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Modelling Portfolio for Beginners: Must-Have Photos

Are you an aspiring model wondering how to start conquering the modelling world? Start building your portfolio! It is your first impression when applying at a modelling agency or for a job. Today we are going to talk about modelling portfolio must-have photos to get when you are just starting out.

behind the scenes of a jewellery editorial photoshoot of a female model with black wet hair

When I first embarked on my journey as a professional photographer specializing in model portfolio photography, I vividly remember the excitement and anticipation that filled the air during my early shoots with aspiring models. Each session was an opportunity not just to capture stunning photos but to also guide these budding talents towards crafting a portfolio that would speak volumes about their potential.

As someone who has witnessed first-hand the transformative power of a well-curated portfolio, I can attest to its significance in the competitive world of modelling. Your portfolio serves as a visual resume, a gateway for agencies and clients to gauge your versatility, professionalism, and marketability.

You DON’T need professional images in your portfolio to get signed with a modelling agency. But you DO need clean professional portfolio photos to begin booking modelling jobs.

There are two ways to apply for modelling agencies: in-person meetings/castings, and online submissions. If you are meeting modelling agents or scouts in person, you don’t necessarily need a portfolio to present. They possess a keen eye for spotting raw potential and can envision your suitability for various roles. However, in today’s digital age, having a polished online presence is paramount. When applying online, even a couple of well-crafted images can significantly enhance your chances of garnering attention. Your portfolio is your digital calling card, a reflection of your commitment and dedication to your craft.

You might also find helpful The Most Important Element of a Successful Modelling Portfolio.

Everyone starts somewhere. You can begin your modelling portfolio with only 2-3 photos (a headshot and a body shot are a MUST) and gradually expand it over time. Let’s delve into the essential images you should include in your portfolio initially.

Studio Model portfolio photoshoot, headshots for models, model portfolio photographer Birmingham
Model: Sophie

Must-Have Photos in your modelling portfolio:


The quintessential headshot serves as the cornerstone of your portfolio. It encapsulates the essence of your personality and versatility in a single frame. Opt for a clean, minimalist look that allows your natural beauty to shine through. Steer clear of distractions such as excessive makeup or flashy accessories. Your headshot should be a blank canvas, inviting casting agents to envision you in diverse roles and settings.

Mid-length shot

A mid-length shot, capturing your upper body and torso, is a versatile addition to your portfolio. This type of image allows for a closer focus on your facial expressions, body language, and styling, making it ideal for showcasing your versatility in various modelling genres. Whether you’re sporting casual attire, elegant eveningwear, or edgy street fashion, a well-executed mid-length shot can convey confidence and charisma. This segment of your portfolio is perfect for demonstrating your adaptability to different fashion styles and settings, from runway to editorial spreads.

Full-length body shot

A well-executed body shot offers a comprehensive glimpse into your physique and proportions. Choose attire that accentuates your figure without overwhelming it. Simple, form-fitting outfits are ideal for showcasing your body type with clarity and precision. Remember, you are not merely selling clothes; you are selling the potential to embody the vision of designers and brands.

Commercial shot

Commercial shots provide a platform to showcase your acting prowess and emotive range. Collaborate with your photographer to capture a spectrum of emotions, from joyous exuberance to poignant introspection. A compelling commercial image can broaden your opportunities in the realm of advertising and brand endorsements.

beauty close up portrait of a female model laughing on white background

Fitness shot

For those inclined towards the fitness industry or seeking to showcase their physical prowess, a fitness shot is indispensable. This image should capture your strength, agility, and dedication to a healthy lifestyle. Opt for attire that accentuates your physique while allowing for freedom of movement. Whether it’s demonstrating a yoga pose, lifting weights, or going for a run, your fitness shot should exude energy and vitality. This segment of your portfolio is perfect for attracting opportunities in fitness modelling, athleisure campaigns, and wellness campaigns.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on How to Make a Modelling Portfolio.

These five foundational shots form the bedrock of a beginner’s modelling portfolio. However, portfolio development is an ongoing journey. Continuously update and diversify your portfolio with fresh content that reflects your growth and versatility as a model.

Consider enlisting the expertise of a professional hair and makeup artist for your portfolio photoshoot. While not mandatory, their skillful touch can elevate your images to new heights and imbue them with a professional polish that resonates with industry professionals.

In conclusion, your modelling portfolio is more than just a collection of images; it is a visual narrative that speaks volumes about your potential and aspirations as a model. Approach each photoshoot with intentionality and authenticity, allowing your unique personality to shine through with every frame. Remember, the journey to success may be challenging, but with dedication and perseverance, you can carve out a niche for yourself in the dynamic world of modelling.

If you want to learn more about modelling, make sure to check out FOR MODELS section of my blog with so much more content about the topic.

Editorial beauty portrait of a black female model. Model portfolio photography, birmingham photographer
Model: Symone
MUA: Precious Richards

I hope you found this comprehensive guide insightful and inspiring as you embark on your modelling journey. If you’re seeking a professional photographer in Birmingham, U.K., feel free to reach out to me to discuss your upcoming photoshoot. Together, let’s create a standout model portfolio that sets you on the path to success.


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