Your portfolio is only as strong as your weakest image.

This is true of all creatives, be it photographer, stylist, make-up artist, hairstylist, model…

This article is aimed specifically at models, as not all of them have the right guidance (or any guidance at all) in how to build a professional looking portfolio. I have seen many good, bad and downright scary portfolios. Let’s get it right!

The Basics.

Headshot: minimal make-up. Completely bare is preferable, but a clean beauty shot will suffice.

Headshot portfolio

Full body shot: Not just a straight ‘I’m stood nice and tall’ image. It needs to showcase what you can do with your length and height.

Length portfolio

Beauty: A high quality clean beauty shot. A nice close up image will show off your skin to it’s best advantage.

Commercial: It doesn’t have to be an advert or catalogue shoot, but should be a simply styled image that showcases your suitability for commercial work. Commercial work is the bread and butter for most models, as the big editorials or advertorials are hard to come by.

commercial portfolio

Editorial: A style or fashion based image that may or may not have been published, but is in an ‘editorial’ style is important if you are seeking magazine work.

Editorial portfolio

High-fashion: These are images that are the hardest to execute in a professional way. Most often they are the result of collaboration shoots with a like-minded creative team. These shoots take time to plan and are more experimental in nature, but the results can be stunning. If you dream of modelling couture, then you will need to have a few strong high-fashion images in your portfolio.

High Fashion portfolio


The more bookings you secure, the more you will grow in experience. Your portfolio needs to reflect that and should be updated accordingly. If you don’t have the rights to use your commercial photos in your portfolio (and often you won’t!) you’ll need to keep testing and collaborating so you can update your portfolio with your best work.

Before you collaborate with photographers or pay for portfolio shoots, make sure that you do your research into the photographers work and editing style. You should agree on the level and style of editing before the collaboration shoot takes place.

It is essential to get a contract or agreement in place about what the images can be used for, and one that permits you, the model, to use the images for your own portfolio. The copyright for an image will always lie with the photographer, and not the subject i.e. the model. Without a contract, even for unpaid collaborations, you have no legal rights to use the images, and in the worst case scenario, a photographer may not give you any images, so your time and effort on the shoot will have been wasted.


Most models will be good at regularly updating their portfolios. What many fail to do is edit.

Your portfolio represents you but it is not supposed to be your whole body of work.

It is a representation or a sample of your versatility and ability to adapt to different shoot briefs. A few carefully selected images showing different styles and your versatility are sufficient.

If you’re a new model or refreshing your portfolio, I’d love to know if you’ve used these tips and whether you have gained work as a result.