Why Do You Need “Polaroids”/“Digitals”?

Models in Barbados who want to get cast for international campaigns/projects need to create modeling “digitals” or “polaroids” to show their current look in a natural, professional way. I have had multiple inquiries from international clients, and if I don’t have “polaroids” of the models that I want to suggest, the client is much less likely to be comfortable booking that model for a job.

Example of fashion modeling digitals taken at my studio with model Jalicia Nightengale styled by Dré DeCarlo

So What Are Modeling Polaroids/Digitals?

Modeling “polaroids” are images of what the model currently looks like. These images used to be taken quite quickly with Polaroid instant cameras. The goal was to capture a model in simple lighting, without any retouching to show their natural look. Nowadays modeling “digitals” are taken with digital cameras, normally using a white, or neutral background. Several shots are taken of the model to show their look from various angles. This will give the client or agency an accurate idea of what the model currently looks like without makeup or retouching.

Why Are Modeling Digitals Necessary?

Modeling polaroids or digitals allow clients and agencies to see what a model looks like naturally. These un-retouched images are the standard for the modeling industry and signed models typically update their digitals every few months, or if there are major changes to their look. For example, the colour/style of hair, new tattoos, weight gain/loss, etc. It’s important to have up-to-date digitals on hand. If we're thinking about Barbados, I've been producing estimates for international clients recently and everything went well up until the casting. The clients just couldn't get a clear idea of the model's personality or true appearance and their confidence in shooting the campaigns in Barbados fell off quickly!

What Should I Bring?

Agencies prefer to see models in a simple look that shows their features and shape clearly. Baggy or loose clothing does not work. For digitals, we use form-fitting clothing with no prints/patterns/logos in a neutral colour (black, grey, brown).

For models looking to work in fashion, women ought to wear black jeans/jeggings/leggings and a form-fitting tank top that is preferably black; men ought to wear form-fitting jeans and a neutral form-fitting top. It’s hard to go wrong with black jeans and a slim-cut black t-shirt.

For models looking to work in fitness/swimwear, men are typically photographed shirtless to show their body shape; women ought to wear black bikinis with black heels. The heels are recommended but not required because they enhance the model’s shape by lengthening the body and accentuating curves.

Do not bring any bright colours/patterns/prints/clothing with logos.


These images are meant to be as natural as possible, they should not be styled much, and makeup isn’t recommended. Polaroids with heavy makeup will make it harder for the client to see what you look like naturally, and that’s the point of these images. It’s ok to use a small amount of concealer and lip balm, do not wear mascara, eyeliner or eyeshadow and allow your natural eyebrows to show.


Keeping with the natural approach, make sure your hair is clean and tidy. A natural afro or low ponytail is fine, or if it’s short, just slick it back, or style it naturally.


Please make sure that your finger and toenails are clean, preferably nude colour or clear polish. Any other colours will distract from you being your natural self, and chipped/flaking polish will definitely draw attention to the wrong place. Typically acrylic/gel nails will also draw attention away from you, and there are many clients who prefer to use models without acrylics/gels.

Example of fitness/swimwear modeling polaroids taken at my studio with Jalicia Nightengale styled by Dré DeCarlo


Lets avoid earrings, bracelets, necklaces, or any kind of jewelry/accessory. The simpler the better!

Are Digitals Retouched?

Not these photos! I get that we’ve got Snapchat filters & photoshop and all types of other ways of smoothing our skin or modifying our proportions these days, but the intention here is to make sure that these images represent you, as you are. That said, because I always shoot in RAW format I have to do some processing this would involve: calibrating the image according to my lens, balancing the colours, managing the exposure and adding a bit of contrast. I could probably cut out most of that work for myself by shooting JPEGs, the camera typically does its own modification if one shoots JPEG, but I prefer not to.

What Expressions Are Best For Modeling Digitals?

Since these images are all about marketing you as you are, it’s best if you stick to how you naturally present yourself. If you’re not the smiley type, then I won’t push you to give great big cheesy grins. In fact casual, soft smiles are just fine, the most important thing for me, is making sure that your eyes shine with your personality. It’s important to remember that just like loud makeup/clothing/nails loud expressions can also distract from your natural appearance. We’re aiming for professionalism, so extreme/loud poses and expressions ought to be avoided.

Want To Update Your Digitals?

Just Click Here and you’ll be sent to my “Contact” page and select “Model Digitals” as the shoot-type and we can get started!