When it comes to being successful as a model, the first job is getting the gig and a models portfolio is essential. In a competitive and crowded field, such as this, models who go above and beyond will almost always have created the best chance to come out on top. Networking has a large deal to do with the opportunities presented to a model, but they can open doors for themselves by stepping directly in front of a potential client. Doing so is often referred to as a “go-see”. These are prime hours that a client or agency utilizes for open auditions and castings – no appointment necessary. A model must do nothing more than show up with the proper tools, the most important of which is a portfolio or “book”.

The ”Book”

A models portfolio or “book” is a hand-held guide to a models ability, assets, personality and versatility. There are guidelines for how a portfolio should be laid out and even what is should consist of. At the very least it should contain a single beauty shot and a full body shot. A model’s beauty shot gives the agency or client an idea of their clean slate. This is a close-up of a model’s face in which there is no makeup and simple but neat hair. It is a model at her barest so that a client can see if they are inspired enough to hire. The body shot is equally important as it allows them to see your body type and proportions. This is a model’s chance to show off their figure in hopes that it may assist the client’s goals, whether it be representing a brand or selling a piece. If you haven’t had the chance to create other photographs, then these two basics will be just enough.

Expanding your portfolio

If you do have the opportunity to expand however, then the following shots will give you a leg up. These shots not only give the client a taste of what a model is capable of, but can help them visualize their own success through hiring. Granted a model is above the age of 16 and is comfortable doing so, then a classy swimsuit shot is important. Stay away from putting any vulgar images in your portfolio. No straddling motorcycles or splayed legs should ever make it anywhere near an agent’s eyes. Models aren’t catering to men so there is no need to appear sexual when selling yourself. A swimsuit shot is the true test. When looking at your own swimsuit shot look from the eyes of a potential client and ask yourself: is she selling the piece without selling herself? If the answer is yes, then the image is likely appropriate for a portfolio.

Giving your portfolio Personality

When the basics are done, a model can and should add their personality to their book. Editorial work is the best example of a model’s personality and uniqueness. This is where a model should set themselves apart from the rest. Editorial work should typically consist of fashion assuming this is the higher goal of a model. Otherwise, this section can include commercial work as well. In either case, these photographs should be professionally retouched and worthy of publishing. If they have been published, then all the better. This published work can add another couple of pages often referred to as tear sheets. They are pages pulled from a models published print or online work and display who they have worked with and what they have done.


Following this work, it’s important to have at least one smiling shot. These rarely appear in editorial works but surprisingly important to a client, despite their lack of appearance, are a model’s teeth. An up-close photo of a model smiling may be awkward to most, but it’s nothing to stress about. Whether you find your teeth worthy, every client will have their own opinion. Remember that many well-known models quirks are what make them so popular. Where would Cara Delevnigne be without her eyebrows or Georgia May Jagger without her tooth gap?

The alpha and the omega

At the close of your book remember that a client is most likely to remember the first and last shot the most. For the final page choose a photograph that you feel is your strongest work. To help you in your choice it’s never a bad idea to get the opinion of outside eyes. Consider asking other models and even photographers for their thoughts.

Keeping this list in mind is a good place to start for anyone attending go-sees. Make sure to regularly update your natural shots to be consistent with any changing styles or features. Let us know your experience in creating your portfolio!