Modeling: Putting together your Portfolio
A few months ago, I was putting together my model portfolio and decided to make a fun Instagram Story about it. What originally started off as a casual snippet of my day turned into a full- blown investigation. Model’s began direct messaging me; “How do I organize my portfolio?”, “What photos do I include?”, “What do I leave out?”, “What about tear sheets?” The questions were many and my answers were few. My only guiding principal at the time was, “Well, if it looks good… I’m putting it in.” Somehow, I knew this was not enough and I wouldn’t dare mislead other models with this sloppy advice.
So, instead, I decided to reach out to my agent Joy Kam. Joy put me in touch with Sharon Cavin, who is the International Manager for Kathy Muller Agency and I was granted a full-hour interview! In addition to managing talent oversees, Sharon is a photographer and has over 30 years of industry experience. With an eye for photography and insight into what clients are looking for — I knew I had struck gold!
So, let’s start with the basics:
1. 1st page – headshot
nice clean image of your face
headshot can match comp card to create recognition for the model
1st Page - headshot - ✓
(not exactly “nice clean image” … working on it!)
Example: My Composition Card
(matches headshot in 1st page of portfolio)
2. Dress the model down vs. Dress the model up
Dress the model down — portfolio begins with more layered looks
(coat → suit → sportswear → casual wear → swimsuit → lingerie)
Dress the model up — portfolio begins with more revealing looks
(lingerie → swimsuit → casual wear → sportswear → suit → coat)
Can’t decide? Start your strongest asset —
Do you have a great bod? Start with lingerie or swimsuit!
3. Place your best photos first
Catch their attention immediately
Clients may be tired by the time they get to the end of your portfolio
4. Quality over quantity
Only show your BEST — better to have 5 great shots then 10 mediocre
Ask: How interesting is this for the client?
Each photo should say something about YOU
Having a tough time choosing?
Anything “pretty” is going to sell
Photo by: Trevor Sakanashi
If it’s not good, don’t put it in
Limit to 2-3 photos per editorial story
Place photos from same shoot together
"Traditionally, a tearsheet is an actual page torn from a magazine or other print publication that goes into a modeling portfolio. Today, thanks to a little something called the Internet, a tearsheet can also be a digital ad or editorial. Basically, tearsheets prove you've actually been published."
6. Show versatility
Different facial expressions and poses
Kick ass whether you’re doing bikini, wedding or high-fashion editorial
Don’t be afraid to have fun - try out different poses and expressions during your shoot! Kick ass!!
Now that you’ve got down the basics, try to tell a story with your portfolio – have a beginning, middle, and end. Make sure that your book flows. Don’t place a super dark, heavy makeup editorial with a bubblegum print, happy, smiley, life-is-good photo. Avoid shocking the eye. If you’re unsure, have someone else do it. Go into your agency and let someone in the industry (who knows what clients are looking for) put it together.
Lastly, I’d like to thank Sharon Cavin for providing the knowledge we need to organize our portfolios. If you are a model with Kathy Muller Agency you can schedule an appointment with Sharon to help you put your portfolio together and manage your photos online. Sharon is also a photographer and can help you get the shots you need for your portfolio or comp card. If you’re interested, you can check out her photography at S. Cavin Designs.