Modeling portfolios and comp cards are your calling cards in the industry. As a NYC commercial photographer, I know nothing makes a modeling scout or modeling agency skedaddle faster than an unprofessional book. 

Modeling Portfolios: Quality over Quantity!

The foundational photos of modeling portfolios are (1) a strong headshot, (2) a straightforward body shot, and (3) samples from your area(s) of focus. It’s MUCH more important to have a few great photos than a lot of mediocre ones. And if you’re just starting out in the industry, do NOT pack your portfolio with photos simply to try to imply experience. We promise — that’ll backfire immediately.

Editorial? Commercial? Lifestyle?

What type of model are you or do you want to be? Some models specialize, some are generalists. Your best friend’s opinion is nice, but we highly recommend getting the advice of booking agents on this topic. Your mom may think you’d look great on a fashion runway, but a booking agent might advise you to start out with catalog work. You might not have a face for magazine covers, but your hands might command the attention of jewelers. Don’t go after everything all at once;  it’s easier to build up a body of work category by category.

Modeling jargon can be confusing.

If you’re new to the modeling industry, the vocabulary can sound like Greek. What’s a comp card? A polaroid shoot? What’s the difference between commercial work and lifestyle photography? You certainly don’t have to be fluent from the get-go, but it’s good to arm yourself with a little cheat sheet before you hit the streets and studios. That’s why we’ve created this handy-dandy reference for you. 

Before hiring a photographer…

You can waste a LOT of time and money on photographers and photographs that simply aren’t going to get you anywhere. There are plenty of amateurs out there who are more than willing to help you open and empty your wallet.  Make sure that you check out at least a few photographers before hiring anyone. Go through their portfolios. If you go to a studio with multiple photographers, ask which specific photographers did which work.

And by the way, if you have questions, I’m happy to chat with you. And if you want to hire me, I’m here for you. I’ve got a studio in Chelsea, I also work on location, and you can check out my rates here.

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