Expert Advice – How to get it done – A Perfect Modelling Portfolio in London
Over the past few years I had a pleasure to work with some of the top London’s agencies and modelling schools.
I am also being regularly invited to various seminars and modelling courses where I try to help those beautiful and ambitious young people to get on the right path to successful modelling career.
I guess I have become kinda known for it so I receive a lot of questions in that matter but one particular question comes over and over again: “How do I build my professional, modelling portfolio?“
So lets start with the definition.
Modelling portfolio or model portfolio (also simply called “book”) is a book that should present the model and showcase model’s work.
It is collection of high quality photographic prints (no smaller than 8×10 inches and no larger than A3 size) presented in elegant sleeve or case (London Graphic Centre carry good selection of decent and inexpensive portfolio books).
It should contain somewhere between 10 and 24 images but remember, always put QUALITY OVER QUANTITY! Five great photos will get far better response than twenty average ones.
So what kind of shots do you need? The answer is all kinds. You should include at least one headshot, one “polaroid” (unretouched, full length picture in bikini or basic underwear on a clean background), couple of studio shots, couple of indoor location images, couple of outdoor location images and your best commercial work.
The most common mistake that beginners make is filling up your book with images from one photo shoot. Even if you plan to start your portfolio with only one session, make sure each image looks different (different outfit, hair, make up, different photographic style, location etc.).
No one will hire a model that has only done one photo shoot so you need to create an impression that you were building it for some time.
Now, if you reading this article you probably just starting out and don’t have anything to show, right?
There are two ways to build your portfolio from scratch.
First: You can ask your friend to take couple of pictures for you then sign up to one of the websites that bring together models, photographers, make up artists and other people from within the industry (Model Mayhem and Star Now are both good place to start, at least here in London). Once you get your profile up and running you look for photographers that would be willing to cooperate with you on TFP basis. TFP stands for Time For Prints, which is slightly archaic because most likely you will only receive images on CD rather than prints. Anyway you both invest your time for mutual benefit, you learn how to pose and your photographer learns… well, photography, but there is no money involved. Following this long and winding path you sure saving money but risk wasting countless hours with unskilful, unexperienced photographers resulting in images that will rarely be on acceptable level to be included in your portfolio.
Second: The other way can kick start your career and get you paid jobs within weeks rather then years. It will require some investment but hey, that’s how the world works. If you wanted to be successful musician, doctor or lawyer you wouldn’t expect to get there without an investment. Same applies to modelling. Basically you need to hire someone that has knowledge and experience to help you achieve your goals – professional photographer. I feel obligated to give you a warning here! These days every guy that owns a camera and likes to look at pretty girls calls himself “professional photographer” and that’s definitely not what I had in mind! I mean working full time commercial, fashion or portrait photographer. So please take great care when choosing one. Check his work, website and credentials or you will end up wasting your money on images that will be too low quality to be accepted by any serious modelling agency. However if you hire good photographer not only you will have fantastic images that you will be able to submit to agencies but you also acquire tones of skills and knowledge like posing techniques, styling advice, casting contacts etc.
I hope I have answered most of your questions and cleared some of your doubts. If there is anything else please do not hesitate to ask me in the comments below.
All of the images in this post are of non professional models and were taken during portfolio building sessions.
More on this topic in my article Model Portfolio – How not to get scammed
Modelling portfolio London