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 !