As a model, photos are your business card, your first impression and what gets your foot in the door and lands talent auditions, interviews and bookings. Professional photos are imperative if you consider yourself a professional model(or any professional industry talent like actors, comedians, performers, etc.)and want to be perceived by agents and clients as a true professional. Do your research when scouting for a potential photographer. If you are a model or actress/actor then search for a photographer that specializes in working with models, actresses and actors. Your best friend who’s in photography school, the TFP photographer on an internet modeling site you found online, or the guy who did your senior portraits most likely won’t cut it. If you don’t have a basic friendly looking headshot I’d suggest starting there. Trade Shows or Conventions as well as Promotional or Special Event bookings will most always be looking for friendly, approachable, SMILING faces. No need to get over creative just yet, start with the basics first. At the time these were shot I was based in Las Vegas and had been eyeing up a Los Angeles based photographer for a while. Upon reaching out to schedule him I was happy to learn that he was traveling to Las Vegas the following month so I wouldn’t have to go far. I would have traveled if I had to, he’s GREAT at what he does. He’s 100% reliable and professional, not someone claiming to be a “modeling photographer” that just tries to take inappropriate pictures of want-to-be models that are willing to let the want-to-be photographer direct their photoshoot, resulting in overly provocative photos that no agent will submit to their legitimate clients. Free photoshoots are not always as good as they seem. Selfies, camera phone shots or shots that your friend or parent took of you in your house or backyard also make you look ridiculous to true industry professionals. You may book a few jobs with your unprofessional makeshift photos but I promise you the quality of your bookings WILL go up, along with your rate, if you improve the quality of your photos.
Below are the behind the scenes Step-By-Step candid snapshots of how I prepared for my last photoshoot. A special thanks to Michael Helms at michaelhelms.com for the amazing results. Not only did Michael take great photos, he had them edited, mildly photoshopped and saved to a USB stick for me at the end of my session THAT SAME DAY! Not typical even for professional photographers. I sent out an e-mail blast to all my agents and direct clients that same night with my updated resume and new photos, 1 of each look, and in less than 24 hours, I had booked a job for a brand new client, Mazda in Monterey, California at Leguna Seca Racetrack. Job paid $750 and the shoot cost me $425, it paid for itself literally overnight in my sleep. I’ve continued to book additional jobs since that night, these updated photos are literally making me thousands. Don’t ever think you’re above paying for professional photos, it’s a must if you are a true professional. Construction workers have to pay for tools to do their job, Models need to pay for updated professional headshots and full body or 3/4 length shots.
Step 1 – Hair & Nails
I made my hair appointment about a week before my shoot to make sure I liked the color and style for my upcoming shoot. Leaving extra time before the shoot incase you need to go back for any adjustments if you don’t like it. My girl nails it every time, but better be be safe then sorry. Always do your nails, you CAN see them in your pictures so have them manicured.
Step 2 – OUTFIT SELECTION
I chose to shoot 4 total looks to get the most out of my session. I laid out and packed my bag with 4 complete outfits, including shoes, accessories and proper undergarments.
Step 3 – Fresh Hair & Makeup
I recommend doing your own hair and makeup because you want to look like your photos when you show up for a booking. I have a cosmetology background so this was my personal decision. Not everyone is into doing their own hair and makeup, I just happen to prefer it. There’s no point in getting a hair and makeup artist if you can’t duplicate the look they give you. Clients can and will fire you onsite if you show up and don’t look like your photos. Later after you have a basic headshot and a 3/4 length shot then you can worry about adding variety into your portfolio with different creative looks if you want to. Most newbies forget that a true portfolio is filled with actual tear sheets from print bookings hired models have landed, not just a bunch of photoshoot images from different sessions. If you choose to invest in multiple sessions to show your versatility that’s fine and dandy but you’ll go broke hiring different professional photographers building your fake portfolio. Doing several trade shoots with up and coming or amateur photographers can also do more harm then good when presenting a portfolio, filled with those unprofessional images, to an agent or client.
Makeup – Highlight and Contour – Google It 🙂 – It makes a huge difference. Use matte finish products, avoid makeup with shimmer and glitter, this can cause an unwanted glare in some types of flash photography. If you think ahead the photographer will appreciate not having to fix a bunch of photoshoot flaws later in photoshop. Planning and thinking ahead will also make you seem more professional.
The Coconut Oil was for my nasty sunburn from attempting to get “a little color” before my shoot. It was from the week before and had faded some but I did have to pick clothes that hid it. Check it out below…OUCH!!
BLEND – No ugly jaw/neck make up lines!
Then I did my hair. I haven’t mastered holding a selfie camera and holding the curling wand just yet 🙂
I always start with clean hair but thanks to my awesome hair dresser I found an amazing new product that helps give super fresh clean hair a little bit more volume and “dirties” it up a bit, which works better for my hair type.
Magical New Product Find:
Step 4 – Take A Test Photo In Natural Lighting
I also tested in front the natural light in monochrome (black and white)
Step 5 – Pack Your Bag, GPS the photoshoot location, be on time and HAVE FUN during your photoshoot and you’ll have amazing results!
Investing in professional photos WILL set you apart from the competition that are submitting sub par images. It shows that you are taking your modeling career seriously and the cost of professional photos will ultimately pay for themselves after your first booking or two, resulting in more income from modeling. Good luck at your next shoot! Operate on a professional level, be part of the solution not the problem. Keep the professionalism and we’ll keep our rates where they should be, don’t cut corners on your photos, promotional materials or your booking rates!
Best of luck to all of the industry folks out there, thanks for reading!
P.S. If you think you might be interested in becoming a promotional event model download my free report – Breaking Into Promotional Event Modeling HERE