Building a Top-Notch Modeling Portfolio: Goals, Research, Inspiration

I had a friend ask me the other day for advice on building a well-rounded modeling portfolio. To share my knowledge with the World Wide Web, I have decided to blog an answer in a detailed three-part blog post. (Congrats to my gorgeous friend for getting represented with Wunder Model Management LA!!).

Before you go about building up your fashion model portfolio, or, as agencies call it, your book, you need to keep a few things in mind.

  1. Modeling and agency goals  
  2. Research your ideal fashion industry, modeling agency, niche, etc.
  3. Inspiration. Become inspired!
  4. Selecting a top-notch fashion team
  5. Ordering, presentation, and selection for your Portfolio

Each of these three items play in with each other a lot. You must have a goal in mind in order to know what knowledge to seek. And once you have done your research with a goal in mind, you should be inspired. To implement your ideas into successful test shoots (free shoots that are mutually beneficial for everyone involved), you need a great team, which may sometimes be difficult to find if you are just testing. Finally, you have to know how to present your work.

In part one of this blog 3-part blog post, I will discuss Goals, Research, and Inspiration.

There isn’t too much I can say on the topic, as it is pretty self explanatory, but before you move too far ahead of yourself, you have to have a game-plan and a goal. What do you want your portfolio to get for you? Attract the attention of an agency? A specific client? Do you have an agency already? What is your ideal market? How far do you plan on taking your modeling career?  Do you want to focus on one niche within the fashion industry? These are all questions to think about.

Its good to think about your niche type of modeling in the industry. High fashion/editorial, commercial, glamor, etc. It’s not a bad idea to plan for a little bit of each in your portfolio. “Glamor” could go towards both boudoir as well as high fashion/commercial/editorial. There is a fine line, so you have to make a decision on what you want your portfolio to portray and stick with it. If high fashion is what you’re  going for, lingerie/glamor shots would be best with a great, high fashion wardrobe, and a high fashion photographer who knows lighting/angles well and knows what’s the most tasteful for what you’re going for.

Make sure to break your goals into mini, attainable goals/steps. Write them down. Put them in your Facebook status, if you must. People might be amused. (Heck, maybe you’ll get more support than you ever would have thought if you actually post to the social media. That is one of the most encouraging things I have found. Other people’s faith in your ability to move forward, being unstoppable. Any successes in posting goals to your status? Feel free to share!)

Once you’ve specified your main goal and you have broken it down, focus on relate-able goals specifically for your portfolio. Example. Your goal is to become a supermodel (hey, anything is possible!!). You want to get representation in Milan. First, you have to attract attention from your desired agency. The best way to do so is to sell your “look.” Therefore, you need to test shoot until you are satisfied with the photos you have to show for your work and experience. Then, you can break it down into specific shoot goals. What kind of shots do you want to get for your portfolio? You need to start out by researching.

Now that you have your goals set, make sure to do your homework! If you are looking for representation with a specific agency, get to know the agency very well. This can be applied to looking for representation with a specific market or location, too, like Milan. Study the images that agencies have in other model’s portfolios. This is important to do, so you get a sense of what the agency and/or area prefers to see.

You should not put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Perhaps your look isn’t fit for Milan, but it’s perfect for London, or New York. Keep your options open. Maybe you don’t even want to travel. If you want to stay at your location and just make extra income that way, keep in tune with the market around you. If you are really devoted to this, you can find out a lot about the fashion industry that you didn’t know before. There is an entire database of knowledge online!

There is no overdoing it on the research. Repetition helps a lot. I want to go to New York. (And from there, to the rest of the major fashion capitals of the world. This is probably my main reason for using traveling to Milan, London, and New York as my examples, FYI. Everyone is different in their goals). Either way, I definitely don’t hesitate to look at the portfolios of the major agency models that I want to compare myself and my own portfolio to. I probably pull up a different agency website weekly.

This contributes, then, to inspiration!

If you’re looking at portfolios as often as I do, you should be getting inspired! Look at all those amazing photos! It’s so easy for me to get inspired by good photos (but this is just what works for me). Make a folder on your computer. If you come across some really great images that you would love to have in your own portfolio, stick them in your little inspiration folder. Use these photos as ideas for photography styles, lighting, makeup, posing ideas, expressions, etc.

In order to gain the interest of your (ideal) agency, you have to look the part. Keep test shooting until you are satisfied with the selection of photos you have.

… Stay tuned for more information in part 2 on the selection of a top-notch fashion team!

Be Fierce!!

Briauna Mariah (:

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