A portfolio, is your passport to the glamour world. Different photographers will have their own way of shooting a portfolio and hence you need a good photographer. Someone who sees you beyond what meets the eye and sees you for what you can be in front of the camera rather than just what you are in front of their eyes. Let’s face it, no one is going to shoot a portfolio that everyone is going to admire and applaud. Given this, the idea is to be true to yourself (understand your advantages and disadvantages, understand your body type and what will make you look good) put your best foot forward and focus on the model that you want to become. For example, ideally, if you don’t have good height or are anything below 5 feet 7 or 8 without a petite body structure then ramp modelling might not be your best option. That being said, print modelling and television commercials could be wide open for you. Honestly the trick is in getting the right photographer who is experienced and helps you make these decisions for you. Rely on a professional and meet a few before you finalise. With so many people owning good cameras these days everyone thinks they are photographers (and I am not even going to speak of editing skills that could mislead your TG) so no, do not have a friend or any of your relatives shoot you your portfolio unless they are professionals. You definitely need a photographer good with communication who can direct you well. Theres nothing worse in the world than a silent photographer and a confused model.
Assuming you get a good photographer start working on breaking the ice with the photographer because as a model you will be required to work with a lot of new people with different temperaments. You need to start honing those skills as well. I always say that being pretty isn’t enough, the camera will judge you for your confidence. An average looking person with good confidence levels will always have an edge over someone who is pretty but not so confident. We call that camera presence. In my career, I have seen people who you wouldn’t look at twice turn the studio into an inferno once they step into their modelling shoes. Be that person. If you absolutely dont have it, learn to fake it. The camera wont ever know.
When you enquire about portfolios make sure you are being told all the packages with the rates and what all it includes. If it is an option, have the photographer arrange a makeup and hair stylist for you or give you his recommendations. Having someone who knows the pulse of the photographer always helps. Ask about the number of photographs you shall get and also of any additional costs you could potentially be looking at. While speaking to the team be sure to convey what you have in mind regarding your photoshoot or the kind of photos you want and also ask the photographer what he plans for you so as to be on the same page. Your portfolio needs to be a mix of full length shots, mid shots and tight close-ups. If you are shooting an acting portfolio it needs to be well lit showing your features and shades of your personality as much as possible. These pictures have to be less styled and accessorised and need to be more about you than what you are wearing and flaunting. For shooting a modelling portfolio the focus obviously needs to be on you but yes what you are wear and how you carry it with your body language and posing matters a great deal. Generally, in a fashion portfolio the more you bend, stretch and feel awkward the better you look. Make sure you are practicing a lot of poses in front of a mirror before you are going out there to face the camera. Learn what it means to “give attitude” and “look sexy” – you’ll hear that a lot.
During the photoshoot make sure the photographer is communicating with you and more than that make sure you are following instructions well. Insist on seeing the pictures shot every now and then so you know which direction the shoot is headed in. You don’t want to see the photoshoot directly once it’s done and get the shock of your life. Something to note here: Since we aren’t used to seeing ourselves in this new avatar there could be a big disconnect with what you see on the camera. It’s natural so let it grow on you. Once the shoot is done I would suggest you to involve the photographer in the selection process as his vision might differ from yours but remember ultimately it is your photoshoot and you have to like it. That being said the photographer knows what’s going to work for you in the industry hence the final selection (which should be about 20 to 25 photos) ideally can be a mix of what you both like. While editing these stay true to yourself as you do not want to send out anything that doesn’t look like you. When you are called for auditions you need to look like the person in your photos so keep it real. Circulate the photos with as many relevant people as you can. If you can afford to have a website nothing like it but make sure you are using social media and tagging the right accounts to get the necessary eyeballs.
Prints are quite outdated now. You can print a set for yourself but that’s about it. You will never need those to circulate around. To sign-off just remember that a portfolio is all about showing your versatility and shooting nothing less than 3 to 4 looks/changes.