How to Photograph a Modelling Portfolio.

When I first started getting requests to shoot client’s modelling portfolios, I had to do some serious research.  It seems like such a simple thing, but these images are the difference between your client getting a ‘meet and greet’ with an agency and getting overlooked entirely.  No pressure or anything!!

One of my first portfolio shoots was for fitness and streetwear model Ethan Weston.  Besides being an absolute beautiful human he is a dream to shoot, so there wasn’t any doubt we were going to create Portfolio Perfection in our 3 hours together.  But it didn’t stop me from being prepared.

I have done a few of these now and received some great feedback from agencies in Melbourne and Sydney so I thought I’d share some tips.

Understand the kind of agency or modelling career your client wants to attract.

It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of deal with a modelling portfolio.  You can use a scattergun approach and just take generic modelling imagery, but the best course of action is to speak with you client.  Understand the kind of modelling that they want to do.  Are they fitness models, fashion, glamour, commercial or social influencer models?  Each style of modelling will need a specific looking portfolio. Get them to bring along ideas for prospective clients they wish to engage so you can build your imagery around these ideas.

In Ethan’s case, he had done a lot of research of his own on the type of modelling career that he wanted and brought along photos to show me.  This was incredibly helpful as I was able to stick to the brief and referred to it regularly throughout the shoot.

Cover all the shots your client needs

An agency wanting to present models to their clients will want a number of different shots to give a good representation of the model’s skillset.

So the portfolio will need to have a variety of specific photos, including headshots, full length photos and three quarter length photos.  The photos will also need to represent a number of different looks that the model is able to achieve.  This will often require the model to have done their own research, but you can help by asking them to ‘change it up’ if you feel that the photos are not covering enough range.

What formats will they be needing?

Honestly, I forget this one about half the time.  Print, digital, size, file type.  Get the required format information from your client BEFORE you start taking photos.  If they don’t know what they want, then prompt them by asking if they want their photos printed, or if they will be using them digitally only.  Ask them if they want all landscape or portfolio, or a combination of both.  What size images will they be needing? Both print size (eg 8×10 or 8×12), and file size and type for digital images.  These are things that your client might not think to tell you, but will impact them should you provide them with images outside of their requirements.

Change up locations and looks to give the appearance of multiple shoots

Your client may not be in a financial position to have multiple photoshoots for their portfolio, so you are going to have to get creative about changing up locations and looks so it gives that appearance.

This is a simple thing to achieve if you work efficiently.  Before you start shooting discuss with your client the structure for the shoot and how many look you are going to aim to achieve in the allocated timeframe.  I am able to do 3 looks in 1 hour if I work fast and have access to versatile environments at the location.  For Ethan’s shoot, we used a gym, a car park, a drive way and a quiet road.  All were within 1 minute from each other so we were able to change locations and looks quickly.

Shooting portfolios doesn’t have to be hardwork and if you have a good relationship with your client and keep communicating through the process then you will inevitably get great results.

Check out some of Ethan’s photos below.  He used these to get picked up by WINK MODELS.