1. What is the most important thing I should consider before I start my portfolio?
Your first consideration is to be realistic about the kind of modeling are going to do. If you are petite, you will not be a fashion model, so don’t shoot pictures that make you look like one. Unfortunately, you don’t get to pick the jobs you will do. The industry picks you and the clients will decide if you are right for any given type of modeling. Be sure to do your research and be honest with yourself about where you fit. Being realistic from the very beginning will insure that you don’t waste time and money and will hopefully limit the chances for rejection.
2. Do I need to work with more than one photographer? In a perfect scenario – YES! In reality – NO! Modeling agencies tend to encourage new models to work with multiple photographers to build their portfolios so that the book contains a variety of looks and also so that the model gains the experience of working with different photographers’ personalities and working styles. Of course this can become extremely expensive for someone who is just starting out. As long as you choose a photographer that understands the need for variety and different looks, you can build a very effective portfolio working with just one person. Be sure that your portfolio contains a selection of pictures that show you at your best, show your range of emotions and your ability to portray different characters.
3. How do I pick the right photographer? Start your search at Google and look for “commercial advertising photographers” in your area or the closest major city. These are the photographers who shoot the pictures for advertisements. The same advertisements that you want to be in. They understand how to create photos of you that look like they should be in ads. Be sure to read the article: How do I find the right model photographer to shoot my modeling portfolio?
4. Should I use a modeling agencies photographer? NO WAY! NEVER! If a modeling agency is asking you to shoot your portfolio with their photographer, they are probably just interested in your money. If you do some research, you will probably find out that their “photographer” is not a full-time professional and is probably being paid an hourly fee to take your photos. In other words, the pictures suck and the modeling agency will make a ton of money from your photo shoot. This is a very legal, but morally inappropriate modeling scam that some agencies take part in. The only time you should consider an agencies photographer is if you have asked the modeling agency for recommendations and they give you the names and contact information of a few good photographers in your area. As long as they have not told you to use a specific one and they are not asking you to pay them to set-up the photo shoot, it is probably an honest list of recommended photographers. Bottom line – do your own research. Do NOT contact a modeling agency before you have your portfolio, otherwise you simply risk making a bad first impression and showing yourself as a potential sucker to the agencies that are willing to take advantage of you.
5. Can I have a friend that is good with a good camera take my pictures? This is a bad idea on so many levels? That friend who is good with a camera is not a professional, so why would you risk your career to someone who really doesn’t know what they are doing. A great portfolio is not just a bout good quality photographs, it is about the right photographs that show the right things to market you. Another reason this is a bad idea is that someone who knows you on a personal level or even intimate level will just add to your nerves and make it more difficult for you to perform in front of the camera. If you are reading this and thinking that it would be easier for you if you could shoot with a friend because you would feel more comfortable… that means you are potentially a horrible candidate to model professionally. When you get hired for a job, you don’t get to take your own photographer with you.
6. Do I really need a makeup artist? YES! Shooting without a makeup artist, when you are taking the most important photos of your career is simply called career suicide! If you need more convincing, please read: Should I hire a Makeup Artist for my Photo Shoot?
7. What kind of clothing should I wear? Simple and basic. The photographs are trying to sell your ability to model – NOT the clothing you are wearing. The clothing is a costume that helps to make the various characters convincing. You should stick with solid colors. Prints, patterns and floral are a horrible idea as they will take attention away from you. Make sure the clothing fits properly and is flattering to your body. Don’t take my word for this – pay attention to what you see models wearing in advertisements. The majority of the clothing is solid colors. Even if you are tall enough to be a fashion model, when you do your fashion shots – keep it simple, remember that the shots are selling you and your ability, not the designer clothing.
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