So, what is portfolio in modeling ? Modeling portfolio or model book is your own presentation, and it has to show the variety of work you can do and your professionalism. Usually, it consists of test shoots, campaigns, editorials, and advertorials. It also can be tear sheets from magazines, and rarely catalogs, loop books, and runway shows. 

How to build modeling portfolio : Roadmap

Before we start doing anything in order to build our portfolio, it is good to have some sort of road map. So let us make some blocks that we will follow.

Test photoshoot and first images

If you are an aspiring model, you can only have a few pictures in your portfolio, which is absolutely okay. We can suggest you have this pattern: One headshot; One three-quarter; One full-length shot. And that would be enough to start with. Usually, the first reporter in your portfolio is a headshot, it has to be a clear image of your face, so people can see you without too much makeup or styling or anything like that. The more natural it is, the better. 

Make a team

To be able to have any photos, you need someone to shoot you. And by that, we mean finding a photographer, stylists, and everything on the team you will be working with. Usually, on the first test shoot, you will be learning how to pose, how to communicate, and how to work with the photographer and the rest of the team. 

Shoot in different locations

The next tip on putting together a good portfolio if you are organizing everything by yourself is to try and put yourself in different situations, shooting in various locations: outdoors, indoors, studio, shooting with different lighting, and styling. 

Act like a pro

The other good tip, or let us say even a trick, is to act like a pro. Even if you have no experience at all, try to mimic. That way you will not just get better-looking photos, but it also gets you a lot of fun during the photoshoot. Confidence is a key here, even if you don’t know what you are doing that much, it will help you to look better but of course with the help of your photographer.

Simplicity is a key

Another thing we want to talk about is the simplicity of styling. Shooting your 1st test, you do not have to show or sell the clothes or accessories and the makeup. First of all clients need to see you and your abilities, your best sides of personality and features. That way, you need to have some natural-looking shots in your portfolio. 

Most common mistakes the models do

There are a number of things that beginner models usually do. We do a quick recap on the 3 most common of them.

GWC mistake

Keep in mind that you do not want to be photographed with a guy with a camera. In the modeling industry, this is called a "GWC". This is your friend who has a camera or someone who has a camera but doesn't quite understand what they are doing in terms of photography. You want to shoot with professional photographers who are fashion photographers, commercial photographers and things like that. Photographers are also looking to build their portfolio, so you guys can find a fair compromise.

Do not be cheap

It is also not a bad idea to pay for a good photographer, because they know how to light you to bring out your best features. They also know how to light you in a way that is going to look really high- fashion and edgy. And that would definitely increase your chances of bookings or getting an agent if you do not have one yet and things like that. 

Do not acquire every single photo in your portfolio

Let us imagine a situation, for example, you had a really nice test shoot, and you have got a bunch of photos, let us say 10, and then you put all of those photos in your portfolio. That is a mistake because you were shooting with the same photographer, probably using the same lighting and overall atmosphere. It leads to a couple or maybe three different looks during that one photoshoot at best, and the photos look similar to each other. The portfolio requires variety, as we have said in the beginning. You have to show how versatile you are.

And also, you need only the strongest photos for your portfolio, so the representation should be appropriate, you want your book to look as professional as possible. 

How to find a good photographer

There are many ways to find photographers. It could be social media, websites, or apps. Let us break it down and do a recap.


One of the best ways is something that we all have on our phones and use it every day. It is Instagram. Instagram is a wonderful place for models and photographers to meet and connect. Just search on your Instagram for photographers in your area if you live in let us say New York or if you live in another country, search for photographers that can definitely help you. Send a DM, hit them up, and see if they would like to collaborate. 

Model Mayhem

Another way to find a photographer is Model Mayhem. Sign up for the site, it might help you and be the core feature of your future business


Another way to find a photographer is through the app called FStop. It is available in the App Store and Google play as well. It is a nice feature for models and photographers, allowing them to meet on one platform.


You can also look up a photographer through the freelancer’s sites, here you may see a variety of pricing, and portfolios as well and choose the appropriate one for your needs. 

How to make portfolio for modeling: Photo styles

Some of these tips were already placed in the road map, but now let’s dive a bit deeper into it with more different types of photos you want to have in your portfolio book. An important tip for building your model portfolio is to know what types of pictures to shoot. Do not just shoot a bunch of random pictures and put something together. That being said, versatility is a key to building your book. You want to show that you can do high-fashion, you can do commercial print, you do catalog work, you can do Fitness. Whatever it is, you want to have a collection and a range of looks in your book.

Headshot, body shot and ¾ 

The first thing you need is a perfect headshot, a beauty shot if you will. So this is going to be the front of your commercial card. On the back of your card, you are going to have a full-body shot, which is another shot that you need. Besides these two shoots, you are going to need a ¾ shot, so this is just a little bit above your knee to your head.


Also, you want to think about doing commercial-style photos. Commercial-style photos are lit evenly, are very clean, and you are smiling a lot in these images. They have a very lifestyle kind of look. So, this is something that you need to show versatility as well. This could also be glamour photography with red lipstick for females and some edgy looks in total. If you are into women's photography, make sure your commercial photographer sets you to good female portrait poses , and female hand pose as well and takes the best angles of you. Good hairstyle photography is applied both good for men and women, this could be a good selling point to have in your book as well as for a commercial photoshoot.

High fashion looks

For high fashion, you have to be careful choosing a photographer, you want to make sure that they know what they are doing. Especially in terms of lighting, you want to ensure they hit your best angles and your best features would come out. High fashion photographers usually charge a bit more than the typical standard photographers, but it is definitely worth it to have these shots in your portfolio. 

Fitness modeling

The other type of look that you may want for your portfolio book is fitness modeling. That way you show off your body. If you have a really nice athletic look, then definitely do some fitness-style shoots and put that in your portfolio book as well.


After getting all these shots, you now get to choose the best pictures from each of the categories to put in your portfolio book. Advise with your agent if you already have one, or maybe with a friend who has a creative eye, which is still better than doing it on your own. Old-school models still have the physical books that they travel with, but nowadays, models keep portfolios on their iPads.