5 Steps to Building your Modelling Portfolio
Do you want to get into modelling but not sure how you can build a professional model portfolio?
Step 1: Get a professional fashion photographer
You will need a professional photographer to shoot a model portfolio that can help you get modelling jobs. Do some research before you book a photographer to shoot your first modelling portfolio or model book update. Check out their portfolio and photographer’s credentials before booking your model portfolio shoot. Cheap photographers are not necessarily great value as modelling portfolio can be of low quality and often heavily retouched. The most important is that the photos in your model portfolios look like you. There is a reason why some photographers are cheap! Be careful about spending hundreds of pounds for a portfolio with a makeover studio who does not regularly shoot with top model agencies and fashion brands or studios acting as agencies. Also beware of modelling training academies - as a model you either have it or not and no amount of ‘training’ will change that. Good model portfolio will maximise your potential as a model. Does the photographer shoot regularly for best model agencies? Has the photographer shot with big fashion brands and publications?
Great model portfolio photographer will also provide you with free modelling advice after your shoot. You should never pay for model advice and watch out for anyone who promises you a modelling career and / or offers you modelling support services. Modelling advice agencies ask you to apply with your photos and details on their website to ‘become a model’. Then they will get back to you to tell you that they think you have a modelling potential and offer to apply to agencies like Storm on your behalf and the next thing you know you will be asked to pay thousands of pounds for the privilege. Please remember no one can apply to agencies on your behalf and modelling advice is free of charge so don’t waste time with so called model advice or modelling support services. They are not associated with model agencies even if they might claim they are.
Step 2: Choose the right model portfolio photography package
When choosing the right model portfolio package you need to consider photo shoot duration, whether professional makeup and hair is included, number of clothes changes, styling and posing guidance, studio vs location and whether you are able to get all your images high res. Professional model portfolios need to show a variety and most successful model portfolios contain great model shots both in studio and outdoors. Some photographers do unlimited changes which is fantastic for showing a variety together with variety of expressions, look and feel. Styling and posing guidance is important for first time models who often pose like professionals by the end of the shoot.
The most important is that the photos in your model portfolios look like you. Be careful about spending hundreds of pounds for portfolio with a makeover studio who does not regularly shoot with top model agencies and fashion brands or studios acting as agencies. Also beware of modelling training academies - as a model you either have it or not and no amount of ‘training’ will change that. Good model portfolio will maximise your potential as a model.
Step 3: Bring the right clothes for model portfolio shoot
As I already mentioned model portfolio needs to show variety so more clothes you bring the better. Avoid excessive jewellery or distracting patterns. Also avoid maxi dresses, large coats, hats or anything which will cover your figure - model bookers really hate that. Bring colours and avoid too much black. Colours can really bring the model portfolio to life. Model bookers and clients want to see the real you and not your jewellery, excessive makeup or anything that distracts from you. The model portfolio needs to be a showcase of you and not the makeup artistry or fashion styling which will distract from you. Always bring high heel shoes if you are a female model as they help to shape your legs. Always bring denim and simple tops. Fashion model agencies often like more casual clothing and natural shots for a model book of new faces. Trick with model portfolios is not to overdo it. Some model photographers do provide some fashion wardrobe for female and male model portfolio shoots and can help you with fashion styling and give you posing guidance.
Step 4: Model portfolio shoot
Make sure you get plenty of rest and sleep before your actual shoot and that you are on time. Punctuality is very important in the modelling industry and most photographer would not recommend a model to their commercial client who they remember was late for a shoot before no matter how great look she had. Professionalism and lovely personality can get models booked again and again. No one wants to work with a model who is ‘difficult’ or a ‘diva’. Being in front of the camera and all the professional lighting can feel quite unnatural and model need to show confidence and energy. Practicing different poses in front of mirror can help to boost your confidence on the day of your model portfolio shoot. Simple poses often work best - remember that model portfolio poses need to be quite natural and not look too stiff.
Step 5: Creating a model book
If you choose a right photographer for your model portfolio shoot then you should have a plenty of images to select from for your model book. Select photos for your book that show variety. Get A4 leather book with clear sleeves to put your prints in. You can get photos printed professionally and very cheaply online with companies like ‘Photobox’. The first shot in your model book should be your best headshot. First and last impressions last so always put your best images at the front and end of the book. Do not include any average shots - only your best images. It is more about the quality rather than quantity. Make sure that your model book is always up to date - photos that are more than one year old are not going to work for you.