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Creating the perfect headshot and full body shot is the first step to creating a strong model portfolio.
Your model portfolio is one of the most important marketing tools for any model, as people are making decisions based on your pictures every day.

Whether you get signed, pencilled, booked or rebooked will depend a lot on how well you market yourself in your model portfolio.

Our piece titled How to Build an Amazing Model Portfolio went down a storm with the We Are Models community, where we looked at the overarching principles of building a fantastic portfolio.

We wanted to get a little more specific today, so we spoke to our resident photographer, Marina. Marina is a fashion and celebrity photographer whose work has been published in Vogue It, Dark and Beauty magazine.

We asked her: which shots must every model have in their portfolio, and what are the perfect elements of each?

Your Model Portfolio: The Headshot


The first image models need in their portfolio is a headshot. It needs to be a natural-looking portrait where you can see facial features clearly.

A great headshot is all about the eyes. The eyes should be perfectly in focus, alive and energised. Not glazed over, in other words. The eyes are what bring the photo to life.

While your headshot should obviously capture you on your best day, it still needs to look like you. It’s not about the type you want to be but about the type you are, and your model portfolio should reflect your personality.

It’s important that your pose and expression are natural, too.

Your Model Portfolio: The Body Shot

full length shot

Your model portfolio should have a number of body shots to show your proportions as a model, to show your form. The body shot should also demonstrate your ability to act to a brief, if you’re a commercial model. Your poses and expressions should capture emotion.

Self-awareness is really important to a great body shot. A model must know how to hold him or herself, how to move in front of the camera, must know their angles.

There are five things I love to see models do in front of the camera, to help me take a better body shot:

1 – Hands on hips

If you put your hands on your hips, you’re creating a background through your arms – which will make your waist appear smaller. Put your hands at the top of your hips where your waist goes in and keep your fingers closely together to make your waist appear smaller.

2 – Chin up

Tilting your chin up will make a large forehead look smaller and it will also elongate the neck in a flattering way.

3 – Knees in

Turning a knee in will make your hips appear slimmer, which will also give you a space between your thighs. Most women don’t naturally have a thigh-gap, but a good body shot can give you illusion of it.

4 – Lean forwards

If you hunch your back and draw your navel in towards your spine this will create a slight lean forward, which makes your bust look smaller. Particularly for larger busted models or in fashion photography, this is a desirable look.

5 – Emphasise shoulders

Turn your body to the side and your shoulders towards the camera. This will emphasise your shoulders and narrow your hips.

For more on self-awareness in front of the camera, check out our post on Making the Most Out of Studio Time.

A model portfolio is a must-have marketing tool for every model. While fashion models will most likely to have agency support building their portfolio, commercial and freelance models will generally have to take responsibility for this themselves. For those models, knowing which images you need to market yourself effectively is critical, as your model portfolio is often the key to finding agency representation in the first place.

Our production team, including the lovely Marina, works with you to create images that are effective marketing tools, helping you build your career as a successful model. An expert model consultant will be on set with you, showing how to move, which angles to work and how to hold your body. In all, our production team not only help you create a perfect model portfolio but also help give you the self-awareness and self-confidence to work professionally with other photographers in the future. Read More.