Modelling Portfolio – Expert Advice

Modelling portfolio London

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.

Modelling portfolio London

Modelling portfolio London

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

Modelling portfolio London

Modelling portfolio London

Modelling portfolio London

Modelling portfolio London

Model portfolio London, modelling portfolio London, portfolio book

Modelling portfolio London

Perfect Shoot. Fashion Photographer in London

My job as fashion photographer in London is not as easy and glamourous as most of you may think.

Most of the fashion shoots are sky high piles of challenges that I am expected to overcome. That’s why my clients are paying me money, right? They don’t want to hear that weather was bad, the light wasn’t perfect or that model came to the shoot straight from dentist.

However once in a while that perfect shoot when everything effortlessly falls into place just happens, and one of those shoots I want to write about today.

I was hired by girls from Manifattura Donna to shoot collection of evening and wedding dresses. We shot on beautiful location just around the corner from Royal Albert Hall. Weather was fantastic throughout the day (very unusual in London).

When booking a model I’m always looking for someone with a dance or drama background, because they always add that extra dimension when it comes to posing and expressions, and our model Kasia was everything that fashion photographer could wish for.

We have shot for six hours using number of lighting techniques that I will shortly describe under every image. It rarely happens that more than one image from a shoot ends up in my portfolio but this ones were just too hard to resist.


Fashion Photography London. Model on balcony.

Direct sunlight diffused by large scrim panel.


Fashion Photography London. Bridal fashion.

Ambient room light (large windows) mixed with strobe (Elinchrom Quadra + 180cm octa)


Fashion Photography London. Bridal fashion.

Daylight from the shadow side of the building through really dirty window.


Fashion Photography London. Bridal fashion.

Large (120cm x 200cm) reflector held by assistant.


Fashion Photography London. Lady in black mask.

Scrim + reflector


Classy Fashion Photography London

Scrim + reflector


Stylish Fashion Photography London

Scrim + reflector


Edgy Fashion Photography London

Direct setting sun light through open window.


Fashion Photography London. Classy elegant street fashion.

Cool light of dusk mixed with strobe (Elinchrom Quadra + 180cm octa).


Chic and Sophisticated Fashion Photography London

Cool light of dusk mixed with strobe (Elinchrom Quadra + 180cm octa).


That’s it for today. As usual please ask questions and leave comments.

See you soon,


Actor’s Headshots Done The Right Way


Today I would like to talk to you about headshots and in general photo sessions for performing arts talents. Aspiring actor’s headshots are in high demand. In London the prices vary from £50 to about £300 (I’m sure you could even get one free. Hey, these days everyone is a photographer!) So is it worth paying the premium?

Well, if you serious about your career the answer is Yes. Inexperienced photographer will seat you down, shout “Now look your best!!!” and fire thousand frames in 30mins praying that one of them will come alright.

Than it goes to photoshop (pirate version) where one click, “good for all” effect is applied. If you lucky you get it on disc if not you get it by email. Sounds about right? Drop me a comment if I’ve missed something.


So how should it be done? I guess there is no one right answer but I can tell you how I do it.

My sessions last around 3 hours. You may be surprised but only part of it is actual photo shoot. We start with that famous “seat down and look your best” series, which will be no doubt the worst few shots from the entire session, but there is good reason for doing it.

Now we can discuss what went wrong. We analyze the photos, then go in front of the mirror and look how we could improve things just a touch. We try different angles and expressions. We work on your facial muscles memory so you can strike “the look” instantly in any situation, be it a red carpet or your aunties 60th birthday. It’s a skill that takes practice but can be mastered. Have your ever noticed that big Hollywood stars barely ever get caught “off guard”?

They not super humans, they simply know how to look good in front of the camera. Somebody has taught them.

So on the end of the day you not only end up with the best images you have ever had but also with knowledge and experience that you will be able to use and further develop throughout your long and successful career.


Below a few pictures from my last session with young and very talented actress Nicola.

Those images were taken before she knew how pretty she really was. (I hope she won’t kill me for it)








Cold and windy. Model’s portfolio shoot.

A few days ago I photographed rather cool lifestyle model Janu. For those of you from UK I don’t need to explain how nasty English weather at this time of the year could be… and so it was. 70-90 km/h wind has forced me to change my game plan drastically.

My only assistant on set was Maggie, our make up artist (she’s about size 0 😉 so making her hold onto even small size softbox would only make things worse cause not only would I have to worry about my equipment but also about health and safety of my lovely assistant. So instead we have settled for three Canon 580 EX II Speedlights triggered by Pocket Wizards Flex TT5 and Mini TT1, mounted on TriFlash bracket and my old trusty Manfrotto monopod.

That way Maggie had only one piece of equipment to worry about and it was rather light and wind resistant.

So we were ready to go! Since the freezing rain was coming off and on we had to move fast. We started off in the building right opposite our studio were we found this old and dirty loading bay.

As ugly as it was, it was full of texture and had moody feel to it (see first three shots). Next we headed for the street. I know the area pretty well so we took advantage of a few tried and tested locations. Janu was brave enough to take his thick jacket off and pose for a couple of shots only in T-shirt, showing off his awesome tattoos. We were cold, the batteries were dying so it was time to go back to the studio. A few cookies and hot cup of tea put us back on our feet and we were ready for set of head-shots, which came out great.

So here it is, another lesson learned! Even though it seemed like we fighting against all the odds (believe you me, I was so close to call the whole thing off) we did not give up and came back with shots far better then I could possibly wish for. My model has suffered (just a touch 😉 ) but Janu’s model’s portfolio went right through the roof!

Great outcome from miserable day!


Special thanks to my assistant Maggie, that was so bravely fighting the elements.


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