Teaming up with Louise M. to help build up her model portfolio.

I love working with models of all experience levels.

I’m a teacher. I say it without hesitation and with pride. It’s what I was put on this earth to do. Nothing in the world makes my heart sing like teaching does. I have led 25 different college-level photography classes over 10 years at various institutions. I still offer private, individual and group, classes as well as workshops.

But that’s only half of it. With over 30 years of experience working with people at various levels in the industry, I also teach the ins and outs of modeling to those wanting to learn. My default is always to teach as I truly believe that a well informed model is a more confident, safer, model.

Posing is a huge part of that but there’s so much more to learn. How to be safe in this world would be the most important one. Contracts, model releases, how to work with different photographers, how to prepare for a session, the difference between runway and still modeling, what genres are out there for them to explore, how to work on a set or out on location, model portfolios, agencies/agents, how to raise their game, et cetera.

I even teach them basic photography and lighting so they understand what’s going on and how to work in such an environment. Knowing which light is the main light and how to pose/position themselves to it, for example, is hugely beneficial for both the model and photographer.

Let me be clear. I never claim to know it all. Far from it. For example, I’m the last person to teach someone how to walk the runway or do their make up. But I know industry pros who do know that stuff and will bring them in so they can share their knowledge. I can add my two cents to their presentations from the photographer’s point of view. They can teach you how to walk the runway. I’ll teach you the importance of hitting your marks in relation to the lighting set up and showing off the outfit. A make-up artist can show you their side of things. I’ll show you how different modeling genres and lighting set ups require different levels and styles of make-up to make you shine.

Which brings us to Louise. She’s not a newcomer as she has a few photoshoots (including one with me) and several local runway shows in her garment bag of experience. She took a break for other commitments, though, and is starting to ease back into modeling again. She needed images to build up her portfolio and to put her name back out there. So we decided to team up and do a variety of sessions to fill out her lookbook. First up was a studio session.

Right off the bat we knew she needed an updated headshot. Nothing radical in terms of lighting, make up, hair, et cetera. Just a simple, straightforward headshot. It’s Number 1 on the must-have list of a model portfolio. It’s never a one and done, though. Headshots should always be updated whenever something changes like hair color or style and over time.

Take a look at the first three images on top. Now, granted, one is a little darker than the other two but can you tell the difference between the them? Same pose, same light set up, same top. Take a look at how different her face is between the first two shots simply by pulling her hair back behind her. That’s a huge change by doing one simple thing. Compare that to the third headshot where all she did was turn her head slightly to her left. I’m not saying one is better than the others, I just wanted to point out how small little changes can radically change how the subject is perceived in an image.

Same thing with the image of her in the black top and cargo pants. It is literally the same image. The only difference is that I converted it into a black and white version and posted them side-by-side. Huge difference.

All of this matters when it comes to a portfolio and what goes in it. Hey, look at that, I just did a lesson. I told you, I’m a teacher.

So, after getting the headshot in, we just went with the flow with different outfits and poses to show her off and to build up her knowledge of studio photo sessions. Again, nothing radical or ultra-crazy concepts. Just a photo session where we talked about lighting, posing, how outfits should match her perceived mood and how that can be highlighted with the right lighting, We also talked about what avenues of modeling were out there, what she was looking to get into, what her next steps should be, questions she should be asking when setting up a session, et cetera. Oh, and we got some great shots as you can see here.

By the way, she was amazing. She had a natural calmness in front of the camera that is rare and she soaked in all the info like a sponge. The plan is to team up again in the near future and work on another aspect. Maybe it’ll be fashion/beauty outside. Maybe it’ll be fitness. Maybe it’ll be beach-based. Maybe it’ll be another round of studio work.

She knows where she wants to go. I’m just a guide to help her get there.

I can’t wait.

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