Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Building A Model's Portfolio (From Behind the Lens)


A model's portfolio is an integral part of the fashion and commercial world. It's the thing that best represents your asset. The portfolio can be considered a model's resume or representative. Nevertheless its a highly underrated part of the Jamaican commercial and fashion scene.  The commercial an fashion scene to some degree focuses namely on the end production value and mostly neglect the selection process as it relates to talent section. It's almost like picking apples from a tree that has never been planted. 

Within my years as a commercial and fashion photographer I have noted that quite often talents get selected with little or no images shared and if pictures are shared then the images are of such poor quality that it's quite easy to assume they were pulled from Facebook or other social media pages. Images are frequently not professionally captured and are quite often dark, grainy, fuzzy, over exposed with the exception of a few cases. Remember folks this is a model's resume! would you send a badly printed resume that can hardly be read for a prospected job? 

My intention in this article is to help models to think about the importance of their image and to give some clarity to how one achieves the best images to represent themselves.  It is an investment of time, mind and money that will pay off in the long run.

These are some pointers I would like you to consider for achieving the best portfolio results for representing your image. 

 1. Get familiar with the work of the photographers you are considering to shoot with. Do not work with a photographer based on hear say alone. Always make it a priority to see the photographer's portfolio; preferably a website, blog, pdf, facebook fan page etc. View and compare their works to other photographers in the local and, more so, international scenes. This act will give you a good idea of how good the prospected photographers are. 

2. Research for the image you would like for you - If you are aware of what image you desire then it is much easier to find the photographer that can deliver it. Styling will be clearer and make-up will be spot on. Research changes everything, it even helps you to be more comfortable in front of the lens. 
Research is simple, just look at the trends and see what suits your style. Also you should visit model management sites, view their models and save images that appeal to your sensibility, the market and that adds dynamics to your look. 

3. Meet the photographer in person to discuss your shoot before the actual shoot date. Meeting place may vary, as it could be by the photographers studio, office or a coffee shop etc. Consider skype or Google Hangout if you can't meet in person before the shoot date.  Give a clear explanation of what images you desire from the shoot. When all is made clear, the shoot must be booked with email confirmations given on both ends. Payment does not have to be in the form of money as a photographer may request to use your images for his/her portfolio or he may like your look for a project he/she is working on and will offer to trade services.  

4. Secure a good makeup artist for your shoot. If you don't have enough money to secure a top makeup artist then work with the makeup artist assistant or trainee. Photographers sometimes have their own makeup artist or knows someone who may fit your budget or will want to trade images for their services. Or better yet, if you are no-budget model, spend some quality time on youtube for make-up channels. You'd be surprise what you can learn. 

5. If your sense of style is average or below then consider working with a stylist. The photographer should be able to recommend one or a few for your consideration. Here's another option - just find a friend who has style and is your fit that could help with that aspect. Whatever you do, please understand that if your outfits are not good then your shoot falls apart. Get the styling figured out.

6. Practice your poses -  I've never come across a model who doesn't do the 'Practice in the mirror'poses. That always works. Practice your poses, facial expressions and mood. Look at different magazines and model management websites and practice your pose.

7. Things to know before the shoot - 
(a) Shave your arms and legs if you're a female or a male with unattractive body hair. As a photographer that's one of the hardest things to edit and retouch and sometimes its just not possible to edit and it spoils the shot. Just shave or wax, it's easier for everyone!
(b) Make sure to get plenty of rest before the day of the shoot because sleep reduces dark circles and bags under the eyes and also helps you to remain focus and less agitated. 
(c) Have your nails manicured 

8. Buy a professional portfolio - Professional model portfolios are sold online for between $20-$35 dollars. They are also sold in major art supply stores here in Jamaica. Consider a 9x12 inch portfolio and 8x10 prints. Please print all photos on photo paper, avoid all glossy paper. You may use a photo lab or a photo printer but print on semi matte or matte surfaces or just plain laser paper! 

So models, I hope I was able to help. Now, have a great and fun-filled shoot and watch your portfolio come together!

The following images represent some model portfolios I have done: