A headshot is just one of the photos you’ll need
When you are first starting out as a model it is not necessary to have professional photos and a modeling resume. Simple snapshots are all you need in order to find out if a modeling agency is interested in representing you.
However, if an agency is interested in you, but it is not quite ready to sign on the dotted line, the agency may ask you to build your book a little bit more or work on developing your look. For a new model, this can be very confusing if they have no idea what the agency is looking for or what it all really means.
Agencies like modeling photos that show the model’s versatility and their ability to express themselves. They also like to see how well the model can actually tell a story or portray a feeling or emotion in their photos.
Here is a list of the essentials you should have in your book and tips to make them just right.
1 A Beauty Shot or Clean Head Shot
A beauty shot (fashion/editorial models) or a clean headshot (commercial models) is the first type of photo you should be concentrating on.
A beauty shot is a color photograph of the model’s face, generally from the shoulders up. The purpose of a beauty shot is to show the model in his or her most natural state, which allows the agency or client to see exactly how the model looks without heavy makeup or styling. Makeup, hairstyles, and jewelry should be kept to a minimum. Editorial models do not usually smile in a beauty shot.
A commercial headshot can be a bit more relaxed than a typical beauty shot. Commercial headshots can be shot in black and white, or color.
A beauty shot or commercial headshot should always be the first photo in a model’s book. (Janabelle in photo).
2 A Full Length Body Shot
The next photo in a model’s book should be a full-length body shot. This shot allows the client to see the model’s proportions and body type. Clothes should be form-fitting and simple. Leggings and bikini are just fine. The model should not be wearing long dresses, skirts or too many layers as these will distract and cover up exactly what the agents and clients are trying to see.
3 Swimsuit Shot
If you are over 16 years of age and are comfortable doing a swimsuit shot, then this should be the next photograph in your book. When doing a swimsuit shot it is important to always think about the message you are sending. If you aim for a look between Lands End and Vogue Magazine you will probably hit the mark. Remember that female fashion models are selling clothes to women, not men, so female models want to be sexy but not overtly sexual. Top modeling agencies don’t want to see you in a swimsuit or lingerie on the hood of a car or straddling a motorcycle.
Male models can shoot in either swim trunks or boxer shorts. (Laura Paulman in photo).
4 Editorial Fashion Shot (Fashion Models)
Now that you have a beauty shot, a full-length body shot, and a swimsuit shot, you can have some fun. The photos in the middle of your book can be a bit more creative. This is also where you can add some model tear-sheets if you have them. Try to show the agents and clients your ability to move and express yourself in your photos. (Victoria Stankevits in photo).
5 A Commercial Shot (Commercial Models)
As with editorial models, commercial models, including catalog models, need to show the agents and clients their range, and ability to express themselves in print. Commercial modeling is really acting in print. Take photos that look like print ads in magazines in which you are laughing, crying, or upset. These are all the types of emotions that agents and clients want to see from a new commercial model. (Karel Käos in photo).
6 A Smiling Shot
If you don’t have a smiling shot somewhere in the middle of your book, then be sure to add a good smiling headshot. Agents and clients want to see your smile, and specifically, your teeth. It’s OK if you don’t have perfect teeth. Commercial models don’t need to worry about perfect teeth either. The agents and clients simply want to see what they are working with. (AneteLi in photo).
7 A Strong Closing Shot
Always end with one of your strongest photos. Another great beauty or headshot that is a little different from your opening shot can work perfectly here. Most people only remember the very first and very last shot in your book, so make sure these shots are your strongest ones. (Aurelie in photo).
A Model’s Book is a Work in Progress
The goal of a great modeling book is not to simply fill it up with a bunch of photos. A model’s book should tell a story about who the model is, his or her brand, and the direction the model is heading in their career. It is much better to have three or four great shots than 10 mediocre shots. Shoot with as many photographers as you can so you can take advantage of the different styles each one has; this will also give you experience working with a variety of personality types. Every time you do a photo shoot you will get better and more comfortable in front of a camera, which will come across in your photos.