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Essential Photographs for a Model Portfolio

Essential Photographs for a Model Portfolio

November 5, 2017

When you want to start a career as a model; snapshots are all you need in order to find out if a modeling agency is interested in you.

The agency may ask you to build your book a little bit more when it is not yet ready to make a contract with you. For a new model, this can be very confusing if they have no idea what the agency is looking for or what it means. There are specific types of photos that agencies like to see in the beginning: Photographs should show the model’s ability to express themselves, how they can portray feelings and emotions in pictures.

A portfolio is a work in progress

The goal of a great modeling book is to tell a story about who the model is, his or her brand, and the direction the model is heading in their career. Don’t expect to shoot with one photographer, fill up your book, and be done. For a better understanding, you may want to take a look at the various shots of women models at L’Agency.

A model’s book is a work in progress, it is never finished and is always changing. Shoot with as many photographers as you can so you can take advantage of the different styles each photographer possesses; this will also give you experience working with a variety of personality types. Every time you do a photo shoot you will get better and better! Keep at it and you’ll be sure to succeed!

A Beauty Shot

A Beauty Shot for modeling portfolio

A beauty shot (fashion/editorial models) or a clean head shot (commercial models) is the first type of photo you should be concentrating on when you do your first photo shoot.

A beauty shot is a color photograph of the model’s face, generally from the shoulders up. It should show the model in his or her natural state, Make-Up should be kept to a minimum. No false lashes! Editorial models do not usually smile in a beauty shot.

Editorial models do not usually smile in a beauty shot, whereas a commercial head shot can be a bit more relaxed than a typical beauty shot. Commercial head shots can be shot in black and white, or color.  The current trend of commercial head shots is to shoot the model anywhere from the waist up. Commercial models can be smiling or not, depending on the look they want to portray.


A Body Shot for modeling portfolio


This shot allows the client to see the model’s proportions and body type. Clothes should be form-fitting and simple. Skinny jeans and a t-shirt are just fine. The model should not be wearing long dresses, skirts or too many layers as these will distract and cover up exactly what the agents and clients are trying to see.

Swimsuit- Photographs

A Swimsuit Shot for modeling portfolio

If you are over 16 years of age and are comfortable doing a swimsuit shot- which you should if you want to start building a model career, then you should include a swimsuit-photograph.

When doing a swimsuit shot it is important to always think about the message you are sending: Female fashion models are selling clothes to women, not men, so female models want to be sexy but not overtly sexual. Top modeling agencies never want to see you in a swimsuit or lingerie on the hood of a car or straddling a motorcycle.

Male models can shoot in either swim trunks or boxer shorts.

An Editorial Fashion Shot (Fashion Models)


A Commercial Shot (Commercial Models)

A Commerical Shot or an Editorial Shot for modeling portfolio


Try to show the agents and clients your ability to move and express yourself in your photos. Don’t just stand there and pose! Jump, run, dance! Do something that is expressive and interesting. Editorial and Commercial models need to show the agents and clients their range and ability to express themselves in print.

Commercial modeling is really acting in print. Take photos that look like print ads in magazines in which you are laughing, crying, or upset. These are all the types of emotions that agents and clients want to see from a new commercial model.

A Smiling Shot

A Smiling Shot for modeling portfolio


Add a good smiling head shot! Agents and clients want to see your smile and your teeth.

You don’t have to have perfect teeth. Agents and clients simply want to see what they are working with.

An Expressive Last Shot

An Expressive Last Shot for modeling portfolio

Most people only remember the very first and very last shot in your book; make sure these are your strongest ones.

You may also like to read: 4 Myths about Becoming a model