Get started on your modeling portfolio with a captivating headshot. However, this may not be an easy process, as it can be difficult to find the perfect one. Headshots can be just head and shoulders or from the waist up. Your headshot should show you in your “natural” state. Simple makeup, minimal jewelry, and minimally styled hair. If you have facial hair, it should be well groomed. In other words, leave the winged liner, statement jewelry, and teasing comb at home. Smiling or serious, your headshot should put your best face forward and be the first image in your portfolio.
Next, you’ll need a full body shot. Make sure your posture and form are proper so that it can accurately display your body. These are usually very simple, wardrobe-wise. You’ll need a fitted white shirt or tank top and a pair of dark wash skinny jeans or a tailored trouser. Long skirts or jackets or too many layers just cover up what the casting agents are looking for. Ladies, break out those heels and gents, a casual dress shoe will do the trick. Keep it simple and classic—you can get creative in other photos.
You might also want to include a swimwear shot. Many people protest at the idea of a swimsuit photo. Just try to remember that some jobs require a uniform and this is one of those jobs. Keep the photo fierce or playful, especially if you want to explore commercial modeling.
Now let’s have some fun! You can form a more well-rounded portfolio by including different types of work. To show your versatility you’ll want to include some editorial work in your portfolio. Find a theme, create a look, and collaborate with a team if you don’t have anything striking enough.
Commercial modeling is arguably the hardest to get across in your portfolio. Take your photographer to a food truck festival and really enjoy those tacos. Use your purse or backpack as a focal point in the shot. Pore over magazine ads, and try to recreate them. Take inspiration from other models and portfolios to see how they pose with products. Commercial modeling is acting in print and can be incredibly hard to sell. But when you do it right, the photographs are incredibly compelling and sell both the product and your abilities as a model.
Lastly, you’ll want to include any tearsheets you have. A tearsheet is a page torn out of a publication where you’ve been featured. For your digital portfolio, linking to the publication will suffice. If you are going to include tearsheets in your physical portfolio, be sure that they have cleanly cut edges and are in protective plastic sheets. It will leave a bad impression if your pages look tattered.
These are your portfolio must-haves. This will leave you with a small collection of photographs. You can fill it out by adding other shots from these categories. Make sure there is at least one of you smiling, and end on a compelling headshot.