Aspiring models often ask how much they should pay for a model portfolio.
The short answer is that prices vary considerably, as does the quality of the photography. You can get a model portfolio for under £150 and you can pay well over a thousand Pounds. In photography, you get what you pay for but there is also a point at which you are overpaying.
In any case, you might not actually need a model portfolio, so let us consider first what you really need in a model portfolio and not what somebody wants to sell you:
Having a model portfolio does not make you a model. If you want to apply to one of the good model agencies, a couple of well lit, in focus shots are all you need.
Remember that models should never pay money to a model agency. Not for joining, not for a portfolio, not for anything. If you are expected to pay money to an agency, it may well be a scam. If an agency offers to sign you up before they have even met you in person, it is most likely also a scam.
Unless you are very young, stick thin and tall, don’t bother applying to agencies. You would only be wasting your time.
Your other route into modelling is to become a freelance model. A freelance model, sometimes also called an agency-independent model, is not signed up with an agency and will advertise her services to potential clients, usually photographers, directly through one of the better online modelling sites. My current recommendations for online modelling sites are Model Mayhem and Musecube.
If you want to become a freelance model, you will need some photographs. You can get away with snapshots at first but a selection of professionally produced shots will attract far more interest.
Your next step is to find the right photographer. Chances are that your local high street family and baby photographer will not be able to create a suitable range of photographs for your needs. Check out other models’ portfolios first, then look at photographers’ portfolios to see whether their style seems right. You do not want a photographic style that was out of fashion in the 1980s already and in case you have not noticed, the cut-out style before a glistening white background is so yesterday.
Do not be seduced by some photographer offering to provide you with hundreds of shots on a CD for virtually no money. Equally, you should not pay close to a thousand Pounds for a makeover shoot. If you want to become a freelance model, your most likely employers will be photographers and they want to see what you really look like not what you could look like. Makeup is okay, makeover is not. If you submit photographs to one of the big agencies, you must not wear any makeup. Do not go for the ultra ugly skin smoothing (sometimes called digital enhancement), which will only make you look like a shop window dummy.
In your portfolio, you want quality not quantity. Between four and twelve images with a variety of clothing is about right.
To find out what I offer at the latest prices, please visit my website.