Models: Creating a portfolio

Your portfolio will either get you jobs, or kill your image, so it is really important to do it right. Because some new models might be reading this, I’ll start at the basics, then a few tips that might help.

Essentials of a portfolio

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  • A beauty shot: This is a head and shoulders shot, with minimal makeup, even without. What a potential client wants to see here is your bone structure and the shape of your features, like for instance eye shape. That is why it is so important not to wear a lot of makeup, have your hair in your face or turn your face away from the camera. 
  • Full body, swimwear/ lingerie. Before a art director, photographer or client can ask a model for a casting, it is very important to know his/ her body type.
  • Full body, fashion. Here the customer can get an idea of how well a model ‘wears’ clothes
  • Active photos: do not neglect to put some sporty photos in your portfolio for this specific market.
  • Posing photos: It is very important to have different poses in your portfolio. This shows that you are able to work in front of a camera and that you can use your body. Watch out for the same look over and over. Watch out for poses from a different age, and keep up to date with recent poses by regularly checking international fashion magazines.
  • Facial expression: Small micro expressions can make the difference between whether a model is hired or not. It is of cardinal importance to understand and have emotional range. The difference between an amazing model and just another model might be if she can act and show emotion.
  • Variation: different poses, makeup, hairstyles, styles and places. It is quite clear if a model shot a few pics in her back yard. If you can dance, ride a horse, play volleyball (doesn’t really matter) put a reference to this in your photos. Your special skill might just land you a job.

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A few tips:

  • I die a small death every time I see what I call the facebook face: if you look through a model’s portfolio and she only has one expression on her face, from photo to photo, very often with a small pouty mouth and sexy eyes, I know that she has found the one face she thinks she looks sexy with, and can’t do any other faces.BLOG Portfolio-3
  • Dead eyes: The eyes are the window to the soul and if your eyes are dead, it might show me that the model can’t portray emotion with her eyes. It shows that the model was not creating a story in her own mind, was not thinking of something wonderful, was only going through the motions.
  • Do NOT add photos to your portfolio that shows you in a bad light. You can rather have fewer supreme photos, than scar your image with a few bad ones.
  • Black and white photos can add a great variation to your portfolio, but use this as the exception, not the rule!
  • More than one photographer: Every photographer has a distinct style and way of shooting. If you only shoot with one photographer, if will show in your photos. I know this can be very expensive so here are a few tricks for the starter model:
  1. Offer your services free of charge. Very often creatives do work – for – work/ print basis shoots to enhance their own portfolios. Make sure they know about you when they choose.
  2. Photographers know each other and often suggest models for small jobs, so your Z-card and online portfolio are your best friends.
  3. Never stop trying. One agency/ photographer might not like your looks, another might love it!
  4. Be friendly to other models and they might suggest you.
  5. Social media like facebook or twitter are the best marketing tools you can ever have! Be active, make sure to keep your image presentable. It might even be a good idea to have a separate profile for your modelling work. That way, the photos of you, last Friday  night out on town is not tagged and shown to potencial clients. See to it that you regularly post visuals, photos or events connected to modelling.
  6. Know the difference between going out socially and going out for business. Certain events can help you to meet the right people. It really is important. Behave like it is.

Until next time

Elsofie