Wether you are starting a modelling career, want to update your look book or are an actor wanting to showcase your range: a portfolio session is a great way to get a cohesive set of varied images that will wow casting directors, companies, agencies – or just your family and friends.
A good portfolio can really make a difference to your career. Good photographs can mean the difference between being seen for a part, or not. Being brought onto a project, or being glossed over. They can show your versatility
During my recent portfolio session with singer and musical theatre performer Kevin Köhler, we created a set of stunning shots. Each outfit and location choice was determined by the look and image we wanted to portrait.
Good planning and communication is key for a successful portfolio session. Each portfolio shoot is tailored around your need. Do you want to showcase your dance skills? Different casting types? Whether you require headshots, bodyshots or just something a little different, we’ll make it happen.
For Kevin, we wanted to range of lifestyle and fashion shots to add to his existing musical theatre repertoire. As you can see, we went for a selection of different outfits from a GQ kind of style with suit and plain background, over to a more casual jumper in front of a rough brick wall as well a something more playful.
You also want to make sure to capture a range of emotional. A casting type is obviously heavily influenced by the clothing and background and lighting you choose, but in the end it’s you in the photo that’s selling it. Make sure that when you’re shooting – especially for a longer time – you’re switching it up. People in front of the camera often feel a bit weird to just burst into a big laugh and prefer to stay with the serious look. For photographers: Prepare some prompts for your portrait sessions to get a smile or a laugh. These could be prompts like “Think about your most embarrassing moment as you were growing up.” or “Tell me your favourite dad joke.”
You also want to include a mixture of static shots as well as movement shots. Even if it’s just a few steps forward and backwards, a tiny bit of movement in the hair or the clothing will make your photos look at lot more dynamic. Movement also helps half or full body shots look way more interesting. The last thing you want is your portfolio to look like a very static and one dimensional representation of you, and movement plays a big part in that.
As for all photography sessions, communication with the client and tailoring the photographs to them is key for a successful collaboration. Because that’s what it should be. A collaboration to achieve the best possible result. Here are my main tips for a great portfolio photography session:
- exchange a moodboard.
Pinterest is a great source for inspiration and creating a collaborative moodboard can help the photographer and the client align their understanding and vision of the shoot.
- keep in touch
wether it be about the location, the outfit choices, potential props you might need, or just questions: a portfolio session is a big investment so you want to make sure you communicate throughout the preparation process, as well as after the shoot.
- bring more than you think you’ll need
this especially counts for outfits in my opinion. I like to set aside some time at the beginning of the session to go through the clothing pieces and discuss what kind of outfit will work and be used for what kind of images. We’ll also discuss if for certain outfits you’ll want to change your hair and align the order of shots we want to take. So also bring any essentials you might need to change your hairstyle or make up.
- start off easy
the best shots will happen towards the end of the session when you’re both eased into the shoot and are comfortable working with each other. So start off the session easy. I like to start with some headshots while hair and makeup are still fresh. They’re also a great way to connect and get to know how you both work in a session. With headshots, there’s not so much to worry about in terms of posing and movement. So start your session relaxed and easy, and build up from there.
- have fun
I love photography especially because it allows me to really capture a persons personality. You’ll get the best results when you’re not taking yourself too seriously. I don’t mean that in an unprofessional kind of way. It’s about being yourself. Chat throughout the shoot. Maybe bring some music if that’s what makes you feel best. We both want to get great results out of the session, and it’s best to have fun while creating a great set.