Fashion Model Castings Real or Virtual?

 

Model: Yulia Kharlapanova Photographer © Kacper Kasprzyk

Model castings are one of the most important parts of a fashion or beauty photography editorial or print advertising campaign. Those of you having to have cast for a job probably understand how complicated the whole affair can be.

Casting protocol and logistics are changing all of the time and the necessity to see a model in the flesh so to speak is less important than most of you might think.

Highly evolved internet technology has changed the dynamic considerably. Access to information about the model and how she appears on screen, provides all of the decision makers a much wider gamut of information about her-him than ever before. If the pertinent information about the model is up to date, that information can be even better than a real on the spot casting. However, the responsibility falls on the model agency to provide the most up to date information on the models dimensions, hair color and cut, skin condition etc. so that the client can make an accurate assessment of the model they are casting.

Anne-Sophie Monrad

Some of the questions we ask model agencies are what is her REAL shoe size, weight, height, hair color, length of hair and skin condition. In most cases the agencies will be forthright and honest when confronted directly. However, don’t trust a comp card for the vital information on the model, as it is already outdated when you receive it. The model could have had a hair color change the night before your shoot for another clients needs and you will not be informed until she shows up, unless the agency is really on the case, this will rarely happen. So you have been warned.

Real castings are often needed in the following cases.  The model has come in from another city or country and is available for a limited time only. The model is a new be and hasn’t any images at all or just a few snap shots. She has had a radical re-looking and nothing in her book represents her new look. It is a beauty casting and the skin is very important because the client wants to use minimal retouching. The client has honed down the preliminary casting to a few models and now wants to see the real deal (at their expense if the model is out of town). Once the model has been hired and needs to do a pre-show fitting, as I have illustrated with a pre show Jean-Paul Gaultier model fitting below.

A Real Model Casting

If you are new to casting, get ready to be disappointed. In most cases, models are required to come to castings with little or no make-up and what you see in the flesh is nothing like what you saw when you scrutinized her on the web. It is often as radical as night and day.  Again, you’ve been warned.

However, with the understanding of image usage and how it renders in a chosen media type, most good casting directors and photographers can see what the potential of the model is.  With all of the available visual information on the net which includes video, snap shots, tear sheets, skype conferencing calls etc. many prefer to see how models are rendered in those formats, as they represent how the model will eventually be seen.

A Jean Paul Gaultier Model Fitting

With new 3D technology coming to the forefront, virtual castings will become the norm and “real” castings will be done as part of the finalization process and for the fittings only. In fact, fittings will eventually be done virtually as well, using outerwear templates to determine exact sizing and fitting parameters.

My recommendation is to compile as much info on the model as possible via the net and when convinced of your edited choice, than call in the choices for your finalization process.  This is a real time saver, unless of course you are casting for a speaking roll.  Now that is an entirely different subject. Or is it?

About Benjamin Kanarek
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Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…
  • The Editor

    Makes me think of a Steven Meisel editorial in Vogue Italia. 

  • Tony

    I read somewhere that Mario Testino calls up the agencies and then casts the models through Skype. I wonder whether it is true. Do you do anything like that Benjamin?

  • I’m surprised you don’t mention video. I’ve already seen a few model “casting” videos put together by agencies. It’s an interesting idea, as watching a model move or express themselves in motion adds a whole new dimension to the casting process, and in many ways bridges the gap between live and internet casting…

    • Of course I did…I said internet media. That implies all of the available tools available to visualize a model, like Skype, iChat etc.