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Modeling Portfolio Do's & Don'ts

What you choose to put in your modeling portfolio will have a massive impact on the jobs you book. In this post, I go over some must-have images to put in your portfolio, as well as images you should avoid!

Behind the scenes of a fashion modeling doing a photoshoot in a studio.

Must-Have Portfolio Images:

  1. Headshot: The first image in your portfolio should be your best headshot that accentuates your facial features. You want to ensure you can clearly see your face and avoid heavy or dramatic makeup and lighting.

  2. Full Body: Follow up your headshot with your best full body shot showing your proportions and body type. Again, you want the clothing to be simple and not distracting from you as the model.

  3. Smiling: You want to include at least one image of you doing a full smile in your book, especially if your market is more commercial. Clients want to see your smile and, more specifically, your teeth.

  4. Multiple Angles: You want images showing various angles of your face and body so the clients can get a good idea of what you look like from all sides.

  5. Wardrobe variety: Avoid having too many images of you in the same outfit. 2-3 photos with the same look are all you need, and make sure you don't put them back to back in your book. You should also wear many different styles of clothing to show that you're able to adapt to what you're put in and can make anything look good in a photo.

  6. Different expressions: You want to show a range of facial expressions and emotions throughout your portfolio. Even if your poses & wardrobe are different, having the same face in most photos will give the impression that you lack variety and range.

  7. Variety of poses: As with your facial expressions, you want various poses to showcase your ability to move in front of the camera. You want a range of static poses and poses that show a lot of movement. 

What NOT to put in your portfolio:

  1. Runway Photos: Even though you may get booked for a lot of runway shows, when clients are looking to book models they don't care to see photos of them on the runway. Even if the client may be booking for runway and the images are fantastic action shots, they aren't recommended for your portfolio. 

  2. Low-Quality Photos: All the images in your portfolio, both digital and print versions, should be high-quality. You should never include any unfocused photos, even if it is slight.

  3. Selfies: Even though selfies are extremely popular on social media, they are not appropriate to use in your portfolio.

  4. Group shots: Unless you are the most prominent model in the photo or the image is being used in a campaign or publication, you never want to include group photos of you with other models in your portfolio. You always want to avoid images where another model is distracting from you.

  5. Overly Styled Images: Your portfolio should contain photos that showcase you and your abilities as a model. A photo with a lot going on in the background or where you're wearing heavy makeup or distracting garments will take the focus away from you and make it about what's happening around you. Unless it's an image used in a publication or a branded campaign, your images should be simple and have you as the primary focus. Less is always more when it comes to styling and hair and makeup. 

  6. Heavily Retouched Images: You want to look very similar in your portfolio images as you do in real life so that a client gets the model they think they're booking when they view your portfolio. If all your images make you look like a Barbie because they're so smoothed out and your features have been altered to look different than they are in reality, you're catfishing the clients, and they will be very upset when you show up to set and you don't look like the model they booked.


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