Making memories to last a lifetime and beyond
photographer birmingham

The Model Portfolio: Essential Photos

In order to start modelling you need to create a professional model portfolio to showcase your potential to clients and modelling agencies, and ultimately book jobs. A model portfolio is a photo book of high-quality images taken by a professional photographer, showcasing your talents as a professional model.

If you are looking to book work as a model or break into a specific type of modelling it is useful to know what is expected from each type of modelling, and what you will need in your printed portfolio. However, there are many different genres of modelling and it can be confusing to know the difference. For example, an editorial model will require a very different portfolio of work from a hand model. So it’s important to know the differences and build your model portfolio according to the type of work you want to book.

This article will explain the different types of modelling, what is expected, and what type of photographs you should include to present to modelling agencies. Everything from runway modelling to for models, the below article will explain it all.

Types of Modelling

Below we will delve into the different types of modelling, the type of photos, and how many photos you will need in your model portfolio to break into the modelling industry:

Runway Models

A runway model is a term used for models who showcase clothing and accessories on the catwalk, or runway during fashion weeks. A successful runway model will be very busy during fashion week periods which run 2-3 times a year.

Runway models tend to have a very specific physical build and are known for being tall, at 5’9 or taller, and slim. Runway models are also required to fit into a sample-size garment which is usually a UK size 6-8. However, over recent years there has been more diversity in terms of a model’s height and body type on runways.

Photos needed: Runway models are seen as a blank canvas, able to model any type of clothing or accessory.

●     A clean headshot of you unsmiling looking into the lens, wearing neutral clothing, with natural hair and little-to-no, make up.

●     Full-length shots of you wearing a basic outfit in neutral colors. This could be a white t-shirt and jeans or leggings.

●     A swimsuit photo. This is usually required for over 18s and will show your body proportions and general size.

birmingham photogapher

Editorial Models

Editorial models are models that are booked for magazine shoots and could be modelling anything from fashion, beauty, or advertisements. Editorial modelling is very lucrative however it can also be very difficult to break into due to its very selective nature.

Editorial modelling will involve you working on photo shoots in a studio or on location with high-end designers or fashion stylists. As editorial modelling is so specific, models tend to be very similar, with a tall slim build the same as runway models. However, if you have unique features, such as freckles, or beautiful natural hair this can give you an advantage in editorial modelling.

Photos needed: Editorial models need to show their potential to create a vision.

●     All the photos mentioned for runway modelling.

●     Editorial photos of you posing in a full outfit on set or location. If you are starting out these are not always needed but can help. These photos can be creative and should show some of your personality and ability to sell and display clothing.

Commercial Models

Commercial modelling is modelling to sell a product. This can include everything from clothing to toothpaste so it is important as a commercial model to show your range in your professional modelling portfolio.

Unlike runway and editorial modelling, commercial models range in height and body type and are more likely to be booked for their personalities. Commercial modelling is like a form of acting and you will notice this type of modelling in advertisements, catalogues, and online fashion sites.

Photos needed: Commercial models need to show their potential to sell a product.

●     A full-body photo. As discussed in the runway model portfolio.

●     A smiling headshot. This should be a photo of you from the shoulders up smiling or laughing. You can look into the camera or look just off to make it look natural.

●     Emotional photos. These should be a range of full-body and close-ups of you acting in your photos. Look at popular adverts and copy their body language.

model portfolio website

Fitness Models

Fitness models are models who enjoy exercising and are physically fit. Fitness models are booked to model fitness clothing and sports gear or fitness activities and classes.

If you have an athletic build or a muscular body type you can be a successful fitness model. However, as fitness models are often hired to demonstrate fitness classes or equipment you will need to maintain a good level of fitness to consistently be hired in this category of modelling.

Photos needed: Fitness models need to showcase their fitness in their photos.

●     The same portfolio photos as a runway model – clean headshot, full body, swimsuit.

●     Professional fitness photos. These photos show off your fitness and your athletic body. This could be photos of you working out or wearing sportswear.

Birmingham model photographer

Lingerie and swimsuit models

Lingerie and swimsuit models often fall into a similar category to editorial models. As well as swimwear and lingerie, these models will also showcase form-fitting clothes such as sleepwear, and appear in advertisements for swimming pools, gyms, and spas.

Lingerie and swimsuit models will have a slim build and will be physically fit. These models however may have a curvier body shape than runway or editorial models and do not have to meet a minimum height.

Photos needed: Lingerie and swimsuit models will need the basic photos in their portfolio and specific swimsuit/lingerie shots.

●     The same portfolio photos as a runway model – clean headshot, full body, swimsuit.

●     Swimsuit/Lingerie photos. Specific photos of you in swimwear or lingerie will show off your talents for this genre. These photos can be more creative than the basic runway modelling shots.

Parts Models

A parts model is used to model specific products or clothing and only show a certain part of the body. For example, a parts model may only specialise in foot modelling to showcase shoes, sandals, slippers, or socks. Parts modelling can also include holding products and is often used in adverts to demonstrate how to use a product.

Parts models will concentrate on a specific body part such as hands, legs, or eyes and this will be the focus of their work and professional modelling portfolio.

Photos needed: Parts models will need some basic photos in their portfolio and specific shots of the body part they specialise in.

●     Basic portfolio photos inc – clean headshot, full body shots.

●     Specific body part photos. These will be photos showing the body part you model in action.

holding hands

Final words

An aspiring model’s portfolio is ever-changing and should be updated regularly as you are hired for new work. However, it should not be bursting with hundreds of photos of you either. Instead, it should showcase you in the best shots, with a small selection of photos that are appropriate to the genre of work you are applying for.

professional photographer will be able to help you create some stunning basic photographs to start your professional modeling portfolio off. Then once you are booking regular work you can update and add to your portfolio.

With time and dedication, you can create an excellent online modeling or offline , showing off your best work with a variety of photographers. This should lead you to book new jobs and excel within the modelling industry.