Portfolio Tips: Photographers & Models

The portfolio is the first step for photographers and models. This is why a model & photographer working relationship can be a very rewarding experience. Creating a collection of the work that you are most proud of establishes your skills in a visual way that will draw potential clients and customers.

Many models rely on themselves to get work and notice in the industry. They think they will get noticed and work will come to them. While it can happen, the odds are stacked against. Models are not only judged for jobs based on the quality of their portfolios, but also personality and professionalism. The booking agency wants to know the model is persistent and goes the extra mile. It is crucial for a model to put their best foot forward. Modeling starts with presentation of the portfolio. Will the model show up to the shoot? Is modeling just a hobby? These questions must be answered in the mind of the agency in order for the model to receive a favorable response.

You Have 100 Photos: Now What?

Start by determining which of your shots you consider to be the best. Look at the work of other professionals. Read magazines and blogs to determine which photos are best suited for your portfolio. Take criticism and direction from experienced individuals.


The photographer will want to develop a signature added to the photographs. This helps to maintain the copyright of the work, and also adds a little extra advertising when the work is hanging in a home or business! Watermarks should be gracefully applied and become part of the image itself. I'll discuss this in a future post.

Photographers should be mindful that the model may not want the watermark on the photos. Find out the reason. Images with watermarks are not useable if the model wants to create comp cards. However, if the model is submitting digitally to an agency, the agency will still look at photos with watermarks despite what a model may say. If the agency likes the look, they will offer the model a test shoot. If you are a model who does not want watermarks, clarify BEFORE THE SHOOT! Whether a model or photographer, be sure to always, always, and I stress ALWAYS get the terms in writing. If unsure with anything in life, always ask!

Showcasing The Portfolio:

I recommend showcasing your work on your own website. You are a business. This helps separate you from hobbyists and shows you have control. Utilize photo sharing sites (Flickr, Shutterfly, Photobucket, etc.), in addition to your website. Create a separate folder or group for your portfolio pictures. Direct people to your website with a simple and short URL for quick and easy access to examples of your work.

Print a copy of your portfolio photos in 8×10 format, then put them in a professional looking binder or album. Often times photos look different on-line versus printed format. It’s important to have both versions available to show perspective clients. In our digital age, it’s nice to have physical prints that you can hold in your hands. Other things to include in the physical portfolio are a title list of the images (with perhaps some interesting back-story to go along with them), and a thumbnail page which provides an overview of all of the images in the portfolio.

Some photographers and models alike find assembling a portfolio of their work a bit intimidating. I hope that these tips give you an understanding of both sides (model & photographer) of the portfolio building process. Be proud of your work! Showcase only the best, practice and improve.

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