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Polaroids Progress Pics

Here’s a topic that I’ve needed to touch on for some time, but I’ve never had the chance to sit down and write it out.  Progress pics and Polaroids.

So you want to be a model for an agency, a professional photographer, or anything of the sort, eh?  Well, you need to know what I’m talking about here.

We’ll go with the most simple, first.  Polaroids.


To really make it as simple as possible, “Polaroids” are images that fashion models use on a regular basis to show agencies and photographers what they look like without full makeup and without all of the cool and funky fashion clothes that most photo shoots usually require the higher end models to wear.

These images originally got their name from the cameras that were used to make them.  Sometimes, these same cameras are still used to make them.  They’re easy and simple!  They’re usually done in street clothes.

You can see a couple examples here provided by a couple model friends and acquaintances of mine.



These images should be completely and totally UNRETOUCHED in any way.  Plain and simple, they are very accurate and real representations of you and how you look.  Some agencies want no makeup or hair done while others will allow gentle makeup (foundation only) and blown out hair.

Yes, men and women both need to do these.

Lingerie and Glamour models take note: while fashion models can get away with doing stuff in street clothes (because they rarely wear anything less), you should have some done in the types of clothes you wear.  So if you’re doing lingerie, shoot in simple, basic, non-see through (no lace, etc), underwear and bra OR, if that makes you uncomfortable, wear a bikini that covers the same areas.

Most agencies will usually request a bikini or swimsuit (men) and want the women in heels.  If you are doing your polaroids yourself, you need to get good lighting (natural or use a lamp without the shade) and get in front of a clean, white wall.  Sometimes a garage door will work.  Bad images will be in a cluttered space, or with plants (looks like trees coming out of your head).

Images used with model's permission

Images used with model’s permission

Here’s a good step-by-step process for making these images:

  • Step 01 – To have your snapshots done well, find a white wall or a simple white background in your house to use as a background and take there your pictures.
  • Step 02 – If you are not sure of the results ask a photographer to take these pictures for you.
  • Step 03 – Make several pictures in close-up, portrait, back and side and full body pictures too.
  • Step 04 – put only powder or mascara, not a strong make-up on your face and eyes.
  • Step 05 – To have the best results achieved, take these polaroids with a swimming suit/costume or with a simple light coloured lingerie on.
  • Step 06 – Because you must have that natural look on your pictures it is not recommended to use accessories as ear-rings, necklaces, bracelets, glasses, hats and etc.

Note: with bikini’s, do not wear one that sags in the back or doesn’t give proper fit.  If you do, and it looks bad, you’ll be passed over!

These images should be updated at least once every 1-3 months OR have them made upon request.  They can be done at home, but often models do them with a photographer so that they are posed correctly:  good posture, good lighting, etc.  Sometimes, some agencies will ask for them before you even show up to a casting call or bring them with you and they require them to be within the last 3 days.

So having these at your disposal is vital!

Ask your photographer for them each time you work with someone.  If you can’t, have someone snap a photo of you with a general, point and shoot camera, or even a professional camera.  It takes only a few moments to make these images.  I personally do them for cheap for anyone working with me.  So if you’re working with me, just ask!

Now…Progress Pics.

Progress Pics/Progress Photos

Progress pics are kinda like polaroids only in the way that they are updated on a regular basis and are usually sent to agencies and photographers to show your physique.

The term “progress pics” is used because these are the types of photos that people should send to trainers, etc to show your progress over the time that you are working with someone.  If you’re not working with a trainer, that’s cool…but you should still know what I’m talking about.  They should show your progress from week to week or month to month.

Images courtesy Allen Cress and Maximum Performance Training

Images courtesy Allen Cress and Maximum Performance Training

These images are taken in various contest poses most of the time, but they should ALWAYS be the same poses.  If you’re a competitor you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Front, back, side, etc.  The other option is like you see in the images here in this blog: front and back and done in a show suit/bikini/posing suit.  These aren’t full compulsory poses that are performed by bodybuilders, but are general poses that show your overall physique and development over time.  If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, ask your trainer, coach, or ask the google gods!

Images courtesy Valerie S. and Busy Mom Gets Fit

Images courtesy Valerie S. and Busy Mom Gets Fit

Your wardrobe for these types of poses is simple.  You need either a contest/stage posing suit OR you need a swimsuit that covers the same amount of area.

If you don’t have a show suit or a posing suit, these images can be done with underwear as explained above.  The best underwear for this type of shot is something like the Under Armour seamless underwear, aerie, VS seamless yoga line for women.  Men can get away with wearing briefs that are colored.  I recommend NOT wearing white…just sayin’.

The most major difference between progress pics and polaroids is that progress photos should be taken EVERY WEEK.  Yeah, you read that right, “every week.”  Most people that I know do them on Sunday mornings before they eat and right after they weigh themselves.  This information (date, time, weight, etc) is included in the email that they send with progress pics.  Bust size, etc is NOT part of the essential information that is needed for these types of images.


Progress photos used with permission.

Note: Men can get away with wearing gym shorts and pulling them up to show leg development.  Women usually wear posing suits, simple lingerie that isn’t see through, a bikini, or some similar wardrobe.


Do’s and Don’t’s

There are some things to remember when you do this kind of photograph.


  • Keep it classy – if you don’t, you’ll be passed over and probably dumped by the agency or the photographer you’re trying to work with.
  • Make sure you wear the same thing or something very similar when you do these types of shots.
  • Always use the same lighting if you can – competitors should know the importance of this
  • DO THE SAME POSES EACH TIME for your progress pics.  This is very important.  Posing and stage routines aren’t what people are looking for!
  • Ladies, wear heels when you do your polaroids or progress pics!  Most agencies will ask for this!


  • Don’t bend over and don’t show your junk when you do these poses.  This is easy with some fitness stuff (we all know about the bikini poses) but you can keep it classy.
  • Don’t wear thongs if you can keep from it.  Cheekie cuts and booty shorts are ok.
  • Don’t wear black if you can keep from it.  Black absorbs light and hides lines.  You may look larger/smaller depending
  • DO NOT RETOUCH YOUR IMAGES.  We can tell.  Seriously.  No one has doll skin naturally.

Now you know ladies and gentlemen!  So, for those of you that read this whole thing, I hope to see some good quality polaroids and progress pics from potential models!!!!

Special Thanks

Busy Mom Gets Fit for the use of her progress photos!

Allen Cress and Maximum Performance Training for the use of progress photos and contributing information!

Tana Leggo Stalcup for the use of polaroids!

Miranda R f0r the use of progress photos!

Kathy Campbell, agency director for a regional modeling agency for contributing information and insight!

Email her for help with info about polaroids and agency practices at: kathy@heymantalent.com

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