How to Put Together a Modeling Portfolio

When it comes to modeling, your portfolio serves as your resume and showcases your body of work. Whether you are signed to an agency or are a freelance model, putting together your portfolio is one of the most important aspects of your career.

Things You'll Need

  • Photographer(s)
  • Outfits and Accessories
  • Portfolio Case
  • Photos
  • Portfolios

Instructions

  1. Getting Pictures

    • 1
      Commercial/print images

      Before even attempting to put together a modeling portfolio, it is important to know what type of modeling you can do. Freelance models have greater flexibility in this area but should focus on a main category they will receive the most work in. If you do glamour or swim wear, then those are the types of photos you should have in your portfolio. High fashion models should have high fashion images in their books (another term for portfolio). Be realistic. If you are too short for fashion, stick to commercial/print and lifestyle images.

    • 2
      High fashion images

      Use magazines and other publications as reference guides for the types of images you'll want to include in your portfolio. This will help you get an idea of the type of shoot you'll need to set up.

    • 3

      For models signed to agencies, your agent will have a sit-down with you and advise you as to what types of images should be in your portfolio. They will also recommend photographers for you to work with that the agency trusts. It is in your best interest to go with the photographer referred to you by the agent. If you go outside the channels, your agent may not like the photos, resulting in a waste of time, effort and a portfolio your agent can't use.

    • 4

      Freelance models can turn to online modeling communities as well as other outlets to find local photographers to work with. Be sure to look at the photographer's work and choose one who specializes in the type of images you want to include. If you are satisfied with their work, shoot them an email or give them a call to set up a meeting or shoot.

    • 5
      Pick a photograph specializing in the type of modeling you do.

      Once you have found a photographer you want to work with, meet with him/her before your shoot to discuss the themes, concepts and/or looks you are going for. Explain what types of photos you'd like to try. From here you two can agree on locations, outfits, date, time, etc.

    • 6

      Make sure you have everything you need packed before your shoot so you don't forget anything. You should have your hair and makeup professionally done as well to guarantee the best images. Agency represented models often have the comfort of having a makeup, hair and wardrobe stylist present during the portfolio shoot, while freelance models may have to do it themselves or get it done somewhere prior to the shoot.

    • 7

      Once you have taken your photos, it's time to review them and pick the best. Out of the bunch you'll want to make sure to have the following among your images: headshot, ¾ body shot, full body shot. You'll want different outfits and locations to show diversity as well. Play with poses and give a variety...if you have the same poses over and over your portfolio will be boring.

    • 8
      Portfolio Case

      After the key images have been selected, you can purchase a portfolio case (if your agent doesn't provide you with one). You can find them at any office supply store and the prices range from very affordable to very expensive so you'll be able to find on that fits within your budget. It's best to buy one that can hold between 15-20 8"x10" photos.

    • 9
      Tearsheet Example

      As your modeling career progresses, update your images in your portfolio to reflect your most current work. In addition to regular modeling photos, include any tearsheets you get. These are pages taken directly from the published work you have appeared in. Tearsheets are vital to a model's portfolio because it showcases actual work, which is very impressive to clients.

Tips & Warnings

  • One way to get photos without paying money is to arrange a TFP or TFCD. TFP (time for prints) and TFCD (time for CD) are a free exchange of services: the model gives his/her time and the photographer provides them with images from the shoot. No money is involved, although a model release form may need to be signed.
  • However, if you want to guarantee top quality, there is nothing wrong with paying a photographer. This ensures that you get exactly the types of images you want. Money is a great motivator to get things done in a timely fashion (not to say that doing TFP/TFCD produces less than stellar work but if you are paying for the services, there is less of a chance of a mishap occurring where you don't receive your images or wait forever to receive them). Many photographers put paying gigs as priority over free shoots.
  • When putting your images in your portfolio, be sure to only include your best images. They each must have the "WOW" factor. If you have any doubt about an image, do not include it. Put the best images on the right side of the book (if you choose to put images on both sides of each page). The eye is naturally drawn to the right side when looking at a portfolio layout so you'll want those images to be seen immediately by whoever is looking at it.
  • Include both black and white as well as color photos. Don't include too many images in your portfolio. A safe number to stick to is between 10-15...20 max if you have done a lot of work.
  • gency represented models usually have their portfolios completely managed by the agency so there is less to deal with on that end. Freelance models act as their own agents so it is your responsibility to maintain and update your portfolio.
  • If you need to, freelance models specializing in more than one type of modeling category can put together a separate portfolio for each and show them to clients accordingly.
  • While you should show diversity in your looks and poses, don't go overboard. If you have too many different and wild images that don't relate to the type of modeling you do, you can confuse of overwhelm a client.
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