How To Create a Modeling Portfolio

27 Jul

If you looking to get into the modeling industry, one of the most important things you will need is a strong up-to-date modeling portfolio.  Aspiring models are often unsure how to put this together or end up adding images that are not suitable for booking the work they aim to do.  Consider the following steps when looking to create a workable portfolio to develop your business.

1)      Determine the type of modeling work you aspire to do:  The images you place in your portfolio should reflect the work you intend to do.  One of the biggest mistakes models make is shooting images that don’t resonate with clients with whom they wish to work.  For example, let’s assume you feel like you are well suited to model for a company that promotes family fitness.  It’s unlikely that this company will want to see anything in your portfolio that is overly sexy or revealing.  If you hope to book work that requires you to wear swim wear it’s appropriate for you to include an image in a bathing suit but make sure it’s conservative and tasteful.  If it’s in your portfolio, clients will assume that’s the type of work you want.

2)      Find a photographer.  Hiring a qualified photographer is critical to your success.  There are many people who might offer to shoot you for free but it’s imperative that you keep in mind that these images are a reflection of your abilities.  A good photographer will help you on camera, understand lighting, be professional, thoroughly attempt to understand your goals, help you in securing good locations and secure permits as necessary  and have a solid background in shooting images similar to that which you wish to create.  Ask for recommendations and make sure the photographer is responsive.  There is nothing worse than hiring someone who fails to return calls, respond to emails or provide your images to you in a timely manner.

3)      Determine your wardrobe: Once you have an idea of the type of clients for whom you wish to work you are ready to create a vision for your images.  Arm yourself with as many ideas as possible.  Look up talent on model websites to see if there are ideas, ask agents or others involved in the industry.  Go through ads, look at catalogs and surf the web for eye-catching images.  Pay careful attention to look for models that look like you!  For example, let’s assume you want to work for companies associated with the banking industry.  What do those people look like?  Are they dressed in suits, how is their hair styled, is their outfit conservative, what type of accessories do they have on?  You are going to aim to dress like this!  Furthermore, you should look at the props that are often featured.  Do not incorporate so many props that they distract from your image, but do consider using something.  Examples for this type of shoot might be a briefcase or a laptop.  Bring a lot of items.  I’ve never been at a shoot where I had too many choices!  The photographer will sometimes say the color doesn’t work or the texture isn’t good on camera.  In this case you will want to have back-ups.

4)      Hire a Make-Up Artist (MUA):Now is not the time to start learning to do your own on-camera make-up. Qualified hair and make-up artists understand the intricacies of shooting for photos.  Hair and make-up on camera can be different than that in real life.  You may really like the MUA who did your make-up for your wedding, but it’s important to ask if he or she has experience in make-up for photo shoots.  Look at the work they have done,ask for rates and make sure you find out what that includes.  Schedule your appointment well in advance.

5)      Come Prepared: Arrive on time with everything you need.  Have a list of questions for your photographer.  Bring the research you have collected to share with the photographers.  This will give them an idea of what you hope to capture.  Do not, under any circumstances, let the photographer convince you to do anything you don’t feel represents you well.  Assuming you’ve done your research in picking a photographer this is likely not going to be a problem.  Never-the-less, keep that in mind.  I walk into every photo shoot now thinking, these are the clients for whom I work.  If they were standing here right now would they like this picture I am taking?  It’s as simple as that.

My headshot taken by Sylvia Hardt

6)      Make sure one of your images is a strong head shot.  If you want to do professional modeling nearly every client will ask for a headshot and sometimes that is all they ask for.  A headshot should look exactly like you.  Now is not the time to glam it up.  Look at most of the ads out there, they are real people.  Aim to look like a real person.  Have your MUA do your make-up naturally, wear a solid color shirt, have your hair styled simply and make sure the shoot is not taken with a distracting background.  Headshots typically only show people from waist up.  You’re headshot is the most important image you have in your portfolio.  Make sure you get something that represents you well.Once you have your images back you will want to purchase a portfolio.  I don’t think this is the time to skimp on money and I’d spend at least $40 on a hard cover book.  There are several available on www.amazon.com  Simply search for “modeling portfolio book” and you will find options.  Have your pictures professionally printed and add them to your book.  Make sure you also get web images as there may be times you are required to submit photos online.On a final note, I’ve rarely been asked at auditions by casting agents to see my portfolio.  However, it is vital that my agent have up-to-date quality pictures of me as often times she is required to present them to clients when attempting to book me for auditions and jobs.  My comp card has been extremelly important, as I’ve been asked for it at nearly every audition I’ve been to.  My comp card is printed on quality paper, profesionally designed and has four images, a head-shot on the front, and three images on the back (one lifestyle, one fitness and one evening wear).  My name and my measurements are also shown on the card.

Good luck to everyone just starting out their modeling journey.  May you grow and learn and as you do always remember to share your knowledge with others.

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