First impressions are everything, and the modeling industry is all about impressions. This is why you must have a top-quality modeling portfolio, and lead with the best headshot you can produce.
There is something of a trend going through the industry at the moment where models are saying, "If I over-produce my headshot, I'm misrepresenting myself."
While it's true that you don't want to overly airbrush or otherwise alter your headshot or the contents of your portfolio, there's still good reason to show your best. That reason is that the material in your portfolio tells employers precisely what can be produced with you in front of the camera.
You need to make an impression. You need to get their attention, and the material in your portfolio needs to be so good that those who want to hire you can defend their opinion just by sharing your images. But before we learn more, let's clarify what a portfolio should be and what it can do for your career.
Do I Really Need a Model Portfolio?
Asking this question is like asking if a job applicant needs a resume. The answer is Yes, you need a modeling portfolio, and it needs to be good.
As mentioned above, a portfolio should tell a production company what kinds of images can be produced if they hire you. It tells modeling agencies what can be achieved if they choose you.
The message your portfolio should send to a modeling agency or prospective employers is, "How could you possibly move forward without me?"
Ideally, your headshot should be all you need to land a modeling job. If they turn that first page, you've got your foot in the door. After all, the human face is 97% of all production value in film, photo, and video.
Without a top-quality, professional portfolio, you might as well just rely on the kindness of strangers.
Alexandria W. | EFMM Model
How to Produce a Top-Quality Professional Modelling Portfolio
The first thing you need is the finest headshot you can produce. Then you need as many high-quality photos as you can produce. If you've ever been on a photo shoot, you know that professional photographers take lots, and lots, and LOTS of photos.
They experiment with lighting, camera settings, framing, backgrounds, props, and poses. Every good photographer knows that their best images are partly the result of luck. Therefore, they take lots of images and throw most of them away.
This is how you should produce the images in your portfolio. Most of the time, it's wise to work with a professional photographer. But if you do manage to produce your own material, just remember to take as many photos as you can, and only keep the very best.
Arabia H. | EFMM Model
What Makes a Great Model Portfolio?
The first image they see should be your headshot. This also goes for a digital portfolio or online portfolio. You'll also need to offer your body measurements for certain types of product imagery.
The headshot should be striking and memorable. It should be as unique as possible without interfering with the clarity with which it portrays your face. Generally, a headshot should show a somewhat neutral expression, wide-eyed, relaxed pout, with a calm yet energetic affect.
Then you want to move on to a range of full-body images and portraits. You want to show that you are flexible, not just physically, but in the range of image types that your look can complement well.
You want to provide images that suit the type of job you hope to get. Product images, fashion modeling, character portrayal, and the like are all types of images you may want to focus on in your image spread as a commercial model.
You may want to have several portfolios for different types of jobs. You might have a general portfolio, a fashion portfolio, a portfolio for product imagery, and so on. You might also focus on portfolios for product types. If you are athletic and hope to work as a fitness model, then sports and fitness-oriented images might be a good idea.
Cassie G. | EFMM Model
Building a Quality Model Portfolio
To get started in your modeling career, it's best to produce a portfolio with between 6 and 12 images. Ideally, you should engage with a professional photography expert to take the images. To produce one high-quality image, you can expect to take at least 20 photos that won't make the final cut.
Established models should feature between 10 and 25 images in their portfolio.
You will need to either hire a photographer or use a photographer you know. What's important here is to not settle for second best. Each image should represent the best of you.
Keep one thing in mind. The only response your model portfolio images should elicit is "Wow!" That's your mission. Good luck!!