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Peter Meyer "The Secret to Portfolio Success"

The secret to portfolio success: How to ensure you get the perfect shots

As a model, one of the first things potential employers will see is your headshots, which are essential for any modelling portfolio. They are the first images to sell yourself to an agent, and an agent may also share them with their clients to book you.

Good quality headshots provide a clear and concise look at your face and unique features and are a chance to truly showcase your modelling capabilities and stand out in a crowded market.

Polaroids are another essential. They cover your headshot, ¾ length, full body and profile shots and give agents not just a great look at your face but also at your frame and body type.

A good portfolio should cover a wide variety of images, including your headshots, polaroids and a mix of you “modelling”, whether this be the popular commercial shots, or some editorial or lifestyle photos.

Your portfolio is your marketing piece to sell you and make you earn. If you’re a model looking to boost your portfolio, here are some secrets to taking the best possible shots.


Define your modelling type:

There are many different types of modelling, so the first step before putting together your portfolio is to decide which type of shoots you are going to be best for. For example, do you have a unique physical facial feature or hair type? Are you going to specialise in plus-size modelling or fashion editorial?

Capturing your niche will help a creative director connect you with looks they are specifically looking for, so work out what your specialisations are and focus on them in your professional headshots.


Find an experienced photographer:

Finding a photographer who is really good at modelling shots can be a challenge. While there are many talented photographers out there, not all of them have a true understanding of what makes a strong portfolio and how to get the right kind of imagery.  Investing in a quality photographer will have a massive impact on your chances of being noticed in the industry.

Do your research and look for photographers who are taking the kind of pictures you would see in the type of campaigns you aspire to be in. Make sure you like the photographs and, more importantly, how the people look in them.

Once you have found a suitable photographer, contact them and arrange to meet in person or at least via video call. This will give you a chance to decide whether you connect with them and if you are comfortable trusting them with your first and most important photo shoot.

A good photographer will understand that great photography goes beyond the quality of the camera and will focus on other vital aspects such as lighting, too.


Quality over quantity:

While versatility matters in modelling, it’s more important to start with quality over quantity when it comes to your headshots and portfolio.

When working with a photographer, check they are using commercial-grade equipment. Generally, the more professional your shots are, the more seriously you’ll be taken. This is particularly true since major commercial modelling campaigns are also shot using high-end camera gear and lighting.

The best quality headshots will showcase how a real modelling campaign would be shot, which will work in your favour as the more you look the part, the more likely you’ll get the job.


Practice, practice, practice:

Practice really does make perfect, so take the time to rehearse different poses and expressions in front of a mirror before your photoshoot. This will help you find the most flattering angles and expressions.

Focus on your eyes and ensure they are alive and expressive in your headshot and, if your hands appear in the shot, keep them relaxed and natural.

Relax your shoulders and take a deep breath – this will help you look more at ease and confident in your photos. Also, spend time learning how the light reflects and captures your best assets. Regular practice will give you confidence which is key in this industry.


Keep it simple and don’t brand your images:

When investing in a professional photoshoot, you want to make sure you look your very best in every single photo. Headshots tend to be quite close and personal, so you should work on making sure your skin looks as good as possible.

Keep things simple – focus on your skincare routine rather than covering it up with lots of makeup. If you can, see a professional skincare expert such as a dermatologist. They can recommend certain products and services that can make your skin appear its best.

Make sure when you are shooting you are not using flashy brand logos. The emphasis in a good portfolio should be on you - not the brand.  Bold colours or big brands on your clothing takes the attention away from you, so only share those images in your portfolio if that particular brand has asked you to model for them.

Don’t wear the brand – be the brand and make others want you to be a part of their image and represent them.


Final words/

Headshots and your portfolio are the foundation of your career as a model and are crucial when applying to agencies, building your portfolio, and landing jobs.

By following the above advice and investing time and effort into creating the perfect shot, you'll be well on your way to a successful modelling career.


Peter Meyer is founder and managing director of Ph: The Meyer Studios


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