Modelling Advice

Modelling advice, hints and tips for your photo shoot

 ‘There’s lots of really useful stuff here’

Model Portfolio Photographer

“Be confident, step through your inhibitions and perform as a professional model”

If you want a personalised portfolio or portrait!

Please read the following advice.  These hints and tips have been acquired over many years of experience from working with photographic models who were good at their art.  By learning from them and putting this into practice, your portrait or model portfolio will be so much better.

Your first photography portfolio

The best way to start and build a photographic portfolio is to find at least two photographers who’s work you like, negotiate photo shoots with them.  Be prepared to pay for what you want as this is a basic investment in yourself and your modelling career.

I do not recommend any of the large national chains that provide a photographic portfolio service.  While these produce some good images – they are the same type of image as the previous customer, not individual and usually very expensive – often over £1000.

By working with several photographers you will get an individual and unique portfolio and probable save money too!.

Photographers, Studio’s and your SECURITY!

Beware of photographers who do not give you a land line telephone number or do not allow a chaperon to come with you – ask yourself, what do they want to hide?

Photography studio’s come in all shapes and sizes and in your career it is likely that you will work in a variety of spaces used as a studio.  At one extreme there is Universal Studios, at the other extreme, where you are more likely to work, are more modest premises used by independent photographers.  Often this is adapted space in buildings that could have been shops, chapels or industrial units beforehand.  Some photographers have no studio at all and hire them or use alternative venues.  It doesn’t really matter about the studio – it is the image quality that matters and if that works out well, any model should be pleased.

IMPORTANTLY you should ask photographers and studio operators what insurance they have – if they don’t have insurance are they really what they say they are and will you be covered for an accident!


You want to be a model!

Your chances of becoming the next international super model may be limited, but there is still a lot of photographic modelling work available to models who are prepared to work hard, be flexible and give their clients interests top priority.  For example; be prepared to travel and work at short notice?  Be prepared to give that little extra time to complete a photo shoot?  Whilst there is a lot of work available for models you must be aware that only the best will get consistent work and that presentation is extremely important.  Having a good photographic portfolio is the key to opening doors and securing work.

Your personality, confidence and attitude! 

Personality, confidence and attitude are all very important and photographic modelling is no place for a shy person.  Your personality should show in your pictures and you need lots of confidence, especially if your chosen modelling involves a minimum of clothing.  Remember the less clothing you wear, more of the model is promoted.  You need the right attitude to be at your assignments, on time, every time, regardless of the inconvenience.  If you cannot pose easily in front of the camera and be confident that you can consistently meet engagements please think again if modelling is for you!

WARNING: Do not think that the modelling world exists to suit the model – the model is there to work for others!

Be unreliable or mess photographers and clients about and you can forget your career!

Your height!

You do not have to be tall to become a photographic model, but your height may be an issue for other types of modelling such as the catwalk or runway at a fashion show. From a photographers perspective, a proportional figure, whether it is a petite size 6/8 or a fuller size 12/14 are ideal.  Put any of these with a confident personality, someone who takes time with her appearance and has practised posing in front of a mirror you have the basics for a good photographic model.

Preparation and clothing.

Skin tone matters a lot.  Whether you want a tan or not, make sure your skin tone is even – white bits on a golden sun tan can be a nightmare for a photographer to deal with and may even lose you a photo shoot!  Consider a spray tan before your photo shoot if you have issues with skin tone.

Make up – learn how to apply it under instruction and get advice from a professional make up artist (MUA) if you can.  You will have to ‘do it yourself’ at some stage so make sure you collect a good range of make up products and have them with you, even if the shoot includes a MUA.  Take a look at where there are several helpful tutorials about make up available.

Model Portfolio Photographer Midlands and WalesIt is also a good idea to have some images without make up.  Photographers and agents may ask to see these as part of a casting process.

If possible, set aside clothing and shoes that you only intend using for modelling.

