looks like right this moment! Let’s run through a few examples:
When approaching an agency for representation: A model/talent with zero experience and very few professional pictures could be saved by quality digitals that would showcase the person’s potential. Reversely, if a model has many years of experience and their portfolio clearly shows it’s been years in the making through different hair lengths, color, and even body types…digitals would very quickly clear up how said talent looks right here and now and whether or not that’s a look the agency is seeking at that very moment.
Being considered for a direct booking: A direct booking is a job where a client wants to book a model/talent based off their portfolio and they’re not holding any castings. If there are multiple models/talent up for a single project, a person with better digitals can save a lot of hassle for a client because they know what to expect when that model shows up on set.
How to Take GOOD Digitals
Let’s break down what it’s going to take to get good digitals. You have to think about getting yourself ready for the digitals as well as what it’s going to take from the person taking the digitals, location, light, etc.
How to Prepare:
+ Very natural make-up. Maybe some concealer, foundation, and mascara but that’s about it!
+ Hair should be styled but in its natural form (i.e. if you have naturally curly hair, don’t straighten it just style it with nice curls).
+ When it comes to wardrobe, that depends on your particular market/clientele. We at Sports and Lifestyle Unlimited get the best results when our models are in shorts and a sports bra with no jewelry, socks, nor shoes for their digitals. However, other agencies (as well as clients of ours) will ask for specific digitals in a bikini or skinny black jeans, black tank top, and heels. So it really depends on your market so do your research! It would never hurt to cover your bases and get digitals in ALL of these formats.
+ Come with you hair styled as you normally would and your facial hair properly groomed. Depending on how your agency would like to market you, they may ask for a clean shaven face or with a 5 o’clock shadow/beard.
+ Wardrobe for men here at SLU wear athletic shorts that are above the knee and are shirtless, shoeless, and without jewelry. Again depending on the market you’re entering, you can be asked to have on skinny black jeans. With the jeans you’ll take some digitals with plain black t-shirt as well as some shirtless. Again, do your research as to what market you’re trying to enter. It would never hurt to cover your bases and get digitals in ALL of these formats.
What to do:
Posing should be simple for your digitals. Don’t over do it and don’t be as stiff as a board. You’re going to want to shift your weight and find your angles while keeping your legs, arms, and chin in fairly natural positions. Don’t forget to showcase a few different facial expressions including smiles and serious looks. You’re ultimately going to have to do these digitals in a rotisserie style. Facing the camera, profile to the right, profile to the left, and backwards facing away from the camera.
Over time these should be pumped out like clockwork. I find the best digitals come from those who have e-comm modeling experience. But it’s always something that can be learned by practicing in front of the camera. You can prep and do everything right, but if your posing is forced, unnatural, or awkward, it can be a warning to a client that you’re not as experienced for the project they’re wanting to book you for.
How to Take Digitals:
You can use any number of instruments to take digitals. Obviously a professional digital camera is best. But with these new smartphones you can get great quality so long as there is sufficient light. If you have the option, you can take the photos in studio with strobe light and a white backdrop (as seen in this post). You can also take them at home on a blank wall near a large window or open door where there is plenty of natural light.
The photographer should be kneeling and taking the photographs from just below [subjects] hip height. From this angle the model/talent will appear taller and with the proper posing angle will make the talent appear leaner. The photographer should get a full body collection where the model/talent is facing the camera, profile to the left and right, and back facing away from the camera. Then the photographer should stand up and get a close up digital of the model/talent like a headshot facing the camera and then 3/4 profile to the left and right.
Remember, these images are NOT to be retouched. So no editing with the exception of light and color correction if the in camera images are not as realistic as they should be.
When You Need to Take Digitals:
Understanding that the concept of digitals is to give a client an ACCURATE depiction of what you look like, you should make sure your digitals are taken when you’re in the shape you want to be in and maintain. Don’t alter your body completely just for these digitals. Be in shape if you need to be, be ready to go, and then try and maintain (or better) that look going forward. You’re going to want to take new digitals about every 6 months OR if anything major changes. When I say major, I don’t mean that you lost 3 pounds and you feel your abs are popping a bit more. I mean you’ve gotten visible tattoos, your hair is noticeably different, or you’ve had a significantly noticeable change in your physique.
Even if nothing noticeably changes, you should update your digitals every 6 months so that when a client asks for RECENT digitals, you have some to confidently share.
While digitals are presumably easy and just a minor step into the process of getting your team what they need to book you, they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your digitals play a very real role in whether or not you get picked up by an agency or booked on a job. You can either prepare and go get your digitals done at their best, or wait until someone asks for them and scramble. The choice is yours. Let this be a resource for you as you go out and get your own digitals.
If you have questions, concerns, or general comments about this article, please feel free to leave a comment in the section below and we’d be happy to discuss!
*Disclaimer – We are Sports and Lifestyle Unlimited, a fitness and lifestyle focused agency and the examples shown here for digitals may not be the same for your agency/clientele. It’s very important to know who your target audience (clientele) is and cater your materials for those clients.