Model Portfolio: How to Create a Model Portfolio. A professional model portfolio can help you secure a modeling agent, book modeling work, and achieve your career goals. Learn the elements of a great model portfolio and how to build your portfolio book step-by-step.
What Is a Model Portfolio?
A model portfolio, or modeling portfolio, is a digital or printed photo book used in the modeling industry by professional models and their agents to demonstrate a model’s look, body type, versatility, and abilities. Aspiring models use portfolio books to gain representation from modeling agencies, display examples of their work to potential clients, and build their modeling careers.
7 Key Elements of a Model Portfolio
When creating your portfolio, choose the best photos to represent your look. Depending on the type of model you’d like to become, a professional model portfolio includes some or all of the following elements:
1. Beauty shot
If you hope to excel in fashion modeling, you may want to include a beauty shot using a professional hair stylist and makeup artist to achieve the types of photos found in fashion magazines. Unlike your headshot, which should show your natural look, beauty shots can display more dramatic looks and different hairstyles.
2. Contact information
Include your contact information so potential clients and modeling agents can reach you. Include your email address, phone number, social media handles, and general location (such as New York or Los Angeles).
3. Emotional shots
If you want to be a commercial model, you’ll want to include photos that display a range of facial expressions, from happy, smiling shots to serious, dramatic looks.
4. Full-length shot
Also known as a body shot, this photo shows your body type and physique. If you want to be a commercial model, include full-body pictures of yourself in different outfits. Many high fashion models have a swimsuit shot in their modeling photos.
A good headshot shows your face and hair from the shoulders up. This photo should display a natural and honest look without heavy makeup or styling distortion.
6. Location shot
If you hire a professional photographer for your portfolio photo shoot, they can help you choose various locations for your photos that best suit the type of modeling you hope to pursue.
7. Statistical information
Include informational stats about yourself, such as your age, body measurements, and hair and eye color. If you have any physical features you think a potential client might want to know about, like tattoos, include that information, too.
How to Build a Model Portfolio
To build your model portfolio, follow this step-by-step guide:
1. Choose your type of modeling
As a beginner model, you’ll want to choose the type of modeling you’d like to pursue, such as fashion, commercial, or fitness. If you work with a modeling agent, they likely know what their clients want.
2. Find a professional photographer
Though you might initially be able to get away with having a friend take photographs for your portfolio. You’ll want a professional to achieve the best shots. “There’s the misconception of when you start modeling, you have to pay tons of money to a photographer, rent a studio,” Naomi Campbell says. “That’s not true. If the model agent likes what they see and they would like to pursue you as bein’ a model that works with their agency, then they will guide you [and] call a reputable photographer that they know.”
3. Make a plan of action
Research other model portfolio examples and confer with your photographer and agent to determine the exact shots and looks you’d like to achieve for your photoshoot. Having a plan of attack will save you time on the day of the shoot and ensure you have every type of photo you need for your portfolio.
4. Choose your wardrobe
Depending on the type of modeling you want to do, you may already have the clothing you need for your photoshoot. According to supermodel Naomi Campbell, the “model uniform” is a fitted T-shirt and jeans. If you work with an agency, they may have a wardrobe stylist to supply you with great outfits.
5. Enjoy your photoshoot
Once you’ve made your plans, you’ll want to feel as relaxed and confident as you can on the big day. Arrive on time as if it were a real modeling gig, be professional, and communicate with your photographer to ensure you get the shots you want for your portfolio. Ask questions if you need to, and have fun.
6. Make your photo selections
Your photographer will make an initial selection of photos for your portfolio. Ask for input from friends, family, and any industry connections you have before selecting the best pictures for your portfolio.
7. Create your printed portfolio book
Though you’ll most likely want to create an online digital portfolio, the modeling industry still expects a 9×12 black printed portfolio book with high-quality printed photos, especially for in-person meetings with potential clients or agents. Have your selected photos printed and assemble them in a portfolio book, or you can use a professional printing company to assemble your portfolio book. Be sure to place your best photos at the front of your book.
8. Create an online modeling portfolio
A professional model portfolio website with all your information will help industry professionals find you and view your samples at their leisure. You can use a website builder and build the site yourself or hire a professional web designer for a polished look. Include your contact information and statistics (age, body type, measurements, and hair/eye color).
9. Connect to your social media presence
Creating profiles on social media platforms and using modeling-related hashtags for your work can help build your professional brand and provide a place for model scouts to find your portfolio. It can also offer a way to network with industry professionals and connect with other models and influencers breaking into the industry. “In terms of social media,” Naomi Campell says, “it’s put a lot of people in the limelight we wouldn’t have in any other way.”
10. Keep your portfolio up-to-date
As time passes and styles change, you’ll want to update your photos to reflect your current look and trends. Reexamine your portfolio annually and make changes as you and your modeling agent see fit.