What makes a great modeling portfolio?
by Joe Edelman
Author: The Business of Modeling
There are a few EXTREMELY important concepts to remember…
1. Remember that this is truly a "first impression" business. You know
the quote - "You only get one chance to make a good first impression." - There is no business where that is more true than
modeling. Every agency or client that you contact - your photos, comp card or modeling portfolio will always go in the door
2. Consider this…. If McDonald's were going to launch a new print
ad campaign for the Big Mac… do you think that they would go to the nearest McDonald's, order a few Big Mac's and return
to the studio to photograph them? Of course not! They would hire the most creative and skilled food stylists from New York
or Los Angeles to build and photograph a Big Mac - the likes of which you nor I will ever have the opportunity to eat - but
it sure will make us want to go out and buy one! What is my point?
Set your standards HIGH! You MUST use a very critical eye when selecting
any images to put in your modeling portfolio. Make sure that the pictures that you show have the ability to WOW agencies and
3. You are only as good as your worst image - and believe me - photographers,
agencies and art directors WILL remember the worst image.
It is my contention that there are 4 kinds of pictures that you will
potentially wind up with. Bad, Good, Great and WOW pictures.
Your modeling portfolio should consist ONLY of Great and WOW photos.
Throw away the Bad and store the Good in a box of memories. Place your WOW pictures on the right hand pages of your portfolio
and the Great pictures on the left hand side.
Questions and answers to help build a great portfolio...
How large should the photos be? 8x10, 8.5x11, 9x12, 11x14?
The correct answer does tend to be somewhat market specific. In New
York, 9x12 and 11x14 books are popular and often required. In Miami, snapshot sized "mini-books" are a popular trend.
In most metropolitan markets, like Philadelphiam, Baltimore, Chicago
and San Diego, 8x10 and 8.5x11 books are the norm and more than adequate. I would recommend purchasing a book that holds 8.5x11
pages - after all - if you are hoping to do print work - your tearsheets are likely to be 8.5x11 - so you want them to fit
in the book.
How many photos do I need to have?
Less is better! You will not impress with quantity - you will make
a lasting impression with quality.
If you think about it - I can take two good photos of you - a headshot
and a full length shot - and show that you are beautiful and have a good, fit figure. So if this is the case - why all the
stress about a portfolio?
The purpose of the modeling portfolio is not just simply to show that
you are attractive - it is to show your ability to portray different characters, age ranges and importantly personality!
As a new model - 6 - 12 pictures is adequate to present yourself to
a new agency. 20 should be a maximum - but only if they are 20 "WOW" pictures. Good pictures don't make the grade.
Do I need to shoot with more than one photographer to develop my
NO. Certainly if you have lots of money to spend - hire several photographers
to help you develop your portfolio. You will not get more work because you have spent a ton of money to shoot with multiple
photographers. You will get work with a selection of pictures that show you at your best, show your range of emotions and
ability to portray various characters.
Most of the models that you see featured on my web site carry portfolios
with only my photos in them and they are working steadily. The key is a well thought out, well planned, well executed selection
of pictures to best market you.
Should the pictures all be in Color?
Is every advertisement in color? Of course not! Black and White is
not only an artistic medium that can be effectively used to create and convey a mood, but it is also a medium that is still
very much in use today - so don't be afraid to include a few great Black and White photos in your portfolio.
Do I need to do photos in a swimsuit or lingerie?
There is NO type of modeling or photograph that you HAVE to do to be
a model. You do NOT have to model swimwear. You certainly do not have to model lingerie, and you do not have to model anything
that is in conflict with your cultural or religious beliefs. Certainly, the more that you are willing and able to do, the
more opportunities that you will make available to yourself, and there is no legitimate modeling agency that will ever tell