A traditional portfolio is a big black album that contains photos of the model in a variety of settings and poses. There are several different sizes available. A good source for these in Seattle is Glasure's Photos.
While it is recommended that models have a portfolio -- the fact is that most commercial print work in the northwest is booked solely on the basis of the model's comp card and possibly a brief in-person interview with the client.
So, a portfolio, or the lack of one, rarely comes up in booking this type of work.
Now, that's not to say that you shouldn't have a portfolio, but you can probably get by without one if your comp card is doing the job. It will also depend on the types of clients your agency works with; so be sure and ask your agent if you should have one.
When interviewing for freelance modeling jobs, you'll find that having a portfolio is more important.
This is partly because you will be dealing with clients that have less experience hiring models. They typoically want to see more material before making a hiring decision.
Someone Told Me I Need to Have Nude Photos In My Portfolio. Is This True?
Unless you are actively seeking nude modeling work, you do NOT need to have nude photos in your book. In fact, having nudes prominently displayed in your portfolio might cause some commercial clients to turn you down for work if they find the images distasteful. Models that do both commercial work and nude work usually build two separate books, one for each type of client.
The Northwest is still more conservative than most other areas. You do NOT need to do nude modeling to be successful.
Do You Need a Comp Card?
For the majority of commercial modeling work, you need to have a comp card.
A comp card is a compilation of several key photos that will display your versatility.
Some of the major poses you need on a comp card are usually:
1. A Headshot
2. A shot in a business suit or dress
3. A shot in swimwear or athletic wear
4. A casual fashion shot
The comp card will also list your vital statistics and clothing and shoe sizes.
You need a comp card so your agent can send it out to a client who might be interested in hiring you.
For freelance modeling jobs with small business owners or individual photographers, a comp card may not be necessary. But you will want to have something that you can leave with the client while they're considering which model to hire.
If you don't have a comp card, it's a good idea to give the client a resume and a small photograph with your contact information written on the back.
Actors/Talent generally don't use comp cards. The actor's agent usually sends the actor's resume and 8"x10" headshot when submitting to clients for possible acting work.
Do You Need a Web Site?
In most cases, a web site may be a waste of time for you.
However, if you are looking for non-commercial or freelance work or are soliciting photographers for photo shoots through the internet, then having some type of portfolio on the web is important.
Each of the sites that offers free model listings has its own quirks and limitations, so it is a good idea to get listed with more than one service.
Some of these sites offer better levels of service to models that pay a monthly or yearly membership fee, so be sure to read the fine print when getting signed up at a web site.
For a better and more personalized presentation than the free web sites offer, you can run your own web site or hire a professional webmaster to run a web site for you. Or you can set up a blog for little or no cost.