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  • Hector Heathwood

Thinking about models' portfolios.x

For aspiring, and established, professional models the vital importance of a strong portfolio cannot be over-stated.

Your 'book' is what will represent you to prospective clients and, so, should contain high-quality images that display you at your best and show off your 'range' and flexibility.

Having worked for many years with magazine editors, PR companies, advertising agencies and a host of other media professionals I thought it might be useful to share some of my findings with you.

I hope you'll find them useful, and maybe they'll entice you to think about what imagery you use a little differently.

First, and I feel most important, is to consider what the creators of brochures, posters, magazines, etc, are thinking. Almost certainly they are spending someone else's money, be it their client's or their employers, it's rarely their own.

That means they're unlikely to take risks, they don't want told off when something has to be re-done. It's extremely bad for their careers, or their company's reputation, if they get a name for inefficiency.

So they'll nearly always choose to play it safe, pick the models, photographers and layout professionals who have 'produced the goods' consistently in the past.

This is tricky, because you want to get into where the work, and a living wage, is, but there are people already established there.

There are some things you can do that will help open doors for you.

Concentrating on models' approaches for the sake of this article. When someone is choosing the right people for the media they're producing they'll be looking at portfolios, Z-cards, websites, etc.

They may have to view hundreds, but these are people whose business is to pick someone with the right look. They are generally very good at what they do, very experienced, and they don't like to waste their time!

Here comes the bad news; the moment they see a selfie, or holiday snap, or something mediocre done by a camera club member, they immediately consign that portfolio to the bin.

Yes, it's that tough!

So my advice is to look long and hard at the images you're selecting. Compare them to the photographs you see in magazines and brochures, how do they stand up?

Appalling fact number two; it doesn't matter how many of your social media friends 'like' them!!

So you'll have heard from your modelling schools, or your agents, that you really must invest in having your portfolio pictures made by professionals. That's true, very true, but I would further refine that advice. Look at examples of what each photographer has previously produced, ask to see their portfolio. Does their style appear to fit with your vision of your career? After all, you wouldn't represent yourself to a sports magazine with bridal pictures. Would you?

Of course it's always tempting to get something for nothing, or very cheap, and there's no shortage of offers out there. Many amateur image makers are also trying to build their 'book', and some of them can be quite good. They may make it, and they'll remember the models who helped them make a start.

Fine, but again I'd stress that you must really look at what they achieve for you. Will it be helpful to your career?

People who do this for a living will, in the end, produce high quality results consistently and repeatedly. And that's what makes the difference.

Finally on this point, there's how your clients will view what you've invested.

They'll see from your portfolio that you take your career seriously, you've spent time, money and effort on the production of a media artifact, which is what they do. They can rely on the fact you're not a time-waster, and that is so reassuring to them.

The very last point is this; many of the professional photographers out there are already working with the very people you want as clients. Just by being associated with them you have their recommendation by proxy. This is extremely valuable in the media business, and they may even be asked to give you a verbal reference, which is more valuable than I can comprehend!

So, my very best wishes for your career. It's a very rewarding one for those prepared to put the work in, and it's a whole lotta fun!

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