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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…)