Top 5 Tips for creating a perfect portfolio

Curious about how to create the best and most effective portfolio?  If you re new to modeling, or maybe you have been modeling for a long time but need to update your model portfolio, there are some important factors to consider.  As you have probably seen most people take boring head shots in bad lighting and usually as a ‘selfie’ in front of a bathroom mirror.  This is a terrible way to start your modeling portfolio and usually this is the number one error that most new models make.  Sure, selfies are popular on social media, but most likely they will not get you a modeling gig or even a second look from a legitimate client or company.

In order to get the most from your portfolio we have list 5 of the most effective ways to get noticed and present an up to date image portfolio.

The Setup Lighting:

You need the right environment to get the most out of your images. As most models know, lighting can make all the difference in the world.  This is probably the most important aspect of creating the right environment for your portfolio.  Too much light and too little light can make or break an image.  If possible have your images taken in a professional studio with proper lighting.  Avoid (at all costs) fluorescent lights as they tend to saturate images and even make your completion appear ‘blotchy’.  Also avoid direct lighting.  This means that you should not have a bright light shined directly on you.  Diffused light is your best bet.  For example have you ever poses for a picture at the beach while facing the sun?  If you have you’ll notice that you are mostly certainly squinting your eyes and the direct light will add hard shadows to your facial features.  The best option is to have a well lit area in which there is light all around you, not behind you or directly in front of you, but diffused in order to illuminate the entire area.  This is why you will see umbrellas on professional lighting equipment as they help to scatter the lighting effect.  If possible use continual lighting – not flash.


Now this concept comes naturally for most females, but it is amazing how so many people either overdue their make-up or doe not apply it correctly.  For portrait images the best way to go is simple priming.  Priming helps even out your skin so that your foundation looks smooth and natural. Plus, it helps the camera create a glowing look rather than one that highlights the bumps beneath your foundation.  It is also important to consider mattes.  Mattes are flat colors. They don’t have any sparkle or shimmer. When you’re going to be photographed, you want to avoid anything that is going to reflect light on your face. If you are using a camera flash the added shimmer will leave you looking like an oil spill and not your beautiful self.  *BTW as explained in the first tip we recommend not using a flash.

For best results apply your make up in natural light or (is possible) in the actual studio lighting. Indoor lighting can alter the appearance of your make up and it will look different once you change into the new lighting for your photos. Some lights may even wash you out causing you to apply make up too heavily. We’ve all seen pictures of ourselves where we thought our make up was good before we left the house, but in pictures we are left to wonder what went wrong and how to look better in future pictures.

Yellow tinted powder is better than shimmery or translucent powders for pictures. The other powders will reflect the light, leaving you with a shine. They may also leave you looking washed out in pictures. I’m sure neither of these looks are what you have in mind when trying to figure out how to look good in photos.

To get the most out of your best feature, try to cover up dark circles under our eyes with a little concealer. For everyday use this is fine, but occasionally in pictures under eye concealer comes off a little harsh. Blend out the concealer extremely well. If your concealer isn’t well blended it may reveal fine lines and awkward coloring around the eye.

When it comes to eyeshadows, try to avoid pastel colors. Pastels have the potential to give you a washed out appearance in a well lit studio. However, deep, rich shadows will make your eyes pop! If you want to play it relatively save, go for a gold or chocolate brown; if you’re feeling especially daring, try out an emerald or even red!


We have all seen image portfolios that consist almost exclusively of headshots.  While a great portray is important, it is equally important to include a wide variety of image styles, poses, outfits, and full body shots.  Think of this from the perspective of a potential client.  The company you are seeking a job from may need a model with particular psychical features; such as a fitness model role for health related ads, or a plus size woman for ads promoting diet and exercise.  During your portfolio shoot make sure you include various outfits, from formal wear to swimwear.  Include a variety of posing styles and don’t be afraid to show of your personality – nothing is more boring than image after image of a blank staring portrait.

It is also important to update your portfolio on a regular basis.  Even if you are doing this on your own time and for free.  Keep your images current!  As we all know our appearance changes over time and it is important that your appearance in up to date in he images.  Posting images frequently can also help you to stay on top and gain further exposure.  An active model receives more views and has a better chance of landing a modeling gig.

Sex Appeal

Sex appeal is something that can be invoked in all of us and it can be displayed in a conservative way or trashy.  I’m sure everyone reading this knows the difference.  Now when I say ‘sex appeal’ I don’t actually mean ‘sexy’ as in Playboy or any other sexually suggestive imagery.  A better word for this may be charisma, however since this article is toward females, sex appeal seems to be the best term.  Many models are beautiful, all in their own way.  And showing off that beauty in a modest way when it comes to images in swimwear, lingerie, etc. can help boost your portfolio (depending on the type of work you are seeking).  However be careful not to go overboard.  Be conservative in your facial expressions and posing styles.  For example you may be cast for an acting role that requires an educated woman in a professional career, however there are occasional scenes that require swimwear or even lingerie.  You want to show that you can present both roles with confidence and style.

Alternate Media

Include video in your portfolio.  This concept is still fairly new in the world of modeling when it comes to ‘portfolios’.  However due to the rise in online media video is now where it’s at.  I can’t tell you how many models I have seen that look great in pictures, but freeze once a video camera is pointed at them.  You need to show that you can handle both with confidence.  If you are seeking an acting role then take videos of yourself playing certain roles.  Even if you are only interested in becoming a model be sure to add video to your portfolio.  This can even be simple video of you going through various poses.  Adding a little flare of personality can also be extremely beneficial.  Did you know that Youtube viral videos are one of the hottest items in marketing today?  Modern modeling, especially online modeling takes more than just images and you should always add video to your portfolio.


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