What types of pictures should a model’s portfolio contain?

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A portfolio should showcase the type of work you want to do, not so much the type of work you have done and are no longer doing. It should be narrowly focused to show that the model can be very good at modeling in a few related genres. A good combination might be fashion, beauty, commercial, and swim wear but such a portfolio should not include nudes, trashy lingerie, bondage, or goth. There is no reason a model can't create multiple portfolios targeted for specific genres. Some models will argue that they want to put in a little of everything to showcase their versatility. That model probably works better for models targeting photographers as clients. Models who want to target agencies, casting directors, and commercial clients should show only their strongest images in specific categories. Any weak images will weaken the entire portfolio.

Examples of bad model's portfolio include:

1. Same outfit in different poses.
2. Different outfit in the same location.
3. All pictures done by one or two photographer.
4. Unretouched images showing flaws.
5. Fake tear sheets.
6. Poorly shot photos of model in no name runway fashion shows.
7. Personal snapshots such as photos from a wedding or any photos which include non models.

Examples of good model's portfolio for agency models:

1. Beauty shot.
2. Natural light shots.
3. Full length fashion shot in front of seamless paper.
4. Swimsuit shot but not one of the model standing in the woods miles from water.
5. Tear sheets but not webzines. If no one has heard of it, don't use it.
6. Very light makeup shot or no makeup shot if the model can pull it off.
7. At least one picture pairing model with another model but not lesbian girl on girl shots the photographer suggested.
8. Editorial shots.
9. Sexy but tasteful lingerie shots. Think La Perla, not Frederick's of Hollywood.

For commercial portfolios:

1. A very strong head shot.
2. Shots showing model interacting or playing a role.
3. Shots showing model conveying a mood or message.
4. Interaction shots with other models or objects.

Most model portfolios are 9x12 while most photographers portfolios are 11x14.

Read more and contribute at Modeling Wiki.

  • amber

    me and my sister want to be an actress, like every other kid, so were making a portfolio to send to all the acting agencies in florida and any where else we can. we dont really know wut else to do to try and get other peoples attention so i was wondering if u have any good advice tht u can email to me…? that would b so much help. thank you so much <333 :)

  • amber

    me and my sister want to be an actress, like every other kid, so were making a portfolio to send to all the acting agencies in florida and any where else we can. we dont really know wut else to do to try and get other peoples attention so i was wondering if u have any good advice tht u can email to me…? that would b so much help. thank you so much <333 :)

  • Leslie

    okay well im trying to send my best photos to this agency but he asks of head shot front, 2sides and back view of my full body… can just taking a picture on my camara impress him??? get back at me please and thank you(;

  • Leslie

    okay well im trying to send my best photos to this agency but he asks of head shot front, 2sides and back view of my full body… can just taking a picture on my camara impress him??? get back at me please and thank you(;

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FTB3MJY5JVYRKRLB2OJZGAMN4I Samkelisiwe Poqela

    i want to be a model and i have a profile but the problem is im still studying so im worried that iy will afect my studies. plz help what should i do

    • Cinmelin84

      I am in the same situation, but what you need to think is that first is your education but if you reallly get accepted into something big you can always come back to school, modeling is not forever.

  • Red

    The long explanation above is probably the best advice I have seen written down. I would only add: always remember, your profile IS your resume. Determine what is lacking in your portfolio and use Trade for Print (TPF) to find photographers who fit that mode (ie, if you need fashion shoot, find a photographer with good fashion shots and TPF with him/her for that specific shot(s). I would suggest continuing this until your portfolio is complete. when you need to update your portfolio, you can always return to those types of photographers for new shots.

  • http://twitter.com/Capri_Models Capri Models

    love the blog!

  • james

    should you take you won pics for portfolio or get them done proper

    • http://blog.patyuen.com Pat Yuen

      Your portfolio should showcase your best work and it will be judged by the weakest image. Never include any selfies as that will clearly mark you as an amateur. It’s perfectly acceptable to use proper snapshots for casting calls but not portfolios. Proper snapshots do not include selfies. In summary, selfies should never be used professionally and that includes anything with a mirror.