Building an outstanding Modeling Portfolio
Modeling is one industry that generates employment on the basis of looks. If you have identified modeling as a career choice you must be aware that your first look will leave a lasting impression on your potential employers. No matter what type of modeling you intend to pursue you should be able to promote yourself in a way that speaks volumes about your looks and the physical traits you possess to build a successful modeling career.
All models need a promotional tool to showcase their looks, versatility and capability to sell a product or a service through their persona. A modeling portfolio is THE tool to give your career a head start and propel it forward. A model’s portfolio is his/her ‘look book’ – and this look book, as expected, should be as stunning as the model himself/herself.
A traditional, printed portfolio is a bound folder of a model’s best photographs. If the model is represented by a modeling agency, the portfolio carries the agency’s logo on its cover. The inside is a compilation of pictures of the model in various sizes, angles, poses, outfits and locations. Off late, online portfolios have also been in vogue. In addition to the usual features of a traditional portfolio an online portfolio also allows scope for uploading videos of the model in different assignments. Online or offline, the purpose of this compilation is to showcase the model’s looks, figure, camera-friendliness and versatility to potential hirers.
Let us elucidate the different types of shots involved in building a portfolio.
Headshot – It is a photograph of the model’s head (face) and torso taken from a close range. As the name suggests, the purpose of the headshot is to clearly depict the face of the model. A head shot highlights the model’s facial features and skin tone. Hence, it is important to keep the make-up minimal when getting a headshot done.
Full-length body shot –A full-length body shot allows the client to judge the model's proportions and body type. The model should wear form-fitting and simple clothes. The model should not be wearing long dresses, skirts or too many layers as they will cover up the figure.
Beauty shot –A beauty shot is basically a very artistic representation of a headshot. Like a headshot, a beauty shot too accentuates the model’s face, head and upper body. The difference is that a beauty shot requires the model to make effective use of heavy and sometimes, over-the-top make-up. A model may also be made to pose dramatically. Remarkable beauty shots can push a commercial print model’s career in a big way.
Fashion shot –A fashion shot is a photograph of a model displaying different outfits and other fashion accessories. The clothing is the star in a fashion shot. Such is the emphasis on clothing that the model’s make-up too is designed around the clothes worn. Every other aspect involved in shooting a fashion photograph compliments the clothing of the model.
Commercial Shot –The emphasis of a commercial shoot is to sell a product or a lifestyle. Everything else –the model, the make-up (which is usually minimal), the lighting and the settings of the shoot is geared towards selling the product. The model should be able to convincingly convey expressions and emotions suited to sell the product or lifestyle. A catalogue shoot is a perfect example of commercial photography.
Editorial shot –The story and a character portrayed by the model take the center stage here. The goal of an editorial shot is to narrate a story. This is where the model will be playing a character in the narrative.
Swimsuit / Lingerie shot –The purpose of a swimsuit shot is to highlight the model’s figure and vital statistics just like a full-body shot –especially if a model aspires to land assignments in glamour modeling. However, the model should try and keep it classy without going overboard with the skin show to avoid down-market assignments.
Action shot –An action shot, while not mandatory, can add value to a good portfolio. It features a model in action or motion like jumping, running, tossing hair etc. The action shot completes a painstakingly and well compiled portfolio. The interactive nature of such shots may compel the agent and the client both alike to give that one coveted look to the model’s portfolio.
The Dos and Don’ts of putting together a stellar portfolio
Do: Rule-of-thumb –use your best and only your best pictures that have been professionally and exclusively shot for your portfolio.
Don’t: Refrain from using any shot which you are not sure about. Also, avoid placing personal pictures no matter how professional they look. The hiring panel has a sharp eye for quality photographs.
Do: Try including various types of shots mentioned above to effectively highlight all significant attributes in detail. Particularly the ones that might be relevant to the type of modeling assignments you are looking for.
Don’t: Try not to overload your portfolio with too many photographs. A cluttered and messy portfolio is likely to be passed up on without a single look.
Do: Choose your outfits, make-up and locations relevant to the type of modeling you want to pursue or the type of assignment applying for. For instance, if you are applying for a fashion shot of winter garments, you need to be in a relevant surrounding. This will give you an edge over other contenders. Simply posing in winter clothes in a well-lit studio makes no sense at all.
Don’t: Never put together different photographs in the same outfit or in different outfits in the same location.
Do: Include tear sheets. Tear sheets are finished products of a previously accomplished assignment from magazines and newspapers that can be removed by the agent or client from your portfolio if they are interested in you.
Don’t: Never use fake tear sheets. It is not easy to escape the hawk eyes of the much experienced recruiting parties who might have come across many such fake tear sheets before. Chances are that you could be struck off their potential recruiting list for good.
Other considerations to make when building a portfolio include
Make effective use of both black-and-white and colored photographs.
Get your photographs retouched and resized to fit a high-quality binder with page protectors.
The standard size of photographs used in portfolios is usually 9”x 12”. However, 8”x10” is also used (especially for headshots). Photographs sized 11”x14” are also required by some agencies and clients.
Include a brief profile page indicating your name and age (if asked for), strongest features, vital statistics, past work experience and the goals you intend to achieve, as a model, in future.
Always have hard and digital copies of your portfolios in hand. It is advisable to keep an extra hard copy in case a highly interested client might want to keep the other one for later reference.
Get your portfolio printed professionally. Also, for maximum output, it is a good idea to get an online portfolio done. A professionally done website can increase your odds of bagging an assignment as it can be a strong representation of your seriousness and burning desire to succeed as a model.
Upload videos of your past work and include a profile page on your website.
Offline or online, make sure to place the two highest quality photos at the beginning and the last page of your portfolio. These photos will be best recalled.
Some of the top fashion photographers to work with, in India, are (in random order)
Atul Kasbekar (www.atulkasbekar.com)
Tarun Khiwal (www.tarunkhiwal.com)
R Burman (www.ridburman.com)
Dabboo Ratnani (www.dabbooratnani.com)
Jatin Kampani (www.jatinkampani.com)
Arjun Mark (www.arjunmark.com)
Suresh Natarajan (www.sureshnatarajan.in)
Farrokh Chothia (www.farrokhchothia.com)
Tarun Vishwa (www.tarunvishwa.prosite.com)
Bikramjit Bose (www.bikramjitbose.com)
Saurabh Dua (www.saurabhdua.com)
Colston Julian (www.colstonjulianphotography.com)
Aman Makkar (www.amanmakkar.in)
Ashish Shah (www.ashishshah.in)
Ashish Chawla (www.ashishchawla.com)
Article image by Barbro Andersen (Tom Wood lookbook 2013) on flickr