A modeling portfolio is to a model, what a curriculum vitae is to other professionals in corporate fields. Many aspiring and established models struggle to put together a portfolio due to a lack of information. Every model knows they need a modeling portfolio, yet very few know what it contains and how it should look.
The modeling portfolio, just like your CV is an account of previous work experiences and your level of expertise. Instead of words, the portfolio is made up of images of the model. The structure of a modeling portfolio varies from region to region and is highly dependent on a model’s personal style. Models signed in agencies may have an input on how their portfolios look, but they are mostly customized by the agency.
It is vital to have a modeling portfolio both in digital and physical formats. Some clients may require you to send a portfolio in advance, and bring a comp card to the auditions. Some clients will require you to bring your portfolio to the auditions. To make work easier for themselves, some models have websites that act as their online portfolios. They link this website to their social media handles so that by the time a client engages them, they have already seen their potential.
Does an aspiring model need a modeling portfolio?
The answer is yes and no. Depending on where you are and where you want to be, you may or may not need a portfolio. If you want to become a model in your area of residence, for example in Kenya, yes you will need a mini portfolio. You need good images to send to clients, that show your expertise and professionalism. Many models have lost opportunities because they use selfies to apply for work or auditions. Some clients in Kenya, are comfortable working with polaroid images as well, therefore you may not need a portfolio immediately.
If you intend to apply to modeling agencies abroad, do not work on a portfolio yet, ensure you have good polaroid images and a polaroid video. Once you get placement, the agency will require you to constantly submit images to build your book. Many agencies will advise you on what type of shoots work for you, thus they will guide you in building your portfolio.
When signed to a modeling agency, you may not need a portfolio immediately. A modeling agency builds trust with their clients, to an extent where the client trusts the model agency to give them good models. A modeling agency will assist you by offering advice and connecting you with the right creatives to help build your portfolio. The agency will sometimes negotiate for you and get you discounts on photography and organize test shoots for you. The agency will, however, not pay for your portfolio photoshoot. If they do, the money will be recovered from the jobs you get until such debt is settled. To learn more about how modeling agencies work, get a copy of our book, A Beginners Guide to Modeling.
Here are a few tips on how to compile a good modeling portfolio:
1. BUILD YOUR MODELING PORTFOLIO OVERTIME
A modeling portfolio is not built in a day, a week, or in a month. The images in your portfolio should be your best images at a given time in your career. The best way to create variety is to work with different professionals, and this needs time and planning. Your portfolio should comprise a variety of images (see portfolio guide).
Different photographers, stylists, and other creatives will bring a different element to your books. This range helps to show your diversity in skill.
2. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
It is better to have 3 very striking images in your portfolio as opposed to 10 below-average images. As you work with different creatives, not all images will make it not your portfolio, only the best will. It is therefore important to be selective about the photoshoots that you agree to do and the images you put in your portfolio. If you choose to have your portfolio on a website, the quality of images and their composition have to be perfect.
3. RESEARCH AND CONSULTATION
Many models learn on the job, and one of the best ways to ensure you have a comprehensive modeling portfolio is to consult and research. In most cases, an image that you want to have in your portfolio, might not be your best-selling image from a stylist, photographer, or casting director’s point of view.
You have to do a lot of research to find the right type of images and photoshoots that best suit the type of modeling you are doing and you the model. This takes time because as you grow in your career, you evolve into different types of modeling and different styles. Keep yourself on your toes, find what works for you, create a mood board and get to work. The fashion industry is a fast-changing industry and what works today may not work tomorrow. The research will help you stay ahead.
4. DISPLAY YOUR MODELING PORTFOLIO
What is the point of having a modeling portfolio if no one sees it? Models represented by modeling agencies, always have their images displayed on the agency’s website, anyone who visits the website can see it. Freelance models do not have this privilege, therefore they have to create avenues to get themselves seen.
Some models use their social media accounts, while others create websites. Whichever platform you choose, ensure you only show quality work.
No one is coming to your house to scout you, no one will spot you when you do not post on social media. In an industry (Kenya) where there is an excess supply of models but very little demand for them, you need to work extra hard. One of the easiest ways to grow in the industry is to collaborate. Many models will argue that exposure does not pay bills, but the right exposure will build a career that will pay the bills.
In the modeling industry, you need people to know you and your work ethic. You need people to suggest you to their clients. They can only mention you if they know you or have worked with you. Build a network of creatives whose aesthetic marries with yours and you will have a career.
We have put together a simple portfolio guide to help you know, what types of images you need in your portfolio. This is to save you time and money, by doing only the right photoshoots. You can get yours at Ksh. 150 today by sending a WhatsApp message to 0775 762274 or an email to email@example.com. We are also offering consultation and building portfolio templates for individuals at only Ksh. 2,500. This is based on the type of modeling they can do and their modeling persona. Additionally, we give you contacts to some of the best photographers, stylists, and makeup artists to work with. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your session.
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