Hi and welcome to the Model Portfolio Book page.
I get asked a great deal about model portfolios and how to assemble them. Your “Book” is your calling card. An agent will look through it and choose you based on the looks you have. You need to show your diversity as a model and take the time and spend a few dollars on a nice presentation book as it sells you as you would sell yourself.
There are a few things you should know about building a book. Styles of books change, but the classic black leather bound book will never go out of style. Black leather, 9 x 12 or 8.5×11, emboss your name on the cover, 10 pages for 20 sides:
Or, if you are on a budget or need a few portfolio books for different needs, get a 9×12 or 8.5×11 Scuba book from Portfolio Mart:
The Scuba book has 20 pages installed for 40 views, which gives you plenty of room for all of your best images, tear sheets, and comp cards. Cheaper than a leather bound book, it looks the same and will do the job perfectly.
Portfolio Building Tips
- In New York and Los Angeles, 9×12 and 11×14 books are popular and often required.
- At the very least, purchase a book that holds 8.5×11 pages – if you are hoping to do print work, your tearsheets are likely to be 8.5×11, so you want them to fit.
- Your modeling portfolio should only consist of “Great” and “WOW” photos. Throw out the “Bad” and set aside the “Good” for your personal keeping.
- Your book markets your ability to portray different characters, age ranges, and personalities.
- Put your strongest headshot photo at the front to grab the agent, casting director, or client’s attention.
- Place your “WOW” photos on the right pages of your portfolio and “Great” photos on the left.
- If you have images where you’re facing to one side, make sure you are facing inwards toward the spine.
- Keep horizontal photos together, or print one image 12 x 18 and cut it into two parts so it fits right side up spread across both sides of the book.
- Don’t have many photos yet? Place them all on the right sides of your book and keep the left side blank so it seems like there are more to look through.
- Don’t be afraid to include a few great black and white photos in your portfolio.
- Less is better! You will not impress with quantity – make a lasting impression with quality.
- As a new model, 6 – 12 photos is enough to present yourself to a new agency.
- Add a photo on the very last page of your book with your comp cards to give the agent/client something to look at while they grab your card.
Images to Include in Your Book
- Beauty headshot.
- Smiling shot.
- Natural light shot.
- Editorial shots.
- Swimsuit shot at the beach or a pool or a commercial shot in the studio
- Full length fashion shot in front of seamless paper.
- A mixture of color and black and white
- Tear sheets from print publications (not webzines). If no one has heard of it, don’t use it. But if you are in a webzine, like Dark Beauty, order a few print copies for yourself and your book.
- Very light makeup shot or no makeup shot wearing jeans and a tank top.
- Sexy but tasteful lingerie (think La Perla as an example of a classic BW, Agent Provocateur for color).
- Polaroids (full-length and frontal and side with hair up head shots).
Preparing for your casting or Go See
Once you have your photos and comp cards printed and your book assembled, now it’s time to start looking for agents and bookings. But how do you prepare, what do you need to do, what do you wear?
Make your preparations well in advance so you are not scrambling around looking for styling products, clothing, shoes, or nail polish the night or morning before. Take everything out a few days in advance to make sure it is in good condition and still fits. This way if you need to replace something you have time to shop.
Hair, Makeup, Nails
Styling for a casting or Go See should be simple and natural. Don’t overdo it here: light foundation and makeup, light around the eyes, gloss on the lips, hair should be kept natural as well. If hair is long, pull it back into a ponytail so the casting agents can see your facial profile and ears, plus you can release it to full length if required. If short, keep it styled nicely and simply.
Finger and toenails: Keep these clean and manicured. Don’t arrive with nail clippers and an emery board and do them on site, have it done already. No crazy neon colors: use a nude or skin tone color on nails to make them disappear and not draw attention away from your face and body.
Again, keep it simple and clean: White, gray, or black tank top or shirt, nude or skin tone bra so it blends in, skinny jeans. If it is blazing hot in August, wear a nice pair of shorts or a skirt.
Heels!! Get a good comfortable pair of heels in black or a neutral color, no crazy purple stilletos. 3-4″ pumps are good, nothing strappy, no Uggs or sneakers. Get used to wearing and walking in them as you’ll spend a lot of time in heels. You don’t have to wear them while traveling, just stick them in your purse or travel bag so you can slip off your travel shoes (flip-flops, sneakers, flats) and then slip the heels on quickly before you enter the building: another reason for nothing with a lot of straps. Practice your runway walk and get as comfortable in your heels as you are in sneakers.
Jewelry and accessories. it is preferable to go clean, no rings, necklaces, or earrings. However, if you feel naked without jewelry, wear something simple and elegant. Simple ring, studs in ears, small pendant around your neck. It is important for the casting director or agent to see you without bulky, clunky, or statement jewelry pieces. They want to imagine what they can do with you, not follow your style choices.
Two piece bathing suit. Keep a simple two piece black, gray, or white bathing suit with you at all times. You may be required to put it on at the casting and you may have new Polaroids or Digitals taken then so the agent has them on file in their own camera.
Polaroids or Digitals
Even if you have Polaroids or Digitals in your portfolio, always be prepared to have new ones taken at a casting or Go-See. Casting agents sometimes want these images on hand for your application or casting. Always pack a two piece black, gray, or white bathing suit in your travel bag. Actually, pick up a cheap one and keep it on hand at all times just in case right alongside your heels.
Keep your shoulders back, stand tall, speak well, and be proud you are there. Present yourself and walk with confidence. Show your strengths in your book and in yourself as an individual. Be honest, have fun, and enjoy, you have gotten this far, don’t let anyone hold you back.