The tools of your trade are your portfolio photographs and your resume. Portfolio is a model’s basic promotional tool consisting of an album showing the best photos from tests and bookings. At the beginning of your modeling career, your portfolio should include headshots, fashion and body shots. Remember: it is better to have less photos, but ones that are really strong, than a full portfolio with photos that are mediocre. Every portfolio needs a mix of commercial and editorial shots, location and studio. More about this later…
A strong portfolio opens doors, a weak portfolio closes them. Your portfolio is often the only thing a person sees before deciding whether or not to contact you, and in many cases you may not be present to explain it (particularly on-line portfolios).
There are fundamental qualities that all outstanding portfolios share, and a variety of principals and techniques that can help take your portfolio from average to excellent. If at all possible, your portfolio should be appropriate to the situation and reviewer, and all portfolios should show creativity, skills, range, thought, and ambition. Research the agency and their specialty then customize your portfolio to fit what they are looking for.
It is the overall combination of these, plus that “special something,” that makes one designer stand above the others.
How many photos do I need to have?
Less is better! You will not impress with quantity – you will make a lasting impression with quality. The purpose of the modeling portfolio is not just simply to show that you are attractive – it is to show your ability to portray different characters, age ranges and importantly personality! As a new model – 6 – 12 pictures is adequate to present yourself to a new agency. 20 should be a maximum – but only if they are 20 “WOW” pictures. Good pictures don’t make the grade.
Should the pictures be in color?
Black and White is not only an artistic medium that can be effectively used to create and convey a mood, but it is also a medium that is still very much in use today – so don’t be afraid to include a few great Black and White photos in your portfolio.
Your portfolio should be organized and visually appealing Loose photos, cut up contact sheets, loose slides, torn or bent photos, are signs of a poor portfolio presentation. Just as an accountant wouldn’t present his resume on a crumpled piece of paper, you shouldn’t have a sloppy portfolio. Your portfolio represents YOU, make it a lasting, positive impression.
Kinds of Photos
A high quality headshot is a must. After you get some experience, you should have a couple different headshots showing different hairstyles and makeup looks with two different expressions (one smiling and one serious, or one in the studio and one outdoors).
Your fashion photos should include as least one casual and one a little more formal. You should have at least one full-length shot showing the proportion of your body (feet to knees, knees to thighs, thighs to waist, waist to shoulders, shoulders to the top of your head).
If you move well, you might like to include an action shot. For this image you could wear a leotard or a body suit, depending on what makes you comfortable and flatters your figure.
You will also need at least one great body shot (professional and tasteful – editorial style is best) and one beautiful B&W headshot with minimal makeup. A full portfolio consists of about twenty-four 9″x12″ photos and tears (from magazines).
If you take the time to review and select your work, and put together a well thought out book, you’ll be rewarded many times over throughout your career.
Your modeling portfolio will be what sells you when you are looking for modeling jobs. In some cases, it can make or break your career. This is how designers view your overall appearance.
Your book should also contain photographs showing the kinds of work you want to do. If you want to be a swim wear model, have swim wear shots, not high fashion, in your book. Versatility is good but don’t get caught up in trying to be everything, we recommend you stick to what you are best suited for and are interested in.