Model Portfolio

Model Portfolio

So you are thinking of getting into modelling of some sort for the first time but have heard people talk about a Model Portfolio and not sure if you should have one. Furthermore, what is it and more importantly what’s in it?

What is a portfolio?

A Portfolio is a collection of your best professionally taken pictures either in printed format in a book or folder, on a CD or DVD disc or more commonly these days on-line in digital format. As time goes by it will also contain “Tear-Sheets” of your best work which are pages taken from published work (Magazine’s etc) from previous assignments you’ve done.

Do you need a Model Portfolio to get work?

The easiest answer to that is no, you don’t but a portfolio is like a CV in any other industry in that you don’t necessarily NEED one to get a job as let’s say a Receptionist or a Shop Assistant but it’s always best to have one just in case anybody asks to see what you’ve been doing or what you are capable of doing.

Agency Portfolio

Be aware of scams and agencies that tend to rip off inexperienced new models. If they want to charge you for having your portfolio done in order to sign up with their agency then it may not be the right one for you.

Independent or Freelance Model Portfolio

If you are thinking about being an independent or freelance model then you will have to build or make up your own Model Portfolio but you can always negotiate your way to getting this done for free.

A lot of Fashion Photography and Portrait Photography studios may agree to take your pictures for no fee in return for your time.

You can expect a set of images from the shoot on a CD or more likely in a downloadable format and maybe even a set of prints if you are lucky or good at negotiating.

Don’t expect a full portfolio to be produced from this one shoot but you will receive a good few select shots from the photographer to help build your collection.

Large Agency Portfolio

If you are intending to go with one of the country’s larger or better agencies then you may not need to have a Model Portfolio already. All you really need are four simple pictures of you against a light-coloured plain background or wall.

You will need to send them:

  • One full length shot (two piece bikini for girls and shorts for guys)
  • One half-length body shot (top half – just in case you were wondering)
  • Head shot – smiling
  • Head shot – not smiling

Please note: All shots should be natural, with no makeup on and your hair away from your face and don’t try to do any poses as that’s not needed at this point in time. Please don’t send in your old school photographs or family photos no matter how good you look on them.

Most of them will have a facility for you to upload your photographs to their web site and one of their experienced members of staff who is known as a ‘Scout’ will view them and contact you if they want to take you on and sign you up.

You will then be invited to have your pictures taken by one of their own professional photographers for free.

Prints versus Digital

Due to costs and ease of time, having your portfolio is a big advantage and I can’t recommend it highly enough so long as you have them hosted on one of the bigger more reputable modelling web sites..

However, there is nothing better than seeing a well taken large print of a model that’s in a collection in a portfolio case. Any great salesman will tell you that if you can put something in the “decision maker’s” hand then you are half way to making the sale or in a model’s case, half way to getting the booking.

Mostly, because of the digital age and on-line facilities a portfolio of prints is more there for personal vanity.

Who should have a Model Portfolio

  • Fashion Models
  • Glamour Models
  • Facial Models
  • Body Part Models
  • Child Models
  • Teen Models
  • Mature Models
  • Commercial Models
  • Catalogue Models
  • Showroom/Promotional/Exhibition Models
  • Fitness Models
  • Some Actors & Actresses

If you do your research on the industry and your photographers then putting together a model portfolio should be fairly easy and fun to do.

And if you found this article interesting then you might like to look at our information Fashion Photography and Portrait Photography which should give you some related tips and direction to get you started.

Ian Jillings is the owner of where he provides Photography tips and resources.

Model Portfolio – What Is It and Do You Really Need One to Be a Model?

By Ian Jillings

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