Hint: Shop at Wal-Mart or Target!

Better yet: Don’t shop at all!

I recently received an email from a prospective commercial model. The young lady sent me a very well written inquiry requesting some information and guidance for an upcoming modeling portfolio shoot. She was smart enough to provide me with all of her stats and attach a few photos that she had recently shot with a local photographer.

As I opened the photos, to my disappointment I found a selection of images featuring floral print dresses, hoop ear rings and outfits that didn’t fit properly.

In other words – this young lady had a set of images that she spent a lot of money for and put a lot of effort into and they are ultimately worthless.

For a commercial model – the clothing is a costume. The clothing is meant to make the character convincing.

Let’s face it – if someone looks at your photos and comments on the outfit – you have failed. Your portfolio is designed to sell you – not the clothing, definitely not jewelry, and definitely not the makeup or photographers creativity.


When selecting outfits for a commercial portfolio shoot – be sure to follow these simple guidelines and you won’t go wrong.

Solid colors. Absolutely no floral prints or patterns.

Make sure the clothing fits properly. Be realistic. Just because you like to wear your clothing tight doesn’t mean that it looks good in a photograph that way.

No trendy or fashion oriented outfits. A commercial portfolio is about personality – your ability to look and act like an “attractive real person.”

Be sure to have a good mix of colors and styles. An agency should not be able to tell what your favorite color of clothing is when they look at your book.

No Jewelry!

For headshots, also be sure to remember the following guidelines

Avoid white and light pastel colors.

Warm earthy tones are best.

Avoid v-necks unless your photographer is proficient at photographing them properly.

If you are shooting more than one top – be sure to mix up the necklines.

Be sure that the top has shoulders – no spaghetti straps, tank tops or sleeveless shirts.

Shirts with texture are great for headshots. (Sweaters, knit or ribbed material, etc).

If you have planned your shoot properly – you started with ideas and then selected outfits to match the ideas.

Remember – your modeling portfolio is selling you and your ability to portray different characters. The outfits that you select are a costume and should not become the focus of the picture.

One final suggestion. . . If you find yourself with a great idea, but you don’t own the outfit that you need, avoid running out to the mall and spending money on an outfit that you may never wear again.

Beg, Borrow and Steal. Check with friends and relatives – you may be able to borrow the outfit that you need.

Use a credit card. Be sure to check on the stores return policy. Return the item after your shoot. (Don’t tell anyone that I gave you this idea.)

If you absolutely have to purchase something that you will only need for the shoot – go to Wal-Mart or Target!)

Recommended Reading about Photo Shoot Preparation