Fashion Terminology

A list of Fashion Terminology that should help you to 'speak the lingo' and be on the same page as the rest of your creative team.

I know one of the hardest parts of breaking into Fashion Photography is dealing with the ins and outs of the industry, such as hiring models, coordinating photo shoots, locations etc. There is a lot of jargon that can be a bit confusing when first planning your shoots, and it may seem overwhelming. I've compiled a short list of Fashion Terminology to take away some of those fears and confusion! This should help you to 'speak the lingo' and be on the same page as the rest of your creative team, magazine editors and others in the industry.


Test Shoot: A test shoot is intended for portfolio building and to test working with new people (aka a photographer testing with a new hair stylist, makeup artist, model or vice versa). Typically a test is unpaid and everyone is working for experience and to build their books (aka portfolios).

Trade: When a shoot is done in exchange for services. Often a hair stylist or makeup artist will trade for digital images in exchange for their time.

TFCD:  Trade for CD. The pay for the shoot is compensation in digital files. There is no pay, but instead trade of services. You don't literally have to use a CD, and images are often distributed by file transfer programs like Wetransfer, Copy or Hightail.

Pull Letter: A letter from a magazine, written on your behalf, to encourage designers and showrooms to lend clothing for a shoot. Usually has the date of shoot, the issue you will be published in, and lists your wardrobe stylist's name.

Showroom: A showroom represents different designers, helps lend their clothes for publication, and often manages a designer's public relations. Stylists have relationships with showrooms to help attain clothing for shoots.

Commission Letter: A letter from a magazine indicating that you have been hired/commission to shoot for that publication. This helps you secure your creative team, models and clothing for a shoot. This is similar to a pull letter, except this letter indicates that the magazine has in fact hired you. A pull letter, on the other hand, is simply to help you get clothing and does not guarantee the work will actually appear in the publication.

LOR: Letter of Responsibility: When borrowing clothing for a shoot, a publication insures the clothes for you in case of loss or damage. Designers and showrooms are more willing to lend clothing if you have a LOR.

Spec Shoot: Also known as 'shooting on spec', everyone shoots for free in hopes of later selling the images or catching the attention of a brand to hire you to create imagery for their company.

Right of First Publication: When your work is accepted to be published by a magazine or online publication, they reserve the right to be the first to share these images online or in print. In other words, do not share your images from these shoots on social media, your website or any other outlet until AFTER they have been published.

Tear Sheet: An image in a publication is called a tear sheet, referring to when you could literally 'tear' a sheet out of a magazine. Tear sheets may be physical (print) or digital. Often people will work in exchange for credits and 'tears' to include in their portfolio and list of clients.

Mood Board: A collection of images that express the overall direction and inspiration for a shoot. Mood boards often contain images for the desired type of hair, makeup, wardrobe and even lighting on a shoot. A mood board helps express a photographer's vision of the shoot to the entire team.

New Face/Development Model: Models at an agency that are still developing their portfolios and are available for unpaid/test shoots. Often these models have less experience or have recently changed their look (hair) and need updated portfolios.

Kit Fee: Sometimes a hair stylist or makeup artist will ask for a 'kit fee' to help cover their costs for a test shoot. Kit fees are usually relatively small and meant only to help cover costs of supplies.

Clean-Clean: On many shoots where hair and makeup is provided, this indicates that you want the model to arrive without makeup and without product in their hair.

Hair and Makeup Ready: If you ask a model to come 'hair and makeup ready', he/she should have already done his or her makeup for the shoot. They come ready to shoot as-is.

Fashion Editorial: A series of images based upon a theme that is then published in a magazine or online publication. A fashion editorial usually consists of a minimum of 5 images, and usually is unpaid. When shooting an editorial people usually work in exchange for the exposure or 'tear sheets'.

Look Book: A collection of photos created to show the designer's collection for the current season. Typically the photography is less 'creative' and more about showcasing the clothing, although that is not always the case.

Digital Tech: On a photo shoot, a digital tech manages the communication between the camera and the computer, the tethering, image display and image backup. They often help the photographer check critical focus and exposure for a shoot, and are solely responsible for backing up images.

Call Sheet: A call sheet contains all details of the shoot including location, call times, creative team, essential contact information, schedule of the day, and any other important details. This is sent out the day before or several days before a shoot.

Call Time: The time an individual should arrive for a shoot. Call time may be different for different me members of the creative team.

Wrap Time: The projected time that you will complete the shoot.

BTS: Behind the scenes photos and videos.

Tether: If shooting tethered, your images are automatically displayed on a monitor or screen during the shoot so that the client can view the images real-time.

PA: Production Assistant. On set this individual helps to ensure that the day runs smoothly and coordinates scheduling, locations, permits, food and other elements of the shoot.

Craft Services: Food on a set. The person in charge of 'craft services' must manage getting food or catering for the shoot.

MUA: Short for 'Makeup Artist"