Labels – carefully remove labels from any clothing, lingerie, swimwear and shoes that you intend using.  Many good pictures have been ruined by a label in the frame.  Clothing and styling can date pictures and your photographic portfolio. Think carefully about the clothing you take to photo sessions.  You can also try modelling with pieces of material including sheer or semi transparent fabric – something that can produce very good images at minimal cost and will not date your portfolio.


This is an area where confidence really is a great asset. “Be confident, step through of your inhibitions and perform as professional model”

Remember that the photographers job is to take the pictures you present and that they cannot do the posing as well.  However, a good photographer will give you direction during the photo session and encouragement when things are going well.

Practice posing in front of a mirror to find out what looks good, how you look good and what facial expressions work for you.  Use ‘tear sheets’ or magazine illustrations as a basis for posing.

When you think you have it right, start posing in front of a friend – you cannot afford to be shy in front of a camera if modelling is your career, so posing in front of friends should be easy!

Retouching and airbrushing

Retouching and/or airbrushing are now very common in the process of photography to enhance digital images but always have available some images that have not been retouched.

Find out if retouching is included with your portfolio or will you have to pay extra for this service.

What do you really want to do?

Decide exactly what modelling you intend doing before considering it as a career – this may be fashion, lingerie, clothed glamour, topless or nude.

Remember, your photographs will exist long after your career has ended – are you prepared for people to see those pictures in years to come?

Do not make the mistake of doing more than you intend – ‘Bare what you dare’ and nothing more.  Be comfortable with what you do!  Caring photographers will accept your stated levels and respect them.

Note also that ‘less clothing’ means ‘more model’ and depending on your chosen career, ‘stripping off’ may, or may not, be appropriate!

Do make sure that your portfolio photographer knows what your modelling ambitions are so that appropriate photographs can be included in your portfolio.

Collect ‘tear sheets’ (pictures torn from magazines) to give your photographer before the shoot, to give a good idea of what modelling you want to do and included in your portfolio.  Whatever modelling you intend doing, a face/portrait/head shot and full figure shot are the basic key requirements.

Expanding your portfolio!

Do not rely on one photographer for your ongoing portfolio.  Portfolio’s are built up over time to include the work of as many photographers and styles as possible.  If you like the work of a particular photographer it is a good investment to pay for a photo shoot.  This way you are in charge and should get exactly what you want and not what the photographer decides you can have.

Be prepared in your modelling career to work on a ‘time for prints’ or ‘time for cd’ basis as photographers often use models prepared to work without fees so they can experiment with new ideas and equipment.  Both photographer and model can gain from this arrangement but it can take a long time to get your portfolio if you rely on TF and nothing more.

Advertising yourself!  

Marketing – consider having your own models website to advertise your availability and illustrate your skills to photographers and agents in addition to registering with agencies.  You can also ask photographers to feature you and your email address on their website.  f8 Photo Shots include internet ready images on your CD/DVD which you can email selected pictures directly to photographers for their database.

WARNING Beware of Model Agencies that charge you to join. This is a clear sign that they make money from you rather than the work they find you.

Copyright of your images.

Midlands glamour photoghrapherThe photographer will own the photographic copyright of the photographs and digital images taken of you, unless you agree otherwise before the photo shoot.  This is a well established fact in law.

It is likely that the photographer will also want use the pictures to promote their business. The benefit of this is that the model gets free publicity from their publication and this could place you in magazines, newspapers, books, TV, websites, advertising and other media outlets.

It is also normal for a model to sign a ‘Model Release Form’ agreeing to her pictures being published.  Model Release Forms are occasionally required by publishers to prove that the photographer owns the copyright and the model has agreed to the publication of their image.


And finally!

Models often make the mistake of packing their portfolio with too many duplicate pictures and similar images from the same photography session.  You are only as good as your worst image so large numbers are more likely to let you down than a small number of quality images. A modelling portfolio takes time to assemble and should show a full range of looks, dress and styles that the model can achieve.  And remember the work of several photographers in you portfolio is the best recommendation you can have.