What makes a great modeling portfolio?
There are a few EXTREMELY important concepts to remember:
Remember that this is truly a “first impression” business. You know the quote – “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.” – There is no business where that is more true than modeling. Every agency or client that you contact – your photos, comp card or modeling portfolio will always go in the door before you.
Consider this: If McDonald’s were going to launch a new print ad campaign for the Big Mac. . . do you think that they would go to the nearest McDonald’s, order a few Big Mac’s and return to the studio to photograph them? Of course not! They would hire the most creative and skilled food stylists from New York or Los Angeles to build and photograph a Big Mac – the likes of which you nor I will ever have the opportunity to eat – but it sure will make us want to go out and buy one! What is my point?
Set your standards HIGH! You MUST use a very critical eye when selecting any images to put in your modeling portfolio. Make sure that the pictures that you show have the ability to WOW agencies and potential clients.
You are only as good as your worst image – and believe me – photographers, agencies and art directors WILL remember the worst image.
It is my contention that there are 4 kinds of pictures that you will potentially wind up with. Bad, Good, Great and WOW pictures.
Your modeling portfolio should consist ONLY of Great and WOW photos. Throw away the Bad and store the Good in a box of memories. Place your WOW pictures on the right hand pages of your portfolio and the Great pictures on the left hand side.
Questions and answers to help build a great modeling portfolio:
How large should the photos be? 8×10, 8.5×11, 9×12, 11×14?
The correct answer does tend to be somewhat market specific. In New York, 9×12 and 11×14 books are popular and often required. In Miami, snapshot sized “mini-books” are a popular trend.
In most metropolitan markets, like Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago and San Diego, 8×10 and 8.5×11 books are the norm and more than adequate. I would recommend purchasing a book that holds 8.5×11 pages – after all – if you are hoping to do print work – your tearsheets are likely to be 8.5×11 – so you want them to fit in the book.
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.
If you think about it – I can take two good photos of you – a headshot and a full length shot – and show that you are beautiful and have a good, fit figure. So if this is the case – why all the stress about a portfolio?
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.
Do I need to shoot with more than one photographer to develop my portfolio?
NO. Certainly if you have lots of money to spend – hire several photographers to help you develop your portfolio. You will not get more work because you have spent a ton of money to shoot with multiple photographers. You will get work with a selection of pictures that show you at your best, show your range of emotions and ability to portray various characters.
Most of the models that you see featured on my web site carry portfolios with only my photos in them and they are working steadily. The key is a well thought out, well planned, well executed selection of pictures to best market you.
Should the pictures all be in Color?
Is every advertisement in color? Of course not! 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.
Do I need to do photos in a swimsuit or lingerie?
There is NO type of modeling or photograph that you HAVE to do to be a model. You do NOT have to model swimwear. You certainly do not have to model lingerie, and you do not have to model anything that is in conflict with your cultural or religious beliefs. Certainly, the more that you are willing and able to do, the more opportunities that you will make available to yourself, and there is no legitimate modeling agency that will ever tell you otherwise.
Recommended Reading about Modeling Portfolios
- What makes a great modeling portfolio?
- What does McDonald’s have to do with your modeling portfolio?
- Do I really need a portfolio? What kinds of pictures should be in it?
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