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modeling & talent ● modeling
By Eve Matheson
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-
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.