Modeling Basics: Building Your Portfolio

Every week I get email from up-and-comers looking for advice on their photos. A great headshot aside, having a variety of looks in your portfolio is obviously going to get you considered for a wider range of jobs. Depending on your look, personality, and any stand out attributes (Do you have stunning blue eyes? Amazing hair? Covered in tattoos?) You’ll want to highlight the best of what you can put in front of a client as well as the widest range of looks possible.

Core shots for any book

A conservative look…

Your loan has been approved New Headshot - Copy (2)


Shooter: Kristen Gerbert

An athletic or outdoor look…



Shooter: Cavan Clark



Shooter: Tanya Constantine

A relationship shot… (can be with an adult, child, or even an animal– the idea is showing you reacting to another being!)



Shooter: Caroline Winata


Shooter: Sam Diephuis

A creative/Vavoom shot…


Shooter: Kristen Gerbert

Other shots might be more thematic: (vintage pinup, city street)


Shooter: Loïc Nicolas

After your headshot, you want to get your core book put together as soon as possible. It doesn’t need to be expensive or fancy (though I do recommend getting a professional headshot done). Doing creative trades and test shoots with photographers is the best way to get a variety of looks from different shooters without spending the GDP of Guam on day rates. Once you get these key pieces nailed down, you can add emotion shots, character shots, behind the scenes, tear sheets… the list goes on.

Keep shooting

Getting as many frames as you can early on serves a couple of purposes. It gives you the experience in front of the camera to understand how to get the looks you or the shooter want, which makes being on set and giving the client what they want that much easier. Being able to nail the shot quickly is the hallmark of a pro and one of the reasons top models get paid so well. The quicker you can give the client what they want, the less time is wasted and the more options they have to chose from. When a 30-person crew is working on a single campaign, time is money, so being able to turn out work that’s high quality without a lot of hassle is important.

I look at a lot of portfolios for new models who are preparing to get representation. If you’d like advice on your book, feel free to message me here. I’m on a bit of a delay right now, but I promise I’ll give you real feedback as soon as I can!




Stock Photography              Acting for Models           Headshots

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