Becoming a professional model, for some people, is a dream come true. From an outside perspective, being a model doesn’t seem like any work at all, and could be considered a relatively easy career. This, however, is undoubtedly not the case, as a lot of preparation and work needs to go into producing a quality portfolio, let alone the job itself. Without a substantial portfolio, your chances of getting any decent paying jobs are slim.
What is a modelling portfolio?
A portfolio is essential for all models, whether they are brand new to the scene, or seasoned veterans. It should be composed of some of your most professional shots, with as many different angles and styles as possible. Having a portfolio of 10 photos from the same photoshoot is pointless, as it doesn’t show variety. Think of your portfolio as a CV, and treat it as such.
Professional photos aren’t always required to apply to a modelling agency, but they are necessary to help them apply to castings for you. as well as pursuing your own freelance opportunities. You could be the absolute perfect model for a job, but if the casting directions are unable to see proof of confidence and ability in front of the camera, they’ll like favour someone who does.
How much will it cost to get a portfolio created?
The fastest way to start your career as a model is to pay photographers to create a portfolio for you. Assuming the photographer is a professional, they’ll be able to help guide and instruct you on suitable poses and clothing, which will help to show off all of your best qualities. Most photographers will also include after-shoot photo touchups or will refer you to a Photoshop wizard. These touch-ups aren’t designed to create “fake” photos but are required to make each photo even more professional.
Prices can range anywhere from £150-£1000 and should include somewhere between 10 and 25 photos. Your whole portfolio doesn’t need to be completed in one sitting, or does it need to only be with one photographer. It’s very common for models to use several photographers to compile the most diverse portfolio. However, if you’re pressed for time and you have the money, the fastest way would be to pay one photographer to do it all.
Another option to create a portfolio is to organise something with the photographer called Time for Print, or TFP. This essentially means that instead of you paying the photographer money, you pay him with your time. No money is exchanged, but instead, the photographer will get to take photos of you for free, which they will use for their own portfolio. The photographer will then send over a couple of the better photos for you to use, as your payment.
What types of portfolio are there?
There are two types of portfolio available, digital, and printed. They each have their own pros and cons. You should have both available at all times, as some castings or agencies will require you to bring hand copies of your portfolio to look through, and others may only be interested in having them sent via email, or USB stick.
Digital portfolios are usually on a disk or USB stick. When purchasing digital images from a shoot, it’s important that you confirm that you’re paying for the rights. Without owning the rights, theoretically, you legally wouldn’t be allowed to use them.
Having your images on a disk or USB stick also means that you shouldn’t ever face the issue of losing your photos and they’ll never get damaged. Always have a copy of your digital portfolio on at least one computer, or upload them to an online cloud storage service like Dropbox. Dropbox is a good service to have an account for, as many photographers will distribute their photos using that service.
Your digital portfolio can also be retouched, resized, and cropped at a later date, if needed. This often happens if you end up getting signed to an agency, as they will have specific standards and needs.
The photos that you use for your printed portfolio should be the very best 10-20 images that you have, in full A4 size, and airbrushed appropriately. These pictures are what you should take to every casting and agency interview so that you can show off your experience and modelling capabilities. Think of this as when people take a hard copy of their CV with them to an interview.
The main benefits of owning a printed portfolio is that the agent or casting director that you’re speaking to will be able to browse through your large images as they’re conducting the interview. This also shows that you’ve gone out of your way to make yourself as hirable as possible, and that you’re taking your modelling career seriously.
Is it necessary to create a portfolio before applying to an agency?
We’ve covered this sporadically already, but you should always get a portfolio done before even thinking about contacting an agency. Otherwise, it’s essentially applying to a regular job without providing them with a CV. An agency will always prioritise someone who has a portfolio, even if it not a great one, over someone who doesn’t have anything to show.
Should I get a free portfolio from an agency?
It may be tempting to sign up to an agency, who is offering to supply you with a completely free portfolio, but in the long run, it’s definitely not worth it. It may seem like a great deal initially, as agencies will help to get you work too, but they will take such a significant cut from your jobs because they gave you a free portfolio, that it can become not worth your time. Creating your portfolio yourself and sourcing your own castings and jobs is financially the most sensible and lucrative. Agency cuts are always negotiable, so they often take advantage of newer models, who may not even realise.