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Headshot Mosaic – Chris – April 2013

As a part of the process of “warming up” and getting comfortable and relaxed in front of the camera, I sometimes get models to start pulling some silly faces.


(click image for detail)

Modelling Tips for a Great Headshot

IMG_9389_1200x800A Headshot is the single most important photo for any models portfolio.  The headshot is often the first thing a potential client will see and is what encourages them to take a closer look at your portfolio, so getting your headshot right is critical.

This post provides some quick tips on how you can get  the most out of a headshot photo session.

  1. What is it for? – Make sure you know how you want to use the headshot – and tell the photographer.  What “look” are you after ?  What message do you want to send?  What type of modelling  work are you looking for ?
  2. What to Wear? – Even though your head/face  is the focal point of this photo, make sure you know what you will be wearing beforehand.  Your shoulders at least will probably be visible… so the top you are wearing is important – maybe even wear a strapless top so the focus can really just be your face.   Sunglasses are probably not a good idea, but what about reading glasses, a hat, jewellery ??  All can have a significant impact on the “look” that is created.
  3. Makeup  & Hairstyle?   – Usually I would recommend minimal makeup for a headshot – or even no makeup at all, but if you are after a dramatic look, you may consider using a lot of makeup for the right look.  Again,  with hair I would normally suggest keeping it simple and natural (usually you would want a headshot to represent the “real” you), but under some circumstances it might be relevant to go, wild with your hair
  4. Eat Something – Don’t come hungry or you may end up feeling more uncomfortable. I usually suggest eating something (light) right before heading to the session
  5. Be involved – Once you arrive, try to take in as much of the studio or location as you can. Study the layout and the equipment and talk to the photographer / makeup artist / stylist
  6. Communicate – let the photographer know if there is anything about your body that you feel uncomfortable with. Talk through the shots you are after, ask for advice and offer suggestions if you can.
  7. Chill Out – Try to think about something else. Don’t stress about trying to look good for the camera. Be natural, be yourself – the best shots often come once the model/actor is feeling at ease. the sooner you can achieve this the better
  8. Smile – a good photographer will try to get the best smiles out of you for your headshots.
  9. Don’t smile – Don’t just do all of your photos smiling, try some different expressions.
  10. Have fun! –  Stay relaxed and don’t think too much about it. The key is to show the casting director who is looking at your headshot that taking headshots is not the only thing you do. You are a three dimensional person who is completely comfortable with yourself in any situation, and can give them what they need in a performance.

Other Things to Do

  • Try to get full body shots as well if the photographer will allow it. Get the most bang for your buck.
  • Think about other things besides the photographer behind the camera.
  • Try to make the photographer laugh. Your energy will feed off of one another.
  • Bringing a friend can be helpful or a hindrance… do you want them seeing you getting pictures taken? Will it help you be more relaxed or make you more tense?
  • Get the photographer to show you some of the pictures as you go along, but be sure not to let those pictures influence you too much into trying to look a certain way or do something specific, because it may result in the image looking “forced” or fake.

Things NOT To Do

  • Don’t be fake. Be yourself. 🙂
  • Don’t try to act for the camera. The main problem is that many people try to look good in front of the camera by standing a certain way or giving a certain look. You have to let all that go. Remember, in the hundreds of pictures that are taken, you don’t want to look the same with that one look you try to give the camera. Let yourself go  you’ll find many images that look great when you review them later.
  • Try not to talk to the photographer too much… let him do the talking or else your mouth will be hanging open in half of  your pictures.



How to Create a Modelling Portfolio

If you are looking for modelling or acting work, your modeling portfolio will be what sells you when you are looking for jobs. It can make or break your career, so doing it “right” is important.

Here are some quick tips on how to go about creating a modelling portfolio (without costing a fortune).

photographer1. Find a Photographer

Do a Google search or look in your phone directory for local photographers.  Check out their websites (if they don’t have an online portfolio you should wonder why) and find a couple that you like the “feel” of.   You could also contact local agencies to see if they are able to recommend any.   If you don’t have much (or any) to spend on a photographer you could look for Time for Print (TFP) photographers. (See What is Time for Print) .

Contact your selected photographer/s and ask about things like pricing, format of the film/digital photos and how long you usually have to wait between the shoot and getting the photos. Also, ask to see a sample of their work.

2. Get a Makeup-artist

Even if you think you are capable of doing this yourself – DON’T do it.  You will have enough to do during the shoot to worry about makeup.  The photographer may be able to organise this… or if budget is tight – maybe bring a friend who can do it, and keep you looking pristine during the shoot.  Just because you have a makeup artist doesn’t mean it should be over the top… less is usually more – unless you are specifically looking for a dramatic look.

3. Practice Poses

Look through fashion magazines and clothes catalouges to find find poses you like.  Cut them out and paste them into a book to bring along top the shoot for inspiration. Practice these poses in front of a mirror.

4.  decide on some “Looks”

Decide on a number of looks you want to do. Ideally, you should pick at least three and they should demonstrate a wide variety (so not all jeans and t-shirt shots!!). If you have a special skill or ability  (e.g. ballet , or rock climbing), you may even want to consider taking some photos to showcase this skill. Prior to the shoot you should also discuss poses, makeup, outfits, locations and the “looks” you want to achieve with the photographer.

5.  Keep yourself “beautiful”

Keep your hair, skin and nails in good condition in the run up to the shoot. If you need a hair cut, get one

6. Prepare your outfits

Once you have agreed on what what clothes to wear, make sure they are clean and put to one side for the shoot well in advance. Also consider what shoes/accessories will be needed, and check with the photographer that there is a suitable place to change.

7. day before shoot

  • Confirm with photographer/makeup artist on the date/time/place
  • Get a good nights sleep and stay away fro alcohol
  • Check that you outfit, accessories and makeup are all ready to go

8. The day of shoot

  • make sure you have the photographers/makeup artists phone number with you
  • Plan to arrive 10 minutes early
  • Once on location confirm again the “looks” you want and check out the locations with the photographer to discuss a shot plan
  • model portfolio bookEnjoy your photoshoot! Listen carefully to what the photographer wants. Don’t worry about being nervous – this is normal, and the photographer may be nervous too.

9. After the Shoot

  • Pay any fees
  • Thank the photographer and makeup artist
  • Discuss when you can expect to be able to check the shots, and how they will be sent to you

10. Once you have your photos

  • sort out the ones you like from the ones that aren’t so goodfamily and friends can help with this. Remember that less is more – if you only find 5 magical shots, use these and stop. That’s far better than using 25 which are just “ok”
  • Buy a folder to put your photos in. Many models opt for hardcover books with ready attached plastic folders, but you may also like to consider a printed photobook (which are pretty affordable these days) or even an online, web based portfolio
  • Sort out your portfolio in to the order which best presents you as you want to be presented as a model. Try different combinations until you feel satisfied you have found the right one.
  • Remember you should keep updating your portfolio as you gain more work and experience as a model.







What Types of Photos Should You Include in Your Modelling Portfolio?

model-portfolioAs a photographer, I am often asked by models and actors for advice on the types of “look” that they should be going for, when creating photos for their modelling/acting portfolios.

I usually turn the question back on them an ask them what type of modelling/acting work they are looking for.

What Are Your Goals ?

The purpose of a portfolio is to showcase your specific talents, but before putting together a modeling portfolio, it is important to know what type of modeling you can do, and perhaps more importantly, what types of modelling you want to do.

A portfolio should showcase the type of work you want to do, not so much the type of work you have done. 


In order to appeal to a wider range of clients, you should include a variety of different “looks” in your portfolio.  It may seem sensible to put in a little of everything to showcase your versatility but if you want to target agencies,casting directors,and commercial clients you should show only your strongest images in specific categories.

Ideally you portfolio should be focused to show that you can be very good at modeling in a few related genres – although, if you are looking for a variety of different styles of work, there is no reason you couldn’t create multiple portfolios targeted for specific genres.

Wow Factor

Because prospective clients are probably reviewing hundreds of portfolios, it necessary to get their attention.

Pay very close attention to the quality of the photos you choose to include in your portfolio. These photos need to impress agencies and clients alike and make you stand out from the rest. So always aim to project the best possible image of yourself.  Don’t include extra photos just because you can… every photo needs to be FANTASTIC – any weak images will weaken the entire portfolio.

 How Many Photos Should be Included ?

Less is more – It is better to have fewer photos that are GREAT, than having more photos that are of poorer quality.  A  beginner model (especially when you are presenting yourself to a new agency) should aim for a portfolio with 6 – 12 photos. As an established model, you’ll have more experience and are expected to have a wider diversity of looks, so your portfolio should have more –  anywhere between 10 and 25 photos.

model portfolio book

What Types of Photos to Include ?

Always be aware that your modelling portfolio is not only to show your good looks, but it should also demonstrate your ability to portray different characters, age ranges and personality. You should aim to include a selection of the following types of photos in your portfolio:

  • Headshots: good headshots without makeup, these are called Polaroids.  A great headshot can be the “Hero” of your portfolio, it can be what attracts attention … and makes a potential client want to take a closer look.
  • Body Shots: It can also be important to have good body shots, with figure hugging  clothes or even swimwear…. But do not feel pressured to include pictures where you are in a swimsuit or lingerie, unless that is the type of modeling you want to work in
  • Black and White: Classic B&W shots are a great way to showcase your look – without distractions.
  • Personality shots:  Try to include a variety of different personalities/looks/moods

What Types of Photos NOT to Include

Understanding what types of photos NOT to include can be every bit as important as deciding what photos to include.  Here are some examples of photos which you should probably avoid in your portfolio :

  • Same outfit in different poses.
  • Different outfit in the same location
  • All pictures done by one or two photographers.  Photograpehrs tend to have different looks and styles – you want diversity, so try to include shots from a few different photographers
  • Unretouched images showing flaws.  Don’t overdo retouching, but it is sensible to remove obvious flaws
  • Personal snapshots such as photos from a wedding or any photos which include non models.

In future posts we plan to offer more detailed information about the types of photos whioch could be included in different types of portfolios (e.g. High Fashion, Promo Model, Catalogue, Agency, Commercial, etc…)