At FITposium 2017 we have added in a new portfolio review panel where attendees have the opportunity to sit down with one-to-several different magazine editors, art directors or commercial print agents. We want our attendees to get the most out of this experience so here are five steps on how to develop a portfolio either for this session or for your career as a fitness modeling talent in general.
Before we get into the five steps, a few things to consider about your portfolio first. For starters, you can have your portfolio in any format/medium you choose. This is up to you and how you want to showcase yourself and your work. For example, you could choose to have all your work on an iPad, or you could print it out and place it into a binder, or you can design and print a hardbound book, or you can develop a series of prints and place them into a nice box. The format is entirely your decision.
Myself as a photographer, I have done hard bound printed books, a portfolio book where I can swap images in and out based upon the clients I am meeting with and have used an iPad as well should the editor want to see more work than what is in my book. The goal of a portfolio book should be to showcase your strengths enough to prove to the client that you can work for them.
1. LESS IS MORE
The goal is quality over quantity. Most true portfolio review sessions may only last a few minutes so you do not want to put too much work in a printed book. You don’t want a single photo more than you need to have included, otherwise the editor will be left wondering if there is any end in sight to your work. Also, having too much work waters down the best work you have. Only include the best of the best. When I worked as a photo editor I often had to review photographer’s portfolios. I saw great portfolios that had 12 images and I wanted more and I saw decent portfolios that had 24 that could have been a bit shorter. Ultimately it is up to you how many images to include – but less is more. You could also have a few extra images on an iPad for example should the editor ask to see more work.
You will want your portfolio to showcase the different facets of strength you have. If all the images look the same, then it shows you only are good in one dimension. For example, you would not want all of your images to have been shot in studio wearing similar types of clothing as it indicates that you do not possess a lot of range. Imagine, however, if you had some studio shots, a nice clean portrait, some fashion shots (if that is of interest to you), some lifestyle shots, some action shots, and so on. This is not about showing images that are not part of your brand, but about proving to potential clients that you would not just be a one-hit-wonder and can be booked for multiple things.
3. DYNAMIC OVER STATIC
Depending on how your structure your portfolio, you should see the document as something which is dynamic, not static. The essence of a dynamic portfolio is that you can updates it on the fly as quick as possible. If you had a printed hardbound book, this is obviously not the case as that is a static document – but a portfolio with sleeves gives you the ability to rotate images in and out based on that client you are meeting with. This way you can customize your portfolio based upon the person you would have reviewing it. Also realize that your portfolio will never be complete. From now until forever you will be working on revising it, updating it, changing it, shifting it, and so on. That is actually one of the most fun facets of this business.
4. HIGHLIGHT YOUR STRENGTHS
You want your portfolio to highlight things you are really good at doing. For example, if your thing is that you can play a specific sport – that needs to be showcased in your portfolio. If you are very good at showing a lot of range of emotion in your portraits, that needs to be highlighted in your portfolio. Anything you can do to differentiate yourself from the handful of other portfolios the editor or client is seeing you will want to do. So determine what it is about you that makes you viable and marketable and make sure that is shown in your portfolio.
5. STAY ON BRAND
Lastly, ensure that despite having a diverse portfolio, that your portfolio remains true to your brand. For example, if your brand is a wholesome, clean woman trying to appeal to moms, then having photos in lingerie or over-sexualized nudes would not be on brand. Your portfolio needs to reinforce your brand message, not detract from it. For example in my personal portfolio, my brand is working with people and unique portraits. Thus I would not have photos of landscapes or event photos mixed into my portfolio (even though I might shoot projects like that from time to time). Think of it this way – do not put anything in your portfolio that you would not want to be booked for.
Hopefully this feature gives you some pointers on how to prepare your portfolio, not only for FITposium’s portfolio review panel, but for your future marketing and client pitch endeavors.
James Patrick, ACG, ALS
James Patrick is the founder of FITposium and is a commercial and editorial photographer based in Arizona. His photo work has won numerous awards and has been published internationally. In addition, James works as a public speaker specializing in discussing brand development and marketing strategies. He is the author of the FitModelGuide.com e-book as well as a contributing writer to numerous publications. His work can be see on his website jamespatrick.com as well as on Instagram @jpatrickphoto