Sunday, 27 March 2016

How Much Should I Pay? Modelling Portfolio FAQ.

Q. How much should my modelling portfolio cost?
A. A lot of people want to know the price of a portfolio even before finding out what’s involved with the photoshoot to begin with. And yet there is no simple answer to price. It's a bit like asking, how long is a piece of string? Many photographers produce what they call a Portfolio Shoot, so you will need to ask the right questions to find out what it is you are really paying for with your package, and if it's right for you.
It's perhaps easier to think in terms of price range and who and what’s involved; as price will be affected by the level of the photographers experience and other factors. More experience is usually better. Then there is the size and experience of the team to take into consideration, Hair & Make-Up (H&MU), Stylist, Assistants, Studio or Location, or both! Once you know the answer to these questions and a few of the ones below the answer to the “How much” question will make a lot more sense. So keep reading the FAQ and you will soon have the tools to decide if a price is right for you - the photographer asking the price - and valuable guidance as to how much you can expect to pay.

Q. Does it matter how much experience the photographer has?
A. Yes, Yes and Yes!  And they need to be experienced at photographing models, fashion with models or advertising with people and models and portfolios! Your pictures; all of them, need to make the right impression immediately. Only an experienced professional photographer can guarantee that result. Remember; you only get one chance to make a first impression. That is the job your portfolio's photographs do for you. They are your CV and they need make the right impression, first time, every time. So when it comes to making great pictures, working with an experienced photographer counts.
 Flatlay shot - Street Fashion Sydney - Fujifilm X-Pro1 photography kit.
Q. Do I need a stylist? What is a stylist, what do they do?

A. I am sure your clothes are great but are they right for a portfolio shoot? There are truly classic shots of models in jeans and a white shirt; but you still need the right elements and the right combination, this is typically the stylists job. Some photographers will insist on using a stylist, others will mix and match your garments, styling new Fashion looks for you from what you already have themselves. Remember it’s a modelling portfolio, a kind-of mini fashion shoot. It’s not a portrait session; you need the current fashion look that suits you and your new modelling portfolio.
Q. I just need a headshot & some body shots yeah?
A. No, you need a killer headshot to get noticed. Just the one at first; and you need shots that show the rest of you off. There is no such thing as just some shots. You need great shots, you need the right type and style of shot to create a ‘look’ for your portfolio. If you want "just some shots", you do not need a professional photographer. Think about it...
Q. Can't I do my own Hair & Make Up (H&MU)?
A. If you have the experience you probably could, however having a professional H&MU who is up-to-date with fashion looks and has experience working under photographic conditions is going to allow you to focus on YOU! Not to mention they will be there on-set to provide touch-ups as required by the photographer and to adjust the hair, fix fly-aways and helping to keep your 'looks' perfect, (ask if the H&MU stick around - it's an important part of the value of a shoot) streamlining the whole process of making great shots. The model has enough to think about in front the camera without worrying about being the H&MU artist too!
Applying make up, a model in H&MU Backstage for Watson x Watson, MBFWA. Photograph by Kent Johnson.
Q. I hear photographers do tests
, TFP for free?
A. Yes it's true; photographers of all levels shoot tests or TFP (Time for Pictures/Prints) and it is essentially a collaboration/trade between like-skilled, same-level Model/Photographer/Creative Teams to develop a new skill, test an idea for their portfolio; or create new work to land the kind of clients they are aiming for. This is not the kind of picture that a new model wants. New models need the basic shots first, the experienced photographer has moved past needing those shots in his or her book & will only "trade" on a test basis to create something wholly new for his/her book. The experienced photographer can however, create pictures for your portfolio that really help jump start your modelling career, and as such it's money well spent.

Q. What’s the difference between a Portrait shoot & a Modelling Portfolio?

A. Good question and an important one. A portrait shoot is typically showing you in your best light, something the family will like and enjoy. A modelling portfolio, while showcasing your personal look will also show how well you work as a model. How an advertiser, designer or fashion editor can use your beauty, and pay you for your 'look', to sell products; fashion, cars, toothpaste, whatever pays the bills.

Q. Shouldn't I get all the pictures on a disc?

A. Edit, Edit & Edit some more. This is one of the golden rules of photography and what it means is that only the best pictures will do. Good photographers can be a bit paranoid about making sure only the best pictures are seen. But there is a reason for that; they know you may very well be remembered for the 'worst' shot in your book not the best! Edit out the bad, make sure those shots are never seen. Never. Ever. So it’s most likely that even if you are given digital files, they may well be watermarked and too small to print, the 'bad' shots will be removed completely. The edited finals will of course be the best. It’s about quality not quantity; no mater how many pictures the photographer takes to get the shotIt’s your modelling portfolio and the best of the best is what you need.
Snap shot vs professional modelling portfolio headshot. Photos by Kent Johnson.
Q. Don't modelling agencies just want to see a snapshot of me?

A. Well if you have the current 'hot look' and are only 13, 14 or 15 and it's a GREAT Snap.. the answer may be yes. But if you don't have that exact look, & and I do mean that exact-NOW-look you might need to show them some professional shots to help get you over the line. You will still need to be model material; height, size and features, it’s a big wide world and with the right shots that may be all the help you need.

Q. I have had some quotes on prices, why do the good photographers seem so expensive?
A. Experience is the most expensive piece of 'equipment' a good photographer owns; and it can't be bought at the camera shop! You can however make use of it by booking them to do your shoot. Of course the costs of running the business are part of the expenses too; studio, camera's and other associated costs, but the most expensive and hard to acquire is experience! That being said, experienced photographers will almost certainly be asking a fraction of the cost of their commercial day rate to shoot your portfolio. They don't expect your shoot to cover all the running costs of the studio; they will shoot you because they love to keep shooting even between their commercial jobs. They will price your shoot at a special rate, mostly because they are nice guys and gals and love their job.
What makes a great modelling portfolio?

Q. Can I email you with other questions about modelling portfolios?
A. You can indeed you can at or leave comments below and we might even get some new questions to update the article with.

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