How to develop a strong modeling portfolio
The moment that you begin to develop strong images in your modeling portfolio is the moment when clients have an increased awareness of your ability to kick butt on set and capture images that sell their brand.
When a client has the desire to work with you, that is your opportunity to start making money as a model.
But do you need images to actually get started as a model with an agency?
First and foremost, when you are starting out as a model, especially if under the age of 25, agencies will not always require that you have a professional portfolio when you first begin your career.
In fact, when submitting to modeling agencies, many will 1st ask to see your digital or polaroid images before ever asking you if you have professional images.
Check out my other blog article on the overview of digitals/polaroids and how to capture them for agency submissions if you are unsure.
Now, in specifically speaking of developing a strong professional modeling portfolio, there are 2 key topics to pay attention to.
Quality images over high quantity
Do you remember being in school and the teacher told you that you had to write a 3, 5…or like when I was in college, a 50 page paper?
As a result of having what was considered too many pages to write, at some point you may have started to write “fluff” and over analyze, over describe each section just to have enough content to fill the pages.
Well, when it comes to your modeling portfolio, there is no need to “stuff” your portfolio with a million images just for the sake of looking as though you have a well established book.
By the way, a “book” in modeling is synonymous to saying your modeling “portfolio”.
Agencies would much prefer that you have 10 amazing, well-styled, high quality images than 20-30 mediocre images.
How to get quality modeling images
The 1st place to begin is to research the agencies that are of interest to you.
Keep in mind that if you are a commercial model, the agencies that will be best suited for your look are very different than the agencies who focus on working with fashion models.
If you are not 100% certain of the niche that an agency would consider you to fall under or not sure which agencies are reputable, before you go any further, check out my how to become a model article for a quick overview on this topic.
HINT: most people who want to be fashion models or runway models are not best suited for a fashion agency.
Once you have determined the best agencies for your look, begin to visit the agency websites and take screenshots of the images of models who have a similar look to you.
Then head over to the agency’s social media pages and repeat this process.
You will notice that many of the agencies tag the photographer who shot the images.
If their name is listed, bingo!
You will want to begin reaching out to these photographers by visiting their website and filling out their contact sheet or emailing them directly.
Ask them to provide you with their TEST SHOOT* rate and send them samples of the images that you screenshot to let them know what ideas you had in mind for your portfolio.
*A test shoot is a shoot that models do to gather quality images for their portfolio.
By contacting photographers who are already directly working with agency models, you increase your chances of also getting images that are of quality to meet agency standards.
While a photographer can give you some direction on your angles while you are shooting, 80% of the posing skills will be up to the model to be able to move effortlessly.
If you need help with your posing skills, watch this YouTube posing tutorial that I created.
Keep it simple
You may have seen the editorial shoots with the models wearing purple eyeshadows that have the effect of looking wet as they posed in very contorted angles.
They are in an amazing studio set or outdoor location and you wish to emulate or recreate the same look.
However, here is a word of caution.
When you are 1st developing your modeling portfolio, agencies prefer that models keep their test shoots fairly simple.
Make-up should be natural and clothing should be stylish (always hire a professional make-up and wardrobe stylist) but be sure that wardrobe is not over the top.
Nice denim jeans and a white top can be an easy place to start and then build your book from there based on your look being commercial or fashion.
1) Reminder that it is not always required to have a professional portfolio PRIOR to getting signed.
Each agency will have their set preferences on this and you can find this information out on their website or by contacting them.
2) It is not necessary to have dozens of images in your portfolio when you FIRST start out. Begin by capturing quality images and naturally your portfolio will expand with time.
3) Find quality photographers that agency models have previously worked with by visiting the social media pages of the agency and seeing which names are tagged.
4) Keep your images clean and fresh. Avoid attempting to over style or over pose.
Hope that these tips that all professional models use will be helpful as you begin your modeling career and begin the journey of developing a portfolio.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me directly on my site or on my social media pages.
Peace & love, Kamla-Kay