In this industry, there will always be one thing walks in the door before you. One thing that represents you before you even have the opportunity to represent yourself—your portfolio. The importance of a quality portfolio of both headshots and test shots cannot be overstated. Whether for your UBOOKER profile, your personal website (essential), or the book you’ll carry to your next go-see, here are 8 essential tips you need to present yourself to potential clients.
1. Don’t ignore Instagram.
Yes, I know—we said this was about your portfolio, but the fact is most clients turn to Instagram to see what you looked like yesterday. And if you build up a following, that’s an automatic leg up in the eyes of a casting director or client. So when you get your new polaroids, add them to Instagram as well. Intersperse the posed shots with photos of your everyday life—it will keep your followers engaged in your brand and give clients a glimpse of your sparkling personality.
2. Less is more.
Clients will only scroll so much, so it’s better to have just 15- 20 photos that are interesting and showcase your smile and how you move. Try not to exceed 40 photos—ultimately this will just muddle a client’s impression of you.
3. The more recent, the better.
If you’ve worked for a few years, clients will likely have seen some of your older work and will know it’s dated. So try to keep your portfolio focused on your most recent work—ideally from the last 5 years.
4. Include your milestones.
This may be the one exception to the recency rule. Feel free to include the major milestones in your career—walking for a specific designer, covers for major magazines, or a campaign with a major brand. Dedicate a specific page on your site and the back of your book to these milestone moments. You’re crushing it after all, and this is the time to show-off! But remember, these should be just the big ones—don’t overdo it!
5. Consider the layout.
Oftentimes, your photos will be shown side by side in a book, so consider which photos go well together. Generally avoid mixing wildly different shoots or stories that don’t go together and keep the stronger photo on the right side. Plus, if you’re picture is not facing front, set it up so that you are looking at the other picture in a double-page set-up. This isn’t a make-or-break tip (sometimes casting directors might want to see a little creativity), but in general, anything that gives your portfolio a more polished feel is a good idea.
6. Order matters.
The main photo should be a recent (have we mentioned how important this is?) photo—ideally a portrait that presents you in a straightforward and recognizable way. Then place the rest of the photos in chronological order, with the most recent first and older milestones at the back. Keep it simple.
7. Show off your personality and talents.
You never know when a casting director is looking for a little something extra—don’t be afraid to show your skills and personality in your shots! “Sometimes, a shoot requires a talent beyond modeling—like playing a sport or musical instrument convincingly,” says Mandie Mutchie, model and makeup artist. “If you specialize in something, it is great to have the shots to show it, along with your personality!”
8. Ask for images from others who represent you.
Even if others have shots of you, often you own the rights. So if you want something a photographer or brand has up on their site for your Instagram or online portfolio, just ask. All photo options should be considered when crafting your brand!