When a fashion model calls me asking to shoot for her model portfolio what does that involve ? I get this question often and I love to answer my fellow photographer comrades.
ASK QUESTIONS – GAIN INSIGHT – GIVE ANSWERS
The first thing I ask the model is if she is new and has no photos at all or is she a working model and just needs to update her portfolio. If she tells me that she is just starting out, doesn’t have an agency yet and needs to start a portfolio, then I ask her how tall she is, what color hair , measurements etc. That will lead to her emailing me a couple of snapshots of herself so I can get an idea of what type of modeling she should get into. If she is 5′ 6″ – 5′ 7″ then I know she is not going in to high fashion. If she has a beautiful body and great hair and is physically fit then what I would do is:
1. Shoot a beauty shot that emphasizes her beautiful hair and skin.
2. Shoot her in a swimsuit. It can be in studio or on a beach or even the desert.
3. Have her bring a running outfit or a tennis outfit. Maybe she does yoga. A fitness shot is important.
4. Shoot a commercial fashion / Hollister/ Abercrombie type shot. Commercial fashion is big in Los Angeles and actually it’s big everywhere. You can’t go wrong with this look.
5. Lingerie is popular and pays good money for a model. If she doesn’t want to do lingerie then I would change it to something in the look of a catalog “Gap” looking shot. So that is five different shots. I shoot in studio and outdoors at a couple different locations that suit the shot.
This is a nice variety of images that show the model in enough situations for the agent to get an idea of where the agency can place her and which castings to send out on.
Now some might not have a home studio and can only shoot outdoors. That’s ok. I just shoot both because I have a home studio. The more variety you can offer the better. I know what agencies want to see because I have been doing this so long and have seen hundreds and hundreds of model portfolios.
MAKE UP ARTIST
I ALWAYS include a make up/ hair artist and keep the make up simple, not over the top. Remember that the model is a product to the agency and the agency is selling the product. When I hold a casting I wanna see what the model looks like and I don’t want to see photos that the photographer has retouched so much that she looks fake. Do not over do the retouching guys. Save that for your advertising clients and editorials.
The standard print size for a model portfolio is 9″x12″ Some agencies do use smaller books but the majority use 9″ x 12″ prints.
As far as clothing is concerned I have the girl bring her own clothes. I email her examples of the look we will be going for so she can plan. Always have her bring twice the amount of outfits. So five looks she should bring ten outfits. That way I have choices and I can mix and match if need be.
You DON’T want to use flat boring lighting, but you also don’t want to light too dramatically either. Remember as you are going through the day that she is going to try to get an agent and the agent wants to see what she looks like.
Now I want to remind you that this photo HAS NOT been retouched yet and the model did have slight acne, but with the combination of a great make up artist and soft beauty lighting, this image will only need slight retouching. I can’t stress enough how important it is to light your work so it doesn’t have to go through hours of retouching. It only creates a bigger budget for the client no matter how small or large the client is.
To sum up, when you get the call to shoot a model portfolio you want to:
1. Ask questions – gain insight – give answers
2. Shoot five different looks.
3. Shoot in studio (if you can) and shoot on location
4. Include a make up/ hair artist
5. Use clean flattering lighting.
Talk to your model during the whole shoot. Direct the model especially if she is new and never shot before. You need to help her feel confident and sexy. You are the one person she is counting on to make her shots great and that those shots get her an agent !
Now get out there and shoot shoot shoot ! Ask me anything you would like and share with everyone !
I recently had the pleasure of photographing a new jewelry line by Flori Manning. The designer herself called me from Chicago where she lives, we talked over the concepts, budget etc. and the next thing you know she is on a plane to Los Angeles to shoot her look book with lil ol me.
We had a great model and some beautiful jewelry as well as great make up and hair. One of my make up artists Lori Young did a great job with the make up and hair.
As for the lighting, I used my typical beauty lighting set up. One small white satin umbrella above the model and in front of her and silver reflector on a stand below to fill in any shadows and light up that jewelry. We shot 9 different looks. Here we see two of them.
When prepping for a photo shoot with a client who is based out of town you have got to be very thorough and write everything down from every phone call. Ask your client to email you samples of the look they are going for. The more specifics you get from your client the easier the shoot will flow. Because there is no initial in office meeting, everything must be done via email and phone. It’s not as easy as an in person meeting but it can be done effectively.
A bit more info on the technical side of a shoot like this must be mentioned. In the first shot you see the model is wearing a necklace AND earrings. In this situation I needed to set a very tight f stop to make everything sharp from the necklace all the way back to the earrings. I set it to f/13, so my strobes were popping ! lol In the second shot we don’t have earrings in the shot, however, the necklace must be sharp from the closest edge to camera all the way back to where it rests on the back of her neck.
Any questions or comments are welcome !
So I just shot some new beauty photos. Most photographers use a beauty dish, however they can be expensive, especially for a photographer who is just starting out. What is the solution ? This photo was shot with just one small umbrella, a small silver reflector at breast level, and a strobe hitting the background with it’s regular 7 inch reflector attached for separation. I placed the umbrella camera right about 2-3 feet above model’s eye level. Of course you need to tell the model to be aware that this is her ONLY light source so do not turn your face away from it. Any good model of course would know this. This was shot at 125th @ F/8 , 100 ISO. The make up and hair artists were standing by right next to the model ready to jump in and make tiny little adjustments to hair and make up. When shooting beauty like this, it is VERY important to pay attention to EVERY detail, thus my team was stepping in every couple of minutes or so adjusting something.
I just received the photos from my retoucher of my new beauty shoot. These by far are the most eccentric, out there kind of shots I have ever done in the beauty category. I felt I needed to break the mold of what I usually do. Sometimes it is easy to just keep shooting what you are used to and what is “safe.” So every once in a while I like to just “create” freely.
So for this editorial I used two light sources. My key light was a medium size strip bank placed below the model about stomach high aimed up at her face. My fill was a medium soft box placed above her head about 2 feet above. There is a slight ratio but not much. I wanted it to look eccentric and not traditional. The model was placed about 10 feet from the background as I wanted the background to go black. Other than that, there is nothing else to the shot.