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The Fundamentals of Modelling Portfolios - part 2 of 1 2

by Tracey Harper Published 01/10/2010

Signature Shots

This is where you have fun and create your theme or signature shots that you pre-planned before the session. The sky is the limit! Be creative.

Your goal is to show another side of the model, in essence, how versatile they are. This can be created in the studio or on location, depending on the theme or what you agreed on beforehand.


In the studio I prefer to use large Larson Soff Boxes and reflectors to create the various moods.

For female models I prefer soft and romantic lighting. I avoid hardlight or side-light unless we are creating a theme or signature shot.

For male models I use the Soff Boxes, bare-bulb and hard-light for a more masculine appeal.

Quick Dos and Don'ts

Ask models to refrain from wearing baggy or loose-fitting clothes. Even if fashionable, baggy clothes will distort the proportions of the models.

Having models wearing trendy clothes or styles in the portfolio will weaken it, as the images will soon take on a dated look. It should be avoided unless the model wishes to update their portfolio on a regular basis.

Ask the model to avoid big logos, stripes or patterns on their clothes. This will also date their look and distract from their personality.

It is best to keep the model's jewellery to a minimum so as not to distract from their looks. You want the agency to be looking at the model.

Do have them bring their favourite outfit. Everyone has a favourite item or outfit in their wardrobe. Have them bring it and incorporate it into the shoot. When they wear it they will shine and it will show in the photo.


My personal choice of equipment is Nikon. I have been with them since my first film camera, the N2020. I currently use a D700 and several lenses both fixed and zoom (50 mm f1.2, 105 mm f2.8 and the 70-200 mm f2.8). For more of an environmental feel I capture the occasional photograph with my 24 to 70 mm f2.8.

As a suggestion, leave the fisheye and other really wide-angle lenses at home. The distorted look does nothing for the model's proportions that you have worked so hard to achieve.

So now you know the fundamentals of a Modelling Portfolio. The next step is to go out and have fun with it.

Contact Tracey Harper

1st Published 01/10/2010
last update 12/11/2019 13:27:12

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