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modeling & talent ● modeling By Eve Matheson SHAWN EHLERS Building Your Perfect Portfolio While there’s no specific style set in stone for your modeling photo album, there are things that you can do to definitely catch a scout’s eye I am frequently asked questions about the modeling portfolio and specifically the best way to arrange pic- tures in it. Recently, a young girl wrote: “I am trying to learn as much as possible about a career in model- ing. What exactly is a portfolio? Where do I buy one and what sort of photographs should I put in it? Will I re- ally need one?” Those are very intelligent questions. Just by learning de- tailed answers to them will mean that you have also gar- nered valuable information. A portfolio, or “book” as it is often called, is an essential tool for a model. It shows potential agents how well you photograph and prospective clients that you have worked. So yes, you will eventually need one. Physically, it is like a large photo album with see-through pages inside, in which a model will put photographs and tear sheets. Tear sheets are pages from magazines and other publications that show a model at work. There will be a pocket on the inside cover of the portfolio for holding Sed cards. A Sed card is also called a Composite, Comp Card or an Index Card. It is named after its inventor, the late Sebastian Sed, an English model agent I had the pleasure of interviewing years ago. Standard size for the portfolio is 9”x12”. Where the beginner model is concerned there is no writ- 54 PAGEANTRY ten-in-stone way to arrange a portfolio, you will find that every agent has his or her own idea of how this should be done, as with photographers. It is better to have a few good pictures than a lot of mediocre ones. You will need two headshots, one with a smile and one without. A full length shot showing your figure to its best advantage is a must. A fashion picture and a beauty picture are also required. An action shot showing you participating in a sport or some other activity is also advisable. Simon Gluckman, a fashion and headshot photographer in Los Angeles, offered this advice: “Never shoot a portfolio with one photographer. You need to work with several. For photographers, it is like painting a picture. It is the same picture but each photog- rapher will create his or her own canvas.” A portfolio can also refer to a model agent’s or photog- rapher’s book which shows the models they represent and work which they have done. In all cases, it is a power tool because it is a proof of success. Every model will have several portfolios as her career be- comes established, but for the purpose of this article I would like to focus on the girl who is just getting started and who doesn’t yet have an agent. I asked former international model Shawn Ehlers, who is now a photographer in New York City, for her input.