A modeling portfolio is a model’s most important marketing tool.
The modeling portfolio is what will get you signed by modeling agency(s) and hired by clients. It is a first-impression business. Your photographs are always seen by the agencies and clients before you are, so if they don’t sell your ability to be an amazing model – they’re selling you short.
A great portfolio does not showcase the talents of the photographers, makeup artists, or hairstylists. A great modeling portfolio is a collection of 10 to 20 photographs that show your ability as a model.
What does that mean? It means that when you appear in an ad, or on a billboard, or in a TV commercial, you won’t be appearing as yourself. They won’t be showing your name. You will be acting & posing as a model, portraying a character. The portfolio needs to show what you are capable of. In short, the modeling portfolio is not about YOU. It is about what /who you can be.
The most important elements of an amazing modeling portfolio:
Your photographs need to show a range of AGES. How young can you look and how old can you look – convincingly. A model’s age is rarely advertised by his/her agency. Instead, some agencies will display an age range (“She can model from 18 – 28”). Clients would still rather see photographs that prove the model is believable at those ages.
Your images need to show a range of facial expressions and emotions. Don’t be a one trick pony and have the same facial expression in all of your photos. If you are afraid to smile because you don’t like your teeth – get your teeth fixed BEFORE you try to model, otherwise the likelihood that you will succeed is greatly diminished. If you pay attention to ads in magazines, if there is a model in the shot (not a celebrity) they are probably not looking straight at the camera with a smile or a serious expression. They are generally trying to convey some kind of emotion ranging from excited to sad or goofy to intensely serious.
Your portfolio needs to show examples of you looking like the kinds of characters that you are likely to be hired to portray.
So remember, it’s not about YOU! Honestly, nobody cares what you like, or how you like to dress, or how you like to wear your hair and makeup. If you are hired, you will be told how to dress and how to wear your hair and makeup and your job as a professional model is to sell it!
So the less you make your modeling portfolio about yourself, and the more you make it about your ability to help a client sell their product or service, the better your chances are of being signed by an agency and booking work as a model.
The bottom line, you MUST set your standards high. You get one shot a making a great first impression with modeling agencies and clients – don’t blow it! Be VERY selective when choosing the photos for your modeling portfolio. Make sure that the images will WOW potential agencies and clients – not with creativity – but with ability. In other words: no snapshots or selfies, don’t include multiple pictures of the same outfit in the same location, and make sure your photographs are YOU