How to Build a Professional Fashion Model Portfolio

10 Tips to Building a Professional Fashion Model Portfolio
Image by Dina Dee

Building a Professional Fashion Model Portfolio

A fashion model portfolio is one of the main tools for success in the fashion and modelling industry.

Why Do I Need a Modelling Portfolio?

All models need a modelling portfolio to showcase their experience and range as a model. Whether you’re a freelance model or are signed by an agency, a portfolio is a necessary item. Think of a model’s portfolio as like a CV, except instead of words there are photos.

A model will take their portfolio to any casting calls with agencies and brands when they are interviewing for potential work. They will be judged in-person and on the content of their portfolio, so it’s really important that the portfolio stands out from the crowd. The portfolio is a vital tool to help sell the model to potential employers.

How to Build a Professional Fashion Model Portfolio

1. Include up to 20 photos

Your portfolio should contain up to 20 photos. Any more will be too much, and any less will not be showing off your true potential.

If you are an aspiring model who has yet to do a photo shoot, it’s a good idea to book one with a professional fashion photographer or studio. As well as being a good practice, you can purchase any photographs taken and include them in your portfolio.

The A4 is a good size to have your photos as it shows off details well, though some models do get smaller portfolios.

2. Only include your best photos

Unsure about an image? Leave it out. You can only afford to keep your absolute best photos in your portfolio. Every photo needs to be the best it can possibly be. Ask for advice from people you trust if you are unsure.

Always include a range of photos that include head-shots as well as full-length body shots. Try including different poses (standing/sitting) and include photos that feature different make-up and hairstyles as well as outfits and locations. Show off your versatility for more chances of being selected for work.

While it’s a good idea to include editorial images, make sure to include toned-down natural shots to show off your true beauty. Try looking for model portfolio examples for inspiration.

3. Include a “page turning” image at the front

You want your portfolio to really capture the attention of anyone looking at it, so be sure to include a really good photo at the very front. A boring photo will make people reluctant to check out the rest of the content.

Remember that agencies and brands will look at hundreds if not thousands of portfolios each day, so they will not spend long on each one – you need to capture their attention within the first few seconds.

4. Personalise it

Your portfolio should be catered towards the specific type of modelling you want to do. For example, if you want to be a fitness model, you should include images that show off your physique and athleticism. If you aspire to be a beauty model, you should include more close-up head shots and make-up looks. If you want to be a high-fashion model and you meet the strict criteria, you should include editorial shots.

Portfolios should be polished and well-laid-out to show your professionalism. Don’t include fancy fonts or colours that will distract from the main subject – you.

5. Get it professionally printed

You can make your own portfolio by buying a folder yourself and printing off images at home, but it will never look as sleek and as professional as a proper printing business could make it.

It’s a good idea to save up some cash and get a printed portfolio made properly; remember, your portfolio is your number one tool to help you find work and success in the industry, so it’s one of the few things worth investing in.

6. Include your model details

You must include the following information on your fashion model portfolio:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Height
  • Body measurements
  • Dress size
  • Shoe size
  • Contact details
  • Agency

You should check your measurements regularly and update the information when necessary. Never lie in your portfolio; brands need to know your sizing so they can tell whether you will fit into their clothing. If you are caught lying about your measurements, you run the risk of losing a modelling job and even a spot with an agency.

7. Practice your posing

Whether you’re an experience model or a total newbie, practice makes perfect. Check out magazine shoots and campaigns and try to emulate any poses you see. Try different camera angles and lighting to really understand your best angles. You can practice in the mirror, but a mirror often warps our reflection and does not allow you to see all your angles; the best way to practice is to set up a camera or have a friend take photos of you.

Social media, in particular Instagram, is a great social media platform for you to practice your posing and see what reaction your images get. It’s also a good way to build a fan base and attract brand attention that may lead to paid partnerships and endorsements. Agencies have also been known to approach models on social media and sign them.

8. Include range

Don’t just include lots of images from the same photo shoot; include lots of different types and styles to show off your range and experience as a model. The more modelling jobs you do, the more choice you will have.

Aspiring models will have less choice and may have to work a bit harder to expand their portfolio.

9. Think about a website

Some models like to have a model portfolio website to showcase more of their images and modeling experience. Many top models have their own websites like Karlie Kloss and Miranda Kerr. A website is a good idea for helping to network and show off any other skills and attributes you may have that would help your modelling career.

Some people also choose to have an electronic version of their portfolio that they can send to people online or keep on a memory stick just in case.

Regardless of whether you choose to have a website, you still need a physical portfolio that you can take to auditions and casting calls.

10. Update it regularly

Every 6 months or so, you should go through your portfolio images and decide whether it needs updating. You should check your measurements regularly and update any key information, but you should also take out any photos that look outdated or do not reflect your current look and replace them with up-to-date photos.

You don’t need to remove photos if you have a new hair cut or colour, though it’s a good idea to include photos with your new ‘do. Models are constantly changing their hair from photoshoot to photoshoot and are expected to be able to pull off different looks. Featuring lots of different looks in your portfolio will help to show off your modelling potential.

10 Tips to Building a Professional Fashion Model Portfolio!


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