What is a Portfolio?
A portfolio is a visual "resume" and "catalogue" of what the model is & what he can do. It is the most important tool a model has for interviewing and getting jobs. The model portfolio contains a series of photographs of the model"
A portfolio should generally contain shots which feature the model in the most positive way for the types of jobs he/she is trying to get. When it comes to portfolios, "you sell what you advertise."
In other words, if you're trying to get a job as a swimsuit model, your portfolio should feature several swimwear shots rather than a series of shots in mid-winter with you in Eskimo parkas.
Two Basic Shots - Headshot and Full-Length
The most basic shots that every model needs are a head-shot and a full-length shot.
For models, their most important feature is their face. The face is 90% of what we find "beautiful" about a person, and the face also helps us critique personality and character of the person. A great looking headshot is essential for marketing the model.
Also, for most work, the client will need to see what the model's body looks like. A full-length shot in a fitted dress, leotard, swimsuit, or lingerie will show the tone and figure of the model.
Remember that the full-length shot is to show the "outline" of your body, and you will completely defeat the purpose if you wear anything loose or baggy. (Actually loose clothing makes you appear much heavier -- and also makes it look like you are trying to hide your figure.)
Other Portfolio "Basics"
Additional portfolio shots often include some 3/4 length shots (head to hips) in a variety of clothing to show off looks from formal to casual.
If a model has particularly good hands, or feet, or legs, or back muscles, close-ups of those areas should also be included.
Also, it's important to show how the model can "interact" with products or other models. Therefore, having some photos which look like they came out of an "advertisement" is also important in creating a dynamic and well-rounded portfolio.
Wherever possible, you should include tear sheets in your portfolio. Tears hold more credibility with clients because they demonstrate that you have actual "job" experience.
How Many Photos?
A portfolio normally contains 15-30 photos. However, the key is QUALITY -- not QUANTITY.
A portfolio with 5 great shots will always be better than a portfolio of 20 great shots and 20 mediocre ones. Careful editing of shots is important. As you gain experience and more photos use your best new shots to replace older shots in your book.
Never include a bad photo as the Clients and photographers will always remember you by the worst image you have in your portfolio. Make that decision hard for them!
Make it Memorable
Always remember that you are competing with sometimes thousands of other models for the same limited number of jobs. For that reason, the images in your portfolio should be as dramatic and memorable as possible. Better yet, have some photo business cards made of some of your most dramatic images.....