Your portfolio is your passport
A portfolio is a set of professionally taken pictures of a model in various outfits, looks, make-up and expressions.
Consider your portfolio (or "book") as your passport to the modeling world as without one you will not be taken seriously and it is going to be very difficult for you to go anywhere.
A good book gives potential employers something to look at so they can visualize you in their upcoming shoot and make an informed decision.
Your portfolio is your first step to enter into the fashion world and it needs to be handled very carefully. It should highlight your beauty, moods, expressions and emotions.
Your career can get off to a flying start, or suffer a slow death - all based on the way you visually present yourself starting day one.
The quality of the photos in your book is critically important. A great portfolio shot by an experienced photographer not only enhances your chance of getting a break in fashion industry it also gives you confidence.
A good photo shoot is a team effort. Be sure to discuss what you are trying to accomplish before and during a shoot. It is only when you communicate and cooperate that you will be able to create great images.
Keep jewelry to a minimum. Big jewelry or the same earrings and/or the same necklace in different shots and different outfits detracts from the impact of all of those images.
Stick with solid colors. A black dress is fine, otherwise avoid anything all white or all black or anything too busy (dots, floral prints, paisleys, stripes, etc.). Bring everything on hangers, not in bags, to avoid wrinkles.
Make sure clothes fit properly. Swimsuits, for example, should be snug, with no gaps showing when they move but they also shouldn't be too tight.
Vary your hair style. When trying to create a variety of looks short hair can be a challenge. For variety, try a wig. Keep your hair as close to its natural color as possible. AVOID chunky highlights as they can make you look older and do not photograph well.
Make-up should look fresh, young and natural and needs to vary in style and color to compliment different hairstyles or outfits. This makes each portfolio image look truly different. Heavy make-up, especially in the beginning stages, makes potential employers have to guess what you really look like (not good).
Every day make-up is very different than photographic make-up. DO NOT attempt to cut corners by trying to do your own make-up.
Shoes can also make a big difference. Bring along at least one pair of shoes with highest high heels you have or can borrow. Even though they will not show in most photos, high heeled shoes change the way you stand and give you a bit of extra height that all but the tallest models can use.
Hold in your stomach a bit to give a more toned appearance - even if you are in great shape.
Maintain good posture. Most people, models included, do not have good posture. Unless you're going for a casual look, keep your back straight and shoulders up.
Learn five basic poses ahead of time by looking at a magazine or a catalog. Practice in front of a mirror a few times and have them ready to do without having to think about it.
Generally, don't keep both arms entirely straight unless directed to do so for a specific pose. Bend one or both arms, even if only a little, to make the pose look less artificial. Likewise, don't keep both legs entirely straight.
Don't hold your breath. The concentration will show making you look awkward and stiff.
Don't always look straight at the camera. Instead, use a variety of head positions. Try turning your head, tilting your head to one side or the other, or look off to the side in some shots.
Don't use a big smile for every shot. Try a closed mouth smile, a pout, a laugh, a scowl, or even a frown, to give some variety to your facial expressions.
Listen to what (professional) photographers direct you to do and learn from them. They can see how things look through the camera. You can't.
Do not allow or encourage spectators to "shoulder hop" the photographer as this will create huge distractions that virtually guarantee poor results.
Do not shoot with amateur photographers as this will as this will not give you quality on-camera experience.
Shooting with amateurs will teach you bad habits that are very hard to break. Plus, you will never know where your pictures will turn up weeks months or years later.
Have a cell phone with you at all times and make sure it is turned ON especially while you are on route to the location.
Bring at least one bottle of water so you don't get dehydrated.
A good hair cut or trim a few days ahead of time is highly recommended. Come with hair in rollers or blow dried.
Wash hair the night before to avoid fly aways and be sure to get seven or eight hours of sleep.
Do not wear contact lenses (unless you can't see without them) and come with a clean face (NO makeup, light moisturizer ONLY.)
Stay out of the sun as much as possible. Avoid having tan lines and do not use self tanners.
Be on time and, of course, do not be late as you will be cutting into your own shooting time.
The day after the shoot your agency will probably call and ask the photographer, "How did the shoot go? " ("He/she was late," is not the first thing you want them to hear.)
ALL photos need retouching. There isn't a model on earth that does not have a blemish or a wrinkle or imperfection of some kind that needs retouching.
Make sure the photogapher has at least two or three years of experience in photoshop and ask to see work samples.
If his/her book contains images of models with blemishes, dark circles under the eyes, etc., you can be sure your images will look that way too - and you will not be able to use them.
Overly "photo shopped" images are also a negative as they do not allow potential employers to see what you really look like.
Do not waste time, do not waste money and do take chances with your personal safety or your career.
"TFP" situations are almost always a waste of time and potentially dangerous. Anyone can buy a camera, make some business cards and claim to be a "professional photographer."
Get in front of someone at a real agency, go on and on about how wonderful "TFP" photo sessions are - and watch how quickly (and often loudly) you are shown the door and asked to leave.
Never Forget: "You are your book" and the last thing you want to be doing on an interview is stuttering, stammering and making excuses for poor images in your portfolio.
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There are thousands of fake modeling and talent agencies and a relatively small handfull of real ones - especially in the state of Florida - so feel free to send an e mail with your name, stats and a small jpg photo or two and we will try to point you in the right direction.
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