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How to start building your portfolio

Starting your portfolio off right is a good first step to becoming a model. Searching for the right photographers to work with is key. You want to work with photographers who have a lot of experience working with new models and have good pictures. You do not want to work with photographers who have pictures that are blurry or are poorly edited or that are not even edited at all, this could be a waste of your time and possibly hurt your brand and portfolio. Look at the comments and reviews on these pages/photos, this could potentially help you avoid bad or awkward situations. Talking to clients of photographers that you want to work with can help you get a real feel for who the photographer is. Check out my article on “Precautions every model should take” to keep yourself safe.

A great way to find photographers is social media. They can be found on Facebook, Instagram or ModelMayhem, there are other sites but these are a good place to start. I also recommend creating a page just for your modeling, this way you can keep your personal and professional lives separate and you don’t have to worry about strangers on your Facebook/Instagram account or finding personal information you don’t want out in the world. This also helps organize and plan for photoshoots.

On Facebook there are lots of photography pages or you can search for modeling/photography groups in you area. As an Ohio model I know there are several pages ranging from Northern Ohio, Central Ohio and the Cincinnati area for all kinds of creatives such as models, photographers, assistants, hair and make up artists and more. There are also pages exclusively for models that allow you to ask questions, post tips and get advise from other models who have been in your shoes. A great way to get yourself out there is to post a couple pictures of your self (not selfies, but a clear picture of you without a lot of filters) stating you want to start model and asking if any photographers are willing to work with you. I also recommend talking to other models about their favorite photographers. Scheduling a session with a photography companies in your area is also a great way to get some good finished photos.

Instagram is also a great way to meet photographers. Searching hashtags can help find local creatives. Some examples would be #ohiophotography or #cincinnatimodels or #ohiogroupshoots, something along those lines to help you find photographers in your area. I recommend¬† following group pages that share different photographer’s work or that share different model’s photos this will also give you a variety of different styles. Actively looking, liking and commenting on these photos will help create a good suggestive for you which will direct you towards more models and photographers in your area. Using hashtags on the photos you post can help photographers find you, just remember to keep it professional.

ModelMayhem is a website a lot of creatives use to connect and advertise their work. Create a profile, write a little about yourself in the bio (since your new I would mainly write about your goals), I recommend adding your measurement as well. When picking your plan with them be sure to read the upgrades and decide based on what your looking for. The basic plan is generally enough to get you started if you don’t want to overwhelm yourself. Once you’ve been approved and have your profile set up this will help you show off your work and meet models and photographer as well as see their reviews and work. This also gives you a chance to receive some reviews.

Once you’ve found some photographers you like start talking to them and discuss setting up a shoot, this can be in a studio or outside. You’ll need to decide on a theme/concept, this generally tells the model what to wear and the posing style, it will also decide how the photographer is going to edit the photos. Remember the concepts and themes you put in your portfolio help you create your brand and define who you are as a model. You will also want to discuss the agreements of this arrangement including if this is a TFP (trade for portfolio) or if you have to pay them, this discussion should also include how many finished images you are going to get back and how/when you will receive them. If you looking for a good place to receive your photos I recommend GoogleDrive or Drop Box or email. Personally, I keep all my portfolio together in GoogleDrive this gives me the maximum storage and keeps the quality images.

About the author

I am from Monticello Kentucky but I currently reside in Cincinnati Ohio. I started modeling in November 2018 with the help of a few local photographers, one being Jeffrey Thomas. As my journey continues, like a sponge, I try to absorb everything! I work with photographers in the Ohio area, ranging from Cincinnati all the way to Columbus. I'm trying to travel more and reach more areas. My portfolio and look are always expanding especially on the creative side. I shoot anything high fashion and editorial, I do not shoot boudoir or implied, I have a specific style I keep. With that being said I love trying new things and new concepts in relation to my work. My goals are not very specific because there are so many opportunities in this industry I do not want to limit myself, however, I am trying to get signed with an agency here in Ohio and my goals are aimed towards runway and print.

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