How To Build A Portfolio

Your modeling and acting portfolio is essentially your CV to the world of casting. It should have EVERYTHING you need to make an amazing first impression and showcase exactly who you are, and what you can do, so it should obviously include your most flattering photos and industry experience.

You can create a short version that you can submit to modeling agencies, aside from the complete set or book that you’ll be bringing with you to all your interviews. You can also create a portfolio website which will allow people to view your work with ease!

It doesn't have to be expensive or time consuming to build a portfolio, but you will need to be creative, take plenty of good quality images, and make sure you stand out from the crowd! As we have mentioned in previous posts, agencies file through hundreds of applicants a week (or day for larger agencies!) so you need to make sure you make a outstanding impression in order to be taken seriously.

Here are a few tips to help you get the ball rolling and get noticed:

Practice posing:

First things first, you want to make sure your poses are up to scratch before you get in front of the camera. It seems like a weird thing to do at first, but no supermodel could tell you that they haven't practiced doing so at some point in their careers! Photo shoots tend to take a long time, even with professional models, so you won’t want to waste time figuring out how you should pose during studio hours. Make good use of the internet to research about the type of photos that models in a particular category typically have in their portfolio. Make sure you have a full-body mirror with you and practice doing a wide variety of poses with your head, hands, arms, legs, and feet. You may also want to try out different facial expressions from multiple angles.

Fashion is a little more forgiving, as you can usually do a wide range of poses with your entire body. Take note of your favorite poses and get comfortable with new ones, so your confidence can be translated into your images later on.

Check out this video below from Heather Banie:

And one for the males models from DLM Model Lifestyle:

Think About What Type of Modelling!

Fortunately for aspiring models, there are many different types of modeling that one can get into. The first step in building your portfolio is to determine which specific type of modeling you prefer and are best suited for, as many of them have their own preferred model specifications. For example, a live model working at trade shows will have to look positive and approachable, aside from being physically attractive.

Your photos should reflect the type of modeling you’re hoping to get into, whether it’s commercial modeling, fashion modeling, live modeling, catwalk/runway modeling, or even stock photo modeling. Specifying it early on will not only help you focus on marketing yourself for the part but will also make it easier for recruiters and agencies to place you in a particular category.

Different types of modelling (from TheHhub):

1. Fashion (Editorial) Model

These models are the faces you see in high fashion magazines such as Vogue and Elle. Editorial models also usually work for top fashion designers such as Marc Jacobs, Prada, and Gucci. As a whole, editorial modeling tends to be the most selective. Most Editorial models are incredibly tall, slim, and usually are the ‘complete package.’

2. Runway Model

These models are found on the catwalk and are hired to showcase a designer’s clothing line. Due to the precise sizes of the designer’s clothing, runway models are often a certain height and size. If you are at least over 5’9 then this type of modeling could be for you.

3. Swimsuit & Lingerie Model

These models specialize in showing off either swimsuits or lingerie. This model type is usually someone a bit more voluptuous and curvy. These models also tend to model sleepwear, summer wear, and other forms of undergarments.

4. Commercial Model

Commercial Models are not restricted by age, height, or size. Therefore, this modeling type is the most open to diverse and new talent. Commercial models advertise a wide range of products in catalogs, campaigns, and commercials.

5. Fitness Model

These models tend to be the most fit, toned, and athletically built. This of course makes sense as these models are tasked with wearing fitness attire. Fitness models are also found in commercials that involve demonstrating fitness routines.

6. Parts Model

Parts Models specialize in modeling their hands, arms, feet, and legs. A hand model can book a job involving jewelry, where as a foot model can book a job with a shoe company. Both can book a job involving nail and beauty care. As a whole, clients look for a parts model who has well-proportioned body parts that fit standard shoes and jewelry.

7. Fit Model

A fit model is a model who works behind the scenes and helps fashion houses get the sizing and fit right before the garment is sent off to be manufactured. Fit models are a diverse group in terms of body shape since there’s a need for fit models to represent every size a garment comes in.

8. Promotional Model

This type of model books jobs that help sell or promote a certain commodity. Promotional models are often found at trade shows and other live events. As a whole, these models must be personable, outgoing, and have a strong knowledge of the product they are representing.

9. Glamour Model

Glamour modeling is centered on appearance, including facial beauty and body shape. These models are usually curvier than editorial models and often book swimsuit and lingerie photoshoots. Glamour models tend to pose more suggestively than typical editorial or commercial models.

10. Print Model

Print models are often found in magazines, billboards, campaigns, booklets, flyers, and posters. These models usually have clear skin and a nice smile. While some of these models are selling a product, others are simply photographed based on the needs of the client.

Choose what you are going to wear!

Another important thing you’ll need to remember to do before your portfolio photo shoot is to pick out the clothing that you’re going to be wearing. This, again, should depend on the type of modeling that you’re hoping to do. But as a general rule, you’ll want to include basic pieces of clothing like plain black jeans/leggings, black t shirt or top, and anything plain!

This is because modeling agencies will likely look beyond all the flashy, colorful clothes, so you might as well focus on showing off your features and body type when you’re starting out. Remember to bring a lot of extras since you want to have a lot of pictures—but definitely not in the same two or three outfits! The more the better, this way your portfolio will be full of styles, which is great for those viewing your work, as it can allow agents to imagine you on different assignments, which is always valuable!

Hire a good photographer / Ask a friend / Look for FTP roles

The next step is the most important of all portfolio building tasks! (obviously..) Time to get in front of the camera. You have a few options in doing so, so dont worry if you are not looking to spend a lot of money, but you will need to of course be professional, on time, and ready for the shoot regardless of the option! Make sure you are on time, know where you are going on the day etc, as this is good practice for when you are working with directors in paid roles.

Ask a friend to take pictures:

A cost free and quick way to get started on building your portfolio is to ask a friend (or family) to take some pictures. Thanks to technology, you dont need a friend with a £3000 camera in order for images to be of good quality. Make sure you dont use a low resolution phone camera or anything that will blur your images when sending them digitally or printing them. Try and find a friend who owns a decent camera, and if they are not free to shoot, just ask to borrow for a day and find someone who can shoot for you!

When doing this, make sure you take a lot of different poses, in different locations, for different types of modelling!

Hire a photographer:

As Adorama reported, An important part of the creation of your modeling portfolio is the photographer you hire for your first modeling photos. If you’re very serious about making your portfolio look as authentic as possible, you can look for a professional who already works in the modeling industry. But if you don’t have the connections or are on a budget, you can always go for a good shooter who’s still in the process of building their own photography portfolio.

The key to choosing a good photographer is to check their work beforehand. It would be great if the photographer is somewhat experienced in photographing the type of model that you are hoping to be so you can benefit from their artistic direction and expertise.

Bonus Tip: Make sure you have clean, studio photos as these usually look more professional and impressive to agencies, compared to lifestyle photos that tend to take the attention away from the model.

Find FTP Photography roles:

Many up and coming photographers need models and talents for their own projects, and often will pay or do shoots for free for you and give you images for modelling for doing their shoots! Its a win-win for both, so have a look around local on social media for FTP roles and photographers who may need your assistance!

Hire a professional hair and makeup artist

While you may be able to get away with an aspiring photographer with amazing talent, we highly suggest that if paying for a professional portfolio shoot, you should also try and hire a professional hair and makeup artist—particularly one who’s experienced in doing faces for pictorials. Many studios also provide this as apart of there photography deals, so have a look around for those that do to get the full experience! They can range anywhere from £200-1000 for a professional shoot, but is definitely worth while in the long run.

Studio flashes tend to react differently with certain types of makeup, so the camera will likely capture imperfections, like uneven and blotchy foundation, or exaggerate your glittery highlight. At the same time, what may look like heavy makeup in person will look a little understated on camera. To be sure, do a couple of test shots with your hair done and makeup on before you actually start shooting also!

Ready to apply for modelling jobs